Bringing up Rogue in a room full of beer nerds will get you a mixed bag of responses. Many will have fond memories of the Rogue beer that was a transition beer for them in their formative craft beer years,1 but you will also get met with a series of groans.
Rogue has developed a reputation in the last few years for putting out a series of gimmicky beers including one that included a beer made with actual pages from an early addition of Moby Dick and another that was made from the yeast collected from the brewers beard. And, don’t get me started on the line of terrible Voodoo Doughnut beers. Even with there series of missteps I still have a bit of a soft spot for Rogue due to the countless hours I have spent at the tables in front of its Portland brew pub and fond memories I have of those early Rogue beers that helped guide me down the rabbit hole.
During one my most recent trips to Portland I sat on the aforementioned picnic tables working my way through the tap list and I ended up with a glass of something new in my glass. An intriguing concoction with a big fruity character referred to as a braggot.
A braggot is a blend of beer and mead, honey wine, that has origins that date back as far as the 1300s. Over the years I thought I had sampled every style out there but I came to realize that up till that point I had never had a braggot.
Granted the braggot reached my glass towards the end of a long day of sampling Portland’s finest so my recollection is a bit fuzzy but I recall finding it interesting and I am glad to have a chance to try it again with a clearer head and palate.
As I crack the distinctively Rogue purple bottle I get a deep brown beer with maroon highlights when held to the light and a tan fluffy head that lingers for a bit. I raise the glass to my nose and get a light but pleasant berry character and noticeable sharp alcohol. I also get hints of yeast esters reminiscent of dark Belgian styles but the hot alcohol is the most glaring characteristic. Overall, given the list of ingredients in this beer I expected a bit more robust nose but while the bouquet doesn’t jump out of the glass it is enjoyable to an extent.
My first sip of the beer brings a much bigger experience than the aroma. The berries are there but in a much bigger way. I get a big sweet fruity character that is quickly countered with the alcohol and then followed by the fermented honey. The signature mead characteristics show up towards the end of the sip and helps to knock down the sweetness. If I were drinking this beer blind I would probably initially guess a very high ABV Belgian dark ale with a bunch of berries in it until the honey notes arrive. The finish lingers for a good while with the honey character and fleeting fruit notes.