Today I plant my feet firmly into the “looking at 40” phase of my life.
Today was benign as birthdays go. The Turtle has been restless (I think he’s working on his last two-year molars) and kept me up most of the night. I woke–mostly–and almost asked to go back to bed for my birthday. But, as it was Labor day, it felt like the Right Thing To Do to get up and enjoy. We drove to White Marsh, Maryland for some shopping (didn’t find the boots I was looking for) and a tremendous lunch at Red Brick Station. The Spooner’s Stout marinated tenderloin sliders were fantastic. But the real start of lunch (besides the birthday boy) was the Watermelon. And I’m not talking about the fruit.
Normally, I’m not an advocate of fruited beers (I’m looking at you, Corona!). However, this was a really refreshing farewell to summer. In fact, I missed get a picture of the first one. So I had to order another.
After lunch, I braved the racks at Old Navy and did get a decent pair of jeans and lightweight autumn jacket. We retreated to home for an afternoon nap. I am getting old, after all.
While I’ve been somewhat negligent of this blog, I could not pass up this occasion to do a very small review of something I’ve been promising for some time to my friends (even if I haven’t mentioned it here). About a year ago, I caught wind of a collab between Portland’s own Rogue Ales and Voodoo Doughnut; Maple Bacon Ale. Well, being a periodic blogger on the topics of meat and beer, I made it my singular goal to get my grubby hands on a bottle (or two) of this concoction. Sometime later, after I’d forgotten about this goal, I received an e-mail from Wine World announcing a very limited arrival of bright pink bombers. Needless to say, I dropped what I was doing and sped over to grab two for my very own (at $16 apiece), knocking over a pallet of beer (only two other cheaper bottles that were precariously shelved) in the process. An employee rounded the corner at the sound of breaking glass, saw me with two bright-pink bottles of Maple Bacon in my hands and gasped, thinking I had broken them. When he saw it was something like Sam Adams, he laughed and said he was prepared to lick the Maple Bacon off the floor if need be.
I paid for my spoils and brought them home to tuck them away for a special occasion.
Today is that occasion.
I present to you, Rogue’s Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale
I know. Very impressive, ain’t it? Honestly, I went into this with a spirit of novelty, not expecting anything spectacular. As magical as this combination sounds, I expected it would be very hard to pull off.
I was right.
First off, the beer pours a muddy iced-tea orange. But not a classic sweet sun-tea. This looks more like those buck-a-gallon corn syrup monstrosities you get from a gas station. But, to be fair, this is a doughnut-flavored beer. So I’m not expecting class. The head was good and thick but dissipated quickly.
The nose was as advertised–smoky and a little sweet. If I could dig past the campfire-like smoke (not bacon-like), there was a very faint vanilla component. As I finished my second glass, the smoke scent (not the taste, unfortunately) had mostly faded. Either I was used to it or it evaporated somehow.
Taste was … odd. Back in my first foray into homebrewing, I put together a brown ale with a healthy handful of lapsang souchong, a Chinese smoked black tea, that I’ve never really been able to describe. The best way to describe Rogue’s Maple Bacon Ale is to compare it to that, which I can’t fully describe, and none of you have ever had it (except for Jake, if he still reads this blog). The smoke is almost overwhelming at first, but once you’re accustomed it’s a nice amount. Still, it’s difficult to pick out the hops (if any) or the malt characteristics. More on the malt in the next section. The real star of this beer is the maple. And it took darn near a glass and a half to find it. Like most Rogue beers, each bottle is a challenge–try to isolate all the taste elements once by one. Supposedly, the “doughnut” is a vanilla component, which I’m still working out in my head. Did I taste a deep Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean or was that the maple playing tricks with me? In any case, the taste opened up greatly with the second glass as the beer flattened out (second glasses from a bomber are always flat) and warmed up.
The mouthfeel was probably my favorite part. You’d expect something smoky, bacony, and mapley (maply? maple-ey?) to be really heavy. This beer remained crisp and light throughout. If it were thick and cloying, I wouldn’t have been able to drink the whole thing.
Overall, I would probably rate this as a “eh, glad I tried it. not sure I’d go out of my way to have it again” sort of beer. Which pretty-much sums up my experience with everything from Rogue I’ve tried (limited as that experience has been). That said, I do have another bottle in my bar, waiting for another special occasion. The second glass outshines the first, if you can get through the first.
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