Something strange is going on at the Rogue Ales Brewery in Newport, Oregon. Brewers there are developing an ale made from wild yeast harvested from the beard of Rogue’s award-winning brewmaster, John Maier.
He hasn’t shaved since 1978, and that apparently makes his beard the perfect place to harvest yeast. I’m just kidding, it’s far from perfect, but Rogue Ales’ president, Brett Joyce said he was looking for a “different place that might have some magic yeast in it” and decided to try out Maier’s facial hair. The guys at Rogue had tried developing some new yeast strains from some of their own hopyard, but came up empty-handed, so as a joke they had their lab guy take a couple of Q-tip swabs from John Maier’s fluffy beard. Amazingly enough, he found a yeast cell, did some fermentation tests and the unique “beard beer” was born. What started out as a joke turned into something really special, since they never expected to find the new yeast they were looking for right in their brewmaster’s beard. “This really is the needle in the haystack” John Couchot, Rogue Ales’ self-described mad scientist said.