ROGUE ALES & SPIRITS:
A century before oenophiles were chasing their pinot dreams in the Willamette Valley, pioneer farmers were growing hops. They found a magical combination of rich soil, moderate temperatures and the perfect balance of sun and rain that made this land the hops growing capital of the world. When Prohibition drove Oregon vineyards out of business, Willamette Valley hops growers prospered. They flourished through two world wars and the Great Depression. But somewhere in the 20th century Oregon’s hops heritage was lost. Vintners planted their vines, built their tasting rooms and laid claim to the terroir of the Willamette Valley.
NO MORE PINOT ENVY
In 2008, Rogue became farmers and constructed a 42 acre hopyard on a wide bend of the Willamette River near Independence. This year Rogue Farms will harvest 64,000 pounds of Alluvial, Freedom, Independent, Liberty, Rebel, Revolution, and Yaquina varieties of aroma hops in the Wigrich Appellation. The hop cones are picked, kilned, cooled and baled right on the farm and shipped to Rogue's brewery in Newport, Oregon. In the rain shadow of Mt. Hood they planted barley. Nearly 200 acres in the Tygh Valley appellation will produce more than 900,000 pounds of Risk; winter malting barley and Dare; spring malting barley. They also built a Farmstead Malt House where they handcraft their artisan small batch floor malts and micro malts. Now Rogues knows exactly where their hops and barley come from. They know the soil, the temperature and how much rain and sun they receive. Rogue knows when and how they were planted, cared for, harvested and processed. The beer from Rogue Farms will be 1st Growth, Estate Hopped, Estate Barleyed, Estate Brewed and Estate Bottled. From now on we’ll talk about Dirtoir, not Terroir.
BEER BEGINS IN THE DIRT
It starts in the soil where barley roots and hop bines draw moisture and nutrients. It begins in the rocks of the Cascades and Coast Range as creeks rush over gravelly bottoms where salmon and steelhead spawn. The right climate encourages healthy crops and clear, cold water. Barley and hops need a certain amount - and timing - of rain, sun, warm summers and cool winters to help them thrive. Streams need to be refreshed with rain fall and snowmelt or they become stagnant and stale.
MAKING THAT DIRT AND CLIMATE TAKES TIME
Over hundreds of millions of years ago, the North American continent began its slow creep westward. The moving tectonic plate scraped sediments, underwater ridges and volcanic islands from the ocean floor. It built a huge pile of dirt that became the Coast Range. The movement spawned massive volcanic eruptions that uplifted the Cascades and smothered much of Oregon with hot, molten lava. Huge ice age floods drowned the Willamette Valley for thousands of years and deposited layers of rich, volcanic soils that are hundreds of feet thick. So when you open a bottle of Rogue you’re tasting more than just the barley, hops and water. You’re tasting the results of millions of years of geologic forces and history that are unique to the place where hops and barley are grown and where the water comes from.
THIS “TASTE OF PLACE” IS WHAT WE CALL TERROIR
Luckily for Rogue, Oregon has everything they need to grow their own. There’s a reason why Rogue grows aroma hops in the Willamette Valley. The rain shadow of the Coast Range, volcanic soils and its position along the 45th parallel have made the valley one of the most important hops growing regions in the world for more than a century. There’s a reason why Rogue grows barley near Tygh Valley. The rain shadow of Mt. Hood and loess volcanic topsoil is why this region is the most productive in Oregon for cereal grains, such as barley and wheat. And there’s a reason why Rogue gets the water to malt the barley and brew the beer from the free flowing streams of the Coast Range and Cascades. These are some of the purest, most natural sources of water anywhere.
The final element of terroir is personality and no one else can make Rogue Ales or Spirits, not even if they have the same ingredients from the same places. Rogue’s personality is unique and you can taste it in the beer. Rogue and Oregon have the right combination of dirt, climate, water and personality. A terroir superfecta that’s impossible to duplicate.