Nestled in the coastal town of Newport, Oregon, Rogue Ales is a craft beer heavyweight. While a lot of craft brewers can boast of using unique ingredients and methods, not many are producing everything from hops to grain and more on their own farms. Rogue, which has been operating in the Pacific Northwest since 1989, is unique. With farms, creameries, distilleries, and breweries scattered across Oregon, there’s not much that Rogue doesn’t do.
And the mastermind behind the beers is brewmaster John Maier, one of the few major figures in the craft beer world that Michael hadn’t yet met. After a warm welcome from John and his cohorts, Michael got a tour of one of Rogue’s two large and plentiful farms – this one in Independence, OR - where they grow everything from berries and hazelnuts to pumpkins and peppers. In addition to specialty ingredients, the farm also has seemingly endless acres of hops.
After exploring the plant life, Michael found himself in the midst of the buzz, helping Rogue’s beekeeper, Josh Cronin, tend to more than a hundred hives (and 1.5 million bees). To do that, Michael put on a protective suit and mesh mask to get a close-up education as Josh handled the hives barehanded, while explaining the process that provides Rogue with honey for their honey kolsch and mead. Before heading back to the brewery, Michael tasted the bready beer and enjoyed its subtle sweetness.
Back in Newport, Michael began helping John Maier brew Rogue’s famous OREgasmic Ale. “From ground to glass,” as the brewery proudly states, the ingredients used in the brew are exclusively local, including Rogue’s Dare™ and Risk™ malts. John led Michael to the in-house roaster, where they roasted the grains before mill-in (the grain bill also included Oregon-grown Munich malt). In addition to the grain base, John uses more than 140 pounds of hops in the recipe; the quantity is so high that the end product comes out with a whopping 95 IBUs. However, despite the sheer amount of hops, the Munich malt cuts the harshness and the end result is nicely balanced.
After brewing, Michael headed to the kitchen to meet up with Rogue’s chef to make chipotle chicken pasta, using not one but two different beers. Similar to their beers, all of the ingredients used in the dish were locally grown. After marinating the chicken in lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, thyme, garlic, and Rogue’s Irish Lager, they pan seared it, then added peppers, onions, garlic, and chipotle ale along with a variety of seasonings. After adding in the pasta, the dish was ready to go—and boy, was it good!
Heading at last to the pairing table, Michael and the Rogue Ales party dug in. First on the menu? Rogue Creamery’s Morimoto Soba Cheddar cheese (infused with beer and boasting of nutty, hoppy, and bitter characteristics) paired with its matching counterpart, Morimoto Soba Ale, with a distinctly nutty finish. The two worked to accentuate and complement each other perfectly.
The group followed the cheese pairing with the delicious dish that Michael had helped to make in the kitchen. The chipotle chicken pasta was served with the chipotle ale, an amber with spicy and smoky chili flavor. The spice of the dish paired perfectly with the smokiness of the beer, and the heat that settled on the back of the palate made for a great finish.
Kobe beef meatballs, made with Rogue Creamery’s blue cheese and an assortment of herbs, were a big hit paired with Rougenbier Rye (a spicy rye beer with smoky malt flavors). The brew complemented the heavy meat and herb dish flawlessly.
Topping off the night, the staff brought out Chocolate Stout Floats. Made with Rogue Creamery’s ice cream and topped with whipped cream, the chocolaty goodness of the brew and the sugar of the dairy made the end of Michael’s visit to Rogue Ales a sweet one.
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