The 3rd release of these John John ales by Rogue is easy drinking, elegant, and loaded with delicious aromas and flavors. Combining the Hazelnut Brown Nectar with white oak barrels that once contained Hazelnut spiced Rum, this beer is an instant winner in my book.
Similar to the first two John John (John John Dead Guy Ale and John John Juniper Pale Ale) ales I reviewed it poured smooth and had a substantial tan head consisting of larger bubbles. The ruby-brown liquid is darker than a Marzen and lighter than a Brown ale making it appear to be a perfect Fall brew.
One hint of the aroma and I knew this would be a great beer for the fall season. Obviously, hazelnut would seem to be the prevailing aroma, but I received a much bigger hint of cinnamon or nutmeg (a la pumpkin beers). It was highlighted by a vanilla extract smell that I remembered from helping my mom make cookies as a kid. Definitely very nutty, malty, and somewhat spruce-like in nature this brew was rich in aromas (honey, caramel from Rum and beer, minor abv heat, and toffee).
The taste was very much of what I picked up in the aroma. I found that the abv acquired from the Rum barrels complimented the hazelnut, cinnamon, nutmeg flavors very well. The mouthfeel was medium bodied like a brown ale, but finished with a slight dry finish. I will add that I enjoyed this beer when it was colder than after it had warmed up. My palate is not too familiar with Rum as is not a liquor I drink. Since it is a darker liquor its flavors did pair well with this beer (granted they both had a hazelnut focus). There was also a faint grassy hop quality that came out towards the end of each sip.
After finishing my beer I looked on Rogues website to see how the Rum was made. John Couchot uses 100% pure Hawaiian cane sugar, toasted Oregon hazelnuts, bitter orange peel, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean, cinnamon, and clove in his recipe. I guess the vanilla and cinnamon were the stand out ingredients for me.
While this is not a pumpkin or Oktoberfest beer, I found that it is just as enjoyable and combines the best qualities of both styles along with a smooth brown ale.