Pros: Creative and full of tasty hop flavor.
Cons: Hops eventually completely subdue any sweet malty flavor.
Rogue takes radical license with its Shakespeare Stout. Just about everything about this beer is unusual, and that's the beer's strength. This beer earns its place as a classic brew because it takes the standards and completely reworks then into its own formula.
Take a notice of the yeast sediment before you pour of course, and when you do, don't pour too fast! The head retention is unbelievable, and a quick pour will fill your glass with a huge, thick black head. My nose couldn't help but take in the roasty coffee aroma before even nearing my face to the glass. However, I also get the flowery bouquet of Cascade hops which is completely out of style. A stout should really be all about the malt, except for a high hop bittering rate. When you taste, the head will also explode with hop flavors.
By the time you fight through the head to actual liquid, a nice mouthful reveals a full and creamy body with notes of chocolate and toffee flavors. The refreshing bitterness comes mostly from hops, with only a mere hint of roasted barley. I am really impressed by Rogue's ability to keep acidity low in such a big hoppy stout. Once you swallow, you'll notice a little acidic flavor, but it doesn't get in the way of enjoyment.
Shakespeare's stout is really an oatmeal stout. By adding oatmeal to the recipe profile, we get that great head and a full body. Oatmeal adds an almost fatty consistency to beer (and makes it really hard to homebrew with), and added depth to the malt flavors.
The hop flavor just continues to grow as the beer is drank, and after I was done drinking, I could still taste those precious hop oils on my lips. This beer is way out of stout style, but I enjoyed it so much, I was able to squeeze out a 41 on the AHA's 50 point beer rating scale (the scale is available for viewing via my website).
Really, I enjoy Rogue's beers very much, but they all seem to be so hoppy (and really quite filling) that I couldn't drink them all the time. Treat yourself to a 22oz bottle but save the rest of your fridge space for a more balanced brew.