I actually had two pubs in mind as I rode my spring “populaire” a couple of weekends back, but as I recount in that report I was mistaken about where my route was going. The route that I was following began and ended at the Redhook Brewery and I have to say this is a pub that is almost never my destination. Lets step back into the mists of time when I first began to drink beer. I’d dabbled with a few mass market American crap beers in high school, but really never enjoyed them enough to drink more then a few. My first year in college I tried a wide variety of alcoholic substances and still couldn’t get too into it. I ended up staying at college that summer taking a few courses to prep me for the next year and that summer was one of the hottest I’ve experienced in my many years in Washington State. This heat along with a couple of new friends led to a lot more beer drinking and I vividly recall one day sitting out in the stands in an out of the way outdoor soccer field drinking a Henry Weinhards Red (which they don’t seem to make anymore) and realizing that I actually liked the way it tasted.
Henry’s of course is just a step up from mass market crap American beer, the lightest of ales with pretty low body, hops and alcohol. It got me started though from from Hanks I moved on pretty fast. Redhook was pretty much the next step, their ESB having a bit more body and flavor and their Blackhook Porter being probably the gentlest route to these rich and complex beers. Redhook though is pretty much only a step up from Hanks there are plenty of readily available brews in all of their styles that are considerably better. The upshot of this long winded trip down memory lane is that I don’t really care too much for Redhook and thus even though I lived a mile and a half from the brewery for five years I almost never went there.
As I mentioned above this route began and ended at Redhook and really I felt I couldn’t pass up heading in a least for a celebratory tipple. And I’ve learned and interesting fact in recent years due to the occasional trip to Redhook for work (our offices are only a couple of miles from here): Blackhook Porter is served on Nitro taps at Forecasters and somehow that makes a ton better. So I can always get by at Redhook with a Blackhook or two. As I recounted in that ride report the route was quite rural and did not go past the Snoqualmie Taproom where I’d intended to stop for lunch so by the time I got back to Redhook I was starving. So I was more then happy to head in for beer and some food.
Forecasters is the name of the pub attached to the Redhook Brewery and I have to say it is much more focused on the eating part then the drinking. The bar is a crammed little corner of the much larger restaurant and it all seems designed in such a way that you have no inclination to linger. Of course you get enough beer in you it doesn’t matter, but I for one have never spent a real long time here. The place also was packed and considering that it was 5pm on the nicest Saturday of 2008 to date I guess that isn’t too shocking. There is a park just across the way and the long Sammamish River Trail runs right by it, so it is a popular place to end cycling or outdoor activities. There was one little table free in the bar area so I headed over that way and immediately ordered a Blackhook (and a glass of water to drink while I waited for it to warm up).
The food at Forecasters is in that kind of kicked up bar food: “gourmet burgers”, blacked chicken salads, salmon burgers and so on. I’m mostly vegetarian but will eat fish on occasion so I usually can find something to eat at most PNW pubs. I wasn’t in the mood for a burger-y type thing so I ended up getting Snow Crab Ravioli in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. Not bad, though they ravioli were clearly frozen and just whipped up on demand. Also considering how hungry I was after the days ride I could have eaten about four times as much, but as I still had to ride about nine more miles this was probably for the best. I didn’t linger long after eating and didn’t even get another beer. The Blackhook was the only thing I was interested in and after the one I was done.
Forecasters will never be a frequent destination but as a rare one it’s not too bad. The occasional nitro Blackhook and decent bar food means I’m never unhappy when I go there, but there are a lot better options.