• A Note from BBC15 Partner, Rogue Ales and Spirits •
Here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, we’re blessed with a bounty of some the best hops found anywhere. Humulus lupulus is right at home in the alluvial soils, cool and wet winters, dry and sunny summers. The state’s first hopyard was planted in 1867 and by the early 1900s, this was the most productive hops growing region in the world.
So why would a small craft brewery from the coastal town of Newport, Oregon want to grow its own hops? Why not buy hops like everyone else?
For the answer, let’s turn back the clock to 2007, when a worldwide shortage of hops sent prices skyrocketing. Like a lot of other craft brewers we at Rogue Ales and Spirits were scrambling for hops. It was becoming impossible to find some of the more rare and interesting varieties. We began to consider the unthinkable. What if we couldn’t find enough hops for our beers? Who was going to break the news to Rogue Brewmaster John “More Hops”Maier?
Then we heard that a 22-acre grass field on the Willamette River was available for someone to grow hops. Being Rogues, we didn’t think about it, we leaped. We pounded hundreds of poles into the ground and strung them with wire. We started thousands of rhizomes in a greenhouse and planted them in the dirt where once stood the biggest hopyard on earth. By spring of 2008 we were hop growers. Rogue Farms was born.
Then someone asked, “Why not barley?”We found 200 acres in Tygh Valley on the other side of Mt. Hood. We planted our first crops of Risk™malting barley that fall and Dare™malting barley the next spring.
When we launched the Rogue Ales and Spirits GYO (Grow Your Own) Revolution in 2008 we didn’t know how much we’d come to love farming. We loved the feeling of satisfaction when you’re covered in sweat after a day of planting marionberries. We felt the pride of seeing our hop bines come down off the trellises, and our malting barley harvested in the field.
When John wanted to brew a pumpkin beer, we grew pumpkins. Nothing canned, no puree, no artificial pumpkin flavoring. From hops, malting barley and pumpkins we grew the Revolution with marionberries, jalapeños, wheat, corn, rye, botanicals and honey from 7,140,289 honeybees. Each ingredient is destined for one – or more – of our beers, spirits, ciders and sodas.
The GYO Revolution became the DIY (Do It Yourself) Revolution. We wanted to know if we could malt our own barley. So we built the Farmstead Malt House at our farm in Tygh Valley where we are reviving the lost art of floor malting. Each batch of Rogue Farms barley, wheat and rye is steeped, germinated, flipped, kilned and bagged by hand using artisan techniques that date back centuries.
At the Rogue Brewery in Newport we bought a used coffee roaster and tinkered with it so we can craft any kind of malt we want, from pale, to caramel, to chocolate and black. We invent new flavors from scratch. We dry smoke our jalapeños over fires of alder and cherry to create the chipotles John brews and mashes Chipotle Ale and Chipotle Whiskey.
When John wanted those pumpkins, we picked, chopped and chunked all of them ourselves, then roasted them in pizza oven to caramelize the sugars and bring out that natural pumpkin sweetness.
The GYO Revolution changed us. Before we were craft brewers and distillers. Now we’re growers of beer and spirits.
Today we share our love of growing, malting, roasting and smoking our own at Rogue Farms in Independence. Drop in any day of the week and see hops climbing, berries emerging and rye nearly five feet tall. Relax with one of our beers and know that the hops in the bottle came from the dirt underneath your feet.
Rogue Farms grows beers and spirits from ground to glass, join the Revolution!