Last weekend I had an ambitious riding trip planned that I had to abort due to a cracked rear rim. You can read the whole story here but a trip to the Issaquah Brewhouse was always part of the plan. The first time I ever rode to Issaquah I found this brew house and on discovering it was a Rogue outlet it became a feature of any trip that routed through Issaquah. Rogue is one of the great American brewers with several world class beers. Their Shakespeare Stout is the best oatmeal stout I’ve ever had and when one looks at the amount of nation and international awards that it has won I’m not alone in that opinion. They have a great porter, a hardcore, yet still drinkable barleywine and one of the few lagers I can get behind. But what’s really striking about Rogue is their willingness to experiment. They have dozens of bottled beers and even more on tap. Not to mention an endless stream of one-offs from their brewmaster, John Maier. They are always trying new things and as with all experiments they have a lot of failures. Oddly enough a lot of these failures stick around so I guess they appeal beyond my tastes. They also have a pretty good menu of kicked up pub-fare though I haven’t explored it very thoroughly.
This trip I stuck with some of their limited edition special beers getting a pint of their Brew 10,000 first off. I had seen this bottled in a ceramic 22oz bottle for around US$20.00. That price had kept me from actually trying it so I was pleased to get a chance to sample it at the more reasonable pint price. A strongish ale with a distinct hopping it was kind of like a strong IPA with a bit less hops. Very nice and something I would drink again. It is supposed to be a one-off though to celebrate the breweries ten thousandth brew. I followed this up with a selection from John’s Locker Stock, an Imperial Porter. Porters are my overall favorite style of beer and it was a big part of how I judge any brewery. Rogue’s excellent Mocha Porter is a permanent part of their lineup but this special brew was suppose to be something special. I have to say it wasn’t bad, but it was not Mocha Porter and certainly not approaching the truly great porters. The recipe for this was even more malty then your average porter and more strongly hopped. It struck me as a beer then didn’t quite know what it was. It didn’t really have the alkaline neutrality that I associate with the best porters and the higher hoppiness just didn’t sit right. It kind of reminded me of an out of balance IPA. Okay but nothing they should add to their line.
I had intended to get lunch here and I arrived right around when I like to eat lunch. They were quite busy and I was informed as I sat that the kitchen was running around forty minutes. Well I was hungry so ordering right away was key. They took a beer order from me and then preceded to ignore me until this was empty. At that point I was asked if I wanted another beer (which I did, the Imperial Porter) but this was quickly done as my server was carrying out another order. At this point I had decided that I’d drink this beer and head somewhere else for food. The forty minute wait from this point just wasn’t worth it. They were quite busy and I’m sure if I’d been more aggressive I would have been able to order no problem, but that’s just not my style. This isn’t the first time I’ve had issues getting food here – they really seem reluctant to do so. Odd, but they make their money slinging beers. It gave me a chance to finally go to Pogacha which was another think I’d been meaning to do. I think basically when one orders one’s beer here you should state you want to get food (if you do) and not count on them asking for your order. Still highly recommended for the beer selection.