Rogue Ales — Chatoe Rogue First Growth Creek Ale — 6%

Looking for something special for the Monkey’s 50th beer review (so that’s why my shirts don’t fit!), I stumbled across this GYO (Grow Your Own) offering from Oregon favorite, Rogue Ales.

The DIY ethic runs deep in brewers. I think it would be safe to say that most folks that get into the craft beer business arrive there through their own home brewing experience. What else could be the logical extension of wanting to brew your own beer than growing all your own ingredients?

Sierra Nevada’s Estate Homegrown Ale could be seen as a forerunner to this “revolution.” Whether this becomes a trend will probably turn on the continued ability for hops and grains to be transported affordably and reliably. With pundits predicting gas shooting up past five bucks a gallon next year, it might just be time to start jack hammering that parking lot. But I digress.

This Creek, or more succinctly, “Kriek,” Ale pours murky reddish brown and throws a healthy whipped cream-thick eggshell-colored head with excellent retention and very little lacing. The first sip delivers sour Montmorency cherries and a sweet malt profile based on two homegrown malts, Dare and Risk, in the mash. Rogue is pitching their proprietary Pacman yeast strain, which is pretty neutral, along with a Belgian, which contributes some mild clove, banana, and spice notes.

This brew has almost no hop profile, which is a shame, as they went to the trouble of growing their own Revolution hops. The few distributors that offer a description of this strain, seem to place Revolution in the mild, “where a refined and ‘noble’ hop character is desired,” category.

Personally, I would have liked to see Rogue use a little more aggressive hop, but that’s just me, I’m sick that way. As it stands, Rogue’s baby isn’t bad, just ill defined. Not sour enough to be a sour, not yeasty enough for a Belgian; the mouthfeel is watery and non-descript, lacking the strident carbonation usually associated with Belgian styles.

The trouble with blazing a trail is that you get to do all the heavy lifting: slogging through the swamps and stumbling into the sinkholes that followers will take for granted. I don’t mean to imply that Rogue’s Creek Ale tastes in anyway like, well … creek, it just that pioneer cookin’ isn’t going to make Zagat’s list anytime soon.

Grade: B-

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