Mac & Jack’s: Low profile company, high-quality beer

At not quite 11 on a Wednesday morning, Mac & Jack’s fans were pacing outside the Redmond-based brewery’s retail shop in the North Sammamish Center, waiting for the doors to open.

Brewer Brandon Ridge works at Mac & Jack’s Brewery in Redmond. Mac & Jack’s holds free tours at 3 p.m. Sundays

Brewer Brandon Ridge works at Mac & Jack’s Brewery in Redmond. Mac & Jack’s holds free tours at 3 p.m. Sundays

Mac & Jack’s brews Northwest specialty while being ‘good, quiet neighbors’

At not quite 11 on a Wednesday morning, Mac & Jack’s fans were pacing outside the Redmond-based brewery’s retail shop in the North Sammamish Center, waiting for the doors to open.

The small and unpretentious brewery does no bottling. Devotees buy kegs or growlers and come back for refills, when they’re not quaffing Mac & Jack’s wares at a Northwest restaurant or pub.

“Almost everywhere there’s a draft system, you’ll find one of our handles,” said general manager Jim Hardesty. Seattle is their stronghold and they also have followings in Oregon and Idaho, as well as wistful calls from other states, asking, “Where can I get your beer?”

Their flagship beer, African Amber, accounts for 95 percent of their production — and in most instances, if someone orders “a Mac & Jack’s,” that’s what they’ll get. Mac & Jack’s also produces Serengeti Wheat, Blackcat Porter and IPA (Indian Pale Ale) varieties.

The brewery’s namesakes, Mac Rankin and Jack Schropp, started the business in 1993, in Jack’s garage. As demand for their product grew, they moved to their present location at 17825 NE 65th St., where they still keep a low profile and try to be “good, quiet neighbors. We haven’t self-promoted where we are,” said Hardesty. They’re just starting to put out signs pointing the way to their spot in the business park, so tenants in nearby offices don’t have to give directions.

Mac & Jack’s holds free tours at 3 p.m. Sundays, when adjacent businesses are closed and parking is more available. Kids are welcome on the tour, but of course, can’t participate in tastings. Bring an ID if you’d like to partake of samples and allow 45 minutes to an hour for the tour, depending on the size of the group and the volume of questions.

“Brewing doesn’t have a lot of downturn, the products are available year ‘round and we like to keep up the momentum,” Hardesty noted. Having said that, Mac & Jack’s is going from its “busy” to “busier” seasons, since brewing festivals are more plentiful in the spring and summer. Just like the weekend wine warriors, throngs of beer aficionados come through to share the “tasting” experience and compare notes.

It would be fun to see some Mac & Jack’s references in a Food Network show or “Grey’s Anatomy,” Hardesty admitted. Yet with or without becoming media darlings, employees at Mac & Jack’s “treat what they do as a labor of love, from start to finish,” he said. “When you look at the old photos of people in the (pioneer) breweries, you see burly, hardworking guys, dedicated to their craft. It’s the same here, today.”

Mac & Jack’s retail shop is open Wednesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call (425) 558-9697 or visit www.macandjacks.com.


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