Politics, man, should it matter and how much?
I mean I read some stuff about how Rogue runs its business, and it's kind of old by now, but it's not good. The original article seems to have disappeared since I read it, but it eviscerated Rogue for anti-union behavior, unfulfilled salary promises, petty firings, and terrible pay. A synopsis is still up on Beervana, though I should point out again that it's from 2011.
Things don't seem to have gotten better recently, though. Here's a reddit post from a former worker in 2013 about how filthy the brewery is, and it's supported by people who have taken the tour. (And here's another from later in the year about public relations, mostly, and another about them asking for an IT manager with a $38k salary.) That's not quite politics, but it's not like I've necessarily tasted a Rogue beer and said oh yeah black mold in the brewery, that's what I taste. You could consider it peripheral to the actual tastes in their beers.
On the other side of the coin is probably New Belgium. Listed in the second reddit link above as a company that responds well to requests about recipes, New Belgium is employee-owned and just replaced one woman founder/CEO with another woman. Casey talked to both of them for his podcast linked below. I don't think beer companies need to necessarily seek out women above all else, but in an industry dominated by men, it's nice to see that they found two executives that don't fit the mold.
Who knows how much more New Belgium pays their workers than Rogue, but allowing them some taste in the business already puts them ahead of Rogue. They're often offered up as a foil to Rogue, too, in posts about cleanliness and openness.
In terms of flagship brews, I'd probably rather have Rogue's Hazelnut Brown over Fat Tire or many of the regularly available pale ales from New Belgium. Once we get to rarer items, it's easy for me to pick a New Belgium sour over most of the Rogues that come through. At it's best, New Belgium makes some very tasty beers, tastier than I've ever had from Rogue. But it's still true that I'd rather have the Rogue flagship on taste.
Still, that preference for the Hazelnut does not mean it's not good enough for me to really overcome the bad taste left in my mouth from the stories I've read. So I haven't bought a Rogue beer since I read those stories.
And yet, while I'm all about voting with your dollar, I'm also all about trying all of the beers I can try and enjoying the beers I want.
If Rogue made X Pale Ale instead of AleSmith, or psuedo Sue instead of Toppling Goliath, or Congress Street instread of Trillium... What would I say then? What would you say?
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