Pepper beers are often seen as novelty beers - fun to try once, but does
anyone really enjoy these things? Well, yes, actually, and I’d offer up
Rogue Chipotle Ale as a perfect example. Much more in line with a
traditional rauchbier than a pure pepper beer, it’s got a prominent
smoky flavor with a hint of malty sweetness and a subtle pepper
aftertaste that’s not intimidating at all. Drink it as a beer, not as a
Appearance: Burnt umber/light brown hue. So hazy it’s opaque. Forms a
very large, ivory, frothy head which laces and retains wonderfully.
Smell: Prominent smoky aroma, especially that of peat. No pepper scent per se, though plenty of pale malt aroma.
Taste: If you’re familiar with the German "rauchbier" style then you’re
about 90% familiar with Rogue Chipotle Ale. The difference being the
smoky flavor here is most likely due to the chipotle peppers, as the
brewer’s description doesn’t mention any smoked malts used (chipotles
are just jalapeno peppers that have been smoke dried).
The base of the palate seems to be a pale or amber ale. It’s quite mild
up front, a little clean with a mild bitterness. Through the middle
comes a caramel and toffee sweetness, but this is quickly overshadowed
by the crescendo smokiness of the finish. As it goes down there’s a
noticeable peppery heat in the throat and a slightly dry aftertaste. I
even detect some residual sweetness from the malts. In a way it’s almost
disappointing the beer isn’t more pepper-tasting since it’s the smoke
that’s the star of the show. Still, the balance of the palate is quite
impressive. Not that it’s absolutely delicious, but delectable for sure.
Drinkability: Those looking for a high Scoville rating will be
disappointed. I’m not sure of the actual number, but I’d place Rogue
Chipotle Ale rather low as the heat is more of a gentle warmth (though
it’s possible I had an old bottle and some of it had faded over time).
The actual body is perfectly medium, with a cold, wet mouthfeel
(ironically enough), and a smooth finish. I had absolutely no problem
killing the entire 22oz bottle myself. The relatively light body of
~5.5% ABV also makes this a very drinkable beer. Though enjoyable by
itself, I’d highly recommend pairing the beer with spicy food.