While I love living in Ann Arbor, traveling to Actual Cities (note the capital-A, capital-C) affords a lot of opportunities to try new things, even if that city is in Pennsylvania, one of the least beer-friendly states in the union.
On my recent trip to Philadelphia (previously: tour of Dogfish Head Brewery), I stopped into Morimoto Restaurant. Foodies may recognize the name Masaharu Morimoto as an Iron Chef. The main reason for this lunch trip was to have a high-end ramen noodle dish – which apparently exists – but when the menu also had a quartet of Morimoto-branded ales brewed by Rogue, I couldn’t pass up trying them all in a flight.
Black Obi Soba Ale
This beer (and the base Soba Ale) are both brewed with soba, a buckwheat-based malt that is common in Asian cuisine, but this one added some specialty malts to give more body and flavor. This beer reminded me of a black ale, as the mouthfeel and appearance were incongruous. It was overly dry tasting to me, and I was not a huge fan.
Hazelnut Brown Ale
This had a more sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnut than a lot of standard hazelnut browns, which was the most notable facet of it. It was the thickest feeling and tasting of the three beers, and probably the best overall on its own merits.
The waitress described this as “like our IPA,” about which I was skeptical, because in no world does an Imperial Pilsner seem like it should be described as such. I was right, she was wrong. This beer had a very light body, and a sweet flavor. As you can (kind of) see in the picture, it’s got a little opacity, but it’s straight pilsner in flavor.
It’s got the sweet hints you’d expect out of the classic czech pilsners, with maybe a more extreme sweetness, which the “imperial” portion would lead you to expect. While I’m an established lager/pilsner-hater at times, I actually thought this was one of the better beers in the flight, and it went particularly well with the salty food dish.
As mentioned above, this was brewed with malted soba. It was a standard ale with a few distinct flavors from the soba, but nothing special. It had a fairly dry flavor itself.
I’m a fan of Rogue beers, but these… well, they just didn’t do it for me. They are brewed for a specific use (branding with the Morimoto name), and they’re mediocre enough that I wouldn’t bother to try another Morimoto-branded beer unless it came specifically recommended to me – despite being crafted by a respected brewer.