de Garde Brew­ing Co­founder Trevor Rogers looks first to Belgium when pick­ing beers that not only in­spire him but ex­plore com­plex­ity and nu­ance.

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

For his 6-pack, Trevor Rogers of de Garde Brew­ing (Til­lam­ook, Ore­gon) finds in­spi­ra­tion in Bel­gian gueuzes, Brett saisons, and beers that ex­press a sim­i­larly fas­tid­i­ous ap­proach to turn­ing down the vol­ume while boost­ing the dy­namic range to ex­plore the nu­ance and com­plex­ity that beer can of­fer.

PER­SON­AL­ITY-WISE, BREW­ERS map a sim­i­lar range as the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, from beer shot­gun­ning partiers to quiet in­tro­verts. de Garde Brew­ing Co­founder Trevor Rogers falls on the pen­sive side of that range, with the de­meanor of a col­lege pro­fes­sor shot through with Vul­can-style ra­tio­nal­ity. In­tense and fo­cused, Rogers has doggedly pur­sued his own brew­house dream of pro­duc­ing spon­ta­neously fer­mented and thought­fully blended beers from the brew­ery he founded with his wife, Lin­sey, out on the Ore­gon coast. And his 6-pack of beers re­flects a re­spect for brew­ers who share a com­mon drive to play in the space be­tween chaos and con­trol.

Drie Fon­teinen Oude Gueuze

(Lot, Belgium) “Oude Gueuze is con­tin­u­ally one of the best ex­am­ples of the style, and that style in par­tic­u­lar is one that has been hugely in­flu­en­tial on how we brew and what we make. The con­sis­tency and over­all level of qual­ity over the years, as well as the ten­ure of Ar­mand [De­belder] him­self to the in­dus­try, can’t be stated enough.

“The over­whelm­ing sense of Bret­tanomyces com­plex­ity and min­er­al­ity to that beer make it dis­tinc­tive. The artistry that they bring into their blend­ing and the fact that they can have such con­sis­tently high qual­ity at such a level is fan­tas­tic and amaz­ing and some­thing to strive for.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I haven’t made it over since their new fa­cil­ity opened, the lam­bik-o-droom (that will be rec­ti­fied this spring), but we’ve been for­tu­nate enough that Ar­mand has shown us around and talked with us on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions. The level of knowl­edge he has—i don’t know if that will be matched again. He’s in his six­ties and has been do­ing this since he was six-years-old and they made him a cus­tom stool so he could pour beer for cus­tomers. He’s been been hands-on ev­ery day since. I have the ut­most re­spect for his his­tory in the in­dus­try and the level of knowl­edge he’s ac­cu­mu­lated over that time, as well as his beer it­self. He’s a gen­uine treat to talk to and just lis­ten to.

“I wish I could find it more of­ten and en­joy it, but I rec­og­nize that—just as we are—they’re a fairly small brew­ery. The fact that it makes it to the United States at all, and doesn’t re­quire a trip over there to en­joy it, is fan­tas­tic and shows ef­fort on their part.”

Gueuzerie Tilquin Gueuze L’an­ci­enne

(Re­becq, Belgium) “When well made, gueuze is cer­tainly my fa­vorite style of beer. Pierre [Tilquin] de­serves the ut­most credit as a younger, newer blender for putting out such amaz­ing high-qual­ity prod­uct across the board and having so quickly—‘mas­tered’ prob­a­bly isn’t the right word be­cause most Bel­gian lam­bic pro­duc­ers would tell you that you never mas­ter it—but so quickly made such great gueuze blends, which are the great­est re­flec­tion, per­haps, of the artistry and the tal­ent for blenders.

“He de­serves a ton of credit and def­i­nitely a place on my list for jump­ing into a ma­ture in­dus­try as a young man and be­ing able to, in very short or­der, make such an amaz­ing prod­uct—one that I can’t get enough of to drink my­self.

“Pierre is re­mark­ably con­sis­tent in his gueuze blends, and on the whole they’re just right. Ev­ery­thing is in its right place. They’re com­plex, they’re nu­anced, there are no rough edges—as a whole com­po­si­tion, you don’t have to think about it be­cause it’s so well made that noth­ing stands out, but you cer­tainly can be­cause there are so many great el­e­ments to it.

