Oregon breweries have always come up with unique blends, but now there's a new ale in development with a secret ingredient that some might consider cringe-worthy.
At Rogue Ales, the mischievous names of their handcrafted ales - like Dead Guy Ale, Yellow Snow IPA and Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale - show the brewery's irreverent spirit.
"We do things that are fun, tongue in cheek," said Brett Joyce, president of Rogue Ales.
But what's brewing now is truly cheeky.
Rogue is developing an ale made from wild yeast harvested from the whiskered beard of the its award-winning brewmaster, John Maier. Maier's beard hasn't been cut since a six-pack of beer cost less than two dollars.
"Thirty-four years. I never shaved it. 1978. Is that 34 years?" said Maier, as he laughed.
Joyce said they tried to harvest new yeast strains from hops from their hop yard, but nothing developed. As a bit of a joke, they looked to the unusual source.
"Hey, why not look for a different place that might have some magic yeast in it," Joyce said.
"We had our lab guy take a couple of swabs, by putting a q-tip in (my beard), or taking a clip off," Maier recalled. "I don't know what I thought about it."
Nine beard follicles were carefully cut from the Maier's beard. The follicles were placed in a petri dish and sent in for testing. Amazingly, the lab found a yeast cell, did some fermentation tests and the unorthodox "beard beer" was born
Maier, who is equal parts artist and scientist, questioned the initial "eww" factor some may have.
"I don't know why, yeast is everywhere," Maier said.
"You're not really drinking a beard, you're drinking a great beer that happens to have a yeast that comes from a beard," Joyce said.
Right now, the "beard beer" is being fine-tuned.
On a recent trip to the Rogue Ales brewery in Newport, Oregon, Maier took a sip from a test barrel sample.
"What's it taste like?" we asked him.
"Tastes like it's got some spices in it," Maier said.
The "beard beer" doesn't have a name yet. The brewmaster said beer drinkers should expect to see a beard on the label.
The new ale will be released sometime next year.
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation) All rights reserved.
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