Rogue Ales: Morimoto Imperial Pilsner

Newport, Oregon’s Rogue Ales makes some great beers, but right off the bat, we knew this beer was going to be something a little special even for them. First it is an Imperial Pilsner, not exactly a run-of-the-mill style. Secondly, the beer bears the name of renowned Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Last, but not least, the ceramic, flip-top bottle really sets it apart. With bold Japanese influenced art work (likely tipping their hat to its namesake) on a subtle white backing. It makes a nice show piece that, not surprisingly, has won a number of packaging awards.

The beer inside the bottle was no let down either. It pours a deep golden colour with the fresh straw aroma and hints of sweet malt. Tasting the beer, the strong malt is prominent and balanced with a little straw hoppiness. It’s like a super-pilsner, everything is ramped up to extra strength other than the hops. At 74 IBU (international bitterness units), we were expecting a bit of a hop bomb but instead there is a light, refreshing tartness and dryness you would expect from a pislner. We did wonder if our bottle had aged on the shelf. There was a bit of alcohol bite that warmed the throat as it went down.

We paired our bottle with a variety of grilled meats (pork sausage, buffalo) and some roasted vegetables. It worked wonderfully.

A bit of a pricey bottle for those of us in Canada, but in our opinion, well worth the splash. If you think of the purchase more as a cheap bottle of wine (and at 8.8% it’s not too far off the strength), it doesn’t seem so extreme. Splitting the bottle over food is a great idea (and strongly suggested by Rogue). Along those lines, it would make a great dinner gift. The beer is a little different but not overpowering and so very accessible to a number of preferences. The bottle also makes it look a little special.

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