Seattle craft beer pioneer Redhook re-energizes brand with help from Duncan Channon

Nick Crandall in front of Redhook Brewlab's mural

The Pacific Northwest was the region that kickstarted the craft brew movement, and Seattle’s Redhook Brewery was one of the ones leading the charge. After 35 years, the Northwest craft brewing pioneer is getting a brand makeover, with a new Seattle brewery and pub and smart branding from independent San Francisco agency Duncan Channon.

As the recent surge of craft beer growth slows – volume up 6% in 2016, compared to 13% the year before, according the Brewers Association – Redhook aims to re-energize its brand with a new brewery and pub in the popular Capitol Hill neighborhood, called the Redhook Brewlab, opening August 17 in Seattle.

Founded in 1981 before craft brewing was a trend, Redhook helped launch the craft beer movement in Seattle before departing for suburban Woodinville in 1994. It weathered “Budhook” criticism when Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased a 30% stake in the company. Parent company, Craft Brewing Alliance, let go of Redhook’s suburban brewery, which was running at only 30% capacity, earlier this year. Redhook retains a brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

With the Brewlab, Redhook is returning to its Seattle roots and experimental heritage. Rather than launch a new advertising campaign to address the move, the brand set out to create a beer-focused working space and test ground to experiment and create new small-batch beers primarily for the pub, as well as develop recipes that will eventually come to life on a wider scale in Washington and beyond. Brewlab will feature 16 taps of rotating small-batch beers, brewed onsite by Redhook head brewer Nick Crandall – who will experiment with a wide variety of styles and recipes to brew more than 100 different small-batch beers every year.

“Redhook was built on experimentation and taking risks back in the early 80s,” said Crandall. “Redhook Brewlab will allow us to experiment and test brewing boundaries, as well as get feedback directly from our guests. We’ll see what works and what might not. Ultimately, the next generation of Redhook’s core and seasonal beers will be born at Brewlab.”

A focal point inside the brewpub is a custom mural by Grammy-nominated Seattle illustrator and Sub Pop Records art director Sasha Barr. The prominent mural on the wall near the front bar is a colorful collage celebrating the city, people, beer, architecture, and the neighborhood.

Redhook’s creative agency Duncan Channon conceived the Brewlab brand concept and created the identity, name, signage, menus and merchandise to bring the experimental brewing space to life and engage Seattle residents.

“To revitalize a brand that lost some of its craft credibility in the 35-plus years since it became one of the pioneering brewers in the small-batch movement, we knew we had to bring Redhook’s values to vivid life rather than merely talk about them in a traditional advertising campaign,” said Michael Lemme, chief creative officer, Duncan Channon.

“In developing the Brewlab concept and identity, our job was to make sure everything from the name to the smallest detail in the customer experience communicated how Redhook Brewlab is purpose-built to experiment, innovate and test the results on Seattle humans of legal drinking age.”

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle