Ah, the beard. Along with flannel shirts and the wearing of glasses that aren’t required, this fuzzy face furnishing has become synonymous with craft beer lovers the world over.
Usually, the two passions are kept separate but to celebrate World Beard Day we’re telling the tale of one of the most legendary partnerships ever to have taken place between beer and beard.
It begins back in 2012 when Oregon based Rogue Brewery decided that they wanted to create a new beer. They searched far and wide – sort of, they looked around the grounds of the brewery – hunting for new wild yeast strains which would complement their homegrown barley and hops, but none were quite what they were looking for, some were too unpredictable and others didn’t ferment at all.
Then, when hope was all but lost, they discovered that the answer had literally been under their noses the whole time, or at least, it was under one nose – in the beard of their brew master, John Maier.
In a stroke of pure genius, someone suggested that Maier’s 34-year-old beard, which had been present with him at over 15,000 brews, would most likely have picked up some rogue yeast through the years. Nine hairs were plucked from the wise old beard and taken to a lab for testing.
The noble follicles were then placed in a petri dish to be cultured and lo and behold, a new and previously undiscovered strain of yeast was found to be hidden among them.
On further examination, it was unveiled that this new yeast was a hybrid. The result of a fling between Rogue brewery’s house yeast, known as ‘Pacman’ and a wild, exotic, stranger yeast.
At this stage, you’re probably wondering how this curious yeast appeared in John’s beard but not elsewhere in the brewery. The answer is that, while breweries provide the perfect environment for yeast to grow, it is a single-celled organism and is not mobile, so any strain found in the brewery itself was likely to be one that was already in use there. The only way a new type would be found is if a wild yeast somehow found its own way in – normally it would be transported on the back of an animal or by a vehicle.
In the case of the beard, the tiny drifter probably arrived at its hairy home on something that Maier had been eating. This yeast must then have come across the native Pacman and was likely attracted to him because of his permanent home. In any case, the duo got on well, and to cut a long story short a new yeast was born. This was then cultivated and used to brew, the now famous, Beard Beer.
If you’re curious about the flavour of this Beard Beer. We can confirm that it’s known to have a clean, crisp taste with notes of bread and pineapple (leading us to the conclusion that the yeast could potentially have arrived on a Hawaiian Pizza.)
Although some were disgusted by the thought of the beard/ beer merger, on the whole, it was received well.
We are hailing it one of mankind’s greatest partnerships. Long live The Beard!
Happy World Beard Day!