Rogue Brew­mas­ter John Maier

Rogue Brew­mas­ter John Maier is a liv­ing brew­ing leg­end who has helped lead the craft-beer rev­o­lu­tion since join­ing the sem­i­nal Ore­gon brew­ery in the late 1980s. There are few styles he hasn’t brewed, but his per­sonal palate leans to­ward clas­sic ex­pres­sion

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Jamie Bogner

is a liv­ing brew­ing leg­end who has helped lead the craft­beer rev­o­lu­tion since join­ing the sem­i­nal Ore­gon brew­ery in the late 1980s. There are few styles he hasn’t brewed, but his per­sonal palate leans to­ward clas­sic ex­pres­sions of in­tense fla­vors.

LET’S GET THIS OUT of the way first— yes, John Maier’s beard was the source of the yeast that Rogue used to fer­ment their quirky and unique Beard Beer. But no one is more un­com­fort­able with his face on a beer bot­tle than the unas­sum­ing, soft-spo­ken Maier. He’d rather be log­ging miles on his bike or walk­ing along an Ore­gon beach with his wife, Stacey, and dogs than per­form­ing a cameo in beer cool­ers across Amer­ica.

But that pi­o­neer­ing spirit of try­ing some­thing “be­cause he can” has served Maier well over his 28-year ten­ure at Rogue. The beers in his 6-pack nat­u­rally ex­press that diversity of in­ter­est, in­ten­sity of fla­vor, and a clas­sic time­less­ness that tran­scends trendi­ness.

An­chor Steam An­chor Brew­ing (San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­for­nia)

“Num­ber one on my list is the beer that got me into brew­ing orig­i­nally—an­chor Steam. It’s one of the only truly in­dige­nous Amer­i­can styles of beer, and it’s the beer that re­ally changed my life. When I took that first sip, I asked, ‘What makes this beer dif­fer­ent?’ It had so much fla­vor from malt and the hops, and I wasn’t used to it be­cause I’d only been drink­ing ev­ery­day lagers up to that point.

“I got to meet Fritz May­tag one time, and I was in­tim­i­dated by him. I saw him in the brew­ery one time and said, ‘Well, I’m not go­ing to go up to the guy,’ but I

saw him at the Craft Brew­ers Con­fer­ence af­ter that and got to talk to him a lit­tle bit, got a pic­ture with him.

“I have a lot of re­spect for what he did with that brew­ery, and he was very in­flu­en­tial. It was a dy­ing brand when he took hold of it, and look at it now. The brew­ery has changed over the years, but An­chor Steam was one of the first all-malt beers in the United States, and it’s been a fa­vorite since I first had it in the early 1980s.”

Cel­e­bra­tion Sierra Ne­vada Brew­ing Com­pany (Chico, Cal­i­for­nia)

“In 1985 I was work­ing in Los An­ge­les for an­other com­pany, and we went up to Sierra

Ne­vada for their 5th An­niver­sary party, which they held in their brew­house in the ware­house. Ken Gross­man let us all crash in the ware­house af­ter the party, and the next morn­ing, he sold me a half-bar­rel keg. He pulled the keg out him­self and sold it to me, and I think it was $68. But that beer is just a clas­sic. Now they call it a ‘Fresh Hop IPA,’ but back then it wasn’t called an IPA, just a strong ale. But, again, at the time it was con­sid­ered a pretty ex­treme beer at 60 IBUS and 16° Plato. It’s a clas­sic.

“Ev­ery year I buy about five cases of it through the dis­trib­u­tor—it’s one of my go-tos—and it’s bot­tle-conditioned so it will last a long time. But I like to drink it fresh; I don’t like to age it for very long. I get it around Novem­ber first, then drink it through the spring.

“Plus the hops—i think there’s Chi­nook and Cen­ten­nial, two great hops. It’s a dy­na­mite beer, and I look for­ward to ev­ery year.”

