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I once said I’ve never had a bad Rogue Ale, but as I drove home recently with a bottle of Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout by my side, I wondered if this would be the exception to the rule?
I know people love Sriracha, the American-made Thai chile sauce with a big rooster on the bottle (this beer is subtitled “Rogue Rooster Sauce”). I like Sriracha, and I even watched the documentary Sriracha. I’ve had plenty of Sriracha and other chile sauces, but it’s been a couple of decades since I had chiles in beer.
The big red bottle is a hoot. It comes with a triangular warning: Don’t shake. The first sip was like being sucked into a time warp. Suddenly it’s 1991 again and I’m drinking my own chile-infused holiday brew, which I called Christ Yes! Christmas Beer. I had forgotten all about that particular brew until my first sip of Rogue’s Sriracha Hot Stout. The newspaper I worked for at the time printed a book of recipes supplied by employees that was distributed to readers in a holiday edition of the daily newspaper. I was asked to supply a homebrew recipe, so I gave them my Christ Yes! Christmas Beer recipe. The editor, ever cognizant of the moral daintiness of our readers, changed the name to Holiday Ale.
It seemed we were pioneers back in the early ’90s, brewing with whatever crossed our minds, just because we could. Experimentation was part of the learning process, but it was also just a ton of fun.
There were even a couple of commercial chile beers out at the time. I think one came with a chile in the bottle. It was called something like Ed’s Cave Creek Chile Beer, from Arizona, maybe. A lager, I think it was. I had it once in a pool in Mesa, Ariz., on a 107-degree day, and it went down pretty good. But back in Wisconsin, that chile-infused beer didn’t hold up so well.
But chiles in a dark and rich beer would be similar to that great combo of chiles and chocolate, I thought.
That is certainly the effect with this Rogue Rooster Sauce. You get a nice blast of stout followed by an implosion of Sriracha heat across your palate, sending a prickly wave of heat from the back of your throat all the way to your stinging lips. A nice, sinus-clearing heat.
This is not a beer for all tastes, but it should appeal to both fans of Sriracha and stout, as well as to rogues everywhere.
Oh, one more thing. Even though Sriracha calls itself a “chili” sauce and Rogue calls it a “chili” sauce, I say it is a chile sauce, made with chiles, not with the dish called chili.
Bourbon Barrel Stout from Anderson Valley Brewing Co. of Boonville, Calif., is an oatmeal stout aged for three months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. Woody vanilla and coffee are the dominant flavors, with a palate-prickling finish from the alcoholic remnants of the bourbon. The Barney Flats Oatmeal stout that goes into the Wild Turkey barrels is only 5.8 percent alcohol going in, but comes out at 6.9 percent after aging in the bourbon-soaked barrels. Overall, there is a very light feel to this stout, attributable to the oatmeal stout base. Yet the alcohol sting is there. An iron fist in a velvet glove. Highly drinkable.