About two years back or so, my buddy Tom and I decided to embrace “the Rogue in each of us” and embark on a tasting journey through Rogue Brewery’s intimidating list of brews. Suffice it to say, we still haven’t tried them all…and it’s been somewhat of a roller coaster ride. If anything, Rogue embodies what I believe has become one of American craft breweries’ quintessential mottos: no anemic, unsubstantial, weak, half-assed beer. These guys are called Rogue for a reason. You may not like all their offerings, but you can bank on the power of their flavoring.
On today’s docket was Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale, a red ale dedicated specifically to Captain Sig Hansen (he of Discovery Channel’s immensely popular “Deadliest Catch” series) and his two brothers Edgar and Norman. For those who don’t know…this is one hardcore dude. The only captain who’s been featured on all 5 seasons of Deadliest Catch, Sig and his crew brave the Bering Sea every year fishing for King and opilio crab. The payout for this kind of work can border on the mind-boggling, but then again, so can the risk of serious injury or death. Sig started working as a deckhand on his dad’s crab fishing boat at an age when most of us were screwing around in a junior high classroom, and in the 20 years he’s been captain of the Northwestern, he hasn’t lost a single crew member. Pretty incredible stuff.
With this in mind, I cracked open the bomber and prepared myself. The beer pours a great cloudy red-orange color with a significant head that dissipates after a little while but leaves a ton of lacing. The smell is quite singular…floral hops and citrus stand out, but there’s a hint of chocolate, and the combination of malts almost tricks you into smelling honey as well. Now, to be honest, I was a bit apprehensive, because it’s easy to have beers start blending together when you’ve sampled 20 or so from the same brewery. And to be fair, I think I’ve developed a pretty good taste for Rogue’s cascade hops and pacman yeast. Cap’n Sig’s surprised me, though. The outstanding bitterness of the hops dominates upfront as you sip, but finally fades into a definite chocolate and grapefruit aftertaste, a strange sounding combination that really works. Honestly, it’s hard to pick out more of the malt complexity in the beer through the hops, which somewhat disappointed me. The 6.2% ABV is an afterthought, but the hops stay with you long after you’ve finished. All in all, though, another solid offering from the Oregon-based brewery, and a beer you might wish had been dedicated to you…if you were more of a Rogue.