Did craft beer jump the shark? Is this a hallucination, or did Rogue Ales out of Newport, Oregon brew a stout made with the famous Sriracha hot sauce? WHAT. THE. FUCK? They did. They did, indeed. And Jesus CHRIST, the bottle itself looks like a 750 mL bottle of Huy Fong’s famous and sensational hot condiment, which has gained a cult following along the likes of bacon, Betty White and Chuck Norris. The beer community was all aflutter in December 2014 with the news of this beer’s release. From everything I read online and through various conversations with my fellow beer connoisseurs I concluded the snobby craft beer community thumbed its collective nose at the idea. Some said it seemed silly but they’d definitely give it a try, just because. Many stated they wouldn’t support what they believed was an example of a downward spiral into turning craft beer into a joke; a gimmick; a parody of itself; an industry that wasn’t worthy of respect from the consumers who wrapped their arms around it, embraced the art of brewing, and made its consumption a passionate hobby. To some, it was a troll of a beer. An offensive, betraying, punch to the face. “Fuck off, Rogue. Beer is a serious craft. You’re putting a clown outfit on it, and we take umbrage.”
So, is this beer truly just a cheap gimmick, blazing out of left field, creating its own wacky category as so many bloviating beer snobs all over the internet claim? Actually… NO, it is not. This beer may be unique and double-take-inducing in its label and marketing, but its style (and flavor), contrary to popular belief, is a spicy/chile stout just like over 200 other beer products of this same kind. And it doesn’t taste like Sriracha mixed with a stout. It just tastes like a stout with a spicy punch. So, beer snobs, chill the fuck out. I’m doing your homework for you. And I’m here to tell you Sriracha Hot Stout Beer is a latecomer. Rogue even has “Chipotle Ale” which has been around for over 12 years. I reviewed Westbrook’s uber-delicious “Mexican Cake” in 2013. Last year I drank a beer called “Death” by Rivertown Brewing in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is brewed with ghost chili peppers. I have a high tolerance (and a love) for very spicy perishables. And drinking “Death” made me feel like I had just given a blowjob to an M2-2 Flamethrower.
Like many spice lovers, I love Sriracha sauce like it’s a member of my family. I put it on just about everything: eggs, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, soup, salads, and I blast it all over my Asian cuisine. If I could give myself a blowjob I’d probably give my meat shaft a spicy Sriracha garnish every now and then to keep things romantic. I even have a Sriracha t-shirt that gets me high-fives from strangers in public. However, I had the bar set pretty low for this beer. I didn’t expect it to be very good. But my expectations were slapped off kilter by this brew, which is surprisingly decent. It does have its flaws, though. First of all, it is pointless. The spice and the stout don’t blend together. Combined, they do not create any special or unique flavor. Second: it’s not much of a stout. It’s more a porter; quite light, and less than 6% in ABV.
The liquid is coffee colored with a thick, fizzy, foamy, bubbly, smoky caramel colored head. I couldn’t smell any signs of the hot sauce when I poured it. I only smelled a weak malty and metallic aroma. The initial flavor offered no spice at all. Coffee, cocoa, salt, malt, and metal. The finish on the drink is when the spice kicks in, which I actually liked, because I was concerned the entire brew would be consumed by the flavor of Huy Fong’s wonderful red elixir. The heat, when it hits you, is strong and would likely bother drinkers that are sensitive to hot peppery spices. The aftertaste was really enjoyable. My lips, tongue, and throat tingled with the heat while a dose of bitterness kicked in and massaged my taste buds along with chocolate and malt. It goes down smoothly. Its texture starts off nicely with a drinkable and satin feel. But it flattens quickly, unfortunately. The lacing presented a tiny bit of a glassy, oily coating around the glass.
Sriracha HOT Stout Beer is well balanced and its level of heat, which doesn’t hog the experience, is cranked to the perfect temperature (at least for my taste buds). I’m glad I tried this beer, it was worth the $8 for a 750 ML bottle, and it would be great with food. It wasn’t as stout as it should have been, and the experience wasn’t much different than drinking a regular stout (or porter) along with eating a spicy meal. For a spiced beer I recommend Westbrook’s “Mexican Cake” (if you can find it), because it is a blissful beergasm. But give this one a try if the description is appealing to you.
The question still does remain: “Is craft beer going too far with these wild flavor additions?” I don’t think so. This is nothing new. Rogue’s “Voodoo Donut” series is far wackier, and has been around for about 4 years. Chile beers such as this one have been around since before much, if not most, of the craft beer community was of legal age to consume alcohol. If you think Sriracha Hot Stout is an indication that craft beer has “jumped the shark”, then I’ve got news for you: that shark died of old age, and the water in its tank has already evaporated. You can calm the fuck down now.