Redhook is a brewery that started in 1981 in Seatlle, Washington. It is widely available and has been for years largely thanks to a distribution deal it has with one of the large megabrewers. Ironically, some in the craft beer arena have looked down on Redhook because of its ubiquitous presence in every bottle shop in the country, practically, and its low prices, even. Despite that, Redhook produces consistently pretty good beers.
Redhook’s flagship beer is their Extra Special Bitter (ESB), but they make several styles and recently introduced a Limited Release series with their new imperial stout, Double Black.
Interestingly, Double Black was a regular offering of Redhook’s from 1995-2000, then was pulled from shelves. Because it is so popular with Redhook fans, the brewery decided to make it the first beer in the Limited Release series. It became available in October 2008, and the next Limited Release will come out in March.
“Imperial” beers are basically beers with “twice as much stuff” in them. They tend to have bigger, more complex flavors, higher alcohol content and heavier mouthfeel due to the use of more ingredients in their brewing. Double Black also had an addition of coffee, although the coffee is very subtle in this beer. It weighs in at 7%ABV.
The primary flavor in this beer is char. It tastes very burnt. The coffee is subtle, but it is there mainly to compliment the char/burnt/roasted flavors of the stout. There is substantial bitterness in the flavor, particularly just after swallowing, but it is dry and powdery, like burnt toast, so it comes mainly from the roast in the malt, not hops.
This is an interesting beer, and one that definitely highlights the char/roast that some stouts have. For a coffee stout I much prefer Schlafly’s Coffee Stout, which is bursting with coffee flavor. 22 ounces of this charred flavor gets a little old, but at under $5 per bottle the Redhook Double Black is worth trying in my opinion.