Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Beer: Rogue Brutal Bitter

Sorry, between curling, hockey and short track last night I wasn't about to boot up the computer for a beer review.

A Rogue product today, probably my favourite from them. They're a top-quality brewery in Oregon and I haven't tasted a single one of their beers that I don't enjoy.
Rogue Brutal Bitter
ESB, 6.2%
Rogue Ales
Newpot, Oregon
This is sort of an American ESB. ESBs are based on the Fuller's ESB, available in cans at the LCBO. One of my favourite styles, ESBs are English bitters on 'roids. All the flavours are bigger than your standard session ale.
Brutal Bitter pours a cloudy peach. Not a very big head. The beer is oily, and the foam settles pretty quickly.
All fresh North West hops on the nose. Grapefruit is the standout aroma with a touch of orange. Soft caramel malt lingers behind.
The balance of this beer makes it a standout among the Western ales. Citrus hops, like clementines, mingle nicely with the soft caramel evident in the aroma. Just a hint of a herbal taste that makes it a bit perfumy, I'd never noticed that before, but I don't think it's off. Bitterness takes over completely as it hits the back of the tongue. It leaves resinous hops allover the mouth.
Nicely carbonated. Smooth, but a bit of heat from the alcohol.
A great beer. Very flavourful. You can get this, their Hazelnut Nut Brown, and their Dead Guy in six packs at the LCBO. Seasonals like this one have been known to show up in the releases, hopefully the representative gets some good stuff in the near future.


  1. I had a 2 for 3 weekend, not bad since all three were first-time tastes. Let’s get rid of the off one first. We had dinner at the Light of India and I opted for an Indian “pale lager” I’d never heard of – Cobra. Both the label and the waiter touted this as the “world’s best lager”, a claim I must admit made me wonder – on first taste – on what planet? It’s made with “barley malt, hops, maize and rice”. Great. Half its brief list of ingredients are filler adjuncts. I think India must consider beer to be a quick thirst quencher, or a fire extinguisher if you find the vindaloo uncomfortably palate scorching... period. It certainly looked refreshing enough in the glass, with all of a mild lager’s expected visual characteristics. But the beer, which arrived ice cold, had absolutely no aroma whatsoever and only the barest hint of any flavour. It was like an extra light mass market US beer. Its premium price on the menu, sadly, only heightened my disappointment.

    The winners – and both gold medal experiences, in keeping with the weekend’s larger theme – were exceptional treats to this hophead. Dogfish Head Sixty-Minute IPA poured a beautiful honey golden with a lush head that dissipated fairly quickly, although it did leave substantial lace traces on the inside of the glass from top to bottom. Lavish fruit on the nose – mainly pineapple tinged with a bit of piney / conifer soapiness. The taste, however, was less of pineapple and more of grapefruit, some candy-like sweetness with an IPA’s expected hoppiness. French chef Jacques Pepin has a recipe for candied grapefruit peel that my wife has made on occasion and it is an absolutely perfect comparison as the taste resonance for this beer. Medium bodied on the palate, the beer's citrusy taste was also the most sustained part of this beer’s finish. The hophead in me was much delighted with this one. Its ABV is a robust 6%.

    The second one I bought solely because I got a hoot out of its name: Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted Blond. Sounds like something you’d order to celebrate the divorce papers finally clearing court. It’s another beer that comes out more hop than malt and – hardly surprising since I’ve already admitted to liking hoppier brews – was one that I liked a lot. A Scottish (Harviestoun... what are the odds?) craft beer, out of the bottle it was clear, and a rich gold colour but with a somewhat thin head. The aroma was a summer’s day – hay-grassy with a citrus overtone that suggested grapefruit pith. The triple whammy of this beer’s hops (Hallertau / Challenger / Goldings) was also present as a distinctly fresh wildflower tint in the aroma. It was in the taste that the “bitter” in the beer’s name leapt out. A complicated burst of citrus seemed to vacillate back and forth from the same grapefruit that first showed up in the aroma through fresh lemon to lemon zest, depending on where or for how long it sat in my mouth. There was a satisfying sweetness to soften the citrus edge and this beer had one of the most lingering finishes I’ve yet experienced in a brew. The bitter / citrus tang was still present a full minute or so after I’d swallowed it. Despite what people may interpret as a strength warning in the “Bitter and Twisted” in the beer’s name, it rings in at a modest 4.2 percent ABV, a level that would cause most Canadians to characterize this as a session brew. All in all, a very pleasant tipple and the more so because of the flavour character it displayed, in sharp contrast to what might be suggested by the simplicity, if not the outright blandness, of its labelled style – “Blond Beer”.

    I’m calling it a worthy weekend and that’s without factoring in the Olympic results!

  2. Yeah the DFH is world class. Beer geeks were over the moon when it was announced. If you like it give Southern Tier's effort a try, also available in six packs. Not sure which one I like more. Certainly puts "IPA" Keith's to shame. Brutal Bitter in this post is another source for a good hit of American hoppy goodness.

    On the Canadian side, I enjoyed a Flying Monkey Hoptical Illusion during the game. Formerly Robert Simpson, these guys are doing great things. This is a Canadian Pale Ale with a nice hit of hops and good malt base. Available at the Beer Store in addition to the LCBO.