An Interview with John C. Maier, Brewmaster at Rogue Ales (with Brewer, Spokescreature and President of Rogue Nation since 1993)
By Jim Clarke

Jim Clarke: John, many microbrews seems to concentrate on only a few brews – seven or eight, tops – but Rogue seems unusually dedicated to creating a wide range of beers. Is this just to practice your chops, or is there a philosophy behind it?

John C. Maier: Rogue’s philosophy is that variety is the spice of life.

JC: How do you go about developing a new brew?

JM: I get inspired in the wee hours of the morning when I’m half asleep thinking about malt and hops and how to come up with a new twist or a new beer style.

JC: Brewer, does being a dog make it difficult for you to carry out your responsibilities as the President of Rogue Nation?

Brewer: No, I make it work to my advantage: barking, pawing, selective hearing and licking are the tools that work for me.

JC: If I may take a step back for a moment, what are your responsibilities exactly?

B: I recruit new members and maintain peace in the Rogue Nation. I also monitor the beer drinking levels of all members to make sure par levels are maintained (the levels are top secret).

JC: John, many of our readers come from a wine background, and in winemaking the vineyard owner and winery are often the same company. How closely do you work with your malt and hops suppliers?

JM: I work with our hop grower/broker closer than our malt supplier as hops vary dramatically in availability and quality from year to year; more so than barley.

JC: Much is made of the importance of the Pacman yeast you use; what makes it so important to Rogue’s beers?

JM: Pacman gives us our house character. We ferment cold for ales (60 degrees F). Pacman promotes maltiness therefore we can use more hops and maintain balance.

JC: Brewer, aside from going for walks, what other ways are you and Rogue involved in the community?

B: I am Newport’s official beach patrol officer. I report any suspicious activity. And dead sea lions.

JC: John, how involved was Masahura Morimoto in developing the Signature Series of beers?

JM: He came to Newport and tested all of the beers. He picked the soba and the nut brown and told me what twist to put on them. Then we developed the Imperial Pilsner later.

JC: Are any of your beers designed to match with specific foods?

JM: Yes, the soba (Morimoto) is designed to go with Asian food.

JC: One last question: Brewer, are you a stick, ball, or frisbee dog?

B: My vet, Dr. Brown, told me that sticks give me the fiber I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


 Published: August 2004