Rogue Rules

Let's get it on the table right now: The Rogue Brewery should be on every beer fan's list of places-to-visit-before-you-die. Especially for anyone that considers themselves a fan of northwest style ales. I went myself for the first time recently and am a full convert to the Rogue ethos.

The trip started with a tour of the one and only Rogue Brewery in existence. It blows my mind a little that a couple of warehouses on the Oregon coast are responsible for the entire Rogue empire (50 states and 13 countries, according to our tourguide). They manage to do it, however. As a homebrewer, nothing about the tour was particularly surprising or informative. However, it was a hell of a treat to be exposed to their process (and a rare sighting of John "More Hops" Maier). Just standing underneath the two story fermenters was worth the trip.

With the tour over (and my small group of pals cleaning up at the post-tour trivia), we headed upstairs to the bar to sample some wares. I had the 100 Meter IPA from the Eugene City Brewery and was completely smitten. I'd never had it before and will buy a pint on sight if I ever catch a whiff of it again. My dinner later that evening was accompanied by Brutal Bitter, which is a great burger and fries beer. Very well made, very delicious, but not so overpowering as to interfere with good, simple food. I'd recommend either to anyone.

Crazily enough, we haven't even gotten to the highlight yet. Immediately after the brewery tour we were informed that Rogue Spirits across the parking lot would be giving a tour in 30 minutes. After a pint and a short walk, we showed up to a much more intimate group (seven vs the forty in the brewery) and were treated to a great tour courtesy of the head distiller, John Couchot. This guy was awesome. Very friendly, very funny, and very, very smart.

If you go to the brewery, do not miss the distillery. At the very least, go for the samples. We got to try the dark rum, the spruce gin, the hazelnut rum, and a special single-barrel dark rum that's going to be bottled at the end of the year. All of which were fantastic. The spruce gin appears to the right, next to a shot glass I won for knowing what oxygen does to the flavor of beer (You all know what oxygen does to beer, right? Right?). I wish I'd picked up a bottle of the hazelnut rum as well, but a $70 liquor tab might have made the ride home with my wife a little uncomfortable. I might have to make a trip to the ale house in NW portland and see if they can part with a bottle.

I don't know if you could claim Rogue invented the PNW beer ethic. Hell, I don't know if you could claim any one brewery invented it. But I think you could make a great case that very few do it better. They go big in everything they do, they do it all themselves, and they do it on a shoestring. They brewery itself is a loud mishmash of jury rigged brewing equipment, piles of the world's best ingredients, and full hairy, dedicated Oregonians making incredible beer. I love it and can't wait to go back.

Beau Burke
September 17, 2007, 9:13 pm
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