Back in the day — 1994 — when craft beer didn’t register with every hipster on a bar stool, a little-known Seattle brewhouse called Redhook opened a second brewery in rural Woodinville.
Was there really that much demand for beer? We, of course, know the answer to that now. There are 227 breweries in the state, including four microbreweries within a 4-mile radius of Redhook.
Redhook had the foresight and stormed out of the gates, but it might want to start looking in the rearview mirror.
The bar landscape, for starters, has changed a lot. In recent years, craft cocktails have become trendy. Happy hour is a major event, and the average Joes are more discerning eaters.
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Perhaps with the changing scene in mind, this summer Redhook underwent a face-lift that seemed designed to check those boxes.
Cocktails have been added to its beer and wine list, there is a new happy-hour food menu, and a deep fryer and smoker were added in the kitchen to expand its culinary offerings.
The bar, formerly Forecasters Pub, is now renamed Redhook Pub.
It hadn’t been renovated since opening two decades ago. And Redhook spokeswoman Karmen Olson said the brewpub looked so old that “it looks cool again because it looks retro.”
Is the new industrial-chic Redhook Pub a better bar? It’s all relative.
If you were already a fan of the Forecasters, you’ll likely love the new Redhook.
Your chance of finding a seat on Friday night has improved. The bar was expanded to handle about a hundred more patrons inside and outside, which will come in handy on weekends when all those bikers make pit stops off the Burke-Gilman Trail.
You can now get a shot of whiskey with a beer. There are also fries to go with the stellar burger. Scoop up the tangy, shredded smoked pork with addictive chips. Those salty, crispy potato chips made in-house were the best thing I had on the menu.
But compared to its brethren like Elysian Brewery and other high-volume bars, Redhook has work to do.
The rest of its new food is inconsistent, its cocktails problematic. The mushy fried cheese curds were undercooked. The chicken wings tasted like they were steamed. (They did put them in a deep fryer, right?) And the Paloma cocktail tasted like tequila on the rocks.
The young bar staff is learning that it’s harder to work a crowded room when you have to do more than just pour beer and wine. Ice was flying everywhere as they stirred and shared. Drops of margarita landed on my face and arm.
Then again, that’s what I get for ordering a cocktail at a brewpub.
Redhook Pub, 14300 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville, offers happy hour weekdays 3-6 p.m. with a new expanded food menu ($4-$9), a new cocktail menu, $3.50 beers and $4 wine (425-483-3232, ).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle