Rogue, OREgasmic Ale

Rogue Brewing Co.
Grade: C+

Ok, so I already did my rant on Rogues "Grow Your Own" proprietary ingredient kick in a previous review, so go there for the snark. This is another in an increasing series of "Chatoe Rogue" estate beers. With a name like "OREgasmic Ale," it already has a lot to live up to. Yeah, yeah, I get the Oregon pride reference. And Oregonians have a lot to be proud of, particularly their beer (hi John!). I just hope that this beer can live up to both it's name and the long history of Oregon craft beer that comes before it.

Cloudy and orange, with an off-white head. Citrus in the aroma, actually it's downright orange-y. Some sweet malt notes are in there as well, candy-like. The mouthfeel is fairly light, but not in a good way. It seems watery, and the carbonation level makes it taste a little like seltzer water. The flavor has a lot of hoppy goodness, again the bright orange/citrus takes center stage, followed by a slightly candy sweet malt element. There is a little bread and grain note, but mostly this beer is about the hops. Bitterness isn't overpowering at all, in fact it's kept fairly well in check. Instead the hops are focused more in the flavor and aroma department.

It might be my mind playing tricks on me, but these "new" grains and hops that the brewers are using make the beer taste, well, different. Not that it doesn't read as "beer," but it has just enough uniqueness to set it apart from most other brews. Most beers use the same types of ingredients (albiet in countless different ways), but the source of those ingredients are more or less the same for all brewers. Using a proprietary ingredient, one that actually is unique unto itself, is something not many brewers are doing.

Is Rogue doing it well? I don't know. The lack of mouthfeel and structure in this beer is distracting. There's nothing for the hops to cling to as the beer passes over your tongue, it just gets washed away in a spritzy, watery moment. This beer illustrates the importance of having a nice solid malt backbone to hoppy beers. Without it the beer becomes a bit insipid, like drinking a hopped tonic water. Is it the new ingredients fault? The marketing department? Has Rogue succumbed to the "bean counters" as the head brewer, John Maier so lovingly refers to them as?

I don't think so. Yeah, so the beer not the best, big deal. It's different. And I can tell you, finding something that truly is different in the beer-world is a welcome surprise. All to often brewers are riffing on the recipes and beer styles of others, without being brave enough to step outside the style guidelines and just make something new. No, this is not the best beer in the world. But then again, Rogue only has just begun. There were a lot of prototypes before we made a rocket that got to the moon, and a lot of those prototypes blew up. But we learned, we improved, and we kept going. Why shouldn't we do the same with beer? Why are we stuck in this rut of styles and traditions, and even ingredients? I mean c'mon, it ain't rocket science...


John said...

Perhaps this is why most brewers play it safe and just tweak ingredient levels without making any serious attempts at something totally different. I almost suspect in this case that Rogue has brewed so many different varieties of beers that to do something new, it's going to have to be bizarre, something that only appeals to a small segment of the beer drinking population or else something that fails completely.

On a less serious note, was it like other Rogue beers and make you really tired?

Mike R Lynch said...

Lol, no actually it was in general a pretty decent beer, no sleepy Mike :)

I think Rogue is starting to go the way that wineries do, where one vineyard's cabernet grape is different from another's. They're all considered "cabernet," but one vineyard's may be considered different or better than the other.

Instead of grapes, Rogue is using grain and hops. They may be very similar to the stuff that everyone else has, but it's just different enough to be their own unique flavor.

Pat Wood said...

Seems pretty interesting. Think I'll give it a try this weekend, maybe I'll really like who knows, but you've got me hooked on this idea of it being different. Now I have to taste it for myself, though I am a bit worried by the lack of body/structure it'll have as you describe. And it'll be very interesting if this is the start of breweries going the way of wineries as you mentioned, if so we'd have some almost unimaginable unique beers coming out.

Mike R Lynch said...

I certainly hope so. In the olden times each beer was made with only local grains, malted by the brewer himself. Not because it was better, but because there simply wasn't anything else out there. This is how different regional styles were produced, using local water and local ingredients.

The story is the same with food. Before mega-farms and cross-country/transoceanic shipping, food was made locally. With the recent movement back to "local grown food," I hope that beer ingredients will follow. It could result in a plethora of different beer styles and tastes.