This week we have no historical justification for trying Rogue Ales' Hazelnut Brown Nectar (though the brewery's own Oregon became a state in the first half of next month 151 years ago). We assume you'll take comfort, in lieu of a lesson, in the justification being food-related.
While home over Christmas, we grabbed dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and found the Hazelnut ale on tap. Our senses heightened by the award-winning meatloaf and the comfort of a hometown favorite, we thoroughly enjoyed the beer.
Back in Houston, we wanted to make sure it was as good as we remembered it. With that in mind, we nabbed one off the shelf at Central Market (you can also find it at Spec's). The brewery describes its offering as "a nutty twist to a traditional European Brown Ale," which makes sense. There are sips when this tastes as if Newcastle could be the base from which the brewers are working.
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But the hazelnut extract really works here; this isn't a gimmick. The beer is malty, sure, but it's never sweet. "Rich" is a far better adjective, a sense that's made even deeper by the wonderful hazelnut aroma.
The middle of each gulp is good but not mind-blowing. Often it just tastes like an above-average brown ale. The key selling points of this beer -- and the reason we'll buy it again -- are the aroma and the finish.
The finish is rich, smooth, malty. Sometimes your brain thinks you've swallowed root beer, though phrasing it that way makes the beer sound far sweeter than it is. I won't waste words here; it deserves a trial on your own palate.
This bottle was more carbonated than we remembered, and thus a bit less smooth, but that would still be an accurate description. We're not sure this comes in six-packs, so keep your eyes on the 650- and 750-mililiter stocks.