The brewery farm is alive and well in the United States—from Dave’s Brewfarm in Wilson, Wis., to Tundra Brewery in Stamford, N.Y.—and, no doubt, each one evokes the bucolic tradition of brewing field to fermenter. As with every story we tell in the magazine, there’s always a leftover gem we can’t quite squeeze onto the page; with Rogue Farms, we had more than one. Here are a few more reasons we think Rogue is quite special:
Every time I get a new Crop Report email from Rogue, I feel like Randolph and Mortimer Duke getting the inside commodity scoop from Clarence Beeks. However, the email that came in earlier this year wasn’t good news. In January, the Willamette River flooded western Oregon, including Rogue’s micro-hopyard. It’s hard to miss the passion Rogue has for its land when reading through this email: Despite the tragedy, the report was fairly upbeat, telling anecdotes of helpful neighbors, assessing the damage, illustrating the history of floods in the area and letting us know they saved a stranded field mouse from the floods. Sign up for the report by visiting the brewery’s website.
As I mentioned, Rogue’s interest in land goes beyond the quality of the final product—it’s also about the process, the challenge and the people along the way. Here are a few words from Rogue’s man-in-charge Brett Joyce about growing his own barley—and then expanding with other crops:
“I met a guy through a mutual friend. He calls himself a neck surgeon with a farming habit—he’s a farmer by weekend. It was stupid to try; the barley experts shook their heads and said we couldn’t grow malt 12,130 feet in the shadow of Mt. Hood. Three years into it we’ve had nothing but wonderful crops. At the hop farm, we’ve expanded that—[even did] pumpkins last year. [Also making] a mead product from Rogue Farms’ 19 hives.”
While Rogue doesn’t own the land, it does take all the risk: “If the crop fails, we have all the expense and we pay for all the labor,” notes Joyce. A married couple are the current caretakers of the land, where they operate the tasting room, tend to the chickens, turkeys and pigs. Joyce also notes they have 11 weddings planned there this summer.
If you’re looking to get a taste of the land, check out the Chatoe Rogue series, which sources barley and other ingredients from the farm.
Rogue has one of the most—maybe the most¬—lively YouTube accounts. The short videos are usually a fun behind-the-scenes look at the brewery and brew farm. Like this one, which introduces the brewery’s two new potbellied piglets, Voo and Doo.
Off the Wall
On top of all the serious agriculture endeavors, a playful spirit is still thriving at the brewery, if this news report is any indication.