It’s funny that you can live in an area for more than 20 years and not really know it all that well. This weekend, we visited Rogue Farms, which is a mere 10 miles from our front door, but a hang-out I hadn’t discovered until just last summer. The Independence, Oregon hops farm and “beer shack” features a revolving selection of IPAs and lagers, made with ingredients from its surroundings.
Wife/photographer Lisa and I met up with our friend and fellow craft beer enthusiast Jeff Vandomelen and his dogs Joby and Ryker. The friendly lab-pit bull pups enjoy stealing a taste of ale when Jeff’s not looking, but we kept them at more than tongue’s length away on Sunday.
Lisa hung on tight to her glass of Marionberry Braggot, made with Rogue Farm’s hand-picked marionberries and honey collected from the its bees. She said this ass-kicking 11.4% concoction “tasted a little like rum.” It worked for her!
When Jeff wasn’t wrestling with the dogs, he was lapping up Rogue’s 7 Hop IPA, which made him crack a smile. He thought about it for a few seconds, then pronounced it “smooth, but hoppy and fragrant.” He also took a taste of the coffee-inspired Fresh Roast, a dark beer that he didn’t expect to like, but was pleasantly surprised by (he handed it back to me quickly before Joby could sneak a lick).
My own favorite at Rogue is Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winning Hazelnut Brown Nectar… but not today. After appreciating a glass of the nutty nectar, I tried Wet Hop IPA, brewed from hops picked in the field just over my shoulder. Michael and Kyle, who poured from the taps and also double as the farm’s tour guides, explained that hops, picked little more than 50 yards from where we sit, are shipped to the Rogue’s facilities in nearby Newport and loaded into a big brew kettle the same day.
The result is a farm-to-table beer that makes one imagine that he or she is biting into a ripe, juicy flavor-packed pint of raw hops. You can taste the greenness of Rogue’s limited-supply Wet Hop IPA as it rolls across the palate. This craft beer is not for everyone, especially those who don’t care for especially hoppy IPAs, but those who do will appreciate the farm-fresh flavor enhanced by the surrounding countryside.
Speaking of which, the next time you are in the vicinity (if you are really lucky, you always have been, but just didn’t know it), pay a visit to Rogue Farms (http://www.rogue.com/roguefarms/). It’s even open during the winter months, when the farm hands use space heaters to warm things up for the brave souls shivering outside at picnic tables. For those who want to pair their beer with a bite to eat, Rogue has an abbreviated menu that includes burgers, chicken strips, and that sort of pub fare. But make no mistake, the real stars of this show are the delicious craft beer surprises that Rogue regularly rotates through its cozy little “Chatoa” in the Oregon countryside. Check them out for yourselves!
This post was written by Kirk Richardson.