This is my first post that is not about eating/ drinking at NYC. It was summer when I went to the Redhook (micro)brewery in Woodinville, WA. I have been meaning to write all through the summer about my experience at the Redhook brewery and what I learned then, and have my act together right in time for Oktoberfest 🙂 🙂
I was visiting my cousin in Redmond, WA at the same time that she had other family visiting her too. Some of them were keen to visit a microbrewery near by and I was just keen for some blog material (honestly!!). I suppose the Redhook Brewery was the closest from her house. I can’t remember if there was any other reason for the choice. We made it in time for the last brewery tour of the day (including the tasting) – for the princely sum of $1 per person. This was the best dollar that I ever spent and not just on beer – not only did I learn something about beer, but I also got to taste 5 different beers (of 5 oz each) in 45 minutes. Now, isn’t that a lot of beer for a dollar? When we wrapped up the tour and the tasting, we just HAD to get more beer to drink and of course HAD to eat at the Forecaster’s Pub in the brewery.
Here is what I learned during the tour and the tasting – or rather what I remember of it now along with my notes from the tour
- Craft beer has only 4 ingredients – water, barley, hops, and yeast
- There is a national trend (in the US) to sell craft beer in cans – a can is lighter to transport (relative to a bottle), there is no metallic taste from the can, and apparently, a can also manages to retain as much air (resulting in a good head) as a draught beer from a keg would (yes, the last point was somewhat of a surprise for me)
- Hops balance a beer by bringing in bitterness to the malt’s sweetness; so, the more the hops, the higher the bitterness of the beer
- Bitterness in beer can be measured and reported in IBU -International Bittering (Bitterness(?)) Units. The higher the IBU, the more bitter the beer is likely to be, but also needs to be balanced by the malt content of the beer. Belgian Lambics are at one end of the spectrum with low IBU (under 25), while, IPAs and Stouts are at the other end of the spectrum with high IBUs (40- 60 or even more!). Now, if only, beer bars would publish IBU along with the beer names, wouldn’t it make life easier for so many of us to order the beer that we may like? This statement makes the assumption that the bartender is too busy to help us make the choice. May be, I am just too embarrassed to confess my ignorance about beer to ask the bartender / server for suggestions.
- My favorite beer was the Blueline series Wit (a Belgian style white ale) – very similar to Hoegaarden. While not offered for tasting, the Belgian Tripel (second photo below) was my next favorite with its slight bitterness and some sweetness.
Had I written this post soon as I returned from Redmond, there would have been more for me to write about Redhook and more for you to read about the microbrewery. But, all is not lost – I have been reading more about beer and Oktoberfest while drafting this post.
Beer / Beer maker trivia
- A Microbrewery by definition makes less than 15,000 barrels a year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site, per Breweers Association
- A craft brewer is a small, independent, and traditional with the hallmark of a craft brewer and craft beer being innovation. See more details at Craftbeer.com
- Redhook brewery is also in Portsmouth, NH – you can go for the beer tasting and the tour for the same 1$ per person as I did in Woodinville, WA.
- Best beers for cooking are the ones with low bitterness – per the Brewers Association’s publication American Craft Beer and Food: Perfect Companions
- Tips for pairing food with beer – per the same publication in the previous bullet:
- Hop bitterness, maltiness balance sweetness and richness (fat) in food
- Sweetness / maltiness balances acidity and spiciness (chili heat)
- Hop bitterness emphasizes spiciness – no wonder the slightly hoppy and malty Kingfisher beer goes so well with Tandoori Chicken!!
- For a list of beer schools including those where you can do a one-hour Beer 101 online course and one where you can get certified as a Cicerone – see this page
- Budweiser is releasing its limited edition beer by Zip code on October 29, 2012, in a 12 bottle sampler pack.
- The top 10 women in the beer industry with their bios are listed in this page by The Wench
- As of 2011, California has the maximum number of craft breweries in the US, almost twice as much as Washington, the state with the second-most number of craft breweries. See this page for additional details. The statistics are from Brewers Association and the mapping was done by Martin Prosperity Institute.
