On tour at the Red Hook brewery

Categories: food — Tags: , , , , — Posted by: steveg @ August 12, 2008 : 1:20 pm

Bryan taking his first few sips of Blonde Ale

You a fan of ESB? How about IPA Long Hammer? If beer is your forte, you should definitely head on out to Woodinville to check out the Red Hook Brewery. Like two beer-crazed enthusiasts, Bryan and I headed down here to go on a tour of the plant and “sample? a few beers for the mere cost of one measly dollar.

When I heard that Red Hook was in Woodinville, I thought it was a bit odd as most of the places in that area specialize in wine. But, if you’re a bit worn out from too much wine, (Fellas, do I hear a yes?) this place is a great change of pace.

As we made our way to the parking lot, you’ll be put in awe by the size of the place, as it looks more like a large home rather than a plant that brews beer. The large skybridge caught my eye as I figured they use that to ship the beer over from the plant to the shipping area.

As I passed by some people on my way to the door, I could smell that distinct smell of beer. Once we got through the door, we formed up in a large line with several other people, as Red Hook runs a tour every hour until 5pm. Crunched up against people, we finally heard six wonderful words that got our tour under way.

“Who’s ready to drink some beer!?

Of course, the crowd responded with a fervent “Hell yeah!? and up the staircases we went. I thought the tour would be something more on par with a scene from the campy 80’s movie,Midnight Madness sans the absurd frat guys, Scott Baio and a really young Michael J. Fox. I hoped to get an awesome look at how they brew their special beers such as ESB and Blackhook, but unfortunately we ended up funneled into a room that had an 80’s style ceiling where we would spend most of our time in.

As we all dropped a dollar into the bucket by the bar, we were all issued a small glass cup that also was a take home souvenir. It held about 2-3oz and would be our designated taster cup. Each of the five beers, Blonde Ale, ESB, Late Harvest, IPA Long Hammer, and Blackhook, were all available to try. The tour guide slowly takes us from one beer to the next with a little bit of history and lot of jokes added in, to educate us more about each specific beer.

The Blonde Ale is a light beer, a mix between an ale and a lager. The ESB (Extra Special Bitters) is their signature beer, first served in 1987. Unique in look and taste, the ESB is mix of bitter hops and caramel malting. The IPA (India Pale Ale) Long Hammer is a very hoppy beer that is an acquired taste. The Late Harvest is their newest beer to hit the market and we were some of the first people to test it out on the tour. The Blackhook is a dark porter that has a chocolaty aroma, coffee like taste, and very smooth finish.

A shot of the brewing tanks where the first steps in making beer take place

The plant has several large tanks that brew hundres of gallons of beer every 4 hours and are then transferred to the fermentation tanks. Each tank is extremely huge and they said that if you were to drink 3 bottles of beer a day, it would take you roughly 33 years to finish just one of those tanks.

The endless line of fermentation tanks

As a tip of advice, be sure to visit the brewery on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, as those are the days the bottling center are open and running. Since we came on a Saturday, that part of the plant was not active and the doors were locked so we couldn’t even take a peak inside. The closest thing we had was a diagram layout of the room and a quick explanation of the whole process.

While it may not have been the most visual tour per se, it was quite informative. The guide does a fantastic job educating people about the history and story behind each and every beer. I would go a little more into it, but that would just spoil the tour for you. I was a little disappointed that we ended up staying mostly in the same room, but I still got about 10-12oz of beer for a dollar. Add on the fact I was drinking on an empty stomach I started to feel a little buzz by the end of the tour.

After the tour, we grabbed some seats at the restaurant on the first floor and ordered up some of the biggest nachos we’ve ever seen and a few more beers for good measure.

Seattle to be in “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”

Categories: food,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ August 11, 2008 : 11:54 am

Guy Fieri - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Fans of the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” may be happy to know that Seattle is going to be in one of the upcoming shows early next year. The show, which predictably features diners, drive-ins and dives, with host Guy Fieri, travels around the country looking for good grubbing in both the classic and most unlikeliness of places.

