Historic Day in Seattle Beer History – the 1st keg of craft beer

Craft beer is still a relatively new thing. We don’t have a lot of history. Luckily we live in Seattle, one of the places where American craft beer was born. Last year we celebrated Pike Brewing’s 25th Anniversary. Next Saturday, Maritime Pacific celebrates the same. But that’s about as old as we go. Almost.

Respect where it’s due, right? Wednesday, August 11, 1982 was a monumental day in Seattle beer history. That’s when Redhook tapped its first keg and sold its first pint. Around Seattle we take craft beer for granted, but 33 years ago there was nothing. In 1982, nobody had any idea if this whole “microbrew” thing would actually work. Hell, the overwhelming majority of beer drinkers had no clue that the beer world was on the brink of revolution.

At that time, Redhook was one of a very small handful of microbreweries in the nation. There were two in Washington. (The other was Yakima Brewing & Malting Co, also known as Grant’s Brewery Pub, in Yakima.) Today, Washington has 250 breweries and there are over 3,500 breweries across the nation. Suffice it to say, Redhook was on to something.

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A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. I know that many of today’s beer nerds find Redhook to be irrelevant. I know that many people misunderstand the company’s relationship with Anheuser-Busch and cannot forgive them for making a deal with the devil. I get it. I know.

Still, respect where it’s due.

Below I share some pictures that the folks at Redhook shared with me. I can’t imagine what those first customers thought of the old “banana beer” back in 1982. It must have completely freaked them out. It was a far cry from Rainier and Oly, which was pretty much the only thing you could find on tap around Seattle back then.

NOTE – I verified the date of August 11th 1982 with two sources. and a person who was actually there on that day and drank some of that beer.

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  1. Thanks for recognizing this, Kendall. I only worked there a few years with the original founder Paul Shipman, but I can say the passion and care for the Redhook “family” was strong, and they did blaze the path for many who followed.

  2. I remember it quite clearly. It ws thick and fruity with banana esters. It was unexpected by someone who was already well into exploring beer. Grant’s actually resembled a British ale, but Redhook was bready and just a bit odd. They’ll never be able to make the likes of it again.

  3. I was interested in what was happening with all this back then, so I tried some of the banana beer. It almost put me off micro beers. Fortunately I kept pushing on and found the black hook and winter hook. Luckily I don’t have to make a trek to Ballard for decent beer anymore, but it is nice go back now and check out all the new breweries occasionally.

  4. Will and I were there and we told Paul we were going to start a brewery on Bainbridge Island which did happen two years later (Thomas Kemper)! We were pioneers in search of crafted beers and created our own to get it fresh! Here’s the video of the Thomas Kemper tapping and more on beer in WA state in the very early 80’s

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