Rogue Northwestern Ale: A One Trick Pony.

I’m gettin’ a little tired of Rogue Ales.  See the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon has some very good beers.  Their Dead Guy Ale is a great daily drinker.  Sweet, bitter, and complex with a creamy mouthfeel it is a great brew for an every day beer that is not too expensive and very accessible.  Their Double Dead Guy is a super hoppy and very good double IPA that typifies the great flavors that can be achieved out of the Pacific Northwest.  However I’ve had a couple of other Rogue Ales lately and I’m beginning to think that they really don’t have great balance in their brews.  I had their Mocha Porter about a month ago and I was disappointed because I could taste very little mocha, or porter for that matter.  It was more like a Black IPA, and even more like just an IPA.

Well I thought I would give them another chance this weekend.  I was inspired by Thank Heaven for Beer in their Sip with Us Saturday post from last week.   See they typically have a specific brew that they are trying and then they post about it later, but this week they tried something different.  Something that everyone could participate in, and identify with.  It was labeled “Gamble with us Saturday” and the concept was to pick up a brew that you had seen a lot and perhaps been intrigued by, but never enough to actually purchase.  So I took the challenge with Captain Sig’s Northwest Ale.  I was intrigued because I like the Show Deadliest Catch, and the Northwestern looks like the kind of ship I would like to work on if I worked as a fisherman. But I also thought it was a little too kitchy for me, and was afraid that it may have been sub par.   So how did they do?…

Well the title kinda gave away the punchline.  Yeah it was hoppy.  But lets start at the top, the pour was a very enticing chestnut brown with a thick almost orangy head that had good retention and left a lot of lacing.  The nose was also promising, yeah, there were hops, but there was also a nice balance of malt and a sour, kinda funky yeast smell that again was very enticing.

Then I had to ruin it by actually tasting the beer.  Now don’t get me wrong here, it was good.  Had a nice kinda creamy mouthfeel, a medium body and well, hops…lots of ’em.  Now I love me some hops, but I’m getting this flavor profile all the time from Rogue.  It’s getting redundant and a little monotonous.  You know you expect it from their Dead Guy, and their Double Dead Guy, but not from their Mocha Porter, and not from a beer that looked and smelled as promising as their Northwestern Ale.

I have a bottle of their John John that I will be opening soon.  If it has the same flavor profile, I’m pretty sure I’ll be done with Rogue for a while.


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20 Comments on “Rogue Northwestern Ale: A One Trick Pony.”

  1. March 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    I’ve just started seeing this one around here, and to be honest I never considered buying it! (I think its the label again) Don, you gave it a shot and now you know!

    • Don
      March 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

      Again it was good, but just not too interesting. They could have done something really special with a little less hops and some bigger roasted maltiness.

  2. March 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Rogue makes good stuff, but many of their beers have a familial taste. There are probably exceptions to this, but, like you, I’ve kind of grown tired of trying to find them. I’ll still have a Dead Guy now and again because it’s a great beer, but otherwise I’ve mostly lost interest in Rogue.

    Come to think of it, I might have one of these Captain Sig’s in the back of the beer fridge that I bought a few months back. Guess I wasn’t motivated enough to pop it open. I’ll have to double check later.

    Anyway, I bet there are some cool brews from these guys (I seem to recall their Chipotle beer was interesting), and maybe someone will chime in here and tell us what we’re missing.

    • @BeerPoet
      March 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      Can’t wait to hear what you think of the John John Ale, Don. It may have that same hop profile that you get from Rogue, but that is largely eclipsed by the aroma and taste of oak and whiskey (another obvious fave of yours). May even be too much whiskey. Could there be such a thing (maybe in beer)? But I liked it quite a bit. Not sure I’d have it every day. But it certainly was big and interesting.

      • Don
        March 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

        Chad, this is actually dead guy ale aged in dead guy whiskey barrels. I’m expecting a high oakiness to the brew because they only age their whiskey 10 months, so the barrels don’t have a lot of time to soak up a lot of flavor from the white dog they put in them. I’m actually looking forward to trying it, but I am hoping it is a little better crafted and not yet another hop bomb.