I mention this because we were contacted a few days ago by someone on the crew of Page Productions who was essentially asking us for some recommendations for restaurants in the Seattle area to be on the show. We thought it was pretty cool for a show on the Food Network to ask us, so we happily obliged with a list of places below. So if you see any of these on the show next year, you’ll know who got them there! :)

  • Dick’s Drive-In (We don’t need to tell you why)
  • XXX (Triple X Rootbeer in Issaquah)
  • Red Mill Burgers
  • Beth’s Cafe (12 egg omelette anyone?)
  • Gorditos (For those baby sized burritos)
  • Ezell’s Famous Fried Chicken (Because everyone besides us seems to like them)
  • Market House Corned Beef (Making their own corned beef since 1948 and on our must-review list)
  • Dixie’s BBQ (“The Man” sauce is all you need to know)
  • Paseo (We just went here and the review is up soon, but those Cuban pork burgers do live up to their rep)
  • Fu Man Dumpling House (Handmade dumplings from scratch)
  • Jade Garden (Arguably the most popular dim sum in Seattle)
  • Top Gun

We even asked the crew member to send us some promotional materials that we can give away to you, our foodie readers, but we’ll see if they play ball with us. After sending a two-page, food passionate email, the production company returned the favor with a one-lined, “Thanks for the suggestions” email, ha! That’s like asking a waiter to list every recommendation across three menus and then saying, “Hmm… I’ll go with a hot dog!”

I guess I’ll refrain from the ripping unless we get some goods :)

Interviewed by Voice of America

Categories: coffee,news,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ August 4, 2008 : 1:10 pm

Voice of America Logo

Woo-hoo, Coffee.net is going to have our 15 minutes of international, federally funded fame!

Just this morning, Steve and I were over at the Redmond Town Center by two reporters from Voice of America. The show we were being interviewed for is a weekly half-hour show called “Cultural Odyssey”, which provides glimpses into American life and culture. On this particular show being filmed, the topic is Seattle’s coffee culture, so they decided to contact us as we had a pretty big web visibility.

I agreed to the interview because I am all for publicity for Coffee.net, but also because it was pretty cool to be asked by the VOA. There’s certainly dozens (hundreds, even) of people above us in the coffee pecking order in this city, so it was a surprise to say the least. In fact, Steve and I both took a few hours to brush up on our coffee just to be ready for the interview. I even took to memorizing the odd statistics like the total exports from Brazil and Vietnam from 2000 to 2007 via the ICO (International Coffee Organization) incase we were going to have talks about the coffee crisis, robusta or other industry issues.

In any case, I thought the interview went quite well and we had a good rapport with the VOA reporters. They asked us various questions: the rise of Starbucks, the specialty coffee market, Seattle coffee consumers, the history of coffee in Seattle, how to rate coffee and various items along that line. Steve, being the “coffee as a drink” expert, handled a lot of the culture and connoisseur type questions while I answered the “coffee as an industry” queries.

Having been in front of a camera before, I was pretty at ease blabbering away to our reporters’ questions. Steve was a bit nervous at times and caught himself looking straight at the camera a few times. The only major hiccup we encountered was that right as they setup the filming equipment, the Redmond Town Center manager swooped down impressively fast to tell us that this was private property and filming was not allowed unless paperwork was filled out. To his credit, after talking to the VOA guys, everything got worked out. Joe, one of the reports, said this was fairly routine and joked that they generally don’t have problems after mentioning they’re reporters from the government. I had a good laugh at that, as it could certainly be a tongue-in-cheek reference.

For those who don’t know, VOA is a federally run news organization that has been in operation since the start of WWII. They evolved over the years from the Office of War Information to being under the US Information Agency and now run by a Board of Broadcasting Governors. As a government run news source, you may not be familiar with them, because they tend to serve audiences outside of the US, as their mission is to represent America to the rest of the world. As such, they broadcast in 45 languages over the TV, radio and internet, with a worldwide audience of 134 million people according to their website.

We were told that we would get a DVD of the show when it aired, so we’ll definitely post it up on the blog or the main site when we get it. Supposedly, the team is doing a whole slew of shows on coffee and one of them is also about what is locally known as “Sexpresso”, so perhaps we’ll add in a few clips from that section as well, for your titillating pleasures (bad puns and all).

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