Wednesday, February 01, 2006
"Go West" -- or, where the Rogue brewers are.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve looked forward to a holiday getaway as much as I’m looking forward to the April road trip to the Pacific Coast, an idea that was briefly sketched in a previous posting, “The Curmudgeon does Oregon? Americana? Is anyone safe?”
In short, my friend Graham and I will be driving from New Albany to Portland, Oregon, there to meet his son and family and my wife -- and of course the inimitable Phil “Biscuit” Timperman of Horse Brass fame.
Subsequently, Diana and I will be traveling to Seattle, and Graham enjoying some quality time with the grandchildren in Portland.
Before the road trip rogues hit Portland, there’ll be a first-ever visit to the Rogue brewery in Newport – and I’m utterly psyched at the prospect.
In ten years of doing business with Rogue, the closest I’ve gotten to the brewery is Denver (during the Great American Beer Festival). At this point, I can’t even remember how we got together in the first place, but we did, and the routine hasn’t varied since.
I’ll talk to someone at Rogue (more often than not, Jim Cline, although at present my contact is Adam Lambert), pick 14 kegs to make up a pallet, and they’ll ship it to the North Vernon wholesaler via Best Beers in Bloomington. The kegs are drawn from the usual daily allotment of regular offerings ... with occasional twists.
Generally, but not always, we’ll have two Rogues on tap at any given time, with a vintage dated Old Crustacean every year at Gravity Head, and plenty of the more common Rogue brands (Brutal Bitter, St. Rogue Red, et al).
For a year or so, Rogue has promoted its “John’s Locker Stock” program, named for renowned head brewer John Maier, which in essence extends the courtesy of esoteric selection that Rich O’s has always enjoyed to any pub that wishes to participate, as such: Each month, a specific Rogue beer is showcased, and pubs nationwide receive their allotment of kegs to sell (in this case, the barrels come from World Class Beverage in Indianapolis).
Small batches, one-offs, revivals, seasonals … all are randomly available by spinning the John’s Locker Stock wheel of good brewing fortune. Unlike the casino, it’s a game that’s impossible to lose. They're all good.
In such fashion, the JLS listing for February has come down, and it’s a Gravity Head starter if it gets here on time. Just one thing: Don’t confuse it with the Scottish ale of the same name from the Orkney Islands.
Skull Splitter ~ a strong ale, first brewed as Test Batch #2 in the summer of 2003, (a.k.a. Black Brutal Bitter) for the 2005 Oregon Brewers Festival, this beer is very dark for a strong ale--one on-line reviewer reports it looks like a stout but smells like a double IPA. Skull Splitter is about 8-8.5% ABV. It is a retro-brew in that it was brewed before, but as always with Rogue, with a twist the second time around.
A review on Beeradvocate.com states: "Test batch #2. This new beer from Rogue pours out an opaque black color with a nice tan head. The aromas are all coffee, hops, roasted malts, and booze. The taste is a nice boozy blend of roasted malts, citric hops, and chocolate. The mouth feel is definitely medium-bodied and the drinkability is great!"
(Photo credits - www.rogue.com web site)