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Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: Redhook brews up a pleasing Pilsner

You have probably seen Redhook beers on the shelves of grocery stores and beer shops. The brewery got off the ground in the early 1980s in Seattle, before the word "craft" beer came into vogue.

You can brew beer in many places, and in this case, the brewery started in a former transmission shop, and now has breweries in Woodinville, Wash., and here in New Hampshire at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. They produce a variety of beers, including ESB, Pilsner, Audible Ale and Copperhook.

For starters, let's take a look at their Pilsner. It's made in the style of Czech Pilsners; recall that the Czech town of Plzen gave the beer its name, and it traveled across Europe from there. There are different kinds of Pilsners, and the Czech version, also known as Bohemian Pilsner, first brewed in the 1840s, runs from straw to gold in color, and the hops tend to dominate, though the malt is by no means absent. They run, on average, from 4.5-5.5% alcohol by volume.

So much for Europe and the West Coast. Redhook's Portsmouth brewery opened in 1996. It's similar in style to its counterpart in Washington state, and home to Redhookfest in August. Brewery tours are $1, and run regularly - see the website for times. The roughly hour-long tours include a guided walking tour of the brewery, and a sampling session of three or four beers.

And the beer? Redhook Pilsner, 12-ounce bottle, 5.3% abv. Thick just off-white pilsner style head over golden beer, the hops predominate on the nose, with citrus and some grassiness. The palate is of medium weight, dry, and some malt comes through here, along with some hoppy bitterness, very nicely balanced, as is the alcohol. Medium texture, leaning toward a little silkiness, it's on the heavier end of the pilsner spectrum, but still light in the grand scheme of things. Light malt flavors of grain, grassiness, and hoppy citrus and some slight herbal hints walk along together to a pleasing finish.

We'll be hearing more about Redhook here, given what you've just read.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at


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