Caldera, a craft brewery in Ashland, Oregon, about five and a half hours north of San Francisco on I-5, recently launched their own downtown taproom on the site of the original Rogue brewhouse on the charming Lithia Creek.
For twelve years Caldera was a production operation only, so finding a place to taste their full line of beers was usually impossible. During a weekend of Shakespeare festival-going and mountain camping, we happened upon the new taproom and pub.
Caldera’s friendly founder, Jim Mills, told us “In a way this tap house venture is coming full circle, returning to the little place where I originally made pizza and bartended for Rogue 18 years ago.” Jim has remodeled his taproom, but up on the wall in a hallway you can still see an indicator marking the high water level from the 1997 flood that helped convince Rogue to move out of town.
Caldera is noted for being the first west coast brewery to return fine craft ales to the freshness-preserving can, discontinuing use of the potentially light and air leaking bottle, and making a lot of river-rafters very happy indeed. They started by canning a crisp Pale Ale, added a big, deliciously hoppy IPA in 2007 and have just put a third, their Ashland Amber Ale, into cans. Caldera’s production is growing, and Jim says they are expanding their staff at the brewery as well as in the taproom. In the new pub you are likely to find the 20 taps pouring their flagship ales along with an assortment of seasonals and lagers, plus a few classic imports and regional guest beers.
If you are planning a little trip to Ashland Oregon, we recommend checking out the Caldera Tap Room plus some of these nearby attractions: Mt. Shasta Brewing in Weed, California, Standing Stone brewpub in downtown Ashland, Southern Oregon Brewing just north of Ashland in Medford and, of course, Ashland’s famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. (There’s often a lot of good art and music around town in addition to the fest.) When you are leaving Ashland, the best place we’ve found to pick up some nice bottles of Oregon beer to bring home with you is at Market of Choice. Ashland’s really not all that far north from the Bay Area, when you are in the mood for some neighboring beers in their own habitat.
One thing you probably don’t need to bring home to the Bay Area is Rogue beers, formerly of Ashland and now brewed in more northerly Oregon. As you probably know, there is already a Rogue San Francisco taphouse and pub featuring their extensive lineup of beer and spirits. Unlike the road trip above, that one can be walked from BART for a simple SF destination.
(Post by Steve and Gail, photos by Gail)
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