Rogue Brewery!

Many a time I’ve reviewed individual Rogue products and thought to myself, “damn, I need to do a full on review of the brewery, give credit to every beer I’ve ever had from them”. Hell, I think I’ve even said as much in a post here or there. Well, I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is – literally, since some of them were hard to obtain and involved the cost of travel to procure! And coupled with others that I’ve tried over the years, I’ve finally been able to prepare a full list. It’s been difficult given the fact that seasonals come and go, and one can scarcely remember everything one tries (especially when they drink like I do!), but I assure you, I’ve done my best. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

American Amber Ale: I’ve sampled many amber ales in my day, and I’ve come to expect a certain consistency from them. More often than not, they are smooth, light, tawny on the tongue, and are more malty than hoppy in terms of flavor. This is certainly the case with the American Amber. The taste is both complex, yet light, with smooth, slightly viscous malts and a light hop finish. An enjoyable beer when paired with food or as light-drinking fare. 3.75/5

Brutal IPA: This beer I sampled and reviewed last november, as part of my “Month of IPA’s”. And little’s changed since I reviewed it last! A year later and I still it a fitting examples of a west coast IPA, combining a crisp taste, powerful, floral hops and a good alcoholic bite! Definitely not for the faint of heart, as it more than lives up to its name! 4/5

Chipotle Ale: An interesting experiment in beer-making, and one which I just had to try. And I was not disappointed, nor particularly surprised. Overall, this is a perfectly fine ale and characteristic of rogue brewing, combing a good hoppy ale with the slight hint of peppers and a mild spicy aroma. Perhaps I was expecting something different, but with a name like Chipotle, one would expect more of a punch! However, this remains a very decent ale and given its mild bite, would be well-paired with spicey food. 3.75/5

Chocolate Stout: A first for me, in that it was the first time I had ever tried a chocolate stout. Since that time, it seems like everyone is doing a chocolate or coffee stout/porter. And having tried several, I can still honestly say that this one is my favorite. Whereas most stouts tend to have a bitter, almost burn like flavor to them due to the dark malts used (what is typically described as coffee notes), Rogue’s own manages to come off very smooth. And the chocolate notes are the result of real chocolate being used. No artificial flavors here! 4/5

Dead Guy Ale:One of Rogue’s most famous beers, and definitely the easiest to find here in Canada. Done in the style of German Maibock but still boasting a Pacific Northwest character, this beer is deep honey in color, has a rich, malty profile, a strong bite of hops and a relatively sweet profile. It’s also garnered several awards, including silver medals three years running at the World Beer Championships (from 2005 to 2007).4/5

Hazelnut Brown Nectar: I believe I’ve mentioned several times in the course of my reviews how craft brewing has been coming back into vogue in the last few decades. And if there’s one beer that is consistently becoming more popular, its the Brown Ale. True to form, Rogue recently released their own spin on the traditional Brown, combining the flavor or roasted nuts with brown malts in order produce this beer. Living in Victoria, nestled between so many great micro-breweries, each one producing its own exceptional browns, I felt this baby had some stiff competition. And yet it still came out with top marks!  Rich, dark and tawny, like a good brown, this baby is also smooth and boasts a true nut flavor that is paired well with deserts and Christmas cookies (recent experience will attest to this)! 4/5

Irish Lager: This is going back a ways, but many years back, I spotted this brew in my favorite LCBO located on Rideau street at the edge of downtown Ottawa. I believe I bought it as part of a Rogue taster pack, since this particular LCBO could always be counted on to stack plenty of Rogue products. At the time, I was relatively un-wowed, but that was before I developed an appreciation for lighter beers. Today, I would classify this as a nice, light fare, clean, crisp and refreshing, like a good lager! Its also good when paired with food, though it is also recommended for making Guinness floats. That I will have to try… (personally, I’d recommend using a different stout, but a good idea is a good idea!) 3/5

Juniper Pale Ale: Yet another rare one that I tried when visiting my sis and bro-in-law in Oregon. And, much like with the Yellow Snow IPA (see below) I’ve tried to get my hands on some ever since! It was seriously that good. A delicious ale, red in color, with strong, floral hops, a crisp bite, and a lingering finish that is highly reminiscent of juniper berries, this beer is an all around hit! If you can’t find some, I recommend finding a local beer store that’s been known to carry some Rogue products and putting it on order. 4/5

Yellow Snow IPA: The name might deter some, but for me, this beer is a classic, one which I discovered by accident when visiting Portland in 2004 with my sis and bro in law. The color is consistent with the name, a nice golden orange. Strong hops, a good bite, a long dry finish, and a rating of 80 IBU make this a genuine IPA. After trying it for the first time, I would struggle to get my hands on some here in Canada.  It’s not easy, but thanks to my sweetheart, I enjoyed a nice cold bottle this Christmas, and thanks to my folks, I enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug! What a perfect experience! 5/5

Ah, and speaking of this Christmas, my darling bride was also able to procure for me some tasty samples from the Pike Brewery that I have been unable to get here in Canada as well. Expect a review dedicated to them as well soon. As with all my Christmas beers by Rogue, they too were enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug!

