Rogue 21 Ale

I don’t even know where to begin.  Red didn’t even speak for a solid three minutes after trying Rogue 21.  It was simply quite amazing.

I’ve been in Chicago all week and Chicago has some fun local beers like 312 from Goose Island Beer Company, but none of them are worth hopping on a two hour flight to enjoy.  This is why I was especially excited for my flight home.  Harry said he had received Rogue 21 Ale from Rogue Ales and was saving me one for the Beer of the Week.

While you can never judge a book by a cover, wine by its label, or a beer by the bottle, it was clear that Rogue was taking this beer very, very seriously.  Rogue 21 Ale is delivered in a 750ml black ceramic container that in addition to a traditional cap also has a rubber stopper attached so that the remainder of your beer can be saved and enjoyed later.

I never research a new beer before I try it.  I don’t want to be unduly influenced by outside opinions.  This methodology also has its downfalls.  As I began pouring my Rogue 21, I realized that my pint glass was not going to be the best vessel for this brew.  It was a thicker brew.  It was not in the same neighborhood as barley wine, but it was viscous enough for me to realize that a brandy snifter was going to be a much better choice for this drink.

Entering the glass, it settles with a handsome amber hue that is lightly touched with a bit of ruby undertones.  I felt that the nose of the Rogue 21 was fairly faint when enjoyed from a pint glass, however this more subtle nose may have been of my own doing.  As I realized that the pint glass was likely the wrong container for this ale, I rushed to retrieve a brandy snifter.  Therefore, I blame the subtle nose and head to my inconsistent pour not to the beer.

Without a doubt, the brandy snifter was the correct choice.  The nose is warm, vibrant, and beautiful.  The 14 ingredients create a complex interplay of brown sugar, caramel, and fig with a hint of floral perfume.  Like the first intake of a well made cigar, the first taste is something to savor and enjoy because there is a lot going on in this beer.  There is a big rich mouth feel that wonderfully coats the entire mouth and lingers for an unbelievably long and sexy finish.  There is playful mixture of oak, ripe cherry, vanilla, and a touch of molasses.  This beer is decadent and delicious.

I must admit a bit of a bias.  I absolutely adore ales like the Rogue 21.  It is sweet, but not overly malty with that beautiful brown sugar roundness and just enough hops to remind you that you are drinking a beer and not a barley wine.  I unapologetically have a weakness for Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale (indeed my first – and so far only – homebrew attempt was a clone of the Indian Brown Ale) and Rogue 21 is its more sophisticated, well mannered, successful, and polished billionaire brother.

Without a doubt, this has been my favorite Beer of the Week.  However, I would be remiss if I did not also state that to date this is my favorite beer to have ever come out of the Rogue Brewery and that is saying something.  I do not know if the Rogue 21 is bottle conditioned, however given the exacting care that seems to be given not only to the beer, but the container itself I suspect that it is bottle conditioned.  If it is, I will certainly purchase several more bottles and lay them next to some of my treasured bottles of wine in my cellar and let them rest for several years.  I have little doubt that these beers will age exceptionally well.  Once I have verified if they are bottle conditioned or not, I will make an addendum to this blog.

Without reservation, I give the Rogue 21 my highest recommendation.


~ by its12oclocksomewhere on August 21, 2010.

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