- The White House beer recipes for Honey Ale and Honey Porter are listed in this post. Did you know? You can also brew the White House Ale with a kit available at Brew Camp at it’s Chicago storefront or online.
- The top 10 draft beer bars in NYC are listed here
- Oktoberfest is held in Bavaria (Germany) for 16 days from late September until the first weekend in October
- Oktoberfest 2012 in NYC will be celebrated from September 15 through October 20. The Beer Gardens NYC App looks like a fantastic resource for beer gardens along with their 1000+ beers and food menus in NYC, especially during Oktoberfest. Also, see this page for CBS News’ take on the five best bets for Oktoberfest in 2012
- See this page for Oktoberfest celebrations and seasonal beers featured in the Hudson Valley in NY
- For a list of Oktoberfests across the US – see this page
- If you thought that Oktoberfest is held only in September / October and that you hardly have enough time to celebrate / enjoy it this year, fear not – you can enjoy it year round in Orlando at The Biergarden restaurant in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion in Walt Disney World!!!
- Oktoberfest is no fun without the food, but even if you are vegetarian or vegan, you can enjoy (vegan) dishes such as Drunken German Potato salad and Beer-Poached Vegan ‘Brats with the beer. See this page for recipes – scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.
Other beer and wine festivals
- The Brooklyn Pour is a craft beer festival at Fort Greene on October 6, 2012
- The Great American Beer Festival is in Colorado from Oct 11 – 13 (come on, book your tickets, quick!!)
- The NY Craft Beer and Fine Food Festival 2013 is in late April, 2013
I have been so excited about sharing my newly acquired beer knowledge, that I almost forgot to write about the food at the Pub at Redhook Brewery. We ordered many dishes and as you can guess, mostly vegetarian.
- Nachos with melted cheese and jalapenos served with guacamole: The guacamole was better than guacamole served at many restaurants in NYC. The dish was spicy (can’t blame the jalapenos) and I absolutely enjoyed it.
- Hummus and Pita bread – tasted quite good.
- Bread pudding: This was moist, sweet (yet not cloyingly sweet) and pretty awesome to taste.
- Chocolate stout brownie – alas, I did not taste this. My cousins finished it while I was focused on the sausages. They told me that this was fantastic and now I just have to take their word for it.
- Sausages – I just had to get the sausages – one hot link and the bratwurst (of course, I enjoyed the hot link better than the bratwurst). The best part of this dish was the cheddar ale dip served with the sausages. I became a sausage convert after spending a summer in the southwest corner of Germany. I did not enjoy German beer then, Rhine Valley or Bavarian, as much as I enjoyed the German sausages. Those were good times 🙂 🙂 …..
Other vegan / vegetarian options at the Forecaster’s Pub that we did not try were:
- Field Greens Salad
- Asian Chop salad
- Forecaster’s Beer Cheese Soup
- Also, any beef burger could be substituted with a veggie burger for a $ extra – is this the first place that charges more for vegetables than meat??)
Some of my best experiences with beer
While writing this post, my thoughts inadvertently went to some of my best experiences with beer and I was wondering which of the following did I enjoy the most?
- Tandoori chicken and Kingfisher beer at Toto’s Garage in Mumbai (especially during the monsoon)
- Guinness draught at The Brazen Head at Dublin (the oldest Pub in Ireland – since 1198) with a group of close friends from business school. (FYI – I have not taken to the Guinness in the US – including the Guinness Draught in a Bottle)
- Hanging out at Vol de Nuit (NYC) with my cousin and being surprised by Hindi (Bollywood) music at 3 AM
- Griffon (Extra Pale Ale) that I had with good friends on the first evening of my trip to Montreal on a very hot day in August
Tell me, what is your favorite beer story?? And what are your plans for Oktoberfest this year??