rather than pointed social commentary or justified outrage at the result of the Royal Rumble, and partly because there is long beer list to get through and I’m paid by the post and not by the word. [1] 

First up, let us start with a little background on the famous Rogue brewery and their legion of fanatical fans known as the Rogue Nation.  Turning, as ever, to the wit and wisdom of the Oxford Companion to Beer, here are the key points from their retelling of the Rogue story:

“Rogue started their ‘small revolution’ as the company likes to describe it in Ashland, Oregon in 1988… Rogue now owns and operates 10 multitap meeting halls or bars in Oregon, Washington and California, and brews approximately 86,000 barrels of beer annually… The 34 aggressively hopped beers sold under the Rogue Ales brand are fermented with PacMan, their proprietary yeast, and are never pasteurised… Since the early days of brewing their American amber (originally Ashland amber) in a basement facility for a local market, Rogue has grown into an international business that distributes its beer to 19 different countries along with all 50 states.” [2]

In addition to the proprietary PacMan yeast [3] all Rogue beers are brewed using “Free Range Coastal Water.”  I’m no scientist (or even a Christian Scientist or Scientologist for that matter) but I had been previously unaware of farmed or hothouse water.  However, I will take that description as meaning the wonderful water officially counts as one of my 5 a Day. 

Now, time to move on to the beers.

Currently on tap is the Rogue Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale (5.2% and 44 IBU).  Made with four malts (including the signature Crystal malt) and three big American hops (Chinook, Perle and Centennial), it pours a reddish copper colour with a roasted, fruity and spruce nose.  In the glass there are roast, caramel, citrus, spruce and herb notes over a firm but not aggressive hoppiness.  St Rogue Red finishes surprisingly clean and is more approachable then the name perhaps implies. 

It is likely to run out on Thursday or Friday and will be immediately replaced by the highly regarded and heavily awarded Rogue Dead Guy Ale (6.6% and 40 IBU).  This beer was created in the early 1990s as a private brand to celebrate the Mayan Day of Dead at a bar in Portland. [4] It proved popular and became a regular brew a few years later. Brewed in the style of a German Maibock (sometimes called a Helles Bock), it uses two malts grown on Rogue’s own farms (Dare and Risk).  Deep honey/amber in colour, the aroma is of caramel, toast and fruit salad.  This smooth beer has notes of grapefruit, resin, caramel, crunchy toast, honey and spice in the glass.

There are more Rogues in the fridges not to mention behind the bar.  Rogue Chipotle Ale (5.5%) is based on Rogue’s Oregon Golden Ale recipe but throws chipotle peppers in with four malts and two hops, most of which are grown on Rogue’s own farms.  It is dedicated to Spanish author Juan de la Cueva, who, in 1575, wrote of a Mexican dish that combined seedless chipotles with beer.  Chipotle Ale is a golden brew with a nose of chilli, smoke and floral hops.  The beer has notes of subtle grapefruit, smoke, caramel, sweet molasses, toffee, pepper and an underlying current of chilli which produces a light warming sensation at the finish.

 One of Rogue’s most famous brews is Rogue Brutal IPA (6% and 46 IBU) which is actually not nearly as brutal as the name suggests.  Perhaps it once was but there are a lot hoppier beers out there now, several of which are also made by Rogue.  This imperial bitter, which is also the official beer of the Rogue Nation, has a fruity citrus hop nose followed by grapefruit, mango and a hint of chewing gum over a firm bready malt backbone.  It is a classical introduction to American hops.

While not my favourite beer style by any stretch of the imagination, Rogue Chocolate Stout (6.3% and 69 IBU) is a revered example of the American Chocolate Stout style.  The use of rolled oats, roasted barley and chocolate helps create a smooth ebony beer with a firm, espresso head.  The beer is stuffed with bitter chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, vanilla and cream flavours, before a light bittersweet finish.  It was originally designed for the Japanese market [5] but was eventually released in America for Valentine’s Day in 2001.

