I received a note from Jack Joyce last week, scrawling that he would be sending me “some Rogue info in another envelope.” That envelope will never arrive. At 71, the Rogue Ales’ co-founder unexpectedly passed away on Tuesday, May 27, leaving behind a Rogue Nation in mourning.
Blunt and not one to mince words, Joyce said he started the brewery without any knowledge about the brewing process. “What two best friends and college buddies wouldn’t want to start a bar,” the onetime Nike lawyer chuckled. “We knew how to drink but we didn’t know how to make beer—let alone craft beer; I didn’t even know what that meant.”
Joyce tapped into the “Rogue” name because he wanted to pay tribute to those who couldn’t be controlled—like himself. And not only did he refuse to do it the normal “beer way,” he said, but he wasn’t about to let anyone tell him what to say or do. “We wanted to do it our way,” said Joyce, while we sat at the bar at Duke’s in Waikiki back in April sampling the new Rogue Monk Seal Ale, which was developed to help raise money for the Waikiki Aquarium. “We don’t use chemicals, we don’t add additives and our beers are never pasteurized.”
When Rogue produced its first batch of ales in 1988, there were few microbreweries in the Pacific Northwest, an area that has since become dense with craft brewers who’ve taken beer making to a completely new level. Incorporating such ingredients as chocolate, cherries, chipotle and mocha, Rogue’s ales, stouts and IPAs show a commitment to the artisanal brew movement that continues to spread and grow.
“I still don’t know a lot about beers and I don’t know what they cost to make,” admitted Joyce, who relocated to the islands with his Hawaii-born spouse Joan. “But I can tell when a beer is not well made because the way to make money in beer is to add more water.”
That will never happen at Rogue where the original brewer still brews every day. “He wants to die on the brewer’s stand,” said Joyce, shaking his head. “Our problem is that we have no self-discipline when it comes to developing new types of ales.”
And that rebel-like, Rogue legacy is what Joyce leaves behind.
A hui hou Jack!