Here’s to Washington’s 35-year-old craft-brewing industry

THE JOINT IS jumping on a balmy summer night in the old but mostly new Pike Motorworks building. Capitol Hill hipsters, techies up from Amazonia and old-fashioned beer nerds pack the long horseshoe bars and sociable bench-top counters, their clinking glasses echoing off the bricks and hoop chandeliers. It’s the grand opening of the newest, splashiest beer-making, beer-drinking establishment in a city awash with such enterprises.

Brewpub would be too humble a label; this is the Redhook Brewlab, where the 8,000-year-old brewers’ art meets digital technology and back-bar social networking. A bright screen lists the 16 brews on tap, from Classic Special Premium Lager to Grapefruit Sorbet IPA. Many are collaborations between Redhook, Seattle’s original craft brewer, and younger competitors.

A ribbon at the screen’s bottom announces who just ordered what: “Quinn-Cidental Pale, Josh D. less than 1 minute ago.” On the other side of the obligatory glass wall, brewer Nick Crandall scrambles along a steel catwalk, checking gauges and valves on the gleaming tanks. Party or no, the fermentation must go on.

In two booths at the party’s center, an older but even merrier group, wearing Oxford shirts and summer dresses rather than T-shirts and tattoos, raises its glasses. They are executives and boardmembers, past and present, of the company that launched Seattle’s first craft brewery 35 years ago and that has, through various mergers and shape shifts, brewed Redhook since.

A craft-beer timeline

1965

Fritz Maytag rescues San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, revives historic steam beer, goes on to inspire the craft-beer movement.

1976

• President Gerald Ford signs a law reducing the excise tax on small breweries, bolstering ailing regional breweries and enabling an unanticipated craft-beer revolution.

• Jack McAuliffe, Suzy Denison and Jane Zimmerman open the first all-new microbrewery, New Albion, in Sonoma, Calif….

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