“The best beers, the ones we en­joy the most, don’t beat you over the head even if they have some over­all ag­gres­sive char­ac­ter. But be­cause they are so del­i­cately bal­anced, you can just en­joy them, or you can geek out and pick them apart on an in­tel­lec­tual level or a pro­duc­tion level.”

Brasserie Fan­tôme Sai­son

(Soy, Belgium) “Fan­tôme Sai­son is on my list not only be­cause it’s al­ways a de­li­cious ad­ven­ture, it’s one of the rare cases where con­sis­tency isn’t nec­es­sary. The unique­ness of each batch and each bot­tle of sai­son is part of the in­trin­sic beauty of it. It’s al­ways an ad­ven­ture go­ing into it, and you’re never quite sure what you’re go­ing to get, but it’s al­most al­ways amaz­ing. Not only is it one of my fa­vorite beers to con­sume, I think that the cur­rent Amer­i­can craft-beer in­dus­try and the plethora of slightly wild sai­son- or farm­house-in­spired beers and such wouldn’t be where it is to­day if it were not for what Dany [Prignon, Fan­tôme founder] has done with the style and set an ex­am­ple with. If you go through a list of pro­duc­ers of that style, the vast ma­jor­ity will ex­press some ad­mi­ra­tion or in­spi­ra­tion from Fan­tôme and Dany.

“I’ve never had a bot­tle that I wasn’t just speech­less with. There’s al­ways the un­der­ly­ing straw­berry char­ac­ter­is­tic and other fruit notes that are al­ways there, with vari­able amounts of Bret­tanomyces char­ac­ter that is less dis­tin­guish­ably fruit-for­ward, along with vary­ing amounts of acid. The vari­a­tion in char­ac­ter­is­tics is insane, and it’s al­ways fun to see how they evolve over time, given the op­por­tu­nity. I’m not one to typ­i­cally save or cel­lar a lot of beer, but his bot­tles are some of the very few that evolve in char­ac­ter and nu­ance to such a de­gree that they al­most beg for track­ing their evo­lu­tion over time.

“One of the most nu­anced, in­sanely de­li­cious, and insane in gen­eral beers I’ve ever had was what I be­lieve was an eigh­teen-year- old bot­tle of [Fan­tôme] Blanche when I was over in Brus­sels, Belgium, a few years back. The trop­i­cal and vi­brant char­ac­ter to such an old beer was some­thing I had never seen be­fore, and it was so far from what I ex­pected go­ing into it.”

Live Oak He­feweizen

(Austin, Texas) “I, un­for­tu­nately, had to wait far too long to have the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy this one. I’d been led to be­lieve that it would be a del­i­cately nu­anced and de­li­cious beer, but it so far ex­ceeded what I‘d been led to be­lieve that it would or could be.

“My only re­gret is that I can only en­joy it on rare oc­ca­sions, al­though that’s becoming a lit­tle more of­ten now that it’s be­ing canned and we have friends that head this way from down there with some reg­u­lar­ity. But again, it’s just a phe­nom­e­nally, del­i­cately bal­anced beer that you can take to an in­tel­lec­tual level or just en­joy for be­ing in­cred­i­bly drink­able and re­fresh­ing and de­li­cious.

“Vis­it­ing them and see­ing the amount of time and care that they put into that beer tells you where that dif­fer­ence comes from. It’s an all-day beer for them to brew, and that’s not what you see from most peo­ple pro­duc­ing the style. They take all the ap­pro­pri­ate steps to make it the best they can and to get those lit­tle nu­ances and de­tails and yeast pro­files just right.

“I was firmly convinced it could not pos­si­bly be bet­ter than Wei­hen­stephan Hefe

“You get a sense that this is not just a com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity but a pas­sion project. I’ll al­ways have a place for beers like that, even if they aren’t one of my fa­vorite styles. You can taste when some­body cares about what they’re try­ing to do.”

Weiss­bier (that had not been aged for­ever or in­jured in trans­port or stor­age), but it did ac­tu­ally sur­pass it in my mind. And if it hadn’t, Wei­hen­stephan would be on my list in­stead.

