Today’s beer painting is of Beard Beer by Rogue Ales! Started in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon by founder Jack Joyce, the brewery moved to Newport, Oregon to start a second facility in response to prompting from restaurant owner Mo Neime. Mo met John Maier, the current head brewer in Newport, at an airport the year the brewery was to be opened, and he has been working there ever since. The wild yeast strain used to ferment this beer was found in his beard by White Labs, a premier company in yeast cultivation. White Labs plucked seven hairs from John’s beard, and propagated what is described as a mix between the proprietary strain of yeast Rogue uses in most of its brews, Pacman yeast, and a wild yeast strain. Since John has kept the same beard since 1989 and has brewed over 15,000 batches before the beard beer was conceived, no wonder a totally viable yeast variety was alive in John’s beard. In the background of this painting, I painted a likeness of yeast cells. How is that for news of the beard!
Alaska has a beard fetish. Most men either consider sporting a beard, have one already, or are experiencing beard envy. The ladies… well, they put up with beards. I am currently growing mine back after shaving it for a rowdy mustache competition at Midnight Sun Brewing Company. Ironically, I didn’t win, but my wife did (in the faux division). When my friend Rob, who has a dark, luxurious, full-facial beard brought out a bottle of the Beard Beer, I had to taste it. I am a long time home-brewer and the thought of cultivating yeast from a beard in a mega batch that Rogue made didn’t bother me at all. In fact, contrary to what the reviewers of Beer Advocate thought of this particular brew, I thought it was delicious. To me it tasted like an American pale ale with Belgian ale yeast. My wife was hesitant to try it, but agreed that it was pretty tasty. Even the White Labs guys couldn’t believe how viable this yeast is. After tasting the Beard brew, they thought they may have accidentally switched the petri dish for the regular Pacman yeast, which I will tell you is not quite as funky. This yeast produces a tartness that is absent from regular ales I have had from Rogue. I have sampled many of them, as I love Newport and have visited the brewery several times!
To Rogue Ales! PLEASE keep making a great product, keep trying to integrate with our communities, and keep creating unique thunder! GO ROGUE!