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Rogue XS Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter
Written by Team
Noel: Paying $5 for seven ounces of beer definitely requires some consideration. But in my case, if the beer has “Rogue” plastered on the front of it, I’d probably pay $5 for one ounce. Speaking of which…who decided that “ounce” would be a good term for a measure of volume? What a strange word…
Anyway, I digress. On the menu this evening: Rogue’s XS Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter. English Bitters have always been a love of mine (due mostly in part to Goose Island’s Honker’s Ale), and John Maier’s reputation always precedes him…so needless to say I’m excited. Here’s hoping this is one of the better liquid investments I’ve made over the past few months.
As Bitters go, you can definitely tell this is “Imperial” right off the bat. The sharp tinge of alcohol is really what dominates the olfactories, with hints of sweet biscuity malt in the background. Thankfully, though, the “bitter” takes more of a forefront during sippage, with a healthy dose of hops providing balance to the extra malt and alcohol. It’s a unique bitterness for an English-style Bitter…probably because on top of the more traditional Willamette and Kent Golding hops used, My Man Maier has thrown Amarillo in the mix. Most likely this adds to the sharp spiciness in the nose of the beer, but there’s a slight citrusy bitterness at the end of each sip that’s a telltale sign as well. You wouldn’t think it would work in this application…but it does. Mouthfeel is fairly crisp, with a generous amount of carbonation that dissipates a bit as the beer warms. It’s definitely best enjoyed around the 50-55∫ range, where the malts punch through a bit more and really mellow things out. Not overpoweringly strong for an Imperial ale, but definitely a step above what I’m used to in Honker’s Ale.
All in all, I’m impressed but not enthralled. It’s a much more traditional interpretation of a style than I’m used to seeing from Rogue (which isn’t necessarily a negative). But I can’t classify it as top-shelf. Maybe the fact that John Maier was commissioned to develop this as a house beer for a pub in Portland rather than pursuing its creation on his own dime has something to do with it. Still, I can’t knock his brewing genius; this is yet another solid, flavorful creation. Grade: B+
Tom: At first glance this copper golden-honey color beer lacked any sort of head after a quick pour. It did offer up sweet pale, toffee, toasted and biscuit malt aromas that were complimented by an abv kick and a moderate floral hopping which expressed minor herbal and citrus layers. If you have tried Fullers ESB the taste will be familiar. A great malt accented beer, it has a sweet honeyed and toasted flavor throughout. The roasted grains and abv are up front followed by a sessionable English-style malt profile in the middle. The finish carried a lively bitterness that gave a crisp citrus floral orange component. While savoring the aftertaste the hops come through well paired with a Dead Guy-like malt profile. It was not as smooth and had a more pronounced toastiness. Grade: B+
Final Grade: B+