For most of the morning on Friday I was in a funk for some reason. Whether it was work-related or weather related I didn’t know. But I did gently force myself to climb into my winter Carhartt coat and make the trip for beer for review. Along the way, I thought that I’d take a break from posting two consecutive brew reviews and treat myself to the joy of the taste of beer for after work on Friday night. No review, just enjoyment. I’m sure the readers would understand.
The first leg of the trip was to the beloved Morris Beer Store where Gail, the Beer Maven, engaged me in conversation about the subject at hand, beer. We chatted for a few minutes until we were interrupted by a customer. As Gail left, I resumed scanning the shelf and making mental notes. That Mexican Victoria beer kept drawing my eye as well as the Sam Adams Winter sampler pack that was sitting on the bottom shelf. They had taken out the Cranberry Lambic and substituted Chocolate Bock in its place. Now that sounded interesting.
Satisfied with myself that I would drink beer and not write about it after work, I decided to select an old favorite, Crown Valley Big Bison Ale. That was the beer that tasted almost exactly like my Malinois Pirlet homebrew from a while back. It made for a perfect Friday night/Saturday morning.
Then it was off to the Four Seasons for a review beer. During my scan of the shelf and the cooler, I noticed a few of the winter beers that were new, and a few others that I just wanted to try. I was at an impasse. Do I pick up something for the season or something that I wanted, selfishly for myself.
I started to logicize the entire situation. Winter warmers are generally the maltier, perhaps higher ABV beers and are only available during this season. I’m all for a good, hearty malty beverage, but I wanted something a little different to write about. And let’s give the regularly purchased breweries the day off as well. No Bell’s, no DogFish head, no Great Lakes and no Goose Island.
I found myself at the end of the shelf, gazing up at the selection of bombers. A couple of lambics, quite a few Belgian ales and one title that piqued my interest. It was from Rogue Ales out of Newport, Oregon. I thought it was time to give Rogue another chance, after all, the last Rogue imbibed was their Dead Guy Ale and that was over two years ago! I selected two bombers of Rogue Chocolate Stout. 8 bucks a bomber is nothing to sneeze at but I had high hopes that this stout with chocolate would be tasty and worthy of a nice, detailed review.
Once back home, I had to jostle around some milk jugs in the fridge to get the bombers to stand upright as they should. Saturday afternoon I discovered that, in place of my two bombers of stout, was a large pot of spaghetti sauce that had migrated from the garage fridge. The wife of my life had placed the bombers on the bottom shelf, lounging on their backs amidst the coffee cake, fruit cups and saran-wrapped pizza slices.
BLASPHEMY! Doesn’t she know that beer shouldn’t be stored lying down? I jostled the same milk jugs and stashed the bombers upright on the top shelf, w-a-a-a-y in the back. I toyed at the idea of duct taping them to the back wall, but decided not.
Saturday presented itself in a blanket of snow. About 5 inches of the white stuff had fallen during the night. Perfect day for staying inside with a winter warmer and that Rogue Chocolate Stout quite possibly would qualify.
When beer time finally rolled around, I had second thoughts as to whether I had bought enough. But then, at 8 bucks a bomber, I shut myself up. It will have to do. With my digestive system properly prepared, I grabbed the first bottle and popped the top. I wondered who was that lady that was drawn on the label?
The beer poured with a dense black color just like thin, used crank-case oil. Halfway through the pour, I had this thought that stouts don’t usually kick up a massive head. I continued pouring into a straight-up glass, which promptly foamed up and overflowed onto the desk. Crap. The head was a nice golden tan and thick and creamy. The aroma was slight but had hints of chocolate and dark malts.
The first sip was sublime. A nice viscous body preceded the swallow that was rich in dark chocolatey flavor similar to mocha java. A very slight bitterness was felt at the swallow, but it was unlike any other stout that I have tasted. What a treat this beer was, indeed.
Each sip became a routine of sniff the chocolate, feel the body of the liquid, swallow, experience the twinge of bitterness and then the flavor of the chocolate. That bite at the end was not from the hops, but rather from the chocolate malts, almost along the lines of unsweetened baker’s chocolate.
As the glass and contents warmed up, the flavors smoothed out and became mellower, more laid back and the chocolate was like that one song that you can’t get out of your head. The chocolate is in the initial smell, the sip, the swallow and the exhale. Then it languishes on your tongue and interior mouth parts while you wait for the next sip.
The chocolate flavor is by no means cloying. It is however unrelenting.What amazes me about this beer is how well all the ingredients play together. The malts are not overly stout-y (not terribly roasty-toasty,) the chocolate is not overwhelming but seemingly everywhere at the same time, and the bitterness is the beer’s little nose-tweak at the end, probably to keep the drinker awake and alert.
The more I sipped on this beer, the ‘awaker’ my palate became to the tastes. At the end of each sip I started picking up slight hints of hoppiness in all of that bitter. It was just a twitch right at the swallow. By the next sip, it was gone, only to reemerge in the next sip or a belch later on. Chocolate Mystery Fun Beer.
This beer is like dessert in a bottle. Try this beer with some chocolate pudding or chocolate cream pie and drive your taste buds insane. I’m thinking that this beer would nicely complement some barbecue ribs or steaks on the grill. It’s a winter warmer that’s like a chocolate phosphate on steroids. Utterly delightful, full of rich, dark chocolate notes, but still a stout all the way. If you like dark chocolate, you’ll love this beer. I feel much better now.
Taste: A+ > You wanted chocolate? It’s got chocolate. But not too much.
Smoothness: A > Like finely sifted Oreo cookies without the white part.
Drinkability: A > Hit me again with another glass of dessert.
Bang for the buck: B+ > Priced for special occasions or foul moods.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) I don’t smell a chocolate. (sip) Oh. No. This ain’t chocolate. (sip) No. It’s very bitter and I don’t get chocolate at all. No thanks. It’s very bitter. I hope it doesn’t give chocolate a bad name. (The resident chocoholic speaks her mind.)
Rogue Ales brewery tour