Friday, July 8, 2011

Ales Brewed with Herbs — Rogue vs. Malmgard

Rogue MoM Hefeweizen
(Ale Brewed with Coriander and Ginger)
ABV 5.2%

Hazy bright yellow.
Funky barnyard grain, clean lemon.
Crisp, acidic, lemony. Herbal bitterness.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Grainy with moderate citrus bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):
Good -

Malmgard Brewery
Arctic Circle Ale
(Finnish Ale Brewed with Juniper Twigs)
ABV 7.3%

Dark reddish brown.
Aroma: Smoky roasted malts, chocolate, raisins, brown sugar.
Flavor: Rich and complex with same stuff as aroma, but also had a distinct savory quality.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Malty
Finish: Brown sugar, raisins, molasses.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good

Blow by Blow
This battle was inspired by a bottle of Finnish winter ale that we bought while we were in California last Christmas. We meant to drink it sooner, but we kept getting distracted by all the other beers crammed in our fridge. So here we are in the heat of summer doing a bottle battle with a winter beer. Sometimes that’s just how things work out.

The Finnish beer was brewed with juniper twigs so we looked to match it up against another beer featuring herbs. We found a worthy competitor in the Rogue MoM, a hefeweizen brewed with coriander and ginger. Finland vs. Oregon. Perhaps this is the beginning of a nasty international rivalry?

As expected the beers were of two totally different styles. The Rogue was meant for summer sipping with lots of lemony and grainy flavors and a crisp herbal bitterness. The Arctic Circle, on the other hand, was built for dark Finnish winters, offering notes of brown sugar, raisins, and smoky chocolate. It also had an intriguing savory characteristic that we though might be from the juniper twigs but it could also have been the influence of the rye malt which we weren’t aware of until reading the back of the label.

Neither of us could really detect the specific herbs in either of the beers, but perhaps that’s a good thing. Overly spiced beers can be a mess. Then again, if you list it as a flavor ingredient, don’t you want your customers to taste it? There is a fine line here that also involves some palate subjectivity so there is really no absolute answer, but it’s a topic worthy of some thought. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

Based on the season you’d think that MoM would have won handily, but that was not the case. The Rogue just didn’t have enough going on to keep it interesting, so in the end the Finnish beer beat the odds and proved that winter beers can be just as tasty on a hot evening in southern Oregon as they are on a frigid Finnish night. Kippis!

Winner by unanimous decision: Malmgard Arctic Circle Ale

No comments:

Post a Comment