      • @BeerPoet
        March 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

        I don’t recall the John John being a hop bomb. More balanced in that regard. Whiskey and oak bomb perhaps, yes. The whiskey notes and tastes may surprise you. Did me anyway.

    • Don
      March 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      Jim, I’d like to see if there are some other flavor profiles that I don’t know about from Rogue. Part of the problem is they have like 100 different beers, so to get through them all to find that one gem might take a lot of time, and frankly some frustration on my part. Chad says that the John John is really interesting. I hope so.

  3. mikemoriendi
    March 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    I know what you mean about the same profiles in their beers but I really like this one.

    • Don
      March 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

      I’m not saying it was bad Mike, on the contrary it was good. But good in the exact same way every one of their brews is good. It is like they have one brew that they inject different dyes into and call it something different. Thanks for your link. I’ll check it out.

      • March 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

        Ha – that’s exactly how I feel about Saranac – like they brew a “base” ale and then inject different flavorings. It all tastes the same.

        The notable exception here of course is that Rogue makes good beer, while Saranac doesn’t (except perhaps for their Big Boy Series or whatever, but I’ve never seen nor tried one so who knows).

  4. March 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Whoah, we’re very honored that you participated!
    The guy at my bottle shop recommended this one to me a while ago. I was particularly swayed into purchasing it because I follow deadliest catch (yes, I’m a nerd). My thoughts were similar. I also found that there was an unhealthy balance between the hops (typical american Pac northwest) and the sweet malt (there wasn’t enought sweet backing.)

    • Don
      March 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

      Exactly! Needed that sweeter more caramelly flavor to produce a better balance in the brew. Hopefully someone from Rogue reads this stuff. They are a good brewery that could be a great brewery, but they aren’t really living up to their potential. Also, I’m a nerd too. I love Deadliest Catch.

  5. Marvin
    March 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    I feel the same way about Rogue, other than their affordability. I think they are way overpriced. And I feel like I have moved on from them.

    • Don
      March 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

      I think their Regular Dead Guy Ale is reasonable, and a very good beer, but you’re right Marvin, a lot of their other stuff is way up there. I’ve got the John John at home, and I’d like to try a stout from them, and perhaps Old Crustation before I totally write them off, but I’m leaning.

    • March 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

      See, I’m normally the guy who writes off a brewery completely and then winds up eating my hat. I guess I should have picked on Rogue, huh?

  6. March 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    BTW, the shot of the beer shows that you actually own books, Don! What’s up with that? I thought you refused to read anything that you couldn’t surf porn on.

    • Don
      March 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

      Ahhh you know me too well bro. Those are books I have purchased for my wife…She is the reader. Not sure what you mean about Rogue, but I don’t think that they totally blow like you said about Saranac and Flying Dog, I just think the more I try of their stuff the less inspired their brews seem. Except the IPAs, they got those down pat.

  7. March 18, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    I just tasted a Stout from these guys and it had the same finish of all their beers. I was talking to Kevin (Dark Lord of the Stout) about it – he’s the guy who gave me the taste – and he thinks it’s because they use PacMan yeast and Williamette hops in most if not all of their beers.

    I’ve found the breweries I like best use a variety of yeasts which does a lot to give each beer its own character. The breweries I grow tired of (like Saranac and Rogue) typically use the same yeast in many of their beers, giving them a uniform taste profile which gets rather boring rather quickly.

    • Don
      March 18, 2010 at 10:14 am #

      Let’s not lump Rogue in with Saranac. Rogue is good, just a little samey same.


  1. Rogue Brutal IPA: Making Terroir Taste Good « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - June 24, 2011

    […] I have criticized Rogue in the past for being shamelessly similar in flavor from their porter to their ale.  It was all over hopped and so samey same I wrote them off for over a year.  I talked about it here. […]

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