Fathers of Craft
The Hop-Crazy Master Brewer
Earning himself the nickname “More Hops,” John C. Maier has been mastering the Rogue Ales recipe since 1989, when he began at the Oregon-based company.
Maier began his beer career as a homebrewer, signing up for a local class to learn the craft, before taking his newfound talent around California and Alaska, winning brewing prizes along the way.
For a decade, Maier worked as a senior technician with Hughes Aircraft in California. But after a chance meeting at a bar in the Denver airport, Maier was called back to the Beaver State by Jack Joyce, the co-founder of a small brewery, who offered him the opportunity to be Rogue Ale’s second-ever brewer at a new facility he was opening. Maier arrived in the coastal town of Newport, Oregon, just in time for the first brew.
“One thing Jeff Larsen told me, from Alaskan Brewing, when I hired John he says to me, “Watch your hop inventory!” remembered Joyce in an interview with Beverage Business.
Today, Rogue is still winning awards for what has become more than 10,000 batches of beer brewed (that milestone was hit in 2006 and commemorated with a “10,000 Brew Ale” featuring an image of the big-bearded Maier drowning in hops). “Rogue’s philosophy is that variety is the spice of life,” Maier told Star Chefs in 2004. And after half a century, Maier is still mixing batches in the brewery with as much vigor as ever, helping propel Oregon to the status of the state with the most craft breweries per capita.
“We are very hands-on, and we are moving a lot. You’re on your feet the entire time. It’s starting to wear me out, but I still love it. The boiling wort, that aroma, is something. You really can’t ever get over that,” Maier explained to Beer Connoisseur magazine.
Rogue truly lives up to its name. The brewery intends each of its rotating cast of beers to be paired with food or to incorporate edible ingredients into the mix, as seen in the Rogue Chipotle Ale, which is imbued with chilies and smoked jalapeños, or the Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale. The company even partnered with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in 2003 to launch a namesake Morimoto Hazelnut Ale and Soba Ale, which won the World Beer Cup Gold five years later.