The Rogue Mocha Porter (5.1% and 47 IBU) is “dedicated to the chocolate lover in each of us.”  I do not have a chocolate lover inside of me – the persistent rumour is that she had to move out many years in order to make room for more beer.  This complex, balanced beer pours a ruddy brown with a Mark Richardson beige head.  There is a heady mix of coffee, dried fruit, chocolate, ash and astringent bitterness.  It was previously known as New Porter after the town of Newport, Oregon, home of Rogue Ales.

Next up is the Rogue XS IIPA (9.5% and 95 IBU) which is much, much, much more to my taste. 

Now this is brutal brew, above and beyond an India Pale Ale, with a nearly insane trifecta of Rogue’s own Newport, Freedom, and Bravo hops.  It has lots of malt but who really cares when you have an unfiltered double IPA which has been aged for 9 months before it even leaves the brewery.  Pouring orange amber, it throws a huge nose of grapefruit, pine and oily hops.  Honestly, customers in the kebab shop next door will know when a bottle of this is opened at Malthouse.  In the glass there is more grapefruit, pine, resin, oily hops, tropical fruit and earthy biscuity malt.  It is thick, high octane and rather drinkable. 

Whoever drinks the last bottle will gain a powerful enemy…

Finishing on the theme of big, bad and bitter beers, Rogue XS Dead Guy (9.5% and a comparatively moderate 60 IBU) is the angry older brother of Dead Guy Ale.  It is a magnificent mahogany colour with a fluffy muffin foam.  There are notes of chocolate, raisin, pear, caramel and peanut slab on the nose, followed by caramel, apricot, chocolate, grapefruit, brown sugar and biscuit in the body, then a long grapefruit/chocolate finish.  

The recipe actually differs slightly from the original Dead Guy but only because the brewers were out of certain ingredients on the day of the first brew and improvised. 

I’m was actually quite surprised that Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor did not get Rogue Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale or Rogue Voodoo Chocolate, Peanut Butter Banana Ale just to mess with me. [6]

Rather than any sense of Glaswegian kindness, Colin’s omission of these beers from the fridge may have been simple self preservation because Malthouse is about to transform once again into Ciderhouse.  This event – imaginatively named Ciderhouse 2 – will see another flood of artisan ciders on tap and in bottles from 3rd to 10th February.  More cider – are you freaking kidding me?  I will doubtless be compelled to reveal the cider list in next week’s blog but even Colin can’t make me care about it. 

Next time, we drink to the person who scheduled David Cunliffe’s State of the Nation Speech on a sunny Auckland Anniversary Day while also up against Lorde owning the Grammys, a huge upset in the final of the Australian Open tennis and, most importantly, the Royal Rumble. [7]

[1] A wise move from the canny Malthouse owners.  If I was paid by the word I probably wouldn’t even mention beer until the sixth page of every post.

[2] It is both fascinating and surprisingly that many quite substantial American craft brewers whose products we increasingly see in New Zealand do not sell their beer in most US states.

[3] The yeast did indeed gain its distinctive moniker by chomping through sugar like vintage game character Pac Man chomped up those poorly animated dots.  However, while PacMan produces wonderful alcohol and useful carbon dioxide, Pac Man only ever seemed to create a droning repetitive noise, a few dead ghosts and some truly terrible spin-offs.

[4] That is a long time before Kiwis started getting into the Day of the Dead, a trend that is due in large part to Garage Project and their eponymous ale.

[5] The original Japanese label featured a teddy bear with a pink heart on his belly.  You just know that is not going to fly in Portland or Palmerston North.

[6] Once again, these beers actually exist and contain all the ingredients listed in their names.

[7] I cared about one of these events far more than the other two – Daniel Bryan was completely robbed in the Rumble match by that big lummox Battista.  

Neil Miller

Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Cuisine Magazine


Rogue Ales – http://rogue.com/
Ciderhouse 2 – http://www.boocider.com/
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