Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Got Yer Blueline Right Here

First, what is the Blueline? It was a series of small batch beers brewed by Redhook in the early days of the brewery. According to a Redhook interview back in 1993:
"There is an intriguing component of chance with each exploratory brew. A Blueline beer may be extremely eccentric and appeal only to few beer connoisseurs, or the beer may become as popular as one of our great established beers."

Redhook recently decided to bring the Blueline back for its 30th anniversary. They re-launched it yesterday.

Along with being a marketing device, the original Blueline was a brewing device. Before Redhook got the IPO cash, the operation was a lot smaller. Their prototyping system (the Blueline) was three keggles, two burners some bent copper tubing for a sparge arm and more bent copper tubing for an immersion chiller, all sitting on some metal shelving in a standard homebrew 3-tier layout. After the IPO it was replaced with a larger commercial system.

The Blueline as it appeared a couple of years ago.

So how did I get the Blueline? It all started with a friendly gift a several years back. I was out doing yard work on a Saturday, and decided to grab a beer. My neighbor across the street was also working in his yard, so I grabbed a couple of my homebrews and headed across the street to talk to Pete.

At the time I was brewing my beer in the kitchen, so the fact that I was a homebrewer took Pete by surprise, but he had a deal for me. I found out that Pete had grown up with Doug McNair, one of the first brewers at Redhook. When Redhook opened their Portsmouth New Hampshire brewery, Doug moved to the east coast and sold his homebrew system to Pete, probably because it was going to be a hassle to move it, and because there probably wasn't going to be a lot of time for Doug to do home brewing.

There was probably also an expectation that having a homebrew system would motivate Pete to brew beer, but it never did. The Blueline sat in the crawl space of another friend's house for years because Pete didn't have room to store it. By the time I arrived to share my beer, Pete was just looking to get his money back out of his hardware purchase. I got a whopping good deal and a little chunk of Seattle beer history that gets used regularly.

Pete was one of the founders of The Beer Church, and a great guy. He left this life way too soon, and I miss him a lot.

Sunrise on the Blueline, Pete's old house in the distance.