Rogue Mothership

Rogue Nation HeadquartersI was recently in Newport with the wife and kid. Michelle had a conference for work, so Ella and I decided to tag along to see the coastal town. Entering the town, you’ll notice signs identifying Newport as “The Friendliest,” no small claim to make.

One of my first tasks was to check in to brewery tours at Rogue. The last time I was in Newport was before Rogue existed, so this was my first chance to see the source of the beer I’ve been drinking for nearly a decade. Rogue beers are usually more of a treat – they cost more in the bottle, and their pub costs more to visit. A quick check of the website revealed that they do tours daily at 3pm, and a quick call to brewery revealed that minors are allowed on the tour. Score!

Michelle, Tim, Ella and I all hit up the brewery for the tour. The brewery is below the Yaquina Bay Bridge, and sits on a pretty cool piece of property on the water. From the outside, the brewery is easily identifiable with large signs on the side, and even some official looking, brown, “attraction” type signs on the road pointing to it. We got there a few minutes early and wandered around the guest shop and event room looking at schwag, medals (they have tons!) and to-go bottles.

The tour started promptly at 3, though the tour leader had only done the tour once before. She appologized repeatedly, and read descriptions from a sheet of paper while pointing (occasionally inaccurately) at the various tanks, kettles, tuns, and so on. The brewery was surprisingly rough too. For the quality of beer, and the coin they must make on $5 bottles, I guess I expected more of those funds to come back in to the brewery. It also seemed to be a maintenance day, so there was painting and other work going on, which seemed overdue.

We did get to meet a few of the brewery and cellar staff who were able to answer some of the questions I had, and they were all good people. It was really awe inspiring to see the cold storage room with its stacks of kegs and bottles ready to ship. There was a lot of Dead Guy, which I’m not the biggest fan of (weird, I know) but clearly the customer has a preference. In one corner, I noticed a stack of non-Rogue items and asked about it. Turns out it was “John’s Locker,” or his private cache of beers. There were several beers I’ve never seen before, and I’m sure will never see again. Maybe I’ll just get my own locker.

There was no tasting after the tour – a bit of a surprise, I thought. I’ve only been on 3 other official tours, and each one ended with at least a pint of the brewery’s wares. Not so here. No matter, we decided. We whipped out our Rogue Nation cards and grabbed a couple pints and enjoyed looking at the bay. The pub was in a similar unfinished state, but the service was great, and the beer was fantastic. I had a pint of Love & Hopiness and a glass of I2PA. Wonderful. We left with 2 growlers and two cases of beer to take back to the office.

Later that day Ella and I walked from our hotel to the brewpub on the bay. It was a nice walk, and we beat the rush, grabbing a table for 2 by the toys. The beer was good, the food was identical to Rogue Portland and the brewery (nothing to write home about), and the service was passable. The next night Michelle wanted to see the pub for dinner to, so we went back. This time, the service slumped. The wait staff was nice, but I had an empty beer before my meal arrived and didn’t get asked if I wanted a second until I had almost given up waiting for the bill. Yes, I ate dinner then waited nearly 15 minutes until someone came by again. I could have been a little more assertive, but I was curious to see if I had indeed fallen in to some parallel universe where you don’t have to pay for your meal and drink.

Overall, the only redeeming part of the visits was the beer. Everything I had was great. Brutal Bitter, Black Brutal, I2PA, Love & Hoppiness, 100 meter, and Shakespeare Stout.

Here are some pics from the visits.

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