Much of our beer coverage as of late has been looking at the increased popularity and expansion of breweries to the east, most recently at the possibility of Stone moving to South Carolina. With so many new developments in the craft beer world, it’s often enough that we take a step back to ponder how craft beer got this far. 30 years ago, the consensus was that that beer with strange new flavors would fail. Jack Joyce, co-founder of Ashland, OR's Rogue Ales who died this week at 71, was one of the few that believed that craft beer could succeed and made a career out of pushing the boundaries of what beer could be. He was also a successful attorney and an early executive at another iconic Oregon company, international shoe giant Nike.
Joyce helped found Rogue in 1988 and went on to open several brewpubs around Oregon. His vision helped Rogue expand nationally and internationally; today they are one of the few craft breweries available in all 50 states, as well as in a whopping 32 countries (they were the first US craft brewery in Japan!). Joyce also co-founded of Rogue Farms Hopyard, which made the brewery one of the few to produce its own hops and other produce used for brewing, like grains and pumpkins. He also championed the use of 22-oz bottles for a single serving of beer. Long live the bomber.
In recent years, Rogue has been somewhat overlooked in favor of some of the smaller boutique breweries, especially those focusing on barrel-aged beers and wild ales. Meanwhile, Rogue has continued to find a way to be unique, brewing with just about everything and anything including yeast from a beard in Beard Beer and infusing an ale with pages of Herman Melville’s classic seafaring novel, Moby Dick, in their White Whale Ale. Gimmicky beer additions like these and their collaborations with hometown favorites Voodoo Doughnuts might be more fun in execution than in actual consumption, but they also have some seriously awesome beers that you should seek out. Raise a glass with us and toast Jack Joyce, an original craft beer rogue, with one of these five great beers.
- Dead Guy Ale
This American made German-style maibock can compete with the best of the style. It’s a little stronger than you might expect at 6.5%, but it’s extremely drinkable thanks to delicious flavors of fruity, bready malt along with a slight hoppy finish.
- Chocolate Stout
This is probably the place to start if you want to get into stouts and prefer your brews on the sweeter side. There are quite a few elements working to contribute dark and milk chocolate flavors: the bitterness from the hops brings out the darker side and notes of milk chocolate come from sweet malt and toasted oats. The smooth, creamy texture is rounded out with a hint of espresso. And, oh yeah, more chocolate.
- Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Brown ales typically have a nice malty nuttiness to them, but Rogue takes theirs a step further. The result is a delicious blend of hazelnut coffee flavor with the malt backbone of a brown ale, along with rich roasty quality and some sweetness from chocolate malts. At 6.2% it’s a great alternative when you want something easier-drinking than a stout but still want a little kick with great flavor. This is definitely one of the best American-made brown ales.
- Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout
This classic oatmeal stout is a treat with a smooth, refined flavors of oatmeal, roasted malts, hints of coffee acidity and dark chocolate sweetness. There was a time when Shakespeare was one of the brews beer geeks went crazy for, and the fact that it’s widely available now means you don’t have any excuses for not picking it up.
- Rogue Farms 7 Hop IPA
Rogue started making these specialty brews under the name Chatoe, but that proved to be confusing for buyers. The rebranded Farms specialty series kicked off with this fantastic IPA featuring, as the name states, seven different hops grown right on their farm. Just to be clear, this might say IPA, but it’s a potent 8.02% and drinks more like a double IPA with big resiny, grapefruit citrus flavors.
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