When I tell my East Coast friends that I frequent Issaquah WA… they ask if I’ve ever had a rough and tumble with Sasquatch, or if I have an ounce of city boy left in me. I let them imagine Big Foot stomping around and that my gourmet tastes have turned to road kill. The fact of the matter guys is that these days Issaquah is half asphalted and its most popular destination is probably Costco (a parking lot full of customers waiting to get cheap gas). So why Issaquah? I have a dear friend there and whenever possible we beeline it to the Issaquah Brew House, which is part of the Rogue Nation of breweries. Rogue has a dozen locations from San Francisco to Issaquah, headquartered in Newport OR.

ISSAQuah_brewhouse

It’s a “Cheers” kind of place, friendly faces, staff that cares about the beer pint you hoist, and about you. I’m biased, but they’re heard me say too many times this is the best beer I’ve ever had. 35 Rogue taps and 5 guest tap that are worth the visitor in themselves. The food may remind some folks of the English pub tradition… a high standard meal to have with your hoppy beverage. Their most popular menu item is the Kobe burgers… if you’re not a burger eater here’s a burger you may want to make an exception for. On the lighter side is the black bean and quinoa salad (pictured) and the battered items are all steeped in Dead Guy Ale to bring the Rogue essence to every bite and sip. It’s criminal to sit next to someone at the bar who’s eating an order of the thick sliced Nueske’s bacon with drizzled molasses on top. Cross my heart, I drooled on myself one night. I don’t eat a lot of salt so the scent of the bacon flipped me out.

The world is made of all sorts and here you get a good slice of folks east of the Cascades… the Microsofters talking about iPhones (I know this doesn’t make sense), tech gentlemen from India, firemen, school teachers, young golfers, guys and the gents, and women why can look you straight in the eye and tell you their druthers. The brew master is a hero in some customer’s eyes. Who are the Issaquahians without their pubs? Is the pub the womb of “Issaquahness”? Lots of things are vying for what will iconically identify this hamlet… will it be Target, Costco, the development homes on the Plateau that are leveling the trees and the mountains themselves, the summer ArtWalk or the regional theater, Native culture, there used to be lots of wildlife, or will it be the Eagles baseball team that will make what Issaquah is in the making, and what size it’s type is on the map? The pub has a firemen’s museum on the premises. The kids like that. The old idea of a pub as a place for a lengthy, restful, increasingly tipsy evening of swigging is all but defunct. But at the Brewhouse you still can hear the low murmur of relaxed conversation… an easy comfort, the happiness of human beings at rest… maybe a little buzz too because we’re not too far from the high-tech industries located in the Redmond woods. You should know that you can become a Rogue member and get seventy-five cents off each of your beers. Time after time I come back to the same handful of taps. My favorite spigots are Ménage-a-Frog, Shakespeare Stout, and Dead Guy Ale. Local is good especially in beer, local is good when you’re talking about friends, local is good when you’re talking about a pub you can call your own.

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