Last trip I took to the Rogue Public House in San Francisco, I vowed I’d walk out of there with as many bottles of Rogue varietals as I could carry. Since I was riding the bus that evening & was loaded down w/ other items, that only amounted to a variety-pack sixer of 12.-oz bottles, the first of which I sampled last night. As we’ve written about before in this spot, I consider ROGUE to be one of America’s finest brewers for over a decade, and even if they are not now in the lofty catbird seat of the new upstarts like RUSSIAN RIVER, DOGFISH HEAD, PORT BREWING or MOYLAN’S, their consistency and willingness to innovate over the years keeps them as one of our country’s brewing heroes. I guess my only problem with them is they seem to be lacking that one beer that makes everyone go bananas, like a Hopsickle or a Boont Amber or a Damnation – one that the company’s fortunes can ride on & allow them to do whatever they want to do. I don’t think DEAD GUY ALE is it – but that seems to be the one you see most often. Maybe it’s this newer CHOCOLATE STOUT that I’ve yet to have, but which the beer cognoscenti seem to be raving about.
In any case, I know it’s not gonna be their ST. ROGUE RED. Though far from a disaster, this amber ale has a distinct funky/stale aftertaste that really did in my enthusiasm for drinking it. It’s a beautiful looking beer, a really deep ark reddish-brown, and it tastes pretty good and hoppy going in (classic red ale taste with a pleasant “mouthfeel” – oh Christ, kill me now), but going down is a different story. I don’t know – STALE was the word I came up with. In addition, it really doesn’t have any bold or differentiating tastes about it that make it more interesting than other red ales on the market, aftertaste aside. I don’t think I’d put this in the Rogue’s gallery if you know what I mean. 5/10.