Redhook Ale Brewery is (at least as of recently) Budweiser’s answer to the craft brew craze.

When their own attempts to woo craft beer drinkers failed miserably (anybody remember Black Crown? North Pacific Style Lager? No?), they decided to just start taking over already established craft breweries. Craft Brew Alliance began in 2008 when Widmer Brothers and Redhook Ale decided to hang out more, and it was something Budweiser couldn’t ignore. Today, Anheuser-Busch is the largest stakeholder in the Alliance, and don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Kona Brewing Company, but even just knowing the situation taints my tastes.

That being said, the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth is a lively place to hang out. Housed in an ultra-modern and industrial chic warehouse, it and it’s pub companion, Cataqua, put a lot of effort into atmosphere. They host a slew of parties and promotions, especially in the summer, when revelers can spill out onto the lawn and enjoy live music and other entertainment. They also have a solid menu of good pub food, and they do have rotating guest taps for other local or New England beers.

The view from a barstool at Redhook

Redhook Ale Brewery was founded in 1981 by Paul Shipman and Gordon Bowker, who also co-founded Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee, in Seattle. It still has a brewery in Woodinville, Washington, in addition to the offshoot in New Hampshire. They still maintain their dedication to green business and brewing practices and sponsor a number of activist-themed events and organizations, keeping their street cred up-to-date.

At the Cataqua Public House, where you can samples suds and get some grub, the taplist is long, and you’re sure to find something for your taste; despite being more than 30% Budweiser, Redhook still makes a good, if generally unspectacular, beer. Unfortunately, the bartenders seem too busy being cool to help you figure out what you want. Beyond giving the name of the beer, none of them seemed to know much else about what they were pouring. Their aloofness adds to the impression that you are sitting at any old sports bar specializing in Bud Lights, Jager shots and anonymous service, which is too bad considering what they have to work with.

It could be the off season. It makes all of us a little bored. Maybe I’ll try again during festival season.

Redhook Brewery and Cataqua Public House

What: Brewpub featuring pretty much all their beers, plus some good local brews on rotating taps.

Where: 1 Redhook Way, Portsmouth, out next to the Pease International Tradeport. Monday-Thursday 11:30-10, Friday-Saturday 11:30-11, Sunday 12-8.

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