Rogue Dead Guy Ale Review: It Turns Out That Death Is Not That Bad

Rogue Ales & Spirits is an interesting company. Founded in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon, Rogue saw some success in the first year of business, and opened a second brewpub in 1989 in Newport, Oregon. The founders were Jack Joyce and Mo Niemi. The current brewmaster is John Maier (not the singer!), whose philosophy is that “variety is the spice of life,” and thus he constantly seeks to try out new beer styles and flavors. He also states that all of Rogue’s brews are intended to be paired with food — a desire that is right up my alley.

But what intrigues me especially, is that the company also distills spirits (notice Rogue Ales & Spirits). Brewing beer and distilling spirits are two very different processes, and the art and science behind each are not similar at all. Rogue distills vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and a spirit made from chipotle (roasted chili peppers). I have never tried any of them, and I certainly hope they are good, but I am suspicious. If a company stretches itself too thin, then nothing it makes will be good. But maybe Rogue’s spirits are in fact good. If you have tried them, please let us know.

In any case, Rogue Dead Guy Ale was the first of the company’s product that I ever tasted. Because it is an ale, it is top-fermented and warm-fermented. According to Rogue, Dead Guy is German Maibock in style. This is confusing, since Maibock is traditionally a lager, not an ale. Maibock is a German-style lager that is normally a pale lager with stronger hops than others, and it is intended to be served in May (Mai is German for May). I know that Rogue knows the difference between an ale and a lager, so I am genuinely puzzled as to why it calls a Maibock an ale. I could not find any information on the company’s website (another pet peeve of mine). Well, let’s just assume it is an ale. Finally, the company brews Dead Guy with its own proprietary Pacman yeast. In fact, Rogue’s website lists the following nine ingredients: 2-Row, C15, Munich, Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Perle & Sterling Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast. But on to the review.

Everything On Tap Review – Rogue Dead Guy Ale:

Bottle: Like Sierra Nevada Pale, Dead Guy’s bottle and label are instantly-recognizable by beer enthusiasts. The bottle is dark brown glass, with a label that is made up mostly of the logo. The logo is a vertical oval that fades from red-purple at the top, to blue-purple at the bottom. On the logo is a prominent skeleton sitting on a cask of ale, drinking it with a mug in his hand. The lettering is red.

Pour: The color is a distinct reddish-brown. The head is a half-finger thick, very foamy and off-white. The head dissipates slowly, leaving a very thick lacing.

Aroma: There is a strong bouquet of roasted, malted grains on the attack. At the swell, earthy, citrus hops rise to the occasion. The noticeable bouquet of mild fruit finishes the bouquet.

Flavor: Yeasty toast begins the attack, followed by light citrus hops. Overall, I find the flavor to be too mild and light. It is, overall, a simple flavor profile. It is not bad, per se, by any means. It is a good beer. But so much more could have been done with these ingredients. In my opinion, this beer has an identity crisis: ale or lager? Malt or hops? To me, this is an example of an ale that could have been great, but falls just short.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium, and I must say that the medium carbonation pairs well with the mild sweetness to produce a very decent mouthfeel. The swallow is smooth and sweet.

Structure: The structure is light, but balanced. If you do not expect too too much from this ale but a light, flavorful sweetness and mild hoppy bitterness, you will be satisfied.

Food Pairing: This is a tough one. While I want this beer to stand up to strong flavors so badly, I just do not believe it will. Thus, it would pair well with a nice, barbecued burger, pulled pork, or even a spicy lentil stew.

Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs:

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