I lived in Seattle for two years, 1997-99, and up there I discovered three brewers that I patronized almost exclusively: DESCHUTES from Bend, Oregon, who thank god have terrific distribution in Northern California now that I live there again; ALASKAN; and the ROGUE BREWING CO. of Newport, Oregon. My wife and I became addicted to Rogue's Brown Ale and tried out their offerings with obsessive regularity, and upon our drive back to San Francisco, we made sure to take the Oregon Coast route so we could hit up the brewpub itself in Newport (a dumpy little fishing town, honestly, at least with the 2 hours' worth of experience I have with it). Once we came back I think we had a couple of mediocre Rogues like their flagship "Dead Guy Ale", and all of a sudden Rogue took a distinct backburner to other drink selections for a few years. The brewery appears to be the picture of health, though, as they've opened up satellite brewpubs in Washington and now this one in San Francisco. I find it hard to believe that it's actually been here calling for me since September 2003, and my sojourn there a couple weeks ago was my first visit.
So there were something like 20 different Rogue beers both on tap and available for "take-away" in large bottles. I was pretty friggin' excited if you know what I mean, but having tackled 4 big pints the night before, I kept my cool and kept it to two nervously-chosen beers. Very hard to choose, in fact, so I went with two I've never seen nor heard of. The hands-down winner, and the best beer I've had in weeks, man, is ROGUE IMPERIAL STOUT. Here's what the Rogue flacks have to say about it:
"Deserving the title "Emperor of Ales" (unlike the bourgeois "King of Beers"), Imperial is the strongest and fullest of all stouts. Imperials originally were brewed with large quantities of hops and a high alcohol content to withstand long, unrefrigerated journeys. Rogue Imperial Stout, considered the high end of stouts, is made of 2-row Great Western Harrington & Klages, Hugh Baird XLT-80, Black, Munich and Chocolate Malts; Willamette, Cascade and Chinook hops; rolled oats; and two secret ingredients. Unfiltered and unfined, Imperial Stout is best when aged for one year. Imperial Stout is available in a new 750-ml ceramic swing-top bottle (replacing the much older 7-ounce and more recent 12-ounce XS-line packaging) and on draft."
They only served it in a little half-pint glass, which I'm learning is the custom when something has as much alcohol as this one -- 11%! It was absolutely divine, a candy-tongued slurpee of beer, as thick as a chocolate swamp & about as fun to drink as that might be. Loved it. A whopping 9/10, and I'm getting some more of this as soon as I can find some. I might bump that rating up a digit with a little more practice drinking it. I then decided, after something so bold, that I'd go with something a little girlier and "refreshing". See, I don't have any insecurities with my manliness, so that's why I ordered ROGUE HONEY ORANGE WHEAT next. I probably should have stayed with the "gonzo", because while this was high-quality, it was also pretty straightforward flavored wheat beer. I guess this is actually made at Rogue's Eugene City, OR brewery, which made it more "rare" I suppose (I've never seen any of the Eugene City Brewery bottled beers in stores, just at this public house), but stone me if I can't remember a single thing about this beer, just that I called it a 6/10 after drinking it. Not bad, Rogue! I'll try the other 18 next time!