Ahhh, back to the old standard, my first love: Rogue. Technically, this beer is called First Growth Dirtoir Black Lager, but I thought I'd shorten it for the sake of the post.
I've recently been seeing a number of these Black Lagers popping up by some of my favorite brewers; Avery made an incredible one as their anniversary beer called Seventeen. The Black Lager is a distinctly American take on the German styled Schwarzbier. Schwarzbier pronounced "shvahrts-beer," sounds more Yiddish than German... which is simply German for black beer. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily heavy or light in body, although they tend to lean towards light. This makes them quite different from their porter and stout cousins. The goal is to eliminate all fruit flavors and instead produce a very mild, almost bittersweet flavor with notes of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla: taking a few steps closer to the American Stout flavor, while still maintaining the light lager body.
The Rogue Dirtoir pretty much picks up right there in my description. A black body with sizeable tan-coffee head and excellent lacing pours into my pseudo pilsner glass. Very little front end on this beer, but it develops into a very nice roased malt bitterness mixed with a rich dark chocolate and finishes with a well balanced and not overpowering hop bite. Overall, very tasty, although the clarity of the lager seems to expose the bitterness in the initial malts leaving for a slightly overpowering and lasting bitterness that carries through the sip. This bittersweet, while probably intended, pretty much takes over the palate muting the other flavors under it. Otherwise, this is immensely drinkable beer, and the notes from the chocolate malts do not go unnoticed. I should add that Rogue labels this beer as a GYO or, Grow Your Own. In fact, Rogue did exactly that: from the hops to the grains, they provided everything to make this beer. It's another interesting step towards sustainability in the beer world.