Home Back Issues May 2010 Rogue Ales expands its borders

Rogue Ales expands its borders

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
rogue
Japanese versions of Rogue Ales

It’s good to know you can be 8,000 miles from home and still get Oregon beer.

Newport-based Rogue Ales first set sail for Japan in 1994. Since then, Rogue has landed in 22 countries including Chile, France and China. It’s also conquered Guam, where it’s been the best-selling craft beer for 10 years, and Puerto Rico. This month, Rogue beer will hit stores in Spain.

“We like planting the Rogue Nation flag in these countries,” president Brett Joyce says. “That’s what’s fun for us.”

The move to Japan was put together by an American expat, Phred Kaufman, who persuaded the brewery to ship him beer to sell under his Ezo Beer label. Kaufman and Rogue founder Jack Joyce signed a contract on the back of a coffee bag after a night of drinking and gambling, and it’s been a productive partnership ever since. Some of Rogue’s recipes, such as Chocolate Stout, were originally created for Ezo.

“We never had a master plan to build an export business,” Brett Joyce says. “It’s more the fun of it, the risk of it… than any business or economic proposition.”

If it had been a business decision, it probably would have been canceled. Rogue’s international sales account for less than 0.5% of its revenue.

No other Oregon brewery currently ships outside of the U.S. and Canada. Most brewers have yet to conquer their home turf, says Brian Butenschoen, director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “Just keeping up with growth within the areas that they distribute already has been a challenge.”

Portland-based Widmer Brothers sent an expedition to Asia more than 10 years ago, co-founder Kurt Widmer says.

“It was an exploratory endeavor that never went beyond the exploration,” he says, ticking off the reasons why. “We’re not large enough to send our own reps over to support the beer the way we think it should be supported. We insist on shipping our beer in refrigerated containers and by the time it gets to those locations, it’s quite expensive. Finally our experience has been that not every market in those areas has refrigeration so the beer isn’t always kept in what we consider optimal conditions. So we just decided rather than somebody getting a beer that was less than delicious, we’d rather not take the chance.”

Partnering with a foreign brewery to make and sell beer locally would make more sense, he says. “There’s no point in doing it just to send a beer off and say that you sell beer in ‘x, y, z’ countries.”

Rogue ships beer internationally without refrigeration most of the time, but a 12-oz. bottle of Dead Guy costs $6.80 U.S. by the time it gets to Australia. And Rogue’s “rebel” brand doesn’t translate, although the bottles still have big, bold logos painted on the glass. “The most important thing is that beer is universal,” Joyce says.

Beer may be universal, but tastes vary slightly from country to country. Brutal IPA is the best-seller in India; the wintry Yellow Snow IPA is the favorite in Canada. But Rogue has never had to retreat from a foreign market and will continue to expand its empire.

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


Read more...

The Alchemist

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.


Read more...

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

November/December Preview: Revenge Forestry

News
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

Seneca AW46A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS