Grow Your Own Damn Beer!

Jeffrey Wiser, November 18, 2013

If you've learned anything about me through my BarelyBeer posts, it's probably that I hail from the great beer state of Oregon. So it should come as no surpise that I recently picked up a bottle of Rogue Brewing's OREgasmic Ale. The real surprise is trying to figure out why I haven't enjoyed this sooner and to that question, I have no answer. 

But in addition the beer's state of origin, another reason it caught my attention is because it is part of Rogue's GYO (Grow Your Own) lineup. This American Pale is 100% made from Oregon ingredients. Rogue uses their own "Dare" and "Risk" malts, plus their "Revlolution" and "Independent" hops. As you've probably noticed, the good folks at Rogue have chosen their names carefully.

The last ingredient is their "free range coastal water" which probably sounds like a lot of fancy language to say "water," but it has special meaning to me. I grew up playing in Oregon's Coast Range and have done a considerable amount of fly fishing for coastal cutthroat trout and steelhead in the same coastal waters that the beer is made from. For me, drinking this beer is a little like coming home, and now that I live in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), I relish the opportunity. 

  • Appearance: a hazy, golden amber with a creamy foam. Beautiful beer! (4.25)
  • Smell: hops and sweet malts with notes of sweet fruit and citrus (3.5)
  • Taste: a complex hoppiness with some pine and grapefruit (3.5)
  • Mouthfeel: pops on the palate, light to medium body with a classic bitter aftertaste for an American Pale (3.75)
  • Overall: another Rogue Ale that's big on taste and texture. These are the kinds of beers that punch you in the face and divide drinkers. If they're of you're liking, you're in luck. If not, no chance you'll be happy with it and I feel there's almost no middle ground here. Lucky me, I like this one! (4)

Beyond the personal connection, I wonder if the process behind the beer will gain any traction with other breweries. Rogue now manages its own farm to grow and control the ingredients they use in their beers and spirits. You can and should learn more about their farm by visting the farm's blog. As someone who enjoys handcrafted and artisan goods, this is especially appealing to me and something that I think helps the beer have it's own unique, regional taste. I think it helps give these GYO beers and advanced sense of identity, much like estate-grown wines are a snapshot of the region. 

While this GYO didn't blow my socks off, it was pretty good and definitely unique. I'm hoping that in areas where it's feasible that similar farm-to-glass beer-crafting takes hold. It would be cool to see how other regions that are capable of growning their own ingredients would craft their own beers. That would certainly give our BeerGraphs guys something to analyze!