In 1979, when the idea of starting a small brewery first occurred to me, it seemed outlandish to almost everyone. The second person I confided in was an investment banker. "Har, har!" he guffawed like Major Hoople. "Breweries don't start up, they shut down." His response made me even more certain that my instincts were right and that we would have the Seattle market to ourselves. Wrong. In 1980, I traveled to the Great British Beer Festival; I introduced myself to the distinguished beer writer and historian Michael Jackson and told him I was part of a group in Seattle hoping to start a small brewery. "Which group?" he replied. Jackson had known before I did that Bert Grant was working on a similar project in Yakima. Jackson's geography was a little off, but he could see what was coming down the bottling line. Soon after we started Redhook, it seemed, suddenly there were wheat beers, fruit beers, stouts, porters, barley wines; we even once considered an obscure style from the Isle of Man called oyster stout. (Yes, it had oysters in it, and somebody in the U.S. eventually made it.) It also occurred to others that you didn't actually need to build a brewery to make beer. Samuel Adams became a huge success with a label and another brewery's excess capacity. Pubs and alehouses started featuring as many as 50 drafts, ensuring that most of those 50 beers would be stale by the time they were served. The dazzling assortment of styles aging in the cooler aisle at a local supermarket could leave you light- headed before you ever twisted a top. And Anheuser-Busch owns a piece of Redhook. It's enough to make me long for a Rainier. Gordon Bowker was a co-founder not only of the Redhook Brewery but also Starbucks and Seattle Weekly. Beer Issue • Mountain Fresh: First, a word from our founder, Gordon Bowker.
• 20 Years of Beers: The Northwest leads the micro-brew charge. By Don Scheidt
• Highs and Lows: A chronology of Northwest brewing.
• The Future: It's Belgium. Really.
• Belgian-Style, Northwest Brewed.
• Food: Some favorite brewpubs.
• Calendar: Where to go, what to drink.