Rogue XS Mega-Review: Scotch Ale & Imperial I.P.A.

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I’ve had two Rogue XS 8oz bottles kicking around in my crisper almost a year now which I’ve been intending to review, but never did because I felt I should do them together for some reason.  Well, it’s snowing before Halloween, and tonight’s the night.

First the McRogue Scotch Ale.  It says on the bottle it was produced in 2010 and tastes best when aged for one year, which I’ve inadvertently done, so things are looking promising for optimal taste.  I’m picking up a little coffee and molasses on the nose with a hint of dark fruit like black cherries, but there’s not much there to speak of.  The initial mouthfeel is slightly chewy with tiny carbonation.  It tastes of coffee and molasses and toasty malts.  Not overly sweet, and the back end finishes kind of quickly.  This is not my favorite style admittedly, but I’d like to try it alongside the Belhaven.

Taste:  B Fine, but I’m not pre-disposed towards Scotch Ales.  

Drinkability:  B  I just can’t imagine having more than one of these in a sitting.  This falls into the dessert beer category for me.

Vitals:  Poured from an 8oz “XS” bottle aged one year per the bottle recommendation into a pint glass at about 45F but allowed to warm to about 50F which improved the taste considerably.  ABV:  7.0%  IBU:  45

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On to the Imperial I.P.A.  It feels a bit unfair reviewing imperial I.P.A.s nowadays since A. there are so many and B. there are so many great ones including Pliny the Elder, Sculpin, and of course, Heady Topper.  Rogue’s smells wonderful, with the hops you’d expect but a good amount of malt as well.  

Lightly carbonated but prickly with more malt bready sweetness than you’d expect from this style, but nicely balanced for the most part.  Some grapefruit rind and floral business going on too and pine throughout.  The taste was a little bitter at the finish for my liking along with the warming of the alcohol.

Taste:  B Better than I was expecting.  I’d like to try this beer when it’s fresh (the bottle was over a year old).  

Drinkability:  B-  Too much astringent bitterness at the end to get me to go back for more than one I think, plus its pretty high ABV.

Vitals:  Poured from an 8oz “XS” bottle into a pint glass at about 45F.  ABV:  9.5%  IBU:  74

 

Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout

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One of the downsides to drinking many great beers is that it can make the average beer seem less than average. I may taste a beer that works perfectly fine for one session, but I wouldn’t purchase it again. Does that make it the equivalent of Meister Brau? Probably not. There’s obviously a middle ground, and there is certainly a place for decent beers that don’t necessarily rise to the level of delicious (Heady Topper) or fall to the depths of some beers I won’t bother mentioning.

This brings me to the Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout. It’s a serviceable beer and had many of the attributes I’d look for in a delicous oatmeal stout. Vanilla, nuts, coffee, and cocoa all made an appearance in either smell or taste. The place I thought it fell down was the finish. The bitterness of the coffee & chocolate lingered on my palate and wasn’t rescued by any sort of sweetness or smoothness. Good enough to be good, but not great.

Taste: B. All the elements are there, it was pleasant enough to consume. The end is what left something to be desired.

Drinkability: B. It’d be tough to mark it lower considering that my glass was empty within 10 minutes. No ill effects either. You could easily have 2 or 3 of these in a sitting.

Vitals: 4.95% ABV. Served cool in a Fuller’s pint glass.

 

Beer:o’clock selection – Otter Creek Oktoberfest

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Let me just start by saying I’m a huge fan of OC’s Copper Ale. Just a good all around beer. Love it. 

I picked up a six-pack of their Oktoberfest last weekend when I was in Vermont, figuring it’d be a good alternative to the stouts and porters I brought with me from MA. I actually didn’t have one over the weekend and there were two left that I packed for home. 

First of all, it’s a beautiful looking beer. Crystal clear, light orange in color with a light head that fades quickly. I have to stick my nose deep in the glass to get much (if anything) on the nose, so let’s take a taste. 

Very light carbonation, faint malt and zero hops. There’s a metallic aftertaste that’s a little off-putting. All in all not a great tasting beer. Not sure what they were going for with this one, but I think they mailed it in. 

