May 27, 2014
There are many perks to my “side job” as a blogger for Travel Southern Oregon, and people are constantly reminding me of this. One of them is I can travel around my own valley and act as a tourist. What better way to do this than to go with professional guides? They are industry experts and are not only fun, but extremely knowledgeable. As I was brainstorming fun ways to spoil my boyfriend on his birthday, I thought of a great idea — a brew tour! In fact, I had wanted to try a company called Indigo Creek Outfitters. This company is based out of Ashland and has a great reputation. I heard about Indigo Creek Outfitters from both my close knit group of friends as well as professionally through my colleagues at Travel Southern Oregon. After a few quick emails back and forth, we were booked to go on their five hour craft beer tour around Medford.
The van leaves Ashland and heads to four “incredible nano and micro-breweries” in the Rogue Valley that are off the beaten path and full of character. Due to the fact that I have been sipping my way through the valley over the last few years, I had visited two of the four already. Of course, this was not a problem. For my tour, we visited all Medford breweries and were paired with an energetic bunch of about ten men enjoying a bachelor party. As you can imagine, there was a small task list that made the day even more interesting than I had expected.
First stop, Opposition Brewing Company (previously named Apocalypse). This brewery in particular is full of regulars and is tucked back behind a garage door offering a quaint, open-air and casual environment for people to come and play darts while they visit with friends (or soon-to-be friends) with their dogs nearby. Their beer menu is quite tasty (especially the one named Dirty Hippy), and I especially love the pay-it-forward beer tile idea. For a small price, you can decorate a tile and leave it for a friend to enjoy a beer on you (or your designated driver to enjoy next time) as a token of your appreciation.
Next up, Walkabout Brewing Company. This brewery is hidden around the corner from Opposition (how convenient, right?) in an industrial area by the railroad. With a list of great brews on tap, I admit that I am partial to the first one I had ever tasted by them –Jabberwocky! Some other favorites are Worker’s Pale Ale (excellent idea for a work party might I add), and Session IPA (for the Gluten intolerant friends out there). The word on the street is that they are inching closer to completing their patio project where you can gather for some live music and games during those warm summer nights. They do not currently have a website, but visit them on Facebook.
By this time of the day, we were feeling pretty good and had worked up an appetite. Thankfully, our trusty tour guide secured a hearty snack for our group at the next brewery. What better to pair with a Workin’ Gal (American Browne Ale) than their mouthwatering pulled pork nachos? BricktownE Brewing Company “The Barrel House” is downtown Medford across from Rogue Community College. I don’t know about you, but this seems to be an ideal location for those studying and working hard that deserve an afternoon treat (served in a chilled pint glass, that is). I came across the brew pub one day with some colleagues, and have been a regular ever since.
Lastly, we visited the award winning Southern Oregon Brewing Company. Here, they serve one of my local favorites– Old Humbug. This particular brewery is one of the larger ones in the valley, measuring about 11,000 square feet with a 20-barrel system. They are frequent supporters of local cultural and philanthropic organizations, and even host fun event such as Trivia Tuesday.
This sunny April day was more fun than we had imagined it would be. Not only did we get to share the day with some out-of-towners, a bachelor and his wedding party, we also got to sip our way through some of the best beer in the valley. A few years ago you would have found me with a Coors Light in hand, but with the Southern Oregon exposure of crafted beers I have found that my love for quality brews has increased tremendously. No longer do I say that any kind of beer will do, but I ask for specific brews from breweries I have been to in my hometown. Don’t get me wrong, as I like to enjoy new things but there is something about supporting those who shake your hand and call out your order as you walk in the door. Now that is what I call local love.
“The brewery tours have become increasingly popular since we started offering them in January of 2013. They also have complemented our rafting trips. For instance, some of our customers go rafting with us on the Rogue or Upper Klamath and then join their guide on a brewery tour. To take it a step further, we are offering a three day trip on the Wild & Scenic Rogue that we’ve dubbed ‘Pints at Paradise’. We essentially take all the beer we taste on our standard brewery tour and bring it on a multi-day trip on the Rogue for tastings each evening along the river. It’s a great way to get outside, see a beautiful river, and explore Southern Oregon’s craft beer industry.” Says Will Volpert of Indigo Creek. Aside from this role, he manages Rogue River Journeys and guides fly-fishing trips for Idaho River Journeys.
After going on this guided tour with Will, I decided we had to do another. Towards the later part of June we will be going down the Upper Klamath River with Will and some other tourists for another fun adventure. Rafting! Growing up on the Rogue River, I have limited experience with other rivers around me. A couple years back I went down the Illinois River and challenged the “Green Wall” rapid, and now I am ready for some new whitewater. Class IV rapids and spectacular canyon scenery is calling my name!
With some background in marketing and communications, I find myself curious about company names and where they derive from. I asked Will about the name of his company and this is what he had to say…"When we were thinking of names we really wanted something that had to do with Southern Oregon (since this is where we started) but I didn’t want to be locked into a specific river or region because I have dreams of operating in Idaho and in other places. For instance, there are a lot of companies that use the word “Rogue” in their business name, which really limits where you can grow your business. The trouble is that it would be difficult to expand to a new area with a name like that. Indigo Creek is a beautiful tributary to the Illinois River here in Southern Oregon. It’s in a remote part of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Nobody really knows it’s there, even folks who have lived here forever. I used to float the Illinois a lot and really liked the name. So, Indigo Creek is a tributary of the Illinois, which is a tributary to the Rogue. But in reality, Indigo Creek is wherever you want it to be”.
Quick Facts about this tour:
• The tour is offered four days a week, Thursday through Sunday
• Each day has a different itinerary but they always visit four breweries
• They provide pick-up and drop-off within the Rogue Valley or participants can meet in Ashland
• The tours are all-inclusive, which means all your tasters are part of the price
• Tasters are offered at all four breweries and participants will taste over 20 different beers
• Reservations are required and can be made online or by calling 541-282-4535
Enjoy the full album by viewing them on our Travel Southern Oregon Facebook album named “Medford – Brew Tours & More”.