Rogue John John: Two Good Things Make One Great Thing

My brother Jim has been enamored for some time now with barrel aged beers.  Mostly that has been stouts, because this is a beer that has the structure and flavor profile that can really hold up to wood aging, and can easily integrate the flavors of the wood and whiskey into its flavor profile.  But the crazies over a Rogue had the idea to barrel age their Dead Guy Ale, which is a robust and hoppy ale but it is still not as big as a stout.  Well the key is that they barrel age the ale in Rogue Whiskey barrels.  See Rogue Whiskey  is one of the oddest whiskeys on the market today…

Rogue Whiskey is as close to white dog as you can get that is sold on the market today.  White dog is white lightening, moonshine, whatever you want to call it it is the product of fermentation and the still without aging.  Rogue does age their whiskey but just barely.  They age their whiskey for one month in charred oak barrels.  By comparison Bourbon must be aged a minimum of two years in oak, and most are aged 4 or more years.

So by placing the Dead Guy Ales in these barely used barrels there is really none of the big musty intense whiskey flavors that would be imparted to the brew.  This is the perfect scenario for an ale because most of what it picks up in the flavor is the oak with just a touch of the alcohol flavoring.  So how does this unique brew taste?

John John is an interesting and complex ale, and the aging in whiskey barrels takes the edge off those hops that are so prominent in all rogue beers, but lets start at the top.

The pour was pleasing.  A nice terra cotta orange with about a 1 finger white billowy head.  The nose was interesting.  It wasn’t the hops forward nose of the Dead Guy ale, but was somewhat subdued, and even bready smelling.  The oak was prevalent and gave an interesting complexity to the nose.

The flavor of this brew was very unique too.  It has the fully malty character of the Dead Guy Ale, but the hops forward profile has been tamed and moved to the rear of the flavor profile combined with oak and a tinge of the whiskey flavor and some heat from the whiskey.  It was a big and interesting flavor that I will have again.  The mouthfeel was smooth and mellow with a touch of creaminess that is a welcome change to so many of their brews.

John John is named after Rogue’s Brew Master and Master Distiller who both happen to be named John.  An interesting name, and interesting collaboration, and an interesting brew that you should try if you can find it.


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Categories: Beer, review, Whiskey

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4 Comments on “Rogue John John: Two Good Things Make One Great Thing”

  1. May 4, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Nice. Glad you finally popped that bottle open. Agree with everything. I thought the whiskey profile was bigger than you experienced. But maybe that’s because you frequent the spirit more than I. The level of whiskey notes and taste surprised me a bit. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. The oak was wonderful, too. More of a green or fresh oak than a toasted, caramel oak that you’d get from bourbon barrels.

    I’ll have to make sure my buddy, and whiskey drinker, Brian reads your review. I was sure he’d like it. But he couldn’t stand John John. Interesting to see what others think of it.

    • Don
      May 5, 2010 at 9:32 am #

      Yeah Chad I finally had to dive into it. It just seemed like the right time to do so, and it really satisfied. I agree totally it was way more oaky than some other bourbon barrel aged beers. Again it has got to do with the short stint the whiskey actually spends in the barrel. Still the John John does pick up nice barrel notes, and I like that they finally balanced the brew out from the aggressive hop forward profile of just about all their other beers.

  2. May 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    My wife really enjoyed this one – said it reminded her of New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk, to which I replied, “yes, but Dragon’s Milk is better!” A nice change of pace from the slightly monotonous Rogue.

  3. May 5, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    I’ve passed this so many times in the past month. I’ll pick it up next time.
    For me Rogue is very hit or miss.

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