Rogue (adj): no longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade; also see Sarah Palin.
For a craft brewery to adopt the name “Rogue” they better deliver; especially if they’re based in Oregon. I must say I am partial to Rogue beers, and the name often matches the brews they put out: Brutal Bitter, Chipotle Ale, Dead Guy Ale, John John Ale (cask fermented), Shakespeare Stout… the list goes on and on. Just by reading them, you get a feel that they’re not your typical craft, and they don’t like to play nice. The artwork and craftsmanship they put into their beer is certainly seen… literally – their labels are the best of any brewery and the ingredients they put into their brews makes me
think of them as the Dogfish of the west coast… very experimental and quality assurance is their cornerstone.
I have had a lot of Rogue, and liked just about every brew (besides Hazelnut Brown Nectar), and to be honest, this wasn’t my first time having Somer Orange Honey Ale. I had their summer seasonal once before (in December ironically) and remember liking it quite a bit, however I wanted to experience the brew in the appropriate climate.
After admiring the artistry of the label and the the quality of ingredients put into the beer, I wanted to see what was in it. Past Rogue’s that I’ve had were full with sediment hiding on the bottom waiting to trickle down the bottle neck ready to invade your pint glass. The way I framed that sentence makes one think that perhaps this isn’t the best thing, however beer with a little sediment in the bottle is sort of like shopping at Ocean State Job Lot. You’re really nervous, and at times fearful, about what’s inside and the product you will find, but every time you leave you’re satisfied and surprised with what you get (99 cents for 4 AA batteries!) For the most part, the sediment in beers doesn’t get me nervous, however when I turned the beer upside down and held it to the light, the brew went from increasingly cloudy to chunky.
As you can see (look towards the bottle neck on the last picture), there were chucks of sediment that were not dissolving into the beer, which can be a little off putting. Again, I’m typically not one to care about this, especially if this was a hearty porter or stout, but with a summer brew (correction, somer brew), I want it to be crisp and drinkable, with no chewing involved. Regardless, I poured this guy in the glass and started the process.
The head was very white, with little retention and little lacing and the beer itself was cloudy (to be expected after looking at the bottle). At first smell I got a lot of citrus, orange, and spice – you can certainly smell the coriander. As I drank, I stuck my nose in again and got a really pungent smell. You know when you go swimming and water gets up your nose and it burns for a few seconds?… well that sensation is sort of what the beer smelled like half way through drinking it. It became much more citrus-ie as and part of the burning nose smell could be because of the carbonation of the beer, which I felt was pretty heavy.
One thing that was not at all heavy about the beer was its taste. Typically, whenever I had Rogue, I often ignored the brewer’s suggestion of what food to pair it with because the bottle of beer itself would be my meal. The Somer Orange was entirely different from what I was used to because it wasn’t at all filling and I got through the bomber pretty quickly, however unlike other lighter summer (somer) beers, this did not deliver so much with the flavor. Nothing really stood out as I was drinking it; you got a little of the citrus and the bitterness of the hops, but with all that sediment floating around I was expecting more taste. I looked hard for the honey, but I couldn’t find it at all, and it wasn’t all that sweet either. Compared to a Blue Moon or Shock Top, this beer tasted more organic – the orange tasted more natural, and like I said, it did not overwhelm the brew at all, unlike the former two beers mentioned.
As a summer (somer) brew, there are better ones out there. Other summer (somer) brews will also leave your wallet a little bit heavier (Rogue’s go for about $6.00 per bottle or roughly 27 cents per ounce). All things considered, this beer is a good summer (somer) ale: light, carbonated, and drinkable, however I also would like to have something a little more flavorful, and at 5.2%ABV, something with a little more kick too. I would give this beer a B- because of the price v. satisfaction ratio and also because Rogue strays away from from its definition with this one.