“You just get ... in a meditative state, and you miss sometimes.”
Nate Linquist, the longtime renaissance man of Rogue, is showing us the scars on his hands caused by his coopering hammers. He says it happens four to five times a day, even after four years of practice.
We sit with him in his workshop where he builds about a barrel each day. Eventually, his handiwork will be used for aging ales, lagers and spirits.
Calm classical music, the sound of sawing and sanding, the occasional roaring fire and Nate’s friendly voice are the noises you’ll hear when you’re visiting Rolling Thunder Barrelworks, our cooperage. It’s a little different than what you might imagine in a workshop where metal and wood are carefully crafted into barrels using pre-World War II machinery.
Since 2015, we’ve been crafting our own barrels right here and one Rogue has been our craftsman from day one. But Nate's been here much longer than that. He's been with us the longest of any Rogue -- well except for John Maier, our Brewmaster.
After working as a keg washer, brewer, truck driver and warehouse manager, Nate was handpicked to run Rolling Thunder Barrel Works and become Rogue’s first cooper. “It takes a special, independent person to do all that learning and working with your hands. He was the perfect choice for the job,” says Rogue Ales & Spirits President Brett Joyce.
“I was extremely not good at driving the truck, and there’s a lot going on in the warehouse,” says Nate. “Coopering is a much better fit.”
To become a cooper, Nate apprenticed at Oregon Barrel Works in McMinnville, Ore. for six months. “The first month and a half is sanding foeders over and over again.” We’ve recently doubled the staff at Rolling Thunder Barrelworks by making Travis Bates, another longtime Rogue who previously worked at our Bayfront Public House, Nate’s assistant cooper.
When Nate isn’t building one barrel a week from scratch, he’s looking forward to what keeps him sane: his annual vacation to Oregon Country Fair in Veneta, Ore. “I love being around so many people with the same wonderful, hopeful, optimistic outlook. And they feed me.”
As for his retirement plans, he has none. Nate jokes: “You’ll probably come in one morning and find me on the floor.”
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