REVIEW: Dead Guy Ale from Rogue Ales & Spirits

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Rogue Ales & Spirits
Location: Newport, OR
Style: German Maibock
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 40
Hops: Perle, Sterling
Malts: 2-Row, Crystal 15, Munich, Rogue Farms Dare™ and Risk™
Appearance: Beautiful Orange With Auburn Highlights
Aroma: Doughy Bread Scent Hinting at Sour
Flavor: Full-bodied, Creamy and Sweet with Drying Bitter Sensation at the End
Availability: Year-Round
Pairs With: Spicy Foods, Roasted Pork, Gruyere Cheese, Shrimp, Lobster

Rogue Ales & Spirits was founded in 1988 by Jack Joyce, Rob Strasser, and Bob Woodell. They opened the brewpub in Ashland Oregon and the first beers brewed were the American Amber and the Oregon Golden.

In 1989 they relocated to Newport Oregon, after a fortuitous meeting between Jack Joyce and a woman named Mo Niemi (founder of Mo’s Restaurants). Mo Niemi was interested enough in a brewery to offer a piece of waterfront property she owned as Rogue’s new home. Mo had two stipulations to the deal. She said “feed the fishermen,” meaning give back to the community; and the second was to always display a picture of her, which could have been her way of saying “remember and celebrate kindnesses.”

Rogue has fulfilled both this provisions admirably. They continually support over 200 local charities and they have remembered Mo, both with a picture above the bar and a beer dedicated in her name.

Dead Guy ale has an uncommon beginning, that of a simple tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan day of the dead. The image was so popular that Rogue decided to put it on their Maibock ale. Dead Guy was born and now the skeleton with the beehive hat stares back at us from shelves all across the country. Dead Guy has won its share of awards, with its first win coming in 1994 and every year or so since, it grabs up another. This beer is no passing fluke, its popularity and awards through the years has proven it. Time to take a closer look….

The Pour and Aroma

Dead Guy Ale from Rogue Ales & Spirits

Dead Guy pours a beautiful orange with auburn highlights, much like the outside of a tangerine. A quickly drifting soapy, boarding on fizzy, head appears, and then departs within a short couple minutes leaving a clear translucent surface, disturbed only by the gentle rise of escaping CO2.

On the nose I find a doughy bread scent. It’s not the stronger crusty scent of baked bread, but more of the kneaded dough; the sweet bread, hinting at sour. The hops are there too, giving a fruity edge to the whole, with orange and some tropical fruit. There are some hints at the spicy character of the Sterling hops used, but they play fourth or fifth fiddle to the “floral” here.

Mouthfeel and Taste

A discreetly full-bodied and creamy beer on the palate, Dead Guy delivers fruity, almost candy-like sweetness at the front. Orange is really evident with very slight acrid or burnt edges.

Mid palate finds the bread component still strong, grain and crust balance the fruit adding complexity to the whole. Pleasant bittering on the swallow as alcohol unwinds, prickling and warming front to back.

The finish leaves a drying bitter sensation that may not be quite in line with this style, though not disagreeable. It reminds me a bit of how a mild IPA might finish.

Finishing The Impression

This is a hefty well-balanced beer. Though some of its components may run contrary to a truer example of the style, it does well as an individualized take on the German Maibock. The Maibock or “May Bock” was traditionally brewed for spring drinking and this beer would work well in that setting.

Actually I can’t really think of a time this beer wouldn’t be pleasant. It carries enough ABV weight to deal with those cooler times of year that might skirt Spring and Fall. Heck, I can even see drinking this on warmer winter days. It seems versatile enough with its lighter body, high ABV, and mixed complexity to carry well at any time of year.

Drinking this one has made me want to hunt more of the style. I haven’t had too many Maibock’s, but suddenly feel the need to find a good source for comparison. If any out there have good examples of this not-often-seen style I’d love to hear them. And if you haven’t tried this one give it a shot… it might surprise.


More Beer Reviews:

Nick Carr

About Author

Nicoli Carr has been tinkering with homebrewing for over 10 years and graduated from the American Brewers Guild (CBA) Craft Brewers program in 2014. When he’s not busy freelance writing, he is likely out foraging wild brewing options, writing, or hunting stillness in remote places. You can contact him through his website


  1. Greg Watson says

    I live in Tennessee but am from the Seattle area. I first found Dead Guy Ale in Newport Oregon 7 years ago when we went back to see my mom in Salem, Ore.. I have been hooked on Rogue ever since. there are only a couple places that sell it here in Tennessee, but it is worth the effort and expense to try all of them.

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