Oregon brewery’s eclectic brews don’t disappoint
By Jamie Flathers
Greetings, beer enthusiasts! Jamie here, coming to you from my hometown of Salem, Oregon, where I’m visiting family for the holidays. Since it’s a special occasion, I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce you to one of my favorite Northwest haunts: the Rogue Brewery. Although their flagship pub is in Newport, on the Oregon coast, they have a satellite location in southeast Portland. I went with my sister Jess and her husband Ryan, and when we walked in, it occurred to me that I had achieved peak Portland. We three, a writer, a graphic designer, and a former bartender, were having dinner at a microbrewery with exposed ceiling ductwork and a full-size statue of a cow over the front door. We hummed along to acoustic versions of Hozier songs. I ordered a veggie burger with chimichurri aioli. The only thing missing was Fred Armisen himself, and maybe some chickens.
Per my custom, I ordered a flight of four. When I asked the server which beers she would recommend if you were introducing someone to the Rogue for the first time, she didn’t even hesitate. Thus, I tried their Cold Brew IPA, Dead Guy Ale, Straight Outta Newport Double IPA, and Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout. Here are my thoughts on having attained beer-vana.
Cold Brew IPA, 7.5% ABV: When I told Ryan I had ordered a coffee IPA, he got this does-not-compute look on his face and said, “That makes no sense.” Friends, this was the most delicious nonsense I’ve ever tasted. Its nose was all coffee, and it had a rich, amber color. If I hadn’t known better, I never would have pegged this beer as an IPA. The bitterness of the coffee and the bitterness of the citrusy hops harmonized like a folk duo. This beer was balanced and nimble, like a thief or an acrobat. They should have named it Sleight of Hand.
Dead Guy Ale, 6.8% ABV: I’ve had Dead Guy before, long ago, in my bar-hopping 20s, so it was nice to get reacquainted. As an ale, this beer is neither light nor dark, a sort of Switzerland of brews. It’s mellow and versatile, a little bitter, a little sweet. Jess wanted in on the tasting action, so I taught her the retronasal olfaction trick where you swallow a sip of beer then breathe out through your nose with your lips closed. She wasn’t as impressed with Dead Guy as I was (“My nose likes this better than the rest of me,” she said), but I came to think of this beer like a song you love for its background vocals, or like your one quiet friend whom people don’t notice until she cracks a killer joke.
Straight Outta Newport Double IPA, 8.8% ABV: I was a little reluctant to try this one. If an IPA is kind of gross, then a double IPA should be twice as gross, right? WRONG. I’m discovering that if an IPA offers me enough citrus, I’ll come along with it on its bitterness, and this beer did not disappoint in the citrus department. Grapefruit carried the melody, with orange playing bass, and a slight piney twang at the end brought it all home. It was like drinking a three-part harmony.
Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, 5.8% ABV: As I expected, this was the undisputed star of the show. The cold brew IPA was some delicious nonsense, but this oatmeal stout was a siren. I’ve never had anything like it. Malt, yes; chocolate, yes—all the things I love about stouts plus a dryness that kept it from being too sweet at the end. Best of all, it tasted smoky, almost as if it had just come off a charcoal grill. Ryan held forth for a minute on the various methods by which brewers could get that smoky flavor, but I was too enraptured to pay attention. This beer was everything I never knew I always wanted in a stout, and if it unseats Ninkasi’s Oatis as my favorite beer, then so be it.
If your holiday wanderings put you in Newport or Portland, have a go at the Rogue. You won’t be disappointed. If you find yourself elsewhere in Oregon, you should be able to find six-packs in most grocery stores. You can even find certain Rogue beers at various locations in Moscow — Third Street Market carries their Mocha Porter and Hazelnut Brown Nectar, and Rosauers carries Dead Guy. They’re a little spendy — a six-pack of Dead Guy will run you $10.99 at Rosauers — but friends, trust me on this: they’re worth it.
Flathers is a Moscow resident and University of Idaho alum. She does a killer impression of a corkscrew. She’s a Ravenclaw with Hufflepuff leanings and is usually reading two or three books at a time. Questions or glad tidings can be sent to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.