The Spring Beer Fest came and went this weekend, and I'll post a review, including mini-reviews of the beers I tried, later today. For now, I want to turn your attention to the beer that caught my attention: Rogue Chipotle Ale.
A classic, and under-appreciated beer style is known as rauch (or "smoke") bier. Traditionally, a portion of the malts are smoked before brewing, and this imparts a rich, smoky flavor. (Some breweries add smoke flavor, with predictably inferior results.) It's apparently not the only way to achieve the flavor of smoke, however. (I mention this apparently unrelated information for reasons that will become clear in a moment.)
Breweries have experimented with chile ales for some time, and they are usually gimmicky. The chiles don't contribute much in the way of flavor, just a sharp pepper bite in the aftertaste. You have one (or one sip) and that's all you need: experiment concluded. But Rogue, a brewery known for more than a few gimmicks, hasn't made a pepper ale. Quite unexpectedly, Chipotle Ale has the palate of a rauchbier.
The chipotles have the same smokiness of a rauchbier, and are actually far lighter. Rogue uses its Golden Ale as a base, so the effect is a light, creamy smokiness, with unusual notes you associate with food. The finish is ever so slightly peppery, but not hot (I'm a chile wimp, so I feel qualified to judge), which is yet another surprise to the beer.
I've seen Chipotle in Rogue's (now archaic) 22 bottles--though I don't recall where--so see if you can track it down. In a world of a million pale ales, it's something different and original.
Hops: Willamette, Cascade
Malts: Northwest Harrington, Klages, Maier Munich
Alcohol By Volume: Unknown
Original Gravity: 12 degrees Plato
Other: smoked jalapeno (chipotle) peppers