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The OGs of Craft Beer | Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Avg. Reading Time: 4 min

Rogue Ales & Spirits Dead Guy Ale first emerged in 1990 during a special November 1 Dia de los Metros (Day of the Dead) celebration at Casa U-Betcha, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Portland, Oregon. For the rest of us, the beer came into our lives in 1994 during the Clinton Administration, the first season of Friends, and 14 years before Facebook arrived. Nevertheless, even after its nearly 25 years of roaming the craft world there’s nothing dead about Dead Guy Ale.

The beer received an extra boost in early 2017 when Rogue decided to can the beer for the first time and update its label artwork. Indeed, the beer has grown so iconic that one will not find the name “Dead Guy” anywhere on the cans because most every drinker knows the beer simply by the Dead Guy imagery.

Dead Guy Ale

ABV: 6.8% | IBU: 40

Style: German Maibock in style, but an ale that includes Rogue Farms proprietary Pacman yeast,

Ingredients: 2-Row, C15, Munich & Rogue Farms Dare™ and Risk™ Malts; Perle & Sterling Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.

First, you might wonder: What is a Maibock?

The Bock style—a lager—dates back several centuries. Traditionally, Maibocks (or Helles Bock) were brewed in spring (Mai = May) and offered beer drinkers respite from the onslaught of darker beers (including its Bock sibling) produced during the winter.

Rogue Dead Guy, though, marches to the beat of its own drum. In addition to its fall release, the beer is an ale, not a lager. And, rather than offer fans a break from darker beers, it played counterpoint to the influx of hoppy ales emerging on the West Coast at that time.

(READ: PorchDrinking Explores the OGs of Craft Beer)

Dead Guy Ale enjoys a light to medium body and pours cloudy with a color comparable to deep honey, but with a reddish-hue. The predominantly malt-forward beer enjoys lovely breadiness and nutiness, but the notes of toffee or caramel sweetness shines in Dead Guy Ale. The level of booziness (6.8% ABV) found in the beer along with an ever-so-subtle bitter hoppy flavor provides structure to Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

In the end, Dead Guy exists as a simple, malt-forward beer that’s exceptionally easy to drink, and a wonderful accompaniment to a variety of meals; this beer won’t come close to wrecking your palate.

Dead Guy Ale
Rogue Ales & Spirits – Dead Guy Ale ( from Facebook / Social Media)

What makes Dead Guy Ale an OG? 

It’s somewhat fitting that Rogue Dead Guy is attached to Día De Los Muertos. Although Mexicans celebrate it on November 1 (and Americans use it as en excuse to extend its Halloween celebrations). The holiday was originally celebrated by Aztecs to commemorate the seasonal harvest in late-August. The holiday evolved, and so has Rogue. In addition to expanding its beer portfolio and adding distillation to its repertoire, the folks at Rogue also proudly own and manages Rogue Farms. Hence, the beer that celebrates a day once attached to a seasonal harvest now comes from a brewery that manages its own harvest. How apropos! 

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. What is not a stretch is the beer’s relevancy within the craft beer world. It seems implausible that anyone could think of Rogue without also thinking about Dead Guy Ale, and not because it used to be good, but because it has always been good.

Rogue Dead Guy did what many craft beers have done, it dually re-acquainted beer drinkers with styles that had vanished from the American beer scene during the 20th century while also demonstrating innovation that would drive the industry to its boom time —and that’s what makes it one of the OGs of Craft Beer.

When Rogue Dead Guy arrived, only a few hundred breweries operated—modern craft beer was very much in its infancy, but Rogue Dead Guy Ale remains the same today as it was yesterday—a really tasty beer.

And it has the hardware to prove it.

1994 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Bronze
1995 California Beer Festival Dead Guy Ale 2nd
1996 Underground Wine Journal Great American Microbrew Awards Dead Guy Ale Bronze
1996 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Bronze
1999 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2002 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2003 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold
2004 Australian International Beer Awards Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2005 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2006 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2007 Great International Beer Festival Dead Guy Ale 2nd
2007 NWBN Reader’s Choice Award Dead Guy Ale Best Bock
2007 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2008 Great International Beer Festival Dead Guy Ale 2nd
2008 International Beer Challenge Dead Guy Ale Top 50
2008 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold (Best of 2008)
2009 Australian International Beer Awards Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2009 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold (Best of 2009)
2010 Asia Beer Award Dead Guy Ale Silver
2010 Australian International Beer Awards Dead Guy Ale Silver
2010 BrewNZ Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2010 Northwest Conference (Thirsty Beagle) Dead Guy Ale 2nd
2011 Draft Magazine March Beer Madness Dead Guy Ale 2nd
2011 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold (Best of 2011)
2012 Australian International Beer Awards Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2012 International Beverage Exposition & Competition Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2012 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold (Best of 2012)
2013 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2013 World Beverage Competition Dead Guy Ale Platinum, Best of Show
2014 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Silver
2015 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold
2015 Great International Beer & Cider Competition Dead Guy Ale First
2015 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold
2016 World Beer Championships Dead Guy Ale Gold
2016 San Diego International Beer Festival Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2016 Australian International Beer Awards Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2016 Great International Beer & Cider Competition Dead Guy Ale 2nd
2016 World Beverage Competition Dead Guy Ale Bronze
2017 World Beer Awards Dead Guy Ale Best of US – Bock
2018 World Beverage Competition Dead Guy Ale Platinum
2018 New York International Beer Competition Dead Guy Ale Gold

About the OGs of Craft Beer Series

We at Porchdrinking.com thoroughly enjoy covering craft beer trends and showcasing the newest and beers. But, before terms like Brut, Milkshake, New England and even BBA entered the brewing-industry lexicon, beer fans were thrilled to taste Ambers, Pale Ales and some mysterious beer that may or may not have arrived from India. So, for one month, we are going to take time to remember some of those OGs of Craft Beer — the brews that made it all possible. While we can’t cover all the OGs of Craft Beer, we want to take this time in August to pay homage to several of them. If your favorite “classic” isn’t on the list; don’t fret. Let us know what you loved back in the day (or still do), and bring attention in the comments section below or via our social media channels.


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