It’s been a tough few days for Rogue Ales, last Friday a Hindu leader publicly called them out for a new Yoga-themed beer and today Rogue announced the closure of their Issaquah Brewhouse. The two recent events are unrelated.
Rogue Ales was an early Oregon brewing pioneer that opened in 1988, and is one of the most widely known and distributed craft brands in the country.
Rajan Zed, the conservative leader of the Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism called on Rogue to change the name of their new beer named “Shavasana” and apologize. The beer is an Imperial Golden Ale brewed with oats, granola and coconut, and Shavasana is yoga relaxation pose and Hindu meditation technique.
“Life is a balancing act and we’re all about honoring that balance. So we brewed a beer to do just that.” said Rogue president, Dharma Tamm when announcing Shavasana before the controversy flared up.
“Using yoga to push beer was highly insensitive and trivializing of the immensely revered body of sacred and serious knowledge,” wrote Rajan Zed in a press release. It’s nothing new from Zed, who has been known to be a controversial publicity hound who loves to stir up controversy’s where none existed. Zed has publicly commented and drummed up press by sharing opinions on everything from Justin Bieber to the videogame Overwatch. Some may remember when Zed issued a similar press release and grievance over Burnside Brewing Co.’s Kali-Ma imperial chili wheat beer in 2012.
“Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously,” wrote Zed in a press release. “Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled”
Rogue Ales president Dharma Tamm has said that they are considering Zed’s request.
Even bigger news dropped earlier today as Tamm announced the longtime Washington location Rogue Issaquah Brewhouse would be closing this Friday, March 6th. The brewpub opened in 2001, but with 19 years of success Rogue says rising costs have made it no longer viable. Tamm says they are closing the Issaquah brewhouse to focus on their other pubs and production. Rogue is throwing a thank you and goodbye party this Friday.
“We have offered jobs to all Rogue Issaquah employees at one of our other pubs and hope to keep them as a part of our family,” says Tamm. “We cannot thank our team enough for your passion and support for the Rogue brand.”
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.