Monday, October 1, 2012

Rogue Chipotle Ale

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 novelty.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (737) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 1, 2012
I poured a 22oz bomber into a nonic pint glass.

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. 
Grade: 7/10

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