Story & photos by Patrick Alexander

Oregon Coast TODAY

The crew at Lincoln City’s Rusty Truck Brewing Co. are not shy when it comes to experimenting with unusual ingredients, crafting beers infused with everything from chocolate and cherries to cranberries and even espresso.

But brewmaster Jonathan Anderson said the brewery’s most precious ingredient comes straight from the tap — the crystal clear, Ph-neutral water that flows into the city’s pipes from Schooner Creek.

“It’s brilliant water to work with in a craft brewery,” he said. “It’s a clean slate for me to create whatever I want.”

And Anderson has been letting his imagination run riot with recent additions to the brewery’s seasonal offerings, served up daily from Wednesday through Sunday at the brewery’s sister business, Roadhouse 101.

Current seasonal offerings include the Saison de Noel, a Belgian farmhouse-style beer brewed with 125 pounds of cranberries and seasonal spices.

“It tastes like Christmas,” said Roadhouse Manager Branden Fowler.

For people who want something with a little more pep, Anderson has a new Espresso Stout, made with three and a half gallons of espresso in every 310-gallon batch — with the coffee brewed just down the road at Pacific Grind Café.

“It takes them four hours to make that much espresso,” Anderson said, adding that he mixes an extra two and a half pounds of ground espresso into the wort for good measure.

Also among the current seasonals is a Three Hop IPA, made using Amarillo, Mosaic and Citra hops for a complex taste that combines flavors of citrus, stone fruit and lime peel.

Brews currently in development include a Double IPA that weighs in at a hefty 9.7 percent ABV, which should hit the taps in mid February, and a hoppy, light-bodied Cascadian Dark Lager that will finish fermentation around the end of March.

Until then, there should be plenty of an old favorite to keep drinkers happy, with Anderson having brewed an extra-large batch of the Cherry Chocoholic Baltic Porter, one of the Rusty Truck’s most decorated beers.

Fowler said the distinctive brew will be leading the Rusty Truck charge at February’s KLCC Brewfest in Eugene, where it has been a winner for three years in a row.

Success at brewfests across Oregon and regular write-ups in publications like Beer Growler Magazine have led to increased demand for Rusty Truck beers, prompting owner Brian Whitehead to push ahead with an expansion from a 10-barrel to a 20-barrel system.

Anderson said the new system will allow the brewery to produce some 1,500 barrels this year.

That should put smiles on the faces of diners at Roadhouse 101, where each menu item is paired with one or more beers that best complement its flavors — porter or red ale for prime rib and steak, blond ale or session IPA for seafood, and IPA or pale ale with the Roadhouse’s famous barbecue.

Dishes like barbecue chicken, brisket and St. Louis style ribs enjoy year-round popularity at the Roadhouse, each served up with the irresistible Sugar Shack Sauce.

Lighter options from the kitchen include fettuccine, pasta primavera and a cioppino made to an old Fowler family recipe using seafood sourced from Ocean Beauty of Astoria and Newport.

And nowhere is the union between the brewery and restaurant more evident than in the Classic Fish & Chips, fried in a beer batter made with Rusty Truck IPA, or the spent grain focaccia bread that accompanies the steamer clams appetizer.

Meanwhile, a “Little Truckers” menu packed with favorites like chicken strips and macaroni and cheese caters to little people with big appetites in a dining room that prides itself on a family-friendly vibe.

“We get a lot of large groups traveling together,” Fowler said. “We could have a 15-top of people with seven of them being kids — enjoying the beach, the storms and all of the stuff that we have to offer in the winter.”

And, even in the depths of the cold season, the Roadhouse still heats up on the weekend, with live music every Saturday night.

“We have blues, rock n’ roll, reggae folk, a little bit of everything,” Fowler said. “We bartend, host the party, get everyone on the dance floor and encourage people to let their hair down. We want to be the premier nightspot in Lincoln City.”

Rusty Truck Brewing Company and its sister restaurant and bar, Roadhouse 101, are at 4649 S.W. Hwy. 101. For more information, including a list of upcoming events, go to rustytruckbrewing.com, roadhouse101.com or call 541-994-7729.

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