Rogue Ales is celebrating their 21st anniversary this summer with the release of Rogue 21. The beer was available in a limited number of 750ml bottles and 21 kegs were released to 21 of Rogue’s oldest bar patrons. As it happens, Ashley’s is one of those lucky 21, and we took in this event back in the late days of summer. Without further ado, the beers:
Rogue 21st Anniversary Ale
Quite a sweet, malty flavor – It tastes like it’s a scotch or old ale. There’s a very low hop presence, and almost none at all in the aroma.
There’s alcohol taste on the tongue, but it’s not overwhelming. As sweet as the finished beer is, they certainly could have fermented it down a little more to remove sweetness and make it a little stronger.
The description says it’s brewed with molasses (which helps bring the scotch-ish flavor) and brewer’s licorice, though I don’t think there’s any anise flavor or aroma.
Rogue J.J. Hazelnut
The John John beers are aged in Whiskey barrels, and the Hazelnut is a brown ale brewed (of course) with hazelnut flavor.
There’s no strong aroma of anything before you sip. No real hops or sweetness on the nose. The flavor is overwhelmingly oak whiskey barrel-aged, to the point of covering up any other flavor. There’s a bit of dry acridity to it that you expect from a whiskey-aged beer.
My hypothesis is that this beer was aged too long, and took on too much flavor from the barrel, covering up the original flavors of the hazelnut brown. Practically the only flavors come from the barrel.
If you let the beer percolate in your mouth a bit prior to swallowing, there’s a bit of malty sweetness, though it’s impossible to determine the underlying flavors. If this beer was served at a bit warmer temperature, maybe these flavors would be more apparent.
Rogue J.J. Dead Guy
The Dead Guy Ale is one of Rogue’s flagship beers, and the John John version of it is, as you’d expect, a whiskey barrel-aged version of the classic maibock. This isn’t as over-aged as the hazelnut was, and the oak is an understated flavor. There’s a little “bite” from it at the beginning, but it wears off the more you drink (it’s up to the reader to decide if that’s due to temperature, drunkenness, or something else).
This beer is quite sweet both on the nose and in flavor. There’s a very subtle sour or fruity taste you’d associate with a Belgian – but it’s barely there. For a typically well-hopped style in Maibocks, there’s almost no hop presence.
Stone 14th Anniversary AleThis was obviously the odd beer out, as the other offerings all came from Rogue, and this is a Stone brew. The boys in Escondido created an “Emperial IPA,” or a double imperial IPA to celebrate 14 years.
The aroma isn’t too hoppy, especially for what you’d expect out of the style, but what hops are discernible are of a sweeter variety.
In the flavor, however, it’s all hops (in multiple senses). The overwhelming taste is hop bitterness and flavor, though with a variety of hops, instead of the exclusively sweet ones that were in the aroma. The malt flavors are sweet, but also a bit spicy, leaving us to speculate there’s rye in the mash.