Rogue has never been one to shy away from experimentation. With recent releases like the Beard Beer which used yeast harvested from the brewer's beard, and the Voodoo Doughnut series of wildly flavored beers, it's obvious that exploration isn't an alien concept to them. When it comes to putting their beers away, they have some of the more interesting brews to cellar and watch development. They even released a special series in 2012 that featured 3 different vintages (1999, 2003, and 2007) of their Old Crustacean Barleywine, a beer that could easily be left alone for several years.

Just like the Old Crustacean, the XS Imperial Stout can stand up against years like a champ. After 5 years, it was time to take a peak under the cap to see how things were doing.

The aroma is heavy on the sweetness. Loads of dark cherry and raisin flood the overall smell. There is a bit of alcohol weaving throughout the sweetness. After the initial rush of fruit, cocoa comes to the surface along with a bitterness that could either be taken from the hops, or possibly from the bitter chocolate from the malts. After a few moments in the glass, the bitterness becomes a bit greener and earth and wood notes come through.

The flavor is actually quite big on hops. Bitter, piney and very green. You would think after 5 years that these hops would have faded more than they have, but they make up the bulk of the flavor. The bitter cocoa, figs, raisin and even a small amount of licorice can be found under the hops, making this very rich. Given the time to expand and aerate, the alcohol makes an appearance in the flavor but more so on the tail end of the taste.

This imperial stout could easily be a complex, rich and warm experience, but to get there, more time might be required. The hops are very dominant and could easily help this beer last for a a long while on the shelf. Given a chance to let the hops recede a bit more, this could be a very good, balanced stout. It's hard to say how much time would be required for that, but I would definitely be interested to see this vintage in another 2-3 years to see how it's developed.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on November 7, 2014 .