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XS Imperial Younger's Special Bitter - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
XS Imperial Younger's Special BitterXS Imperial Younger's Special Bitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

212 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 212
Reviews: 147
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 11.31%
Wants: 11
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Rogue Ales visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  7.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: klewis on 01-15-2007

8 Ingredients:
Malts: 2-row pale and Crystal.
Hops: Willamette, Kent Golding
and Amarillo
Yeast & Water: Rogue's Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

52 IBU
76 AA
35º Lovibond
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 212 | Reviews: 147 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Kendo
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got it on tap at the Lionheart in Albany, 5-4-09. Not sure if this was an old keg or if this has been "unretired" -- I seem some other recent reviews of this beer on tap, so maybe Rogue has resurrected this one. . . .

A: Coppery body with a small cream-colored head. Plenty of slow-rising bubbles. Good lace. Looks good.

S: Some piney hops over a faint caramel malt. Balanced like you'd expect for an ESB, but amped up like you'd expect from an "Imperial." It walks that fence perfectly in the nose.

T: First impression: hop bitterness -- piney, grassy and maybe leafy hoppiness -- is noticeable right away. Grassy hops linger. There's also a decent foundation of caramel malt, maybe cookie dough. Some sort of spice seems to show up towards the finish, and alcohol heat is felt down the gulley.

M: Medium-bodied, good all-around feel to it.

D: Very good. Went down easily.

Photo of SFLpunk
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL swing-top black ceramic bottle. No date.

Appearance: Poured into a 26oz imperial pint. 1.5 fingers of fluffy off-white head with lots of retention. Grips the glass leaving bands. Slightly hazy amber colored.

Nose: Sweet English malts and some dusty hop/pine cone notes.

Palate: Medium-bodied with lots of biscuit and dirty pine cone flavors. Old hops, dry as a bone on the palate, but not scathing. A little fruitiness hides underneath all that hop flavor and bitterness.

Notes: Seems like a lot of bittering hops were used, and the flavor hops must be something without the citrus notes. This beer is dry and lovely. Exactly what I was hoping it would be. A little pricey, but a great brew.

Photo of hooliganlife
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured on tap at the stable.

color was deep amber and brown with a thick white head that stuck around forever. left very thick lacing along the sides of the glass.

scents were very strong malts with nutty scents and light floral hop notes.

huge bitterness from start to finish with each drink. the hops were actually quite faint in the background with floral notes.

fairly full bodied but very smooth at the same time. light carbonation.

this was a tuff one to finish. very bitter and by the end of the glass my gums were numb. a god beer but also a one at a time beer.

Photo of ricke
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Serving date: 2009-03-21. Best before: August 2010. Served in big wine glass.

A: Copper colored with big red hues. Slightly yellow, small and uneven head that looks rather creamy. The liquid is clear at first, but towards the end of the bottle it gets cloudy. The last pour leaves big dark floaters in the glass.

S: A pleasant smell, but not as powerful as I had expected. Nice malty backbone, caramel, toffee. Raisins. Decent amount of hop aromas as well, mostly citric-like. Some aromas of cloudberries as well.

T: At first, I don't think there's much going on in the taste. It almost seems boring and uninteresting. But after a while, the beer opens up and things start to happen. Big malt flavors, caramel, butterscotch. Some raisins and fudge. It gets slightly bready for a moment. Then the hop flavors take over. Floral notes, pine-needles, grass and restrained fruity flavors. The hops are quite powerful but never get harsh. Pretty decent bitterness in the finish, but it's manageable. Some minerals and fading floral notes in the finish as well.

M: Medium body going towards full. Soft carbonation but it still feels somewhat crisp.

D: As noted, this one became better after a while. It gets a bit rounder and develops a decent malty backbone to balance the bitterness that is too dominant initially. In the end, it comes out quite good. But I'm not sure it lives up to the quite hefty prize tag.

NOTE: ABV is 7,4% according to the label.

Photo of stephens101
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this out of one of the newer Rogue black XS series 750 ml ceramics. Not for sure if Rogue's pulling a Brett Favre or not here as supposedly this one is retired. Anyway, a prolific, bubbly tan head sits patiently atop a dark amber brew. Retention is excellent, and when it finally recedes, a dense, chunky lacing is left behind.

Smells of earthy, piny hops, with some faint citrus in the background. Tastes of more piny hops and faint citrus. Following the hops some caramel malts come into play, mixing perfectly. Eventually some faint dark chocolates and honey are also noticed floating around the palate, adding extra taste and texture, and reflecting the choice ingredients used. Mouth-feel lies on the heavy side of medium, and there's a fair amount of carbonation.

