Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Redhook Copperhook Spring Ale

Today's entry covers a beer from one of my favorite craft brewers, Woodinville, Washington's own Redhook Brewery; that beer is their Copperhook Spring Ale. Now, I know you're thinking "hey, wait a minute, it's not spring...it's halfway through summer!" I would like to note that I bought it in spring, and it's been relaxing in a cold, dark fridge ever since just waiting to be drank. It gets its chance today. Looking back on previous entries, I'm surprised I've never done a brewery history on Redhook, at least a comprehensive one.

The history of Redhook starts in the Scandinavian working-class Seattle neighborhood of Ballard in May 1981, when Paul Shipman and Gordon Bowker founded the brewery. The first batch of their Redhook Ale was poured in 1982. Unfortunately, Seattleites were "maybe a little confus[ed]" about this beer, called the "banana beer" because of its flavor. Less than 1,000 barrels were sold that year; sadly, this beer is no longer available in that initial form. However, their next brews, 1983's Blackhook Porter and 1984's Ballard Bitter (now known as Longhammer IPA) were met with much greater acclaim, and 1987's ESB (Extra Special Bitter) became their flagship ale. To keep up with demand, they moved out of Ballard and into a new brewery in nearby Woodinville in 1994, while expanding their east coast presence with a brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1996. As previously mentioned, Redhook and Portland's Widmer Brothers Brewery merged to form the Craft Brewer's Alliance in 2007, which was finalized in 2008. (Redhook's history link, not direct-linkable; go to Redhook main page → About Redhook → Redhook History)

The history of Copperhook itself is not nearly as long-winded. It began life in 2001 as two different beers: the Chinook Copper Ale, and the Chinook Stock Ale, later renamed Late Harvest Autumn Ale. Chinook Copper Ale was sold year-round, but only in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. It was pulled from the shelf in the summer of 2005 due to a redesign of the bottle and label layout of all Redhook products, combined with Redhook's leasing of the name "Chinook" from Yakima Valley's Chinook Wines. Instead of dealing with all the rights issues associated with continuing to lease the name, Redhook re-christened it as Copperhook Spring Ale, their spring seasonal, in the spring of 2006. It was still temporarily available only on the west coast at that time, with their delicious Nut Brown Ale filling in on the east coast, but as of spring 2007 it is now available nationwide with the exception of Utah and Oklahoma (like all their beers).

On a side note, their Nut Brown is sadly no longer available, but may be due for a glorious comeback soon. One can only hope.

(The above info comes from a combination of recollections of the many Redhook brewery tours I've taken and a phone call to the Redhook Beer Guru on August 7th, 2008 at 2:45 PM PDT. Thanks again, Guru!)

DISCLAIMER: This beer has a soft spot for me, having gotten me through most of my junior year of college. I have tried to be as objective as I can in reviewing this beer.

Here come the stats:

Redhook Copperhook Spring Ale
BREWERY: Redhook Brewing Co., Woodinville, WA, USA
STYLE: BeerAdvocate calls it an American Pale Ale
CALORIES/SERVING: 174 per 12 oz. bottle
ABV: 5.7%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 13.078° Plato (1053.18)
MALTS: Carapils, Caramel
HOPS: Willamette, Saaz
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: Barbecue, salads, seafood
AWARDS: (none)

Most of this information comes from Redhook's Copperhook website (not direct-linkable, go to Redhook main page → Our Ales → Copperhook). The rest were answered by Redhook's Beer Guru.

It makes sense that Copperhook pours a copper color into the glass, accompanied by an average-sized soft foamy white head which stuck around a longer than average amount of time. The nose was a grainy texture with accents of subtle sweetness, almost fruity in nature. The taste of the beer itself was hoppy at first, quickly transforming into a malty flavor with carbonation. The aftertaste was a little bit of stale hoppiness, but it didn't stick around; within 30 seconds it had evolved to a slight maltiness that was pleasant on the tongue.

This is a light ale that is perfectly suited for the spring and summer months. It's flavor masks its 5.7% ABV well, making this a higher ABV session beer in my mind. Since Redhook's seasonals for this part of the year are their Sunrye Summer Ale and their newly-nationally-available Late Harvest Autumn Ale, you'll have to wait until mid-January 2009 to pick up a six-pack.


No comments: