Monday, October 8, 2012

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar review

Rogue Hazelnut Brown NectarEver eat Nutella? I found a beer that smells nearly the same only without the cocoa. I'm talking about a beer from Rogue Ales called Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, an ale brewed with natural hazelnut flavor.

It's been a few years since I've had a beer from Rogue Ales. I see them everywhere here in Colorado, but I supposed I've ignored them for the most part until now. I'm a big fan of their Dead Guy Ale and when I spotted a brown ale with a flavor I hadn't had before I thought it should be time to try one of their brews again.

Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar is brewed with Hazelnut extract and is marked on the bottle as a World Champion Brown Ale. This beer won a Gold medal last year at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival as well as dozens of other medals dating as far back as 1996. This beer has apparently been around.

Although they don't list it on the bottle or their website, the Hazelnut Brown Nectar weighs in around 6% ABV and has a 33 IBU rating. This beer was brewed in the European Brown ale tradition with a slight "nutty" twist as they call it.

Appearance: Hazelnut Brown Nectar poured a medium dark brown, light enough to see through most of it, yet was hazy enough not to see through to the other side. The beer poured with a generous light brown head that stuck around long enough for several photos. The foam left little lacing however as it slid off quite quickly. This beer was modestly carbonated as well.

Aroma: If you've ever tried Nutella, you have a good idea what hazelnut smells like. Only with this beer you don't get the chocolate aroma, just a more pure malt and nutty scent. It's a rather curious smell too, one that I had to inhale over and over. Rather fascinating. It was hard to tell just how much of the hops I could pick up as the hazel nut was rather dominating.

Taste: Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar tasted much like its smell. A rather nutty brew with a bit of sharpness up front, perhaps a bit from the carbonation. There was a big malt taste, but it wasn't that sweet. A complex brown ale flavor with an unmistakable taste of nuts and malt. The bitterness was there but took a backseat. Luckily, there wasn't any aftertaste. The flavor remained constant from start to finish.

I wasn't quite sure if I would like this beer given the dominant Hazelnut presence, but as the beer warmed and the full flavor of this beer came out, I appreciated it more and more. The nuttiness flavor also was similar to a wood aged beer. It seemed to tease my tongue, playing guess the ingredient. I've got to remember this for a future homebrew I may make. Curiously good.

Overall: I found myself just constantly re-smelling this beer over and over. It's unlike any other smell I've had with a beer. The taste is also quite fascinating and one that I couldn't help try more of. Granted, it's not my favorite flavor in a beer, but rather one that I found hardest to describe and get a full capture of. As Spock would say - "Very fascinating".

I happened to have a piece of chocolate cake that I paired this beer with. The cake added the missing chocolate flavor and seemed to counter the strange yet oddly good hazelnut flavor.

Not sure that I'd give this beer a top mark, but certainly better than average on flavor and aroma. Rogue continues to surprise me with what they can do to jazz up a style that normally isn't that interesting.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store. I was not in contact with any brewer or distributor associated with this beer.

Related articles:
- Rogue Shakespeare Stout review.
- Rogue Dead Guy Ale review.
- Upslope Brown Ale review.
- Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale review.

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