Châtoe Rogue, Independence Oregon
Are Sunday drives something only people over the age of 50 do? N and I have been traversing rural roads for as long as I can remember--usually 6-8 times a year. Although, we don't venture as far as we used to. No particular reason, it's just morphed into a drive and dinner instead of a day long country exploration. Last Sunday we set out for the third time with Rogue's Hop Farm in Independence as our goal. We made it! No running out of time (Châtoe Rogue's Sunday hours aren't as generous as other Rogue locations) or high water covering Wigrich Road. Success can add a nice golden glow to the rest of a day.
If Rogue had named this meeting house, "Road's End Farm", (or something along those lines) potential customers might have a better idea of what to expect as they're plotting their course into agricultural country. There are a few signs, but checking out a map before hopping into the car is a good idea. And even more important, remember that domesticated animals, residents and farm equipment have the right of way--be watchful and courteous.
The dirt driveway takes you alongside a hop yard with the creeping plants winding their way up the tall strings. Then the driveway opens up to a field for parking, a lawn for playing, a tasting house with deck and picnic tables, a bed and breakfast and several warehouse type buildings. We parked our car in the grass and walked past the young people kicking a soccer ball around the lawn. The front door of the tasting house opens to a small dining area lined with cases of beer and a large chalkboard announcing their "garage sale" during the first week of July (I hear there are deals to be had during their garage sales.).
We walked around the corner to where we could hear friendly banter at the bar. An adorable, diminutive bartender was chatting up and tending the customers. Without missing a beat, she asked if we were over 21 and handed N and I complimentary tastes of Rogue's American Ale. And before we knew it we were involved in the conversation with the young couple and their friend, who had just pulled their kayaks out of the Willamette River after a 6 hour leisurely ride from Albany. They came to see for themselves the location they had reserved for their upcoming wedding.
We scoped out the chalkboard menu. It was obvious that we'd probably get one shot at talking to the bartender. So we needed to decide what we were going to order and then find a place to chill, enjoy the view and activity. The bartender on duty was doing it all--drinks, orders, food (preparing and delivering) and even dishes. I was impressed with her good nature and sparkling demeanor throughout our stay. I was ready to order some Kobe Beef sliders, when a small specials board below the big sign caught my eye. Pulled pork sandwich and chips for $7? Sign us up! She told us the pork had been cooking all night and was tender and tasty. Mmmm!
N ordered a pint of Châtoe Rouge Single Malt Ale - light in color, big hoppy and barley flavor, to drink and I decided on a pint of their Brutal IPA. We took our beer and went out to a picnic table on the deck. Even though some high clouds were rolling in, the temperature was perfect for sitting outside. There were 15-20 people (counting the children, but not the dogs) occupying the outdoor tables. It was a perfect lazy summer afternoon. We could take in the view or watch the people playing games on the lawn. Too bad we didn't have a deck of cards. That's the kind of place this is. At least on a Sunday afternoon. I imagine it's different on Friday and Saturday nights.
Our bartender was right. Our pulled pork sandwiches were assembled with the standard hoagie buns, but the pork was tender and delicious. The sauce was vinegary and sweet, but not overly sweet. The bun was fresh, but up to the task of getting that pulled pork to my mouth. It felt like our interior clocks had ceased keeping time, as we sat and relaxed on that deck, sipping our beer.
Be sure and check-out their website if you're interested in taking a hop tour or one of their special events. I understand they have concerts in the summer. And don't forget, if you like to boat on the river, they do have a ramp for easy pull outs.
Summer Hours of Operation: 4 PM - 9 PM: Weekdays, 11 AM - 9PM: Sat, and 11 AM - 6 PM: Sun
Châtoe Rogue Tasting Room
3590 Wigrich Rd.
Independence, OR 97351
Latitude: 44°, 48.2, 18.69 N
Longitude: 123°, 61, 45.49 W