As a finale note, here is a link to Rogue’s website, and a picture of Jack Joyce, the co-founder and CEO of Rogue which I happened to come across in the course of my research into them. Doesn’t he just look like a brewer?!

http://www.rogue.com/

Jack Joyce, Co-Founder and CEO

 

 

Month of IPA’s (continued)

November 2010, the month that was dedicated to India Pale Ale’s. Here was my second post for that month, encompassing all the beers I managed to find, sample, and review. It was a perfect cross-section of the obscure (at least to me), the new, and the enduringly famous. So here they are, in sequential order from least to most appealing:

Thunderhead IPA:(3/5) By Pyramid Brewing, from California, this IPA is pretty light by Canadian standards. While the overall alcohol and hop content is consistent with a regular IPA, it is smooth in a way that is typical of many west-coast US beers. This can be a good or bad, depending on your preference. For those who love hoppy beers, it can be a bit of a letdown, but it makes for a more accessible, drinkable beer.

Shipwrecked IPA: (4/5) By Lighthouse Brewery, made here in Victoria, this beer is part of their Small Brewery-Big Flavour line. At 10 percent alcohol, it is truly strong, even for an IPA, and only for those who are already familiar with this type of brew. Much like a true IPA, it combines strength with heavy malts and a floral, even piney, aftertaste taste that lingers quiet nicely. I recommend it, but only for people looking to sample outside the mainstream of IPA’s, or the experimentally minded.

Brutal IPA: (4/5) By Rogue Breweries, from Oregon, this is yet another big hit by Rogue who are known for their signature microbrews and are committed to excellence in everything they do! As you might guess, I’m a big fan and found this beer very enjoyable. It lives up to the name, being both strong and very hoppy. With floral notes and a strong, crisp taste, its very much in keeping with the tradition of IPA’s. Keep in mind that the name is no idle boast. It is strong to the point of brutality and should only be enjoyed by those who know (and love) their IPA’s!

90 Minute IPA: (4.5/5) By Dogfish Head, located in Denver, this brew was declared by Esquire magazine as being “possibly the best IPA in America.” Having tried it more than once, I can honestly say they may very well be right. Crisp, clean, hoppy and strong, this beer lives up both to the IPA tradition and the high standard set by Dogfish Head. Much like Rogue, they are a brewery that can do little wrong in my eyes and I’m always interested to see what they’ll make next.

Fat Tug IPA: (5/5) As they say, save the best for last! This customer, brewed by Driftwood Brewery right here in Victoria, is the best IPA I’ve had in awhile. It is a true IPA, bringing both strength and a powerful, fruity palate to the table. The result is a crisp, clean taste that both smells and tastes like grapefruit and melon. I was pleased not only with the beer itself but also to find out that this new release is now a permanent part of their repertoire! Challenging, not for everyone, but that’s the point of IPA. Much like the Lord, it hates a coward!

(Dis)honourable Mention: Alexander Keith’s IPA. (1/5) Okay, I know knocking this beer is like knocking a proud Canadian tradition, not to mention the beer of choice for millions of undergrad students, but I got to speak my mind here! For years, I have sat idly by in bars and pubs and watched people order this beer, thinking they were sampling an actual IPA. But they weren’t! From the moment I tried Scotch-Irish’s Sergeant Major, I knew something had to be said. While Keith’s may have started out as a true IPA, brewed in the Maritimes for export to British Troops in India, it has since evolved (or devolved) into its current form.

While it is drinkable and certainly inoffensive, it doesn’t constitute an IPA by any stretch of the imagination or even the definition. IPA’s are supposed to be offensive! They are by their very nature brews that are tough to handle and should only be enjoyed by people who know their stuff! It is not a beer that was ever intended for mass production or accessibility. And quite frankly, if “inoffensive” or “drinkable” are the best things you can say about a beer, then you know there’s something wrong! It generally means that the beer is tasteless, being brewed in mass quantities for consumption by people who don’t care about quality and taste, just getting drunk. “Get’s the job done” is another indicator of quality-less beer, which usually translates to “cheap and easy-drinking” (aka. gets you drunk!)