Beer: Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry and Chocolate Ale Brewery: Rogue Ales Style: American Brown Ale ABV: 6.75 percent
Redemption, thy flavors are pretzel, raspberry and chocolate.
Regular readers will remember that I wasn't the biggest fan of Rogue's last collaboration with famed Portland donut shop Voodoo Doughnut. That beer -- a chocolate, peanut butter and banana ale -- tasted like banana Runts (again, the worst of the Runts) covered in super-bitter cacao. This newest effort, however: it's put a spell on me.
The Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry and Chocolate ale is based off Voodoo's namesake Voodoo Doll doughnut, a raised yeast pastry filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake through his little donut heart. The characteristics of all the Voodoo Doll donuts the shop makes are different -- just like the people they're trying to hex with witch doctory.
Rogue's alcoholic replica is similarly crafted, combining actual pretzels, raspberry extract and chocolate with the more standard roasted malts you'd find in a brown ale. In a glass, the liquid morphs from dark amber to near black, with a thin topping of pretzel-colored, foamy head that fizzles away after a few seconds. Crumbles of dark chocolate and sweet chocolate syrup blend with peanuts, coffee, raspberry and a touch of mint in the nose.
As with the Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana ale, this Rogue Voodoo beer makes use of fruit-flavored extract, which results in a more artificial flavor than actual fruit would. Sometimes this works -- I much prefer the flavor of fake maple syrup than that real stuff with floating chunks of tree bark in it. The raspberry essence in this brew is less like the tartness of fresh-picked raspberries and more like the sweet, sugary topping you'd find on a cheesecake.
After your taste buds move past the fruit, an earthy, floral hop flavor rolls in, followed by bitter peanut skins, caramel and a touch of light roast coffee. The mild bitterness -- just 31 IBUs' worth -- is activated through fairly high carbonation that livens up the brew before a balanced, clean finish. The pretzel flavor promised on the label appears after the swallow, in the form of lingering toast. It's altogether like a Ghiradelli chocolate square filled with raspberry, or a chocolate-covered coffee bean with raspberry undertones. Which I don't think they make. But they should.
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So, what's next for this series? You can check out all the Voodoo donuts here.
My hope: the Maple Blazer Blunt, a cinnamon-dusted pile of dough rolled into the shape of a certain style of cigarette popular in Portland, with the tip dipped in maple frosting and topped with red sprinkle embers.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.