Redhook first brewed this beer in the 1990s, a coffee-infused Imperial Stout (7% abv being a respectable “imperial” during the 90s), and discontinued it in 2000. Back then, it was brewed with Starbucks coffee which made perfect sense as both craft beer and (Starbucks) coffee were two famous exports from Seattle. (To be fair, Woodinville, Washington, where Redhook hails from, isn’t technically Seattle, but it is one of the many towns making up the Seattle metro area.)
I always liked this beer, and I was happy to see it return (albeit for only a short time) back in 2008. It is pretty much my favorite Redhook beer so I was happy to see it appear again (hint to Redhook: this would be a great year-round offering!) and yes, this is just as good as I remember it.
The recipe this time around has been retooled a bit by Brewmaster Jennifer Talley (who took over as Redhook’s brewing operations manager a year ago) and the Starbucks has been replaced by Caffé Vita Coffee Roasting Company (I don’t know if Starbucks coffee was used in the 2008 incarnation).
This beer is luscious and silky smooth and rich, full of coffee in the nose and in flavor. Nicely roasty, but there’s no astringency or tannic bite that you can get with coffee; if anything the coffee has thinned out the body, I think, but it is superbly drinkable. On top of that you get the bittersweet chocolate rounding it all out.
Yes, this is a good beer. Stockpile it if you find it, since it’s only on the shelves for a limited time.