Rogers’ Beer (Amber Ale (?), 3.8%). Little Creatures, Fremantle, Western Australia. $4.20/330ml bottle.
For the pedants, this beer was named for two people called Roger and the apostrophe is indeed correctly placed. Also, no particular style is specified on the label or the website but I’m pretty sure it can’t be called a pale ale as some would have it. It is what it is, and comes with a high reputation.
It pours a dark, clear copper with a thin but dense cream colour head that has real staying power. The aroma is darkly sweet with toffee and molasses and something else more subtle and earthy, though I’m afraid I missed the light citrus hop notes promised on the website. The flavour, I think, is the key to it’s popularity. In some ways it’s a mainstream kind of taste, good and malty with a dry lingering finish and the kind of faint metallic twang that brings back waves of nostalgia for anyone who grew up drinking Australian beer but we are also used to light and mid-strength beers looking, feeling and tasting weak and anaemic, pale and watery imitations of the sort of stuff everyone else seems to be enjoying. This has none of that. It’s full flavoured and full bodied even with the good carbonation and even sticks to your teeth very satisfactorily. It was designed to be sessionable and if that translates as nothing more ambitious than a full flavoured beer with a reduced alcohol punch then they’ve certainly achieved that but as for real depth and complexity, or anything really unusual to set it apart, despite this being a perfectly acceptable offering there’s not a great deal of that here.
It’s difficult for me to imagine what would go with drinking something like this, partly because I find mid-strength beers particularly pointless. There’s still too much alcohol in them if you’re driving to keep up with anyone else drinking mainstream beers, and anyway, as much as anyone says they drink coffee for taste I don’t know anyone who actually prefers decaf so even if they get it right as they do here if you’re anything like me you’ll be wondering what their ‘real’ beer tastes like. Probably fantastic, whereas this is merely quite good. Probably unjust I admit but I find myself avoiding, say, the Emerson’s Bookbinder here for the same reasons: I can’t spend a night on it if I need to stay sober, and feel like as long as I’m in a pub I should be drinking proper beer. So I’m out of my comfort zone on this one.
I suppose it would be the complete opposite of a piss-weak product trying to act tough amongst the big boys like some idiotic hip-hop act coming out of the badlands of Subiaco or Palm Beach, as this beer instead packs something substantial into a surprisingly light and consumable form. I’m thinking of something like the Whitlams, a band that only belatedly achieved the success they deserved but got there by putting out catchy singalongs like Thank You (for loving me at my worst) and You Sound Like Louis Burdett – (featuring one of the great lines in Australian music history) – alongside deep, dark meditations like No Aphrodisiac. It’s a depressingly rare thing to find music that’s both catchy and poignant, and I’m glad they made the effort even if such things are occasionally wasted on some of the peasants among us.
Verdict: Not my thing but as an ‘Aussie Bookbinder’ it’s more than reasonable. Full in flavour and body. 65/100.