Newport, OR - At the Rogue Ales Brewery in Newport a brigade of bottles are lined up to be filled, labeled then ready to ship. On a recent day it was their most popular brew "Dead Guy Ale" ... The mischievous names of their handcrafted ales suggest that at Rogue, irreverence is intoxicating.
Rogue is developing an ale made from wild yeast harvested from the whiskered beard of rogue's award-winning brewmaster, john maier...a beard which hasn't been cut since a six-pack cost under two bucks.
"Thirty-four years. I never shaved it. 1978... Is that 34 years?"he asks with a laugh. "Hey, why not look for a different place that might have some magic yeast in it."
Rogue Ales' president Brett Joyce explained they tried to harvest new yeast strains from some of their own hopyard, but nothing developed, so kind of as a joke...
"We had our lab guy take a couple of swabs, by putting a q-tip in here, or taking a clip off. I don't know what I thought about it. I said, 'Whatever,' you know."
But amazingly, the lab guy found a yeast cell, did some fermentation tests and the unorthodox "Beard Beer" was born.
For the Maier, who's equal parts artist and scientist...
He questions the initial "eeww" factor some may have that beard equals weird.
"I don't know why, yeast is everywhere,"he explains. "You're really not drinking the beard you're drinking a great beer that happens to have a yeast in it that comes from a beard."
Right now the Beard Beer is being fine tuned.
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