Rogue’s Monk Madness
By Alex Brown and Evan George
As a wise man once said, “When in Rogue, do as the Rogue do.” This is old-proverb-speak for “Northwest breweries should stick with the badass bitter beers they're known for.” Just look at Rogue Brewery’s OG flagship brews Shakespeare Stout, Brutal Bitter and Old Crustacean, all of them harsh, complex and consistently on point. But with their newest concoction, Monk Madness, the preeminent Oregon tastemakers at Rogue have continued to stray from their roots to unimpressive results. Right now, every American brewer and his mother seems to think it’s his right, or obligation, to try his hand at a Belgian-style ale. The results can be disastrous for one simple reason: Belgian ales, even the strongest of the bunch, have a subtlety and traditional pureness to them that the American ruffian brewer can’t recreate. Rogue’s tribute to the Belgian ale, for instance, hinges on five varieties of malts and five different hops—an ambitious recipe on paper that damn well goes too far. The deep velour and rippled brown color is off-putting, the sour bite of it is upsetting. Everything about the burnt-caramel hop flavor and slightly hopped-up, nutty booziness screams "identity crisis," like an American playboy vacationing in an ancient monastery—and without the basic decency to learn Flemish. The fact is, Rogue’s ever-expanding list of beers seems more and more like an excursion from what they are known for, and what they do best.
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