In 2008, Rogue Ales decided to purchase hop and barley farms in Tygh Valley and the town of Independence, Ore. in order to produce some beers made with all local ingredients. Called Rouge Farms, the brand within a brand uses barley, water hops and yeast grown on its farms in specific releases and blends.1 One of the newest in the series is the Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch, a beer that incorporates honey from almost two million bees in 119 colonies on their property.2 According to the bottle, the beer is brewed using 10 ingredients: Rogue barley farm dare & risk malts; wheat, dextra pils & acidulated malts; Rogue hopyard honey & wild flower honey; alluvial hops; free range coastal water & kölsch yeast.
A press release from last year went more in depth.
In March of 2012, Rogue Ales began keeping bees at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon. An additional 1.6471 million honeybees were added to the Farm in May of this year, bringing the total number of Rogue Farms Honeybees to 1.98652 million. To accommodate the growing bee families we handcrafted and placed mother-in-law units on the top of each hive for additional honey storage.
Rogue Farms Hopyard Honey is a true taste of the Wigrich Appellation terroir. The honey is extracted by hand, filtered and driven 77 miles to our brewery in Newport where Rogue Brewmaster John Maier uses it to brew Rogue Farms Honey Kolsch.
The Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch pours a very light clear lemon yellow with a small lacing of white foamy head.3 A bit of carbonation is evident in the glass, but the head disappears quickly. Aroma in the nose is light honey, earth, wood, wheat and lemon peel.4
The first sip of the Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch brings flavors of barley, wheat, leather and lemon peel. There is a slight honey taste evident, but only on the finish, and it is not even close to as sweet nor as distinct as I expected, considering the name on the bottle. The carbonation level is higher than I think is needed, and the finish is slightly bitter at times, although that actually works well with the slight sweetness from the honey.
As it warms, the honey note in the blend becomes slightly —and I do mean slightly — more noticeable, but the profile also adds a grassy flavor that is a bit at odds with the rest of the notes of lemon, wheat, wood and barley. The finish becomes quite a bit more dry near the end, and the carbonation is sticking around, which is no surprise considering how much of it there is.