Nick Carr on June 29, 2018 1 Comment Photo Credit: Rogue Ales & Spirits Quick Characteristics Brewery Rogue Ales & Spirits Location Newport, OR Style Kölsch ABV 5.2% IBU 26 Hops Alluvial Malts Wheat, DextraPils, Aciduated, Rogue Farms Dare, Rogue Farms Risk Other Ingredients Rogue Farms Hop-Yard Honey & Wildflower Honey Shelf Life 4 to 6 months Suggested Glass Stange Glass Serving Temp 46-48°F Availability Year Round Food Pairings Pan Fried Dover Sole w/ Lemon, Grilled Sausages, Edam Cheese, Honey/Lemon Tart I have a bit of a thing for bees. My grandfather kept bees in Switzerland, and I have an uncle in New Zealand who kept bees on Great Barrier Island at one point. It was at my uncle’s place that I first tasted mead, and got the idea to brew my own. Making mead eventually led to my expanding into the realms of beer brewing. I don’t know if it’s all the good stuff found in natural unprocessed honey, the amazing varieties of honey depending on what flowers are in bloom, the hive intelligence and wonderful organization of bees, or just the simple sound of bees buzzing between pollen-ladened flowers… but, what can I say? I love the little suckers. All this to say, I’ve been eyeing Rogue’s Honey Kolsch for quite a while, but haven’t been able to come across it in my neck of the woods until now (I’m not saying it hasn’t been here…I’ve probably just missed it up til now). Well, I finally have it in hand, and I feel pretty lucky. Rogue Ales is closing in on thirty years in the brewing business and they’ve been farming for ten. Adding their own signature Oregon-terroir”ed” ingredients to the beer they make. But, it’s not just beer anymore; cider, soda, and distilled liqueurs, even a mead once-in-a-while, all make up their ever-expanding portfolio. The bees arrived in 2012 and, today, according to the Rogue website, “119 colonies of bees are carefully kept and fed just across from 40 acres of Rogue hops. The honey is uncapped, extracted, filtered and finally infused into [this] refreshing Honey Kolsch Ale.” Not only do the bees provide the honey for a couple of beers and natural sweetener for Rogue’s line of sodas, but they also pollinate a number of other crops used in brewing, including marionberries for their braggot and Marionberry Sour, pumpkins for the Pumpkin Patch Ale, and Jalapenos for the Chipotle Ale. The Honey Kolsch was first released a year after the bees arrived, but only in 750 ml bottles. Rogue has since made the transition to 12 oz. bottles and cans. The beer as won several awards at competitions, including the Best in Show in 2015 and 2016 at the Honey Beer Competition hosted by the National Honey Board. Sounds like a beer worth trying…. Raise a pint to the bees, then. May we continue to take care of them, so they can take care of us. Photo Credit: Rogue Ales & Spirits THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Rogue’s Honey Kolsch. If you’ve tasted this beer or you have a pint sitting in front of you as you’re reading this review, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. The Pour: It pours a beautiful hue of medium golden, bringing to mind the color of liquid wildflower honey. Clarity is superb, and the slow climb of bubbles is easily spied rising off the bottom, showing good carbonation. Head is a just a bit off-white with a short stack of tight bubbles, which falls over about a minute or so, until it completely disappears, leaving the surface completely clean. The Aroma: Interesting aroma. It’s grainy and corn-like with a slightly buttery, slightly tart edge to it; a bit sourdough-like. Light floral whispers, little lemon (lemon-grass), along with subtle honeyed character as it warms. No real distinguishing hop presence to it. The Mouthfeel: It is light and smooth on the palate, the body coming in on the light side of medium. Astringency is low, but noticeable. The Taste: Flavor brings some malt sign at the front with a cracker-grain sweetness. Floral and honey notes mid palate before the clean, bright bitterness gently settles the tongue. The honey flavors come through a little more on the end, allowing it to dry on the finish while leaving some residual bitterness and a low buttery, slightly pop-corny, aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS Honey Kolsch is an interesting take on the style. I liked it. I hadn’t expected the buttery element or the reminder of popcorn in the aftertaste, but Rogue makes it work. The nose is very kolsch-like, with its grainy, straw-like, slightly winy sourdough qualities. Bitterness is bright yet small, and helps balance it wonderfully. I’m glad the honey doesn’t play too strong, it could easily be too sweet or too drying for that matter. It remains only a whisper, more the idea of honey than the immediately evident smack of it. It is very easy-drinking beer with the honey adding a nice rounding and drying touch to the finish. Quite thirst-quenching and perfectly suited for a hot summer day, a slight breeze, and a lounge chair under the trees. Cheers!