Friday, May 20, 2011

Rogue - American Amber Ale

This is a beer that I'm again sharing with a close friend in honor of American Craft Brew Week.  Thankfully, this particular brew happened to be available in a growler!  This review is for Rogue's American Amber Ale and let me first just say that I LOVE the variety of containers in which Rogue puts their beer.  I've now seen growlers, sixers, bombers, mini-bottles, mini-kegs, drafts, and I'm sure many more.  Combining novelty with great beer?  Sign me up!  As for this growler?  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
 Aroma 10/12
A wonderfully balanced aroma.  The caramelly malt is a primary aroma (and a classic smell), but this brew does add some hops to the traditional stylings.  The scent is remarkably subtle and could easily be confused with a lack thereof, but as the beer warms the aromas definitely become more defined.

Appearance 3/3
A beautiful pour!  Lovelyl shades of red, copper, amber, ochre, and bright orange.  While the brew didn't have true "legs" the carbonation rising to the top was hypnotizing.  Think of "The Matrix."  Now imagine the letters cascading bottom to top, more spaced out, and in red hues.  Not much lace to speak of, nor was the head retention anything about which to write home.  The gorgeous and various shades of red combined with the soapy head were enough to earn this high ranking, even if it is based more on pure aesthetics than technical qualities.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 14/20
This is not what one expects in an Amber Ale.  Initial sips are that of a red caramelly malt that border somewhere between clean and bland.  Luckily, this lackluster beginning does not last and quickly transitions to a backbone of much more distinct caramel malts and a strong hop bitterness.  While there should be a good balance, this brew leans a bit to heavily on the bitter for the style.  The bitter is far from dominating, but it is excessive in an amber ale.  More hop flavor would not be out of place, but the hops in this brew lend mostly their bitter flavor to the backbone, and a dry hop bitter along with a peppery spice in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel 3/5
A medium light body is great in this brew.  It excels in creaminess and the carbonation is nice even until the end of the pint.  One could put down several of these very easily.

Overall Impression 5/10
A good balance of malty, caramelly goodness and hoppy flavors/bitter is important to an amber ale.  Unfortunately, this one tends to lean on the bitter a bit too hard.  It keeps the beer from being a sweet, refreshing crisp brew and changes it into a bitter, malty unexpected surprise.  Other technical aspects (body, appearance, head, carbonation) are sound.

Total 34/50
Meh.  I suppose my biggest source of disappointment is that I expect more from Rogue Brewery.  There are other amber ales that keep a malty emphasis in their balance without resorting to an excess of sweetness.  For the price, this was not a bad deal at all, $13.99 for the growler.  Heck, at most brewpubs you can't even get a fill for $13, let alone the growler AND the fill!  That considered, I can't be too disappointed.  However, I would gladly pay more for a growler full of something with which I will be thrilled.  When considering that last sentence AND the fact that there are other cheaper (and superior) amber ales out there, I'd probably pass on this one and try out one of the other AMAZING Rogue brews that we know are out there.

Picture is my own.

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