We here at WWR have often used the phrase “champagne tastes, beer budget” to highlight the sorts of watches that we like to look at.  In many ways, it signifies our commitment to looking at more affordable watches, and of course those that would be considered viable alternatives to those more spendy grails out there –  at least, that is, until you can save to land that whopper.  Today, we’re going to focus on the “beer budget” side of that phrase in a very literal sense.  We’ll be talking about three different options from Rogue Ales.

Now, if you are not a fan of beer, this, of course, will not be the review for you.  For everyone else, this will represent a nice survey of what Rogue Ales has on offer.  If you are not familiar with the brand, don’t worry.  There are a lot of smaller independent brands out there, what with the recent explosion of craft brewers.  This means a lot of choice for us, but it can also be tricky to keep track of who is from where, and what they make.  For Rogue, their distinctives are being based out of Oregon, and actually growing a lot of their own ingredients.  That’s taking locally-sourced, farm-to-bottle in a quite literal sense.  Whether or not that holds water for you, it’s something I like seeing the dedication to in a brand.

First up on the roster for this review is the Rogue Ales Honey Kolsch.  This is, of course, a Kolsch-style beer, albeit one with a twist – it utilizes honey from bees on, where else, their own farm.  As you might expect, this beer has a rather honeyed color to it when you pour it into a glass.  The honey then extends to the scent of the beer, which I noted as a sort of sweet-and-sour mix.  Sounds weird, but think about it.  Honey is sweet, and beer can certainly smell bitter/sour, so that’s what I picked up.  Thankfully, the sweetness was not at all overpowering in the taste of the beer.  There was a slight bitterness, but it had a very nice crisp, clean taste.  What this means is, for me, the Rogue Ales Honey Kolsch is a great summertime beer.  At 5% ABV it won’t overpower you, so it would be a tidy companion for after yard chores or just kicking around at the backyard barbecue.  Given the notes you pick up from this style of beer, this also would be a great one to pair with pizza.

Next up we have a beer that I was very, very curious about – the Rogue Ales Marionberry Sour.  I have never had a sour-style before, and I had never even heard of a marionberry (apparently, the Rogue Farms are just a few miles away from where the first marionberry fields started up).  In the past, when I’ve had anything that combined fruit and beer, it was achingly sweet, so I was curious how a sour would play in.  Technically, this is an American Wild Ale which means it relies on wild-caught yeast.  Sounds weird, but think about it this way – it’s the same way that sourdough bread is done.  For me, it sort of enhances that earthy “farm-to-table” sort of feel I pick up from Rogue.  Add in the locally-sourced berries, and well, that just elevates thing.

When pouring the Rogue Ales Marionberry Sour, you get a cloudy, maroon coloration in the glass, with not much head or carbonation.  Hold it up to your nose, and you definitely get a mild sour scent (much more pronounced than what I noted in the Honey Kolsch).  So, I knew I was up for something different here.  Nothing left but to taste it, right?  Here, you are hit with a fruity flavor at first.  Not strong, not overly sweet, but definitely a berry taste (I’ve never had a marionberry itself, so I can’t say how it translates here).  Then, after that, you do get a sour aftertaste.  The only thing I could even try to equate it to is the memory of the first time I had tried some champagne – it just tasted quite sour to me.  Or maybe it’s just a first-time thing.  I found the Rogue Ales Marionberry Sour to have a fairly flat mouthfeel (again, not super carbonated), and found this one to be a slow sipper, just to control the explosion against the taste buds.  And, at 6.5% ABV, it would make sense to take it easy with this one.  This is a beer that I would say is for your adventurous tastes friends, and would be paired well with something quite simple (say, some grilled salmon) so you’re not overwhelming your tongue.

That brings us, then, to the final of our roguish trio – the Rogue Ales 10 Hop.  This one I save to the last as I felt it was going to be my favorite of the three (and you know what?  It was!)  I may be relatively late to the IPA game, but over the past year or so, it has quickly become my favorite.  I used to be a dark beer guy (the darker the better) but the flavor profiles had started to feel a bit stale and flat.  One-note wonders, if you will.  With IPAs, though, and the variety of hops that be leveraged, can get you such a lovely variety of flavors.  Then add in the range of ABVs they come in, and you can find something that will work for just about whatever.

The Rogue Ales 10 Hop is what is known as an American Double, or Imperial, IPA.  When you get into these, you’re hitting the higher end of the ABV scale, and the Rogue Ales 10 Hop comes in at a health 10.1%.  Add in the larger bottle that this one came in, and you’re setup for a sharing scenario, or something to cap off the day (at least, that’s how I view it).  Pouring it into a glass, you’ll note a bright caramel coloration with a slight auburn tinge to it, and a good bit of haze in the glass.  You do pick up a small bit of honeyed sweetness at the first, but that quickly melts away, and you’re left with the hoppy IPA goodness.  With the higher ABV, you might think that this is one that would hit you quickly, or have a taste that makes you realize that this is a strong beer. I found it quite to the contrary, and thought it to be very smooth and drinkable.  This means you could pair it with just about anything you’d want.  Or with nothing at all.  By that, I mean you could do as I did, and have it just as the “day is done” sort of post-dinner sipper to close the day out.

As you can see here, just from this quick survey, Rogue Ales has quite a variety (and there are even more varieties if you check out their site, or your local shop).  And that’s not to even consider the spirits side of the house.  I think the Marionberry Sour is great for someone who’s looking for a beer unlike anything they’ve had before; the Honey Kolsch is a good option for the guy or gal who tends to American-style lagers; the 10 Hop IPA is, of course, for the fan of the oh-so-tasty IPA.  Wherever your tastebuds take you, you should be able to find the varieties of Rogue Ales at $11.99 for a 6-pack of 12 oz bottles, or $6.99 for a 22 oz.  Drink safe, and drink tasty, my watch-loving friends.  rogue.com

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