Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Dream Becomes Reality...

So, 2 years ago, I wrote this post here, talking about a beer I had 2 years previously while in the United States. Somehow though, I got it a bit wrong, and what I thought was the Rogue Chocolate Stout, was actually a Rogue Double Chocolate Stout (I always wondered why it never tasted the same after the first try). Still, if anything, it has just allowed me to continue my search for this 'holy grail' of beer for an additional 2 years.

4 years ago, I took this photo of myself with some spoils from Rogue Brewery in Portland (at the time), thinking this was the beer I had tried with that warm chocolate truffle cake.

Today, I post this photo of me with that beer I had actually been looking for.

I'm not going to go on about what I have been through to get to this point (some of it is probably already documented on the blog), so just going to get on with righting a wrong, and learning the difference between the 'standard' Chocolate Stout and the Double.

So, while doing a brew with Stass on the weekend (actually, it was the Monday of a long weekend...not a bad way to spend it), I took 3 Rogue beers with me to try throughout the afternoon.

Starting with their Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale, realising not just in name, but also packaging, the potential for a novelty beer to be within this pink bottle. Ok, the colour does seem to have similarities to the German smoke beers (Rauchbier) I have seen, and even the glossy maple look can also be seen in presentation. Upon the first whiff, the maple is quite strong, and this aroma seems to only become stronger as the beer warms up, along with some slight notes of what I can only presume may be the cherrywood smoked malt. I am not sure if this sort of sweet smell is meant to arouse the doughnut factor in this beer, but for Stass and I, we were drawn more to pancakes than doughnuts with this, which may work better with the maple and bacon (Canadian Bacon pancakes!). The maple aroma does not come across as strong in flavour, but is definitely present upfront, and it sweetness is left as a residual lingering any minutes after swallowing. From the initial maple taste, this melds into the cherrywood smoke malts, then the beechwood smoked malts bring out more of the bacon aspect on the midpalate. I found it a bit difficult to the detect the difference between the beechwood and the hickory smoke, as I tend to get a bit more sweet bacon from hickory smoke, and was generally only sensing a drier bacon flavour, as if it had been salted. This also meant the apple sauce bacon supposedly also in the beer seemed to have negligible impact on the beer from my perspective. As the beer hit the back of the tongue the cherrywood smoked malts seemed to return, along with the maple, and so in aftertaste, the beer came closest to actually tasting a like doughnut maple bacon, but as I said, maybe more Canadian Bacon pancakes.
Overall, while the profile was interesting, there was not a good balance of flavours, so this beer remains a bit of a novelty.

Ok, with our tastebuds peaked, it was time to finally go where I had not gone before, and crack open a bottle of the Rogue Chocolate Stout with a bottle of the Rogue Double Chocolate Stout. Phew, was I really ready to have this long lived dream come true?

Cracking the standard Chocolate Stout, the smell of chocolate was quite strong, and even with at least a year of age under it's belt, I could not find any oxidation in aroma or taste. The chocolate malt character was quite good, and think cocoa has been used to build on this to emphasis the chocolate aroma and reduce the roasted character that I would expect from chocolate malt by itself. I believe the use of Dutch cocoa gives it a better 'real' chocolate aroma and flavour to beer, and therefore sense it's presence in this beer. There is definitely a lightness to the chocolate, or maybe I am just expecting more texture to go with the chocolate flavour. You may not hear this from me often, but I actually don't mind the use of hops they have used to pair back the chocolate from the end of midpalate and then clean it up completely in aftertaste. Just means you are willing to go back for more sooner...still, residual chocolate flavour would not be unwanted, but would simply make the beer one-dimensional...but then it is a chocolate stout...I'll stop arguing with myself.

So, for the big moment. As soon as I poured the Rogue Double Chocolate Stout into the glass, the thickness of the beer was already noticeable, and the brown head that is not so evident on the standard Chocolate Stout, and reminded me of the head that was on the beer I had at Pix those many years ago...yes, this was definitely the same beer. Aroma is quite light on in terms of chocolate, but honey sweetness is evident with the dark malts, and alcohol is very evident on the nose also. To be honest, it does not smell as chocolately at the standard Chocolate Stout, which had me very worried after all this time of waiting for this moment. Still, being a very texture based drinker, as soon as I put this beer in my mouth, the sensation I had that previous tasting came back, and not too ashamed to say some tears welled in my eyes a bit (only the second beer to do this to me). While this beer does not have the same chocolate taste as the standard, there is a richness to the beer that brings me the sensation of chocolate, which I think I actually enjoy more, and why it paired so well with the chocolate truffle cake I had with it previously. The cake brought flavour and the beer sensation. I realise now that is why that combo blew my mind back then. Still, I think the hero of the beer is really in the honey. Firstly, it thickens up the beer to give the lush texture a beer like this needs. Secondly, the brings the sweetness this beer needs to counteract the roasted bitterness that can come from using too much chocolate malts/cocoa. Lastly, it may have also been used to help get this beer to it's 9% alcohol, which I have to say, is quite hot in the beer. I know now I need to give this beer a bit of time to mellow out the alcohol heat and maybe allow more of the chocolate flavour to dominate the palate a bit more.

Still, a resounding success and contenting moment was had as Stass and I slowly sipped away at this beer in the shade of his backyard with the music set up and brew going on in the shed. One of those moments that will be tagged with this beer forever now for me. Not only that, but I have a growler of this beer waiting for me at Stass' dad's place when I am up that way next week, so there may well be some chocolate beer to be tasted for Easter this go with every Easter I have nowadays, and a chance to taste this beer two ways at the same time...Amazing!!!!



1 comment:

Jarrod said...

Congrats mate, man this post is making me thirsty.