Hiking the Oregon coast near Newport, I decided to stop in at Rogue Nation’s world headquarters, their Brewers on the Bay restaurant and production facility. One of many taprooms/distillery/restaurants, this is by far the largest and one of the oldest. I’ve been a long-time fan of Rogue and have had many of their beers throughout my adult life, so I was excited to go to the real deal and enjoy some drinks from the source. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this roguish recounting of my visit to one of Oregon’s oldest and largest craft breweries.
- Beer – Pick a beer style and you will likely find it on their menu, either the extensive list of year rounds or the ever-changing rotating taps. From the PNW standard IPA to a handful of sours, the breadth, depth, and creativity is fantastic. Is every beer a home run? No, but I love that they continue to experiment while maintaining a core of classics that have become almost iconic (Dead Guy ale anyone?). One of the most unique beers I’ve had was a blond ale mixed with kombucha, which I wrote about last summer, that perfectly mixed the bright, citrusy flavors and malt backbone of the blonde with the more earthy and herbaceous flavors of the kombucha, creating a drink that was a perfect lazy afternoon beer. With nationwide distribution, you should be able to find some of their beers near you, so make sure to pick some up if you can’t make it to one of their tap rooms. Score: 4.5/5
- Brewery – Most of this location is a giant, working brewery with a restaurant/taproom in the back on the second floor. As you enter through the bright red Rouge silo, you are greeted by an army of gleaming brew kettles and fermentation vats. Wend your way through, marveling at the scale of their production, and pass into the small downstairs store, where you can pick up any of their beers for later consumption. Up a short flight of stairs is the actual taproom and restaurant, which really embraces the fishing village-ness that is Newport. With wood planks reminiscent of the marina docks that can be seen out the windows in the harbor and a nautical theme throughout, it has a cozy feeling of comfortable shabbiness that makes you want to settle in one of the worn seats at the bar and order a few rounds. The place is divided into bar seating and table seating, with a full food menu to complement the tap list. The food is quite good, with an almost required variety of seafood options, though there are plenty of choices for the land lubbers and vegetarians. The prices are reasonable, and the hours are from lunch until at least 8pm every day, giving you plenty of time to eat and enjoy a few beers. Score: 3/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – While there are a few televisions in the bar area for watching games or whatever else is entertaining on the tube, the main attraction here is the brewery tour that happens daily (check their website for times). In addition, this location offers lots of events, from almost monthly garage sales for their beers to public screenings of documentaries in conjunction with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, with some brew fests and tap release parties sprinkled in. There is always something going on here and at all their locations, so make sure to stop in during one of those events. Score: 3.5/5
- Location – Just across the bay from downtown Newport, Rogue is still fairly central to a lot of things. Within a short walk is the Oregon Coast Aquarium, a small but fantastic tribute to the sea creatures that can be found in the PNW. With many excellent restaurants, a few other breweries, and a plethora of outdoor adventures within a short car or bike ride, its hard to beat this spot. If you do drive, you can’t miss the building as you cross the bridge and they have a massive on-site parking lot to make it easy to visit and enjoy. Just don’t drink and drive. Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – Despite it being a busy weekend with the local wine and seafood festival happening close by, I was seated quickly and served with an impressive speed and efficiency. There is table service of course in the restaurant area and all the staff was friendly and interactive. My server had some good recommendation for beers to try and was a pleasure to talk to. All around great customer service here. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 18.5/25
Favorite Beer: Double Chocolate Stout – 8.7% American Imperial Stout
Final Thoughts: Though I’ve had many of their beers before, this was my first visit to Rogue’s main production facility, and it did not disappoint. Top notch and creative beer compliment a respectable food menu and massive brewery to create a must-visit location if you are in the area. Be sure to sample any of their beers if you can find them near you and stop in at one of their locations if you find yourself near one.