There's a lot to love about Rogue. Its a legendary brewery, featuring a prolific brewmaster, that has been perfecting ales for over 20 years. It was a forerunner in the extreme hopping trend that emerged from the West Coast in recent years (and we're NOT talking about adventure sports for bunnies). Its brews come in beautifully designed bottles, both glass and ceramic, that are some of the most informative around in terms of what what you may want to know to fully appreciate each beer. And of course, the Rogue line is full of great-tasting, creative brews.
Regional Rogue Brewery rep Chris Lacey guided the Lagerheads through a beer and food-paired dinner at Birreria Paradiso in June. Below is our take on the the six beers (and whiskey) we guzzled and the 411 on where you can find Rogue during DC Beer Week.
Dead Guy Whiskey – That's right. The bad boys at Rogue have a distillery where they make whiskey, rum, and gin. This whiskey had some malty characters and was a pretty fun way to start the night (although Tammy nursed hers over the course of the evening and had to ask multiple servers not to take it away).
Dead Guy Ale – Rogue's flagship beer. Very subtle nose. An apricot flavor and malt character up front, and grassy hop flavors towards the end. (The grass was most likely a result of the food pairing, which was a fabulous date appetizer.) Not too dry–a nice, balanced beer.
Brutal Bitter – Yowza! No false advertising here. Plenty of strong, bitter hops. Aroma of cinnamon toast–again, perhaps because it came paired with a brussel sprout and goat cheese soup. A full-bodied, well-carbonated beer. Sure to please many a hophead.
Menage A Frog Ale – Brewed in partnership with Rogue-owned Issaquah Brewhouse in Seattle, this "Roguian take" on a Belgian triple has won over 12 awards in the last three years. Some banana flavors but not much else tripley about it. Definitely bitter for a triple, but we know that's the point. Still, we weren't smoking what all those judges were, apparently.
XS Imperial Red – Hands down our favorite of the night. This ale is from Rogue's "XS" (excess) series, which Chris described as having "more malt, more hops" and being "huge in all ways." We agree, and we loved it. Poured a beautiful resin-like dark amber color with a heavy, lacing cream head. Nice hop and vanilla aromas. Some cream, fig, and molasses flavors. Also the best food pairing of the night–a sweet potato and garlic pesto pizza.
Kells Irish Lager – Brewed for the folks at Kell's bar in Seattle to float their Guinness on, this meek beer did not impress us. It was Kolsh-like with subtle sour apple flavors and probably scheduled in for palate relief between the two big beers served before and after it.
Mocha Porter – An excellent way to end the evening, this beer was originally called "New Porter" in honor of Rogue's home in Newport, Oregon. Tasted some bitter coffee, a hint of chocolate, and then sweet cream at the end. Had a slightly smokey/roasted finish. Pretty good, but we admit we were (happily) distracted by our dessert.
ROGUE at DC BEER WEEK:
If your appetite for Rogue beers has been whet, you can catch Chris and a handful of Rogue ales at The Big Hunt on Monday at 7:00pm for their Sausage, Cheese, and Beerliciousness event.
If you're a die-hard Rogue fan and ready to go all-in, we suggest heading to The Reef on Tuesday between 5:00 and 10:00pm for their Rogue Oregon Oyster and Ale Fest. Due to a warm summer in Oregon, the oysters may not be from Newport as promised, but there will be 1,000 fresh oysters brought in for the event. Be on the look out for The Beerspotter's after-action report.