The rarest beer in Oregon? That would be this one, a pale ale from Wm. Roesch Brewery in Pendleton, which made less than a barrel of beer last year. Ryan Roesch is the great-great-grandson of William Otto Roesch, who came over from Germany after studying brewing in the same class as Adolph Coors, who sent him Christmas cards in their new land.
William Roesch was all over Oregon—he opened breweries up and down the coast, and worked for Henry Weinhard in Portland. Eventually, he made his way to Eastern Oregon, where he operated five small-town breweries. His heir, Ryan, started homebrewing while living in Eugene and decided to go pro when he moved back home to Pendleton. "Their only competition at the time was Coors and Budweiser," he says of Roesch Brewery. "But then it got handed down to some family members, and they weren't really into drinking. Then World War II happened."
All these years later, the brewery is in a new building on the same ground where William Roesch operated. "All the old recipes he had, we have lying around," Ryan says. "But you can't really go back and take anything from them, because all the malts and hops are all labeled by numbers. All the hops, they brought them over from Germany and they didn't have names at the time."
Ryan's first release is a pale ale, and the only place to get it is 40 Taps, a new hipster beer bar in downtown Pendleton. Unfortunately, it's not especially pale—it could pass for a brown ale—and it is a little soapy. But it has a hell of a history.