Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rogue - Chipotle Ale

I have NO idea how I have done this many reviews and this is only my second post about a Rogue product.  I have lots of respect for Rogue and have even used their beers to mark certain benchmarks (50, 100, 200 different beers) with a certain bar's membership club.  Today's review is for Rogue's Chipotle Ale.  I love a good jalepeño-based beer!  Sure, there is some spiciness in there and not everybody cares for that.  Naysayers should know though, that the rest of the beer is often made as refreshing as possible to try and counter that spiciness.  Needless to say, in the midst of this midwestern heatwave (which shows no signs of letting up) a whole bunch of refreshing beer is just what I was looking for.  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 8/12
The first smell was almost a farm-like mustyness, as if something a bit gamey had gotten into the mix.  It dissipates soon enough and then the pepper-based heat appears in the nose.  However, even this fades away and gives rise to the premier aroma: the chipotle peppers' flavor.  They are smoky, salty and just a hint of sweetness.  The smoky and salty tones combined are enough to remind one of Bean & Bacon soup.  No other ingredients really shine through the strong chipotle aromas.

Appearance 3/3
This is a gorgeous beer!  When not in direct light, it is a red that nearly matches that on the label.  When lit at all, it is a beautiful, glowing orange with a pumpkin pastel colored head.  There is not a great volume of head, but it retains well and leaves sticky lace on my glass.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 14/20
Very light a crisp off the bat with a dull molasses sweetness.  You really have to hold this in the mouth to get the intended flavors as they are not readily apparent with simple sips.  The backbone is a continuation of the molasses, but introduces the smoky flavor and a mere suggestion of the pepper's heat.  Unfortunately, that is all you get, only a flash and then it is all but gone.  Only when I was more than halfway through the 650 mL bottle did I get any sort of lingering heat.  The heat is briefly restoked as the beer hits the back of the throat and that is really all that differs in the finish.  The aftertaste however adds a moderate but pronounced hop bitter to the lingering heat, leaving the mouth a bit dry and ready for another mouthful.  Very nice touch to end this beer.

Mouthfeel 4/5
It is very light in body, which is great for the style, but still maintains some level of creaminess.  Even in the beginning of the bottle when carbonation was abundant and bubbly, it still had a noticeable creaminess to it.  Halfway through the bottle the carbonation is tiny and sparse, which only makes this lightly creamy texture all the more noticeable.

Overall Impression 6/10
This beer is the consequence of indecision.  Chili beer is a bold choice and so one would expect a bold beer. There is plenty of daring-do in the aroma, but the flavor finds the chilis timid and muted.  The bitter at the end is bold and complimented what existing chili flavor there was (it could have complimented much more as well).  The result is a beer whose chilis are not bold enough to satisfy those looking for a more extreme experience and whose hop bitter is enough to keep away the entry-level beer drinker.

Total 36/50
This ranking still puts this beer in the "Very Good" category and rightly so.  It is not a bad beer by any means, I just don't see it satisfying the needs of those "bold" drinkers looking for a robust exbeerience.  Unfortunately for Rogue, those are the people most likely to buy this beer (especially in this quantity).  This beer is very much like a British Pale Ale, but with the chipotle peppers added to it.  The light creaminess and the aftertaste were the true high points of this beer, but can only do so much in the face of an ingredient that didn't come with guns a-blazin'.


  1. Should there even be much heat? I always thought the chipotle pepper provided a mild spiciness, earthiness, and smoke.

  2. Ah, the beauty of subjectivity! Some brews will have exactly as you describe and if that is what you are looking for, they are perfect. In fact, if I want earthiness and smoke I'd probably try to find a Shiner Smokehaus or another good rauchbier. When I think jalepeños, I think heat. I'm lucky enough to have a local brewpub (Bent River Brewery) with a GREAT Jalepeño Ale that really shows some heat. I suppose I compared this beer to the local one and found I enjoyed the spiciness.

    It's all about what you're seeking. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Excellent review of a beer I've always been hesitant to try. Chile beers have never done much for me, from an intellectual standpoint alone. I had one many years ago, and I imagine it wasn't a great beer to begin with. However, with this review, I think I'm going to have to pick up this Rogue and give it a shot.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I always recommend picking up the ones your hesitant to try. :) Plus, if you weren't that into the pepper flavor before this could be a good introduction or at least make you want to find one that you really enjoy! Good work on taking a chance and thanks for reading.