Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Every now and then, a beverage comes along that resembles nothing you've had before. Sometimes it's because of a particular method of fermentation. Other times, it's a combination of ingredients that you wouldn't have thought make sense to combine. These brews often leave you scratching your head wandering either a. why hadn't anybody thought of this before? or b. how baked was the brewer when he thought this was a good idea?

Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale mostly falls under option b., however, it is definitely worth talking about for more than just the novelty. We typically don't write about beverages we don't like, but bear with me on this one.

Before we get to the beer itself, let's deconstruct the two companies responsible for what we're looking at.

Rogue Ales, located in Newport, Oregon, is responsible for some of the best craft beer and spirits in the world. While mostly known for their Dead Guy Ale, they brew everything ranging from Czech-style pilsner to chocolate stout to estate-grown hops used in their Chatoe series of brews. While Rogue usually takes their brewing seriously, as a company, they're kind of a bunch of weirdos like us. For example, they get to come up with their own employment titles. Hold that thought for a moment.

Next, we have Voodoo Doughnut. If any business was an embodiment of Portland's culture, Voodoo is where one usually points. In short, they're a kooky doughnut shop that comes up with crazy doughnut combinations (such as the Bavarian cream-filled Cock-N-Balls), is easily identifiable by their bright pink boxes, and whose locations double as wedding chapels. They've pushed the limits of what a doughnut shop should be so far that after introducing a Nyquil-glazed, Pepto Bismol-sprinkled doughnut for those extra rough late night, the health department had to draw a line in the sand. Most importantly, they also make a bacon-topped maple bar that is more or less what you HAVE to try if you've never been to Voodoo before. We even owe our relevance to that doughnut after we paired it with Sokol Blosser Meditrina.

So how did we end up with a Rogue ale that tastes like a Voodoo Doughnut? I'm thinking the conversation went something like this:

Cat Daddy (Voodoo owner): Hey John, you should try this special bacon maple bar.

John Maier (Rogue brewmaster): This tastes a bit like the Saturday Market. I'm picking up something similar to those brownies you brought over last week.

Cat Daddy: Yeah, weird. Anyway, I have a problem I'm hoping you can help me with.

John Maier: Yeah? What's that?

Cat Daddy: I want to drink this.

John Maier: I like the cut of your jib. Consider it done!

I have no way to verify if any of that is true, but here's what Rogue has to say about it:

A Collision of Crazies

Rogue Ales has collided with Voodoo Doughnut to create Bacon Maple Ale! This unique artisan creation contains a baker’s dozen number of ingredients including bacon and maple syrup from one of Voodoo’s signature doughnuts.

With that out of the way, our journey starts on Friday night when Josh, Alyssa, and I hit up Rogue's Portland Public House for dinner and drinks. We knew we wanted to leave with a bottle or two of their Voodoo ale, but didn't expect to see this bad boy when approaching the pub:

Turns out this is a pretty special ale. Since it isn't available on tap, we bought a couple of bottles to try at home. We also picked up some doughnuts on the way home for a genuine pairing. Onto the review!

Brewery: Rogue
Style: Brown Ale (officially)
BeerAdvocate.com Rating: 74
RateBeer.com Rating: 41 overall
Serving: 750ml painted bottle

Appearance - Looks like a typical amber ale. Opaque with a finger's worth of white head on the pour.

Smell - Lots of smoke and maple aromas. Of other existing beers, this smells most similar to Southern Tier's Creme Brûlée stout. Very sweet with some hint of the actual bacon Voodoo uses. Josh noted that he is somewhat tentative due to poor experiences with smoked porters and stouts and I'll echo that statement.

Taste - Unique. Smoke and maple immediately hit you with the taste of bacon on the finish. Not much beer flavor aside from the very beginning, which lends its way to just maple and smoke towards the end. Somewhat dry with the smoke flavoring just not going away. By itself, it's kind of boring after two or three sips.

When paired with a doughnut, the beer actually mellows out a bit and it operates as a true pairing.

To summarize, this is an interesting idea that largely relies on great marketing. The beer itself is average at best and only a small fraction of people would enjoy drinking more than a 8oz poor; especially if not paired with a doughnut. To be completely honest, Josh and I couldn't get through more than half a pint and we ended up dumping the rest. That said, this is probably the worst beer I'd recommend to try for the sheer novelty of it. It was an experiment worth trying and I commend Voodoo and Rogue for giving it a shot.

In the end, hand me a Hazelnut Brown Nectar and a Mango Tango and I'm in heaven.


  1. The guy on the bottle is kind of creepy :)

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