Taste: C- 

Drinkability: D. If it wasn’t for the metallic aftertaste I could drink this, but it’s not enjoyable. 

Vitals: No idea. The label is devoid of information. 

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Thomas Creek Class Five IPA

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The second beer I’m reviewing tonight is another that I received in the mail from a friend. This one hails from South Carolina… Thomas Creek Brewery Class Five IPA. 

It pours a beautiful, auburn color that’s crisp and clear. The head is soft and clings to the sides of the glass as it fades. The smell is virtually non-existent. Maybe a very slight scent of malt, but that’s it. No hops, fruit or pine at all. Peculiar. 

The first taste is smooth, but very un-IPA like. It tastes more like an amber than an IPA. Just solid malty backbone, but very little hop character. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t seem to be in line with the style. 

Taste: B-. Not enough hops to call it an IPA. 

Drinkability: B-. 

Vitals: 5.5% ABV. Served cool in a glass. I drank it. 

Lonerider Brewing Sweet Josie Brown Ale

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I’m not normally a brown ale guy, but when this came in the mail from a friend a while back I gave it a try. Good, but for me, it suffered from being in the wrong season It was still summer, so I put it away for a cooler day and I’m glad I did. 

Sweet Josie is a solid brown ale. Hint of coffee, medium body, well balanced and perfect in the Fall. 

Taste: B. As I said, not my favorite style, but this could be a regular (if I could get it). 

Drinkability: B+. Gone before I knew it. 

Vitals: 6.1% ABV. Served at 45F in that glass right there in the photo. 

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The Bruery Autumn Maple

2010 Autumn Maple 

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This is my first taste of a Bruery offering. I bought this late last season, and really missed my window to enjoy it last season while the weather was cold. The bottle indicates it can be put down for up to five years if properly cellared, but there seems to be mixed opinions if it ages well.

This is the Bruery’s description:

Brewed with 17 lbs. of yams per barrel (in other words, a lot of yams!), this autumn seasonal is a different take on the “pumpkin” beer style. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, and fermented with our traditional Belgian yeast strain, this bold and spicy beer is perfect on a cold autumn evening.

I wish I had a fresh example to compare it to because the taste it didn’t match that description. The gentle pour left little head and no lacing, but I may have been overly cautious since it is a bottle conditioned beer. There is a little belgian yeast aroma, I can’t tell much else from the nose. The taste is a little tart, thick and sweet, with gentle carbonation.  I don’t pick up any spicing, no maple, or yam. It’s definitely not a pumpkin pie beer (pumking). On the plus side, for a 10% beer, it’s well hidden. It’s not what I think of drinking on a cold fall night, however I would like to taste the 2011 to see if it’s better fresh, as Matt has indicated.

Taste – B-. One note and muddy, average at best belgian double.

Drinkability – C.  1/2 a pint is more than enough.

Vital Stats – 10 % ABV, 750ml, served in a tulip at 49.

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Field Test: Hitachino Nest White Ale

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Good timing on this post as it turns out as Jim just tried Kiuchi Brewery’s Hitachino Red Rice Ale, one of my favorite oddball beers. I stumbled upon Taproom No 307 on a trip to New York tonight and as it happens they have both the Red Rice and White Ale on tap. I was tempted by the former since it’s a favorite, but opted to blaze a trail with the White Ale (you can’t learn these types of rhyming skills, folks; either you’ve got them or you don’t).

As with the Red Rice varietal, this beer is very subtle but extremely well balanced. I love that paying attention to subtle flavor notes is a hallmark of the Hitachino brand. White Ales are not really my go to style as I’d generally prefer a true German WeiƟbier any day of the week and twice on Sundays, but this one is definitely worth your time. Crisp, smooth, with just the right fruit notes. Well done, Kiuchi.

Taste: A- An outstanding and slightly different take on the Witbier style.

Drinkability: A Very smooth and not very high ABV as craft ales go.

Vitals: On draft, 5.0% ABV