Tuesday, September 26, 2006


When I was a young & impressionable beer snob, one of the first microbrews I latched onto was original recipe RED HOOK ESB (read about “The Day I Discovered Real Beer” here), and it became a favorite for years. I sought out other flavors of theirs soon thereafter, and in the early 90s there was a sub-brand called Red Hook BALLARD BITTER, which, in an effort to expand beyond Seattle environs, was renamed RED HOOK IPA sometime in the 1990s. Well, the Ballard Bitter I remember from back in the day was pretty good (and I bought it all the time!), but I still enjoyed the ESB quite a bit better, but having quaffed a draft Red Hook IPA the other evening in 2006, I have to say – jesus fellas, what happened? This is a fair-to-poor IPA, lacking any real discerning features at all except for blandness, and is hardly representative of the revolution in US-conjured India Pale Ales going on the past 5 years. It’s as if they were left in a figurative cloud of dust as the Moylans, Dogfish Heads and Russian Rivers left them behind with their sooo-20th century formulation. And I hate to say it, but this particular IPA tastes like something Budweiser or Coors would put forth as a bold new product, which would 9 times out of 10 taste like a weak approximation of a true craft beer. 4.5/10, generously – and I’m not trying it again. Still love that ESB, though.


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

What happened is that Anheuser Busch bought them. Yet another triumph for Repiglican enterprise!

jimmy b said...

the head brewer from red hook (nh), steve schmidt, is brewing similar styles with alot more oomph, creativity, and freedom at a brewpub in granby, ct called cambridge house. go there for the esb and ipa and you will have a taste of what you remembered about the good old days.


Kyle said...

Wow, my thoughts exactly. I do enjoy the ESB, but Dogfish Head dismantles their IPA, that's fo sho.