Rogue has been brewing outstanding craft beers since 1988, and in recent years has been recognized for its farms producing the ingredients used in its brews. The company is also recognized for its award-winning spirits line, which began in 2003, and is the only farm-brewery-distillery-cooperage in the US, as it makes its own barrels and uses ingredients grown on Rogue Farms in the Tygh Valley and in Independence, Oregon. Spirits are hand-distilled on a 550-gallon still in Newport, Oregon, aged in the thick ocean air of the Yaquina Bay and bottled by hand. I had the extreme pleasure of sampling five of its outstanding spirits: Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, aged in oak barrels for at least five years, 2017 American Whiskey Masters gold medal; Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey, aged in oak for three years, 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition gold medal; Dead Guy Whiskey, made from the same malts as the same-named iconic beer, aged in oak for two years, 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition double gold winner; Spruce Gin, made with Oregon spruce and 10 botanicals & spices, 2017 Gin Masters gold; and Pinot Spruce Gin, aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, 2017 Gin Masters gold. I found all to be exquisite and the above is only a small sampling of the awards won by Rogue Spirits, which now tallies more than 300 major awards.  

The Bruery

The Bruery, an independent craft brewery based in Placentia, California, is known for pushing the boundaries on what can be achieved with flavors in beer and also producing beers that go quite well with food. Its latest creation is a collaboration with Brooke Williamson, a Los Angeles-based chef and recent winner of Bravo’s Top Chef season 14. Named Girl Grey, it comes in at 8.5% ABV and is brewed with lactose, almonds, earl grey tea and natural flavors. Bruery founder and CEO Patrick Rue said, “Collaborating with Chef Brooke was a special experience and an eye-opening approach to discovering new ingredients and unique flavors for craft beer.” Chef Brooke added, “It’s a perfect blend of creamy richness and complex floral notes, making for a wide variety of food pairing options. I’m inclined to go tart and sweet, like biscuits with lemon curd, or banana cream pie, but at the same time, it’s versatile and subtle enough to work with spiced mole chicken and toasted almond rice.” Look for Girl Grey anywhere Bruery beers are sold, which currently includes 30 states.  

Northwest Coast Wines

Wines from Oregon and Washington have been receiving some well-deserved accolades in recent years. Here’s a rundown on three that should be a good fit for the spring and summer seasons. The 2015 Pacific Crest Wine Company McNary Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $19.99) is a classic Washington-grown Cabernet Sauvignon showcasing pure fruit flavors with depth and structure and notes of black currant, blackberry, mocha, and clove. The 2015 Pacific Crest Wine Company Centennial Chardonnay (SRP $16.99) is crafted from high-quality Chardonnay fruit grown in the Columbia Valley AVA in southeastern Washington, and is balanced with notes of apple, cinnamon, honeycomb and brioche. The 2016 Oregon Trails Wine Company Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (SRP $19.99) is the product of the 2016 vintage hailed as the third consecutive exceptional vintage in the Willamette Valley in which grapes showed excellent concentration and lifted aromatics, resulting in multilayered complexity and integrated tannins. Rich aromas of red cherry, baking spice and pepper complement bright notes of cranberry, rhubarb, spice and an almost candied fruit quality.

Jesse James Spirits

It seems Americans love legendary outlaws, but in this case the iconic name is that of rock star Jesse James Dupree, lead singer of the rock band Jackyl. His Jesse James Spirits has origins in Tennessee and Kentucky and the sprits are distilled in traditional small batches. Included in the line are Jesse James America’s Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey—an old-time charcoal-mellowed bourbon made in Kentucky in the traditional manner that dates back to the late 18th century and aged in traditional oak casks for a minimum of 36 months for a smooth, full-bourbon character; Jesse James American Outlaw Spiced Whiskey—made with Jesse James America’s Outlaw Original Whiskey and a unique blend created from a secret recipe that includes vanilla, cinnamon and clove; and Jesse James America’s Outlaw Honey Flavored Whiskey—blended with honey flavors offering notes of deep bourbon flavors with a subtle hint of honey.