Aecht Sch­lenkerla Rauch­bier Rauch­bier­brauerei Sch­lenkerla (Bam­burg, Ger­many)

“I’ve been brew­ing rauch­biers since I started brew­ing in the early 1980s, and the world stan­dard in my mind is Sch­lenkerla. I’ve been to Bam­burg, Ger­many, many times. You go to the tav­ern and it’s just clas­sic— they pour it out of a wood cask (not that it in­flu­ences the beer, that’s just how they serve it), and they just grav­ity flow it out, and it’s not ex­pen­sive. I’ve been there when they tapped an Ur­bock, in Novem­ber, and they have an oak-smoked beer now.

“We stum­bled around town—it’s an easy town to get lost in—but we walked by the brew­ery and you could iden­tify it by the smell. Dur­ing the kiln­ing process, they put the wood chips on there them­selves.

“Some peo­ple think it’s over­done, but to my palate it’s per­fect be­cause I like a heav­ier smoke. My palate can tol­er­ate that. I did a beer once where I took some wet hops and smoked them to make an IPA. It was so heav­ily smoked, I couldn’t drink it for a year, and then it was great! I’m not kid­ding. It still tasted great—wasn’t ox­i­dized or any­thing be­cause that smoke will hide any ox­i­da­tion that might oc­cur. But Sch­lenkerla is a world clas­sic in my book.

“The Spezial in town is also not a bad rauch­bier—it’s a lighter smoke. Nice place.”

Köstritzer Sch­warz­bier Köstritzer Brew­ery (Bad Köstritz, Ger­many)

“Last sum­mer, Stacey and I cy­cled from Copen­hagen to Ber­lin with a group on a two-week trip, and at sev­eral stops we found Köstritzer Sch­warz­bier. It’s fan­tas­tic. It’s a ses­sion beer, pretty much, but it’s got the nice roasted char­ac­ter and only 5 per­cent al­co­hol—just a fan­tas­tic beer. Kick back and just en­joy, with­out hav­ing to worry about too much al­co­hol or too much of any­thing. I love the beer style.”

Wis­con­sin Bel­gian Red New Glarus Brew­ing (New Glarus, Wis­con­sin)

“When I started with Rogue in 1989, our 15-bar­rel brew­house was a JV North­west (JVNW), and it was in­stalled by Dan Carey, who worked for them back then. What a suc­cess story New Glarus is! Bel­gian Red is a clas­sic, just packed with tons of cherry fla­vor with­out it be­ing cloy­ing. No ex­tracts or any­thing like that. It’s been so solid the past few years. We have quite a few in our cellar, but I have to ask for per­mis­sion be­fore I can open one be­cause Stacey prizes them. We have a friend who goes up there ev­ery now and then—big Al, the pres­i­dent of Rogue Na­tion—and he brings them back for us.

“Serendip­ity, the new one they came out with that was a ‘happy ac­ci­dent’—we tried that one the other day, and it was cool. I have a lot of re­spect for Dan Carey—he’s

worked his ass o for a num­ber of years. I’ve never been there, but one of th­ese days I’ll make it to New Glarus.” Oude Gueuze Brouwerij 3 Fon­teinen (Beersel, Bel­gium)

“I’ve been to the brew­ery out­side of Brussels a few times—ate at the restau­rant a bunch, then fi­nally made it to the brew­ery a few years ago. Ar­mand De­belder’s gueuze is just the world stan­dard in my book. It’s just un­be­liev­able. Those are the sours I re­ally like. It’s quench­ing, it’s pro­bi­otic, it’s a good di­ges­tif, it’s got ev­ery­thing. It’s com­plex, and it’s hard to make. The year we were there in the win­ter, they brewed one batch and had to wait to brew again un­til it got cold enough to start brew­ing again. Ar­mand told us that story about how the re­frig­er­a­tion went off in the ware­house and all the beers got too warm and over­carbed, and he just about lost his ass and went broke.

“Brussels is a strange town—i’ve been there a few times, but it’s a strange town with some rough neigh­bor­hoods. Last time we were there, I was walk­ing through, and I heard ‘John.’ Some­body must have been say­ing my name, so I turned around and looked over, and it was Gabe Fletcher [of An­chor­age Brew­ing]. It’s a small world.”

Rogue Brew­mas­ter John Maier at the 2017 Craft Beer & Brew­ing Mag­a­zine® Brew­ers Re­treat: As­to­ria Rogue pair­ing din­ner re­lat­ing the story be­hind a beer he re­cently brewed.

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