The following is a review from Travis Curran (@THSeamonsters), a writer, actor and semi-pro beer drinker in Portland, ME. Travis is one of the four titular “Tasty Dudes” of Tasty Dude Films, and the author of Travipedia.
Last night I paid my respects to a co-worker’s birthday at my old favorite dive down to Wharf Street, Amigo’s. By the great glory of God I found my way home and from here proceeded my after-hours Internet round-up. Fiendishly pecking away at my keyboard, I noticed in the pale blue light of my screen a face staring at me. I didn’t recognize him instantly, but it was none other than Juan de la Cueva, the late 17th century poet and dramatist. He was looking well, raising a fist with solidarity upon the label of Rogue Chipotle Ale.
“Well, Juan, what are you doing here?” I asked of the picture. I had in fact never seen this bottle before, but Amigo’s had skewed my judgment, so it took a few seconds to realize what exactly was at work here. “Christie!” I declared, at a reasonable volume. My taste buds were a bit too shot from pitchers of award-winning domestic lagers, so I put off the review till today.
Pouring gently into a pint glass, you can really appreciate the beautiful and thick reddish-amber color. The head rose fast and then stuck around to party, with a yellow tint that remained about two centimeters thick for about half the glass before dissipating. Personally, not much of a head guy, but it made up for it with the color. The nose is malty and delicious (new tasting note term: noselicious) and has a deep smoke to it. Hints of spices tickled there way into the scene as well. Excited, I was ready for my first sip.
Instantly, I’m plunged down a water slide of flavor out of my own skin and into a heightened sense of being (my eyes are closed, you can imagine.) Rogue has brought to me a dreamscape, deep in a sweltering but thick Mexican forest. I must use my machete to bushwhack a path, only to find a verdant field of jalapeños. Juan de la Cueva is here, he’s been waiting for me all this time. He smirks beneath a mustache like finely groomed caterpillar at my weariness from the heat. Juan motions for me to kneel beside him, lifting the reddened peppers harrowed into the ground. We collect them in our tote-sacks while the sun slowly descends behind our backs. Then it is night, and together we sit beside a small fire, a makeshift hut constructed above it. The red jalapeños are in the hut, drying, and Juan is penning something down on a piece of parchment leaning against a fallen log, lost in thought. When he catches my eyes he tells me in a thick Spanish timbre,
“When the peppers are dry and full of smoke, then we find within the truest chipotle,” I nod in understanding so he continues,
“The cerveza must be spicy, but never too much or it is ruined, like… like… what is good English words for this?”
I chew a stalk, staring into the fire.
“Sloppy chili dogs,” is the best I’ve got for him.
“Si, si,” he says more to himself than me, gazing up to the sky. “Our ale must not be sloppy chili dog. It must enlighten the tongue, put fire in the eyes, and make one wish to laugh and dance away the day’s work and siesta till the end of time. The chipotle is as strong and as blind as a lover’s furor, we must sew it’s rage into drink so we may harness our own, but soothe the spice so our souls may too flow gently, as the Rio in spring.”
“I totally dig that.”
He smirks again, cannily, and puts his pen back to the paper, and like that I’m gone, leaving just the artist, alone with his words.
The next time from afar I overhear “fiesta,” or wind smells faintly of a smoky woodfire, I will not be able to resist the urge to instantly gather my amigos, fire up some nachos and share with them the Rogue Chipotle Ale, in a dire hope they too may be taken to that place and listen to de la Cueva’s wistful poetry..