Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: Going Rogue with some Oregon ales

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In a way I was primed for it. My daughter and I recently went to see the new Star Wars fill-in-the-gap movie “Rogue One,” and it was likely because of that that a beer caught my eye last week.

Rogue ales have been around since the late 1980s, but I haven’t written about them yet, and so considered the confluence of galaxies far away and grocery stores very nearby as a message that it was time to say something about this collection of beers.

Rogue is based in Ashland, Ore., in the region that is home to some of America’s great Pinot Noir. Rogue’s founders got the idea of opening a brew pub in 1987. Of course, if you want to open a pub and serve your own beer, this implies that you have to make some beer by opening day, preferably one that tastes good. They opened in 1988, with a 60-seat pub sitting on top of the brewery, which limited transport costs considerably.

In 1989 they opened a second pub in Portland. Every upwardly mobile, they moved the brewing enterprise from a basement to a garage. They opened at the Portland location, and as their website reports, they were visited on opening day by “a small but enthusiastic crowd, made up of curious locals who dropped by to see what was happening…and then never left.”

So, let’s take a look at two of the beers they have to offer, both available locally:

• Rogue American Amber Ale, 12 oz., $1.99, 5.3% alcohol by volume. It has a small head, tan in color, lasting. The beer is cloudy — which is not a bad thing in beer, by the way. More often than not it means they left all the flavor in instead of filtering it out so it looks nice. The beer itself, amidst that cloud, is a dark amber, with hints of orange. It has medium malt intensity on the nose, and some hops, spice and pine. It’s dry on the palate, with medium-plus bitterness, medium acidity, tannin and carbonation. The alcohol is well-integrated, and the body is medium in weight with a feel that leans toward silky. The flavors are bread, cereal, caramel and some toast, with a bit of pine in the background. Medium-length finish. Good intensity, concentration and flavor.

• Then there’s Rogue 8 Hop IPA, 8.88% abv. Made with, yes, eight different hops, and it boasts an average tan, lasting head, with amber ale beneath, lighter than its compatriot above. With this many different hops, it’s not surprising that both the nose and the palate shout them out, with citrus, lemon, grapefruit hints, pine, herbs and resin. There’s a bit of malt in the background, but it’s a hoppy presentation overall. Dry, good bitterness, acidity, balanced and body, medium length finish. Of course, I couldn’t find the slip when I went to look for the price, but this is a 650 ml bottle, almost the size of a wine bottle, and the price was about $9.

So, if you feel like going Rogue, here are two civilized ways to do it.

Contact New Hampshire wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com