Rogue Ales started locally

I'm somewhat confused. I drank a Rogue Ale for the first time on a visit with relatives a few weeks ago. It was good, but I was surprised that it's brewed on the Oregon Coast, not the Rogue Valley. Can you explain that to me?

— Wes J., Medford

For one brief, shining moment, or year, Rogue Ales was indeed a Rogue Valley product.

Shortly after its inception in Ashland, however, the company relocated to Newport, where its headquarters remain. But the widely popular beers also are produced in microbrew hotspot Portland.

According to Rogue Ales' website, owners Jack Joyce, Rob Strasser and Bob Woodell built a pub along Lithia Creek in the summer of 1988 with a 10-barrel brew system in the basement below a 60-seat pub. The first brews served up when the brewery and pub opened in October 1988 were amber and gold.

While the setting was great, Ashland beer drinkers — who have since taken warmly to Caldera and Standing Stone breweries — weren't exactly packing the place, so the founders began prospecting for another location.

The next February, Joyce was in Newport when he ran into Mohave Niemi of Mo's restaurant and clam chowder fame. With Niemi's encouragement, the Rogue Ale owners began work on a new brew pub location and in May of 1989 moved to the Yaquina Bay.

Rogue Ales, of course, has gone on to win national and global recognition. While the brew is coastal — and even Portland is a seaport — Rogue Ales has a much more intriguing ring than Yaquina Ales.

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