Just like other pioneering brands like Starbucks and Microsoft, Redhook was born out of the energy & spirit of the 80’s. In 1981, the founders Paul Shipman and Gordon Bowker, who happened to be a co-founder of Starbucks, thought the people of Seattle deserved their own beer that offered more flavor than lighter tasting domestics and imports that were available at the time. After converting an abandoned transmission shop in Ballard into a makeshift brewery, they brewed their first batch. Well, turns out they were right. Beer drinkers of Seattle loved their new beer, and while the term didn’t exist at the time, Redhook became one of America’s first “craft breweries.”
The Early Years: Wanting to offer more variety, Redhook introduced Blackhook Porter in 1983, establishing a loyal but small following, followed by Ballard Bitter, known today as Long Hammer IPA. By 1984, Redhook had outgrown his cramped space in Ballard and needed a new home to brew enough to satisfy the thirsty beer drinkers of Seattle. A former Seattle Electric Railway station caught his eye, and he soon moved to Fremont to open an expanded brewery as well as the iconic Trolleyman brewpub.
Growing up: 1987 marked a significant milestone for Redhook as he started making the beer that would become his flagship: ESB. Styled after the ‘extra special bitter’ beers served in pubs througout the U.K, ESB was an instant favorite and became a benchmark brew in the amber ale category. Redhook invested in equipment ensuring product quality and consistency, making Redhook the most technically advanced craft brewery in North America.
Traveling: In the 90’s, the word of Redhook spread to beer lovers across the USA. To meet the demand, Redhook built state of the art breweries in Woodinville, WA and Portsmouth, NH, and began offering quality craft beer to customers nationwide. For many, Redhook was their first experience with a high quality domestic craft beer.
Today: As Redhook celebrates his 30th birthday, he marvels at how the craft brewing industry has exploded in the US. To celebrate three decades, he’s unveiling an updated look that’s true to his roots. He continues to brew ESB, Long Hammer IPA , Pilsner, and Copperhook, as well as the seasonal lineup of Mudslinger, Wit, and Winterhook. And he still remembers where he came from and those who got him where he is today—so don’t be surprised to see Redhook brew some unique beers just for his local fans.
Future: Redhook thinks he’s looking pretty damn good for 30, and will continue to do what he does best; make great beer and have fun doing it. Cheers to the next 30.