Beer Review 0241: Rogue Ales Chipotle Ale

Rogue Ales makes a lot of beer. And by a lot of beer, I mean…a ton. My bottle shop is full of their offerings, which at my last count, was something like 20 different beers. You might have noticed that I haven’t reviewed many beers from Rogue; (one, to be exact)…I’m not sure why, especially since the one I did critique (Dead Guy Ale) scored 89 points and was tasty.

Rogue are based out of Newport, Oregon, and have been brewing for 24 years. Founded in 1988 by Jack Joyce, Bob Woodell, and Rob Strasser, the head brewer at Rogue is John Maier, famous for the Pacman yeast strain. You may have heard of this yeast strain a time or two, especially you homebrewers. A bit about Pacman yeast, from Mr. Maier, himself:

Pacman is really great yeast; everything about it is good. Pacman attenuates well, is alcohol tolerant, and it produces beers with no diacetyl if the beer is well made. It’s very flocculent, which makes it a great choice for bottle conditioning.

Rogue do not list the ABV (alcohol by volume) on any of their beers. Instead, they give you a math formula to figure it out: Plato divided by 2.5, which makes Chipotle Ale 4.8% ABV, although other review sites like Beer Advocate list it as 5.5%. Guys, just print the damn ABV on the bottle. Two thumbs down for that already.

Chipotle Ale uses a base recipe of Rogue’s Amber Ale, and is dedicated to Spanish author Juan de la Cueva, who wrote of a beer combined with seedless chipotle peppers way back in 1575. Rogue is attempting to create the beer that Cueva wrote about — apparently, that’s a representation of him on the bottle.

This beer pours with an average size head, fast diminishing and frothy. The color was amber with some lighter golden highlights, and the body was clear, featuring no particles or sediment. There were just a couple bits of lacing left behind on the glass as I sampled, nothing impressive.

The aroma is much more smokey than it is peppery, although there is some ripe and dried pepper notes to be found. The smoke reminded me very much of what would come from fried bacon, and the pepper wasn’t so much spicy as it was just garden fresh/ripe. And with the amber ale base, there are some biscuit malt and bread-like scents, too. Not very complex, and the smoke aroma borders on being overwhelming and not on the nicer end (think oily/fried versus woodsy).

On the palate, there’s moderate to intense smoke up front, with some biscuit malt. A touch of caramel comes out on the middle of the taste, leading to a woodsy/bacon smoke finish that has a VERY, very, almost unnoticeable chipotle heat in the back of the throat. Mouthfeel was thin and creamy, with a low carbonation and a lightly bitter finish.

When I see a pepper on a beer, I expect to be hit with some heat. There is none of that here; instead, there’s plenty of smoke, and not the good smoke. Otherwise, Chipotle Ale is a mild, fairly unoffensive beer that is not memorable; certainly unremarkable for its spice. It is more spicy on the nose than the palate. I would not return.

Rogue Ales Chipotle Ale, 79 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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