Oregon’s Rogue Brewing has been around almost 20 years. Being located on the stormy Oregon Coast, gives brew master John Maier and his team plenty of opportunity to create seasonal and creative brews. But this time, they weren’t alone.
Yard House Restaurants have brought Rogue beer to their customers since they opened in 1996. Since then, at least one tap handle (usually more) has been dedicated to Rogue Brewery. This long-standing relationship between Rogue and Yard House has resulted in a special, limited-release beer: Rogue Spruce Tip IPA, which was tapped for the first time on December 7th at all Yard House locations.
The seasonal IPA, with a caricature of Rogue brew master John on the bottle, was developed by Rogue in collaboration with the Yard House beverage team, led by Executive Chef Carlito Jocson and Beverage Manager Gregory Howard. They worked together in Newport during the brewing process keeping in mind the upcoming Yard House holiday menu.
Spruce Tip IPA
I was intrigued with what natural spruce would do to beer. I found out from the Rogue team that 150 pounds of spruce tips were sent from Alaska, freshly vacuum packed, to the brewery. (It wasn’t the right season in Oregon for spruce tips.) Spruce beer goes back to the era of Ben Franklin, but, for many of us, it is a new idea.
We were served short glasses of the brew. To the nose, it didn’t bring much of an evergreen aroma. The beer mainly offered citrus and fruity notes. But on tasting, the smooth and hoppy IPA left a sweet aftertaste of spruce. It was crisp and only subtly sprucy. It is a beer that could be served throughout the year, but it’s a special seasonal offering.
Yard House, with restaurants across the country, chooses their beer offerings based on what the local diners are looking for. And in Portland, it’s all about local craft beer. Of their 130 brews, Yard House in Portland offers 41 brands that are from Oregon and Washington breweries. Rogue Brewery sources hops and barley locally from farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, as well as several other local vegetables and fruits that find their way into signature beers.
Of course a good holiday beer needs some holiday menu items. While visiting Yard House, we sampled their new holiday menu. Spruce Tip IPA is especially complimentary with the new menu items like Lobster Mac N Cheese, spicy Za’atar Crusted Salmon, and Apple Cider Brined Pork Chop. I especially enjoyed the pork, a 12-oz chop (no fat detected) grilled with red apple honey sauce and served with Brussels sprouts. The sauce gave the chop a hot-off-the-grill look and added a sweet taste. The caramelized Brussels sprouts were lightly grilled and offered a burst of fresh flavor with each bite. Seasonal butternut squash rounded out the dish. Simmered in brown butter, the squash featured a hint of the sweet along with pure freshness that made for a perfect dining experience.
We had to try the desserts. My choice was Banana Berry Rum Macadamia Nut Crumble. Chef Carlito takes inspiration from his travels and this dessert was inspired from his time in Hawaii. He mixed fresh bananas and strawberries with rum, brown sugar and cinnamon, baked it with a macadamia nut crisp topping and crowned it all with toasted coconut ice cream and a mint sprig. The crunch of the coconut and macadamia nuts balanced the creaminess of the ice cream and fruit and the sweetness didn’t overpower. This was a wonderful dish, especially to share.—by Liz Rose, RFT Contributor
Yard House for the Holidays
You can enjoy the Rogue Spruce Tip IPA, special seasonal cocktails and holiday menu offerings for a limited time at all locations through January 3rd.
If You Go
Portland Pioneer Place Yard House Restaurant
888 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204