In my opinion the Rogue Brewery is one of the staple American craft breweries who have helped bring real flavor into this world of bland commercial beer, and pushed the boundaries of what is possible. Since 1989, or really 1988 (in a basement) Rogue has been crafting honorable beers and creating new and exciting examples in Newport Oregon. Rogue’s beers are responsible for over 300 awards since opening, and with good reason.
I reviewed their XS Imperial IPA, which is one of their more limited and special edition brews, and also one of my favorites. But Rogue brews more than 25 regularly available beers! Thats incredible! One that we often have at the LCBO, and was one of the first to grace my lips is the Hazelnut Brown Nectar. And to tell you the truth, its been a while since I’ve had one, so I took advantage of the sunny day and walked to the LCBO Queens Quay to grab one.
One of my favorite things about Rogue is the way they label their bottles. Each bottle clearly indicates the ingredients used, brief tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, some of the brewing specifications, and also who the beer has been dedicated to. For the Hazelnut Brown Nectar:
Ingredients: Malts; Harrington, Klages, Munich, Hugh Baird Brown, Carastan 13-17, Crystal 70-80, Crystal 135-165 and Beeston Chocolate. Hops; Perle and Sterling. Specialty; Hazelnut Nectar. Yeast and Water; Rogue’s Pacman Ale Yeast and Free Range Coastal Water.
Tasting Notes: A nutty twist to a traditional European Brown Ale. Dark brown in color with a hazelnut aroma, a rich nutty flavor and a smooth malty finish.
Food Pairing Suggestions: Pork or Beef.
Brewing Specifications: Brown Ale, 12 degrees PLATO, 28 IBU, 75 AA, 9.8 degrees Lovibond, 6.2% abv.
Dedication: Dedicated to the homebrewer in each of us! The homebrewer who inspired this creation is Chris Studach, a friend of Rogue’s resident wizard John Maier, who added a Northwest twist to the classic style by adding hazelnuts for the host homebrew at the 1993 American Homebrewers Association convention. Chris put the nut in nut brown!
Serve the Hazelnut Brown Nectar cool around 8C (45F). It is only 6.2%, so not rich enough to warrant cellar temperature, and the initial cold helps create a quenching and refreshing beer. It smoothly pours a rich amber brown beer with chestnut and almond browns shimmering in it. It is deep and wide showing a glimmer of dark gold, or even copper. A nice fluffy one and a half inch tan to cream colored head rises easily from the beer and holds its own very well.
The aroma is soft and soothing with light creamy nuts, cereal grains, and a complexity of many sweet malts which comes through as silky sweet and gently aromatic. The lightest touch of hops exist here also to give some balance to a malty sweet but creamy nose. Hazelnut cream is lightly noted also.
Gentle sweet malts open your palate easily with warm toasty and roasted malts and the mellow sweet sensation of nuts. The nuts come in gently bringing a smooth creamy mouthfeel, but moderate carbonation makes it very quick. I do wish this beer was less carbonated to let its natural smooth texture become more profound. Mild bitterness comes in the sides from both chocolate malts and hops – the malt lends some smooth bitter chocolate notes and the hops bring a clean and fresh aromatic palate-cleansing feel.
The beer is very clean and fresh and obviously brewed with expertise; the finish is exceptionally quenching with soft nuts again and chewy malts. There are no traces of alcohol or off flavors here, and overall you are left with a satisfying nut brown which is excellent on its own or with meaty dinner dishes. I actually love this beer in the summer in the sun. It is great with a picnic filled with hearty sandwiches, dark breads, cheeses and fruit.