“It’s just a great beer—you get a sense that this is not just a com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity but a pas­sion project. They could cer­tainly sell a ton of He­feweizen that took less time to brew and less care and ef­fort to make, par­tic­u­larly given the cli­mate in Texas. It would still be re­fresh­ing and de­li­cious, I’m sure, but in­stead they do it right. I’ll al­ways have a place for beers like that, even if they aren’t one of my fa­vorite styles. You can taste when some­body cares about what they’re try­ing to do.”

Heater Allen Pils

(Mcmin­nville, Ore­gon) “Heater Allen is an­other brew­ery de­voted to lagers, and pretty much ev­ery brewer I know drinks a hell of a lot of Pils. These guys are in­cred­i­bly ded­i­cated to the craft and are con­tin­u­ally ex­per­i­ment­ing both in in­gre­di­ents and process to try to do bet­ter rather than rest­ing on their lau­rels and say­ing, “We can sell the prod­uct; this is good enough.” That shows through. It’s just a phe­nom­e­nal, clean, well-made Pil­sner, and that’s prob­a­bly the nicest thing you could say about a Pil­sner.

“There’s a pro­fes­sional re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for a brew­ery that can make a clean, del­i­cate style that doesn’t have room to hide any flaws. If you can ex­e­cute that, you de­serve a ton of re­spect for your brew­ing acumen and skill. Be­yond that, on a hot day when we’ve been work­ing, I and most brew­ers want some­thing clean, light, en­joy­able, and aque­ous. It fits that niche. It’s just a de­li­cious, re­fresh­ing beer with no rough edges to it. It’s im­pec­ca­bly bal­anced.

“A well-made Pils de­fies ref­er­ence to an­other one. Why is it good? Be­cause it’s a well-made Pils. You can say what it’s not, but what it is is good and right.

A well-made Pil­sner is like pet­ri­chor— that smell you get with rain af­ter a dry spell. That sen­sory over­load you get isn’t rel­a­tive to any­thing else; it’s its own thing. A well-made Pils is de­fined by what it’s not, in the same way.”

“I haven’t men­tioned a fruit beer yet, and I do have an affin­ity for them, so I was think­ing about Can­til­lon Lou Pepe Kriek, which I find in­spi­ra­tional for their uti­liza­tion of fruit and the pu­rity of char­ac­ter they achieve in that as well as its abil­ity to ma­ture over time. But I also drink a hell of a lot of IPA, and I don’t have one of those on the list yet either. When I talked to my wife about this last night, she sug­gested I should say “wine,” which would be the most ac­cu­rate. But I can’t close out my list with­out men­tion­ing…

Hill Farm­stead Arthur

(Greensboro Bend, Ver­mont) “This is yet an­other beer that’s a great achieve­ment in brew­ing, not just be­cause of its qual­ity—the sense of in­ten­tion that it ex­presses—but also the in­spi­ra­tion it’s pro­vided to a lot of other pro­duc­ers. It truly is a plea­sure to drink, al­ways, whether it’s fresh or it’s been aged for a short pe­riod of time. It’s al­ways go­ing to be a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

“More than that, it’s a do­mes­tic-beer mile­stone or land­mark of sorts, as well as be­ing tech­ni­cally de­serv­ing of re­spect. I would be re­miss not to men­tion a beer of Shaun [Hill]’s on any list be­cause we have the ut­most re­spect for the care and at­ten­tion to de­tail in all his beers, the pas­sion he brings to the in­dus­try, and the stan­dard he sets for the rest of us.

“There’s a lot to be said for [the price they re­lease it at], as well. Their abil­ity to meet de­mand is just not there, so to con­tinue pric­ing what—in my mind—is a damn­n­ear per­fect beer at $10 for a 750 ml bot­tle in the face of that de­mand is be­yond com­mend­able. He’s run­ning the busi­ness how he wants to, and cer­tainly that isn’t purely with a profit mo­tive.

“The best com­pli­ment I could say about it is that it’s just strictly a joy to drink. It’s vi­brant, it has com­plex­ity, there’s an el­e­gant Bret­tanomyces nu­ance, and there’s the touch of acid­ity that bright­ens and en­livens the com­po­si­tion with­out mak­ing it a sour beer per se. It en­hances the whole rather than be­ing a defin­ing fac­tor, and that’s a very, very deft line to walk.”

Left » de Garde Brew­ing Co­founders Trevor and Lin­sey Rogers.

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