It comes in one of the most striking beer bottles available, and also one of my favorites. A tall, heavy, matte black clay bottle with a swing cap houses the Rogue XS Imperial India Pale Ale. Unfortunately Rogue is leaving this bottle for a smaller glass version, but I will always remember the big clunky clay bottles.
Regardless of what it is served in, this Imperial IPA is one of the best I have ever had. Its full richness of flavors and aromas are exactly what I look for in a strong IPA. India Pale Ales have been copied and modified by so many breweries over the years that the style really has become a mirage of peoples preferences of the style. Even the Imperial versions (a stronger and more robust IPA) are widening in scope and challenging the boundaries of the style. And I absolutely love this type of creativity!
As much as I do appreciate and enjoy creativity, I love to see the authentic examples shinning in brilliant perfection; that is exactly what the Rogue XS IPA does.
The 750 ml bottle really does prepare you for what this beer is. The bottle is heavy and solid, finished in matte black bearing deep dark printing except for the IMPERIAL PALE ALE in red, and the 9.5% abv in white. This is part of Rogue’s XS series of beers which also includes a Porter, Red, Barley Wine, Stout, Russian Imperial Stout, and YSB. All in the Imperial style – more power, and more power. Think Tim Taylor gets his hands on beer…
The Imperial IPA was the first of this series that I had ever had, and it definitely got me hooked on Rogue’s beers. Right away the pour excited me when I opened this ten pound bottle and began to pour it. It glugs slowly into the glass with huge effervescence and clouds of haze. Eventually the beer stood tall in my pint glass with about half an inch of white head which quickly faded to a mere film on beer. The XS IPA is brewed only with one malt type and three hops, so the lack of protein does not allow for very good head retention.
I was not to concerned though, because the beer looks amazing! Its hugely hazy, completely opaque, and more deep golden orange than yellow. It is vastly rich and filled with color; it is very obviously unfiltered, which is most appropriate for the style.
The nose is rich Sazz and Cascade hops, and is undeniably west coast. Its fades in with spice, pepper, pine, earth, and gentle pale malts. It really brings out rich hops in a beautiful way. Rather than being extremely complex it allows the flavors in the coastal hops to shine through unobstructed. The spice and pine adds a sweet touch to the scent, and balances what seems like will be a creamy rich malt backbone.
Get into this beer with a full gulp and really let it caress your palate. It is almost 10%, but its not going to attack you; although it may bite slightly. Smooth and smooth pale malts bring sweet caramel and toasty toffee right to the forefront of your tongue. Its creamy and elegant on your mouth, but quickly a crack of hops jump in a show ripe bitterness and fresh aromas of pine and grass.
Pepper and coriander bring spice and zest to the picture with more coming from grapefruit peel and tropical fruits. The hops are extremely fresh and perfectly characteristic of California. You can feel the dry hopping, and taste the maturity of the brewmaster. There are a lot of rich and striking flavors in the beer, but whats supreme about it is how perfectly they play amongst each other and the balance that it creates.
The XS IPA is creamy and rich, spicy and bold, smooth and extremely quenching. It would refresh the clammiest of palates, and pair exceptionally well with spicy and fatty foods. I will be looking to compare it with the new versions in glass bottles, but will definitely be snatching up as many of the remaining claw bottles as I can find!