It's a few years since Rogue -- the Oregon brewery big on blue-collar branding but not so keen on blue-collar attitudes -- was last seen in Ireland. However, a few of theirs have just started appearing on our shelves, a welcome bit of freshness in the otherwise declining range of American beer available in Ireland.
I chose Rogue American Amber Ale as my starting point, being a fan of American ambers, with Speakeasy Prohibition as my benchmark. This doesn't have the beatings of that, however. It's watery at first, but given a bit of time some waxy bitterness comes through but no real hop flavour, which is disappointing. The finish is pleasantly sweet, with lots of biscuit and maybe even a little marzipan, but the harsh sharpness never quite goes away. It leaves me wondering if this was once a hop explosion but time has taken away its charm. I dunno, but I was expecting better from the centre of American hop country.
I suck it up and move on to Rogue's Juniper Pale Ale. I like a bit of juniper but this hazy anaemic-looking chap has a slight air of infection in the aroma, a kind of acrid sourness. It's not really there in the flavour, but neither is much else: a touch of orange pith, a background tartness which I'm guessing is the juniper in action but that's about it. It's not unpleasant it's just kind of... muted.
In contravention to Irish consumer law, neither bottle sports a date or an ABV (5.6% for the amber; 5.3% for the juniper) and I'm left with the sensation that these are a job lot of elderly bottles. Fresh or not, I won't be running out in search of the other new Rogues straight away.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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