Ah, Rogue. Here we are again. Once more, you have created a gimmick of a beer that I “must try.” You have had some successes (your Beard Beer was an absolute triumph) and there have been utter failures (that damn Voodoo Doughnut nonsense), but somehow you keep me coming back. Frankly, If not for the Beard Beer, I would have quit you long ago, but that precious liquid renewed my faith in you as a brewery so I am willing to give your latest shenanigans a try.
This latest gimmick -- this item that I must try even though I’m ninety percent sure I won’t like it -- is your Sriracha Hot Stout.
Like most eaters of food, I put the rooster sauce on a a large percentage of the things I put in my mouth. Pizza? Duh. Eggs? Of course. I've even made Sriracha doughnuts (and taught James Deen a thing or two along the way).
Sriracha-flavored beer is another level, though. It doesn't seem like the worst idea in the world -- I've had some decent chili beers -- but it doesn't seem like the best idea. In other words, this could turn very gross very quickly. I headed to Whole Foods to pick up a bottle, but alas they did not have them. They were never stocked. Turns out, this was a fairly small release, and the stout is only obtainable in 750 mL bottles, available for purchase either online or at Rogue’s meeting halls, which you can see a list of here.
I live about twenty minutes from the Rogue Distillery and Public House, so I bopped down there on a Monday night to grab a bottle. They were not in short supply.
Packaging-wise, I love this. The site of a Sriracha bottle has always stirred my heart and stomach, and the familiar site of a red bottle with a green cap is a welcome one.
The beer inside the bottle is decidedly not red. It is dark, dark brown -- almost black -- with a nice, thick head that hangs around for quite a while. For some reason, I am surprised that Rogue made this a stout. All the chili beer I've previously encountered has been in ale form but if you think about it, a stout kind of makes sense. A stout's bold, malty flavors, and heavier body are less likely to be overpowered by a spicy sauce, and Sriracha's funky sweetness has the potential to pair really well with the smokiness of the beer.
I take a sniff. It's mostly stout-related smells -- toffee, chocolate, roasted stuff, that type of thing -- but there is an undeniably astringent whiff of hot sauce.
I take a sip and am instantly underwhelmed. The stout itself is a good stout, all roasty and toasty with notes of chocolate and a nice malty sweetness, but the heat takes a long time to show up and when it does, it’s tame. You can get a little more spiciness if you swish the beer around in your mouth, but on a Thai restaurant scale of mild to “Thai hot” this is about a two.
Perhaps more disappointingly, it doesn't taste like Sriracha. Yes, there is some spice, but the all of the sweet, funky, and fermented flavors that make me want to put rooster sauce on everything are missing. Once I let it warm up a bit, I get a little funk, but it’s mostly notes of soy sauce I detect, not Sriracha. It’s a shame, because those flavors are what would have made this beer really interesting. This is a decent, very drinkable, mildly spiced stout, but it’s just not reading as “Sriracha beer” to me.
Pairing-wise, Rouge simply copy and pasted Huy Fong's suggestions for the sauce. Like Sriracha itself, this beer can be enjoyed with pretty much anything that would constitute "pub fare." It's easier to drink than a spicy margarita, and unless you're eating something delicate and nuanced, it is unlikely it will overwhelm your food.
It would make a great braising liquid and would be nice in a chili, but at 13 dollars for 750 mLs (plus S&H if you don't live near a Rogue pub) you could probably find a better (at least a spicier) beer to cook with.
On a scale from "Maple Bacon Doughnut Disaster" to "Beard Beer Deliciousness," this one falls right in the middle. It's not bad, and I'll finish the bottle, but it doesn't taste like Sriracha and I won't be buying another.
The packaging though. The packaging is really cool.