Pros: World Beer Championships winner... and it smells great!
Cons: The bitter bite that grabs my throat and won't let go.
If there's one thing that Teykaerts kept pestering me about, it was whether or not I cracked into my stock of Rogue Shakespeare Stout. Finally, sometime in January I told him I would make the effort and enjoy my Bomber Bottle (22oz) while taking in my latest movie acquisitions.
Now that I've drained the big bottle I fear he's gonna nag at me even more because I'm not about to recommend this dark brew to my beer drinking brethren. Of course, he has written such a favorable review on Shakespeare Stout I know he will not be happy with my disparaging appraisal.
Ah well... we all have our favorites.
Thou mad mustachio purple-hued maltworms!
The color is wildly midnight brown, almost black with a reddish tint. Getting a head to form was entirely another matter and I was barely able to get any foam to develop until my glass was nearly full. This really wasn't entirely surprising for a handcrafted brew such as this one, especially a stout, but even on the bottle it states that it has "a rich, creamy head." Dave later told me I probably had a bad bottle or one that sat around too long. Sure, sure.
The nose is rather sublime as a blackberry effervescence whisks around the stronger chocolate aroma that lifts the air around my nostrils. But this is where all the goodness ends. Yeah, Old Bill won't be happy to hear this but he's dead. And stout wasn't even invented yet during wild Will's time so no great shakes.
Anyway, the drink is satisfactory if not a bit oaty with an intense roasty malt flavor but the undercurrent of bitterness really takes hold. The chocolate, coffee-like mouthfeel is certainly there but the bitter bite seems to nullify the sensation. The thing that's got me down is the tangy smack that prevails. It over the top and distracts from the true flavors.
The finish is average leaving only the bitterness in its wake. Shakespeare Stout is definitely drinkable and on most days I might even recommend this one but not today. That 22oz bottle was enough for tasting/testing purposes but later I had another 12oz bottle and the experience was slightly better (I actually got a beautiful head to form this time!). But alas thee poor Shakespeare was still not deserving of a positive referral from me.
It's possible that with all the better stouts I've been drinking from Bell's, it's difficult to give Rogue's entry anything better than passable. And I'm fine with that since I know there's several beer hounds in these parts who favor Shakespeare Stout... just don't count me as one of them. To be honest, I haven't been impressed with any of the Rogue Ale selections I've had despite all the accolades thrown their way.
Shakespeare Stout is a World Beer Championships winner after all, made with Northwest Harrington, Crystal, and Chocolate malts. Cascade hops along with roasted barley and rolled oats round out the main ingredients. This Billy Beer is available all over the country in 6-pack 12oz bottles and the 22oz big bottle as I've mentioned for $8 and $3 respectively. I realize Rogue makes some popular brews but this is one I'm not all that crazy about. If you're deadset on really wanting good Oregon-brewed beer stew try on one or four from Hair of the Dog or Portland Brewing Company, two brands I totally endorse.