Pros: Great complex mix of flavors and aroma
Cons: There aren't any
In the primitive days of horse and cart distribution there were hundreds of breweries across the USA. However, following prohibition, and the invention of refrigerated trucks and preservatives, beer became a global, mass-market industry. Many smaller breweries fell by the wayside as the big boys prospered.
Then in the mid-80?s there was a resurgence in the demand for craft brews, and small micro-breweries had found their niche. Many of the independents have been bought out by the corporates, or have suffered due to lack of distribution. Rogue Brewery is one of the small players who have survived the turmoils and prospered. Rogue is not only an independent, but also an active campaigner for the small guys. As a result Rogue produce some of the finest beers available, 25 in all. All Rogue ales are preservative, chemical and additive free, and non-pasteurized.
So what of a stout named Shakespeare?
I was surprised when I saw this bottle to discover that, with a name like Shakespeare, it was not English. This is the breweries best-known beer and most acclaimed. Its 99 score at the 1994 World Beer Championships was the highest of 309 beers in 44 categories. Based on Stuart Kallen's, "The 50 Best Beers in the World", Shakespeare Stout was ranked the third best beer in the world and best American Beer.
Although I?m normally a fan of the bigger bottles, 6-12 oz bottles at $5.99 was too good an offer to pass up. It?s served in a brown bottle, with a picture of Shakespeare himself. Who needs Joe Montana, Willie Mays or John Elway to endorse a product?
As soon as you open up this bottle you?ll notice the distinctive hops in the aroma. You?d think you were holding a Sierra Pale Ale. This is pretty unique in a stout. After pouring and allowing the beer to open up, you?ll start to notice the burnt, coffee like aromas typified by stouts. You should definitely take some time to fully appreciate the aroma in this beer.
The beer pours pure black, with a brown head. The head and body are both about as dark as I?ve seen. It?s impressively foamy, I will always give a beer chance to form a good head but I had to slow down pretty quickly with this.
The flavors in this stout are excellent. Again the hops are very noticeable, but you also get sweet roasted barley with some chocolate. The finish is rather dry. I did enjoy letting that sit in the back of my mouth and mellow for a while. If you throw the beer around your mouth a few times you?ll also get a creaminess, and further emphasis of the chocolate. Also with every sip, you can?t help but get a nose full of hops.
The Last Word
Overall this is a very satisfying stout, certainly one of the best I?ve ever tasted. I?d have to drink it alongside a Sam?s Oatmeal to judge that one. I will say that it?s probably the best American brew I?ve ever tasted. It really does benefit from the hops and the dryness in the finish, causing an excellent and unique mix of flavors with the malt.
If you want food with this beer, take a dark meat or dessert. My preference for this is alone as a nightcap. Tonight though I was craving the pepperoni, mushroom, onion and olive pizza I?d eaten earlier.