As one might expect from a brewery responsible for eccentric beers – from Yellow Snow IPA to several gutsy collaborations with Portland-based Voodoo Doughnut and beer brewed with yeast from a beard – Rogue Ales brewer Michael King is a dreamer and a doer.
As a brewer at Rogue for more than four years, King has been a key force behind creations such as Rolling Thunder imperial stout, the first beverage product born from all of Rogue’s ventures in brewing, farming, distilling and coopering.
Off the clock, King is also an avid mushroom forager, fisherman and fermentation experimentalist. He’ll go to great lengths in the name of a good drink, including to southeast Alaska glaciers to harvest ice for his whiskey. King’s grand personal ambitions transfer over to his philosophy at Rogue. We learned more about a few tricks the “director of innovation” has up his sleeve.
1) Which of your own current offerings are you digging the most?
Trick question, as it all depends on the season and atmosphere of the occasion. Albeit, I would say that, by far, I enjoy Brutal IPA quite often. It is one of the most intriguing beers I have ever experienced. The depth and complexity of the hop flavor and aroma is fascinating. Also, because it is a straight unfiltered beer racked directly from the fermenter, it has even more unique flavor and aroma characters than I’ve found in any other beer. There is no question why this is the official beer of the Rogue Nation!
2) Any brewing pipe dreams you’re dying to make a reality?
I would love to design a radical new style of beer that completely takes the entire craft industry by surprise and begins a new chapter in the renaissance of experimental brewing. Who knows, maybe this could happen in the next year.
3) What non-beer beverage is in your glass most these days? What is your favorite way to enjoy it and where?
As of late, I have been enjoying our very own craft distilled two-year-aged rye whiskey. I prefer it syrupy cold, in a tumbler on glacier ice that I smuggled down to Oregon from my adventures in southeast Alaska. The ice is so dense that it literally takes forever to melt, and keeps the spirit just right for afternoon sipping in the sun on the Alsea River — just outside of Newport, where our brewery, distillery and cooperage is located.
4) Favorite song, album or artist to jam out to while throwing a few down the hatch?
This all varies based on the weather and the beverage I am enjoying. On a hot and sunny afternoon, old roots reggae music like Burning Spear melds well with the simple, warm ambiance. That being said, when the wind is blowing 50 knots and rain is pouring down sideways, I keep warm with my beer while listening to blues music — specifically Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy. On a dreary, depressing, gray-muted day, I tend to perk up by listening to the Grateful Dead, usually live concerts from the late ’70s or early ’80s.