With the faint aroma of fermentation and the saturation of moist, yes I said it, air, I stood in a group of strangers. A rush of air flew behind me, not from the wind, but from a man walking briskly past me. He paused slightly, gaining the group’s attention. And like a fan girl, I perked up and leaned forward to get a better look at the familiar bearded man. No, it wasn’t Santa Claus, but better. It was a brewmaster sighting. And not just any brewmaster, it was the brewmaster, John Maier.
Maier has been with Rogue for 28 years and on the day of my visit, August 18th, 2016, he was celebrating his 20,000th brew. And for this milestone beer, Maier created a brew of 20 different types of grain pairing up with 20 different types of hops.
Prior to my brewmaster sighting, I found myself a spot at the upstairs bar of the brewery. One thing I love about Rogue is that it always seems to be just as you sit down a tasting glass of beer appears in front of you. This time it was the American Ale. I don’t know if it was the beer of the day, or if the beertender took a guess at what I would drink. It wasn’t a bad guess, but not my typical style. The American Ale has a 5.3% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and a 53 International Bittering Unit (IBU). It’s malty with a slight hop, but nothing too aggressive. A good solid amber.
I ordered some lunch and of course some beer because it would have been irresponsible not to. This was not my first time to a Rogue establishment. Hell, it wasn’t even my first time to a Rogue establishment in Newport Oregon (I visited the Bayfront Public House, in the historic Bayfront area a few years ago.) But like any visit to a brewery, I ordered up a flight of beer and a tasty snack.
While I waited for my lunch I began to work through my tasting flight. I started first with the Jalapeno Hells Lager. I have been really into chili pepper beers lately, and this beer did not disappoint. With a 4.6% ABV and a 15 IBU, the beer had a nice bite to it thanks to the spiciness of the pepper.
My next taste was the Chipotle Ale, another pepper beer with a 5.4% ABV and a 40 IBU. Smokey and spicy flavors run throughout this beer. While in Astoria Oregon, at a different Rogue establishment, earlier that year I had wanted to try this beer, but they had completely run out. And it was understandable why as it was delightful.
The Dead Guy Ale was my next beer. With a 6.5% ABV and a 40 IBU, this beer is probably one of their more recognizable beers, that has been around since the early 1990’s. A maibock style that has a pretty amber color with some slight sweetness to it. I use to drink this beer a lot in my early 20’s and then for some reason I stopped. I will admit to the error of my ways. This beer has made a return to my current beer consumption.
My next beer was the Cold Brew. If you know me, you are probably wondering if I fell down and smacked my little head on the ground. I didn’t, but once the beer rushed over my taste buds I thought to myself… right cold brew. Coffee. Damn it. This beer has a 7.5% ABV and an 82 IBU, and a decent amount of flavor. If you like coffee, you’ll like this beer.
The Brutal IPA was my next beer. The Brutal IPA is the official Rogue Nation beer, a nation of risk takers, pursuers of the long shots and of course rebels. There is more to their allegiance, but it basically boils down to treat people with respect, work hard and be rogue. Like their logo says “Dare. Risk. Dream”. These are all things we should live by. The Brutal IPA has a 6% ABV with a 46 IBU and delivers a nice punch of citrus flavors.
The Black Pearl Ale was my next beer. A 5.7% ABV and a 15 IBU. This beer is classified as a fruit beer, but it is also a sour style. Sours may not be for everyone, and it is always best to know they are a sour before drinking them. I enjoyed this beer, it was dark, smooth and tasty.
The Marionberry Braggot was up next. This beer comes in with a sledgehammer of an ABV, 11.42% and a 17 IBU. Braggot styles are a form of mead, or honey-based wine, or beer depending on what part of the country you come from. The Marionberry is a blackberry cultivated in Oregon and you should make every effort to get your hands on this flavor while in Oregon. This beer pours out a stunning rich red color followed up by a nice puckery tartness.
By this time my lunch arrived. I had ordered the Chipotle Steak Tacos, which paired nicely with the beers I was drinking. The tacos came with a side of guacamole and cilantro salsa. These were decent tacos, but the shells became slightly soggy by the end… so you better eat them fast!
My last taste was the 5 Hop Black IPA. So I have something to admit. I love black IPA’s. Like if given the choice that’s all I would drink. But they are not popular and breweries do not make them very often. So I guess what I am saying is that if you see one, you better get one. When I reviewed my tasting notes, they simply listed “Holy F*** where have you been my whole life? This beer has a 5.55 ABV and a 55 IBU. The beer is comparable to my beloved (and RIP) Wookey Jack from Firestone Walker, minus the rye. I have also stated that there would be no reason to drink anything else other than the Wookey Jack. Which now that the Wookey is dead and bloated, there would be no reason to drink anything else other than the 5 Hop Black IPA.
As I rounded off my last taster the beertender reminded me that it was time to head back downstairs for the brewery tour I had signed up for earlier. I marched myself down the stairs and stood by the meeting spot, the Rogue Fist logo, where I gathered with a group of fellow beer lovers from Maryland. The tour consisted of the basics inside the brewhouse, fermenting room and bottle/kegging/canning rooms. The tour continued on in a way only a Rogue tour could. We were loaded onto a mini train and whisked off to our next destination.
I won’t lie. I squealed (inside my head of course) when I found out we were loading onto the mini train.
The train led us to the Rogue National Distillery and Barrel Room as well as the Roguesonian Museum. We entered a warehouse where the barrels were made for aging the Rogue liquors. We were also giving a bird’s eye view of the distillery room, that included some pretty fancy copper stills and given a quick explanation of how alcohol is distilled.
Our next stop was the museum. Now I thought I liked to collect things… but Rogue has really out done themselves here. The rooms are filled with bottles, labels, tap handles and the military collection, beers specifically crafted for Oregon troops who have been deployed to combat zones. These beers are not available to the general public, only available to serving unit members.
The tour continued on to the Rogue House Of Spirits tasting room. Here we were greeted by the bartender who poured us a tasting of one of their craft spirits. I stuck to what I know, rum. Their rum is a dark rum and has some flavors of toffee and sugary goodness.
This is where the tour ended and we had the option to ride the train back to the brewery or we could stay at the Spirits tasting room… we all opted to stay at the tasting room. Per a recommendation from the bartender, I ordered an Oregon Sour. When in Oregon, why not, right? The Oregon Sour is made from a single malt vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup with a red wine float. The goblet glass arrived, with a pretty presentation hiding behind its temptress ways. It was an enjoyable drink and would make for an excellent sunny summer day beverage.
I wrapped up my time at the House Of Spirits and took the short walk back to the brewery passing by pallet after pallet of Rogue kegs ready to be thoroughly enjoyed by beer lovers near and far.
Rogue Brewers On The Bay is located at 2320 SE Marine Science Drive in Newport Oregon.