Oregon’s Rogue Ales and Spirits has been around for 30 years, yet the company maintains a youthful, rebellious attitude and approach to brewing. Thirty in brewery years is, like, 300; but even the trendiest members of the craft beer industry can’t resist Rogue’s charms.
Over the decades, Rogue has been adored for bold beers like the ever-enduring Dead Guy Ale, and hipper offerings like a Cold Brew IPA. But don’t write off Rogue for being “old school” — it’s up to a lot more than you’d think. Here are 10 things you need to know.
Born in a basement, Rogue now has 11 locations.
What started as a basement dream became a bona fide bar in Ashland, Oregon in October 1988. A year later, one of Rogue’s founders set out to look for new locations, settling on Newport, Oregon for Rogue’s first brewpub. Today, Rogue has 11 locations throughout Oregon, Washington, and California.
Rogue owes its brewpub to a naked lady in a bathtub.
Her name is Mo, or Mohava Niemi, and she took Rogue’s founder in during a snowstorm in 1989. He was looking for a brewpub location at the time, and Mo, a restaurant owner, had always wanted to live above a bar. She offered an empty space she owned to Rogue Ales under two conditions: that it “feed the fishermen,” or take care of the locals, and that it have a prominent photo of her displayed on the wall. The photo is still hanging there today.
There’s more to Rogue than beer.
Rogue grows its own beer ingredients on Rogue Farms.
Speaking of independence… Rogue has its own government.
Rogue Nation is led by President Big Al Jorgensen, a.k.a. “Big Al,” who travels the country spreading the message of the Revolution on a tour bus. Rogue Nation is complete with a Declaration of Independence, citizenship, meeting halls, and volunteer opportunities. Rogue also has a scholarship program named after founder Jack Joyce that’s awarded $245,000 in four years.
Rogue famously brewed a beer with yeast from brewmaster John Maier’s beard
Aptly called Beard Beer, the American Wild Ale was released in bombers and received a lot of attention from craft drinkers across the country.
Rogue made a bottle of Sriracha beer that looked just like the hot sauce…
…But it also brews solid simple beers, like pilsners and lagers.
Good Chit Pilsner, a limited release last year, was made with barley grown, harvested, and floor-malted in small batches by Rogue Farms. Currently available are its Hot Tub Scholarship Lager, Yellow Snow Pilsner, and Honey Kölsch.
After 30 years, Rogue released its first West Coast-style IPA.
Refreshingly off-trend for a beer geek nation fueled by hazy-yellow-to-the-point-of-opaque New England-style IPAs, Rogue recently released Straight Outta Newport, a decidedly West Coast IPA dedicated to the Oregon coast. The beer is a resplendent copper color, its aroma is bursting with fruity notes, and the malt-forward flavor is balanced with immediate bitterness that a milkshake-IPA-fatigued drinker will appreciate.
Rogue is distributed in all 50 states and 54 countries.
The beer industry is constantly in flux, and although the craft sector is growing, the hardest place to be right now is a regional or national craft brewer squeezed from both big beer and local operations. As one of the first microbreweries in the U.S., with more than 1,800 awards to its name, Rogue deserves recognition for its serious success and continued silliness.