Iâ€™ve never been very fascinated by terroir, a term normally attributed to wine in reference to the effect an environment has on a finished agricultural product. More officially (or according to Wikipedia), terroir is â€œthe special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestow upon particular produce such as wine, coffee or teaâ€. All this still sounded fairly boring until I learned of the biggest terroir-related news story to rock the craft beer world in a while:
For Rogue brewmaster John Maier, you see, terroir is the special characteristics that his beard bestows upon his beer.
Two weeks ago, the brewery announced via press releaseÂ that, as a joke, Rogue sent off â€œnine beard folliclesâ€ from Maier to their yeast analysis lab (You donâ€™t have one of those?). The joke was on them as they discovered that somehow, for better or for worse, his face-blanket contained a strain of wild yeast viable for use in beer.
A lesser brewery may have had thoughts of doubt like, â€œNobodyâ€™s going to want to drink a beard beer,â€ or â€œLetâ€™s not and say we did,â€ or â€œEw. Ew. Ew. What the hell, John?â€. Not Rogue.
Currently, test beers are brewing for Rogue to find the optimal style in which to use this yeast. The mystery beer already has a name- New Crustacean- and is slated for release in early 2013.
Personally, I am ecstatic. While Iâ€™m ashamed to say that I gag at the thought of this brew (for me, it conjures a picture of a solo cup filled with soggy beard hairs), I plan to get over it sometime in the next seven or eight months. Itâ€™s experimental; itâ€™s whimsical; itâ€™s exactly the sort of inspired â€œf*** youâ€ to culinary stuffiness that makes craft beer so outstanding.
A further exploration of terroir reveals that the word doesnâ€™t just refer to the physical attributes of the environment in which an agriculture grows; it also encompasses the culture- the human intent- that allows these outside forces to reach the product. In our example, the terrain- er, beard is no more important than the mischievous attitude that sent a petri dish full of beard to a legitimate place of science. Trickery in my beer is something I can get behind, even if itâ€™s tricking me into drinking a solo cup full of soggy beard hair.