In our brief stint of beer
snobbery advocacy we have found ourselves having a love/apathy relationship with the beers of the Rogue Brewing Company, located in Newport, Oregon. There is so much we have appreciated -- notably from a marketing standpoint -- and much to which we have met with indifference, or even mild disapproval.
The first Rogue sample we had was in approximately 1999 when we acccompanied co-worker John Taylor to the Blue Tusk after a hard day of restocking videos and quoting Steve Buscemi movies. John had always referred to us a "rogue" whenever we said something particularly irreverent, so when we saw that the Tusk had a brew called "Rogue Dead Guy," it was a no-brainer. Back then, of course, we were used to the fizzy, piss-yellow beer of our youth, and weren't ready for a brew with such a dark and alcohol-heavy punch.
From a marketing and labeling perspective, we have always been an admirer of Rogue's labels with thematic screen-prints with one hand filled with a mug of beer, the other hand raised victoriously. And we have gone deep into their library to sample many of their brews, some we've really liked (Brutal Bitter) and some ... well we appreciated the effort at least (the adveturous Chipotle Ale).
But over the last month, there have been two of the Rogue's gallery that have truly impressed us.
The first is the St. Rogue Red Ale, an outstanding amber. We have always been ambivalent about ambers, moreso than we have been with Rogue. Ambers have generally turned us off due to that bitter German malt bite at the end (think Killian's). But this brew has none of the bitterness, and so much more. The color is an impeccably deep red hue ("it's got a fine cheek") and a beautiful, rich lacing.
The malt smell isn't the usual bitterness we're used to. Instead it's a rich, subtly roasted aroma; dry but with a hint of molasses. And even some of that pale ale malt smell that isn't usually associated with such a dark brew. And as for the taste .... well, you aren't going to get a lot of hops in this one, but you will get a deep, rich ale flavor with that dry and biscuity malt the style deserves. The hints of caramel and molasses add that slightly sweet punch to the otherwise subtle brew. It's possibly the smoothest red/amber ale we've ever had.
The other outstanding brew we were so fortunate to encounter was Rogue's Younger's Special Bitter, an authentic English Bitter, perfectly dovetailing with our current Anglophilia. Younger's is more along the lines of a true English ale, dark yellow, thick (almost chunky) looking with a big, frothy head. The smell is only slightly bitter, with more of that dry biscuity English smell. Like the St. Rogue's, it's also nutty and roasted in the aroma.
The taste is perfectly dry and ale-like. It has a slight accent of hops, and even a bit of apricot. Other than that, it's very mild, but incredibly delicious. As it warms up it gains a tiny bit of pungent sourness, just a bit to add another dimension. It leaves that wonderful film at the end so you can enjoy it for a few minutes more.
Rogue continues to be a rather hit-or-miss affair at times, but with quality brews like this holding down the fort, we will be far more willing to take a chance on any other of their attractive 22oz bottle that comes down the pike.