At 52 IBU's this one is probably not going to excite the extreme hopheads, but the bitterness is noticeable, and most importantly it works in concert with the other elements in the brew.

Photo of mugglesandhops
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the brewery in Newport. I wish I could have had this in the bottle so I could have that beautiful image of Don Younger on a horse, but anyway. This is where my notes start to get a little less legible. Appearance was good. Red in Color this off white head. Not too much lacing, My notes say it was mostly malty with a faint taste of hops in the middle. Thin to medium bodied. I'm not a huge bitter fan but this was good.

Photo of Floydster
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I bought this crazy looking flip top white ceramic 750 ml bottle about a year ago at Wally's Wine for around fifteen dollars, decided to crack this open a few minutes ago, splitting it with my dad, poured into my Rubicon snifter, color is a mix between a dark orange and copper color, 3/4 inch soapy off white head that stays around a few minutes, no lacing, aroma consists of hops, caramel, sweetness, grassy accents, musk, mild booze, and toasted malts, the taste is dry all the way through and enjoyable, little complexity thrown in with the malts and very mild fruit, mostly citrus, finish is bitter and can be harsh until it warms fully, you have to like bitter and dry beers to be able to enjoy this one, if you do then it is a nice brew to sit back and sip on, went well with all the garlic we are eating right now, medium bodied, dry and bitter mouthfeel, seems a bit syrupy at times and could probably use some more carbonation, could have drank this whole bottle probably, not overly heavy or anything, only thing that really hurts it is the relentless dry flavors and feel, other than that is goes down easy and the alcohol is hidden, not a bad brew from Rogue, the hops are still lively in this one after at least year of age, one of thier better imperial beers, would drink again, recommended

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 10/3/08. On tap at Ginger Man. Pours a clear brown/orange with a thick light tan head. Aroma of caramel and toasted malts, bitter hops, and sweaty socks. Flavor is quite bitter with some caramel malt to balance it out. Yep, pretty much the best word to describe this beer is bitter. But it was tasty too.
7/4/7/4/14 (3.6/5)

Photo of Fatduck
4.49/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A friend of mine brought this bottle to me. It pours a hazy tan color, looks very much like their other "Imperial" offerings. It smells like a bitter, lots of hops and a distinctly European maltyness. Tastes like a strong bitter ale, which is exactly what I expected. Crisp and light, it dances all the way down to your belly. The bottle was gone all too fast.

Photo of IronDjinn
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Came in a large black ceramic flip-top bottle like the other Rogue Imperials. Abv. listed at 7.4% Looks like they've brought this stuff back into production once again, especially if we're getting it up here in Alberta. Pours out an intense hazy copper with a tall cream coloured head that settles to a broken chunky cap.

Sweet and puckering tart tangerines and ruby grapefruit on the nose, along with some chewy malt akin to bread pudding. Intense and inviting at the same time.

The flavour is smokey and earthy at first, and the hops dig their claws in pretty early as well, tearing deeper and deeper along the palate and across the tongue towards the finish. The bomb really drops in the aftertaste however, coming in wave upon IBU wave like little green nuggets of napalm, astringent like dandelion leaves.

Mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium-bodied, smooth, a bit chewy in places and becomes oily on the finish from the hops.

A pretty bang on ESB, even with the extra high octane behind it, it packs a bit of a whallop, but is smooth, not rough around the edges, very well contained.

Photo of travisd13
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a black 750ml ceramic into a Pike Tulip.

A- Pours a clear, medium amber color with an off-white / tan head...nice lace!!

S- Hops! Earthy hops with a nice malt balance...Pacman!!

T- Same earthy hop flavor as the smell...a little on the sweet side...alcohol is very well hidden.

M- Medium body...good carbonation.

D- Goes down very easy! As mentioned above the alcohol is very well hidden. Another ceramic bottle that I wish were a glass...that way I could drink it again...just too costly in the ceramic.

Photo of jwc215
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This must have been re-released - This came in a black ceramic swing-top bottle:

Pours hazed amber with an off-white head that becomes a patch.

The smell is of some caramel with leafy, earthy, slightly citric notes.

The taste is of caramel sweetness with balancing earthy, leafy, slightly citric bitterness. A hint of alcohol shows in the bittersweet finish.

Medium-bodied, pretty smooth.

An interesting brew - and very good too - nice balance - An American ESB that mixes English and American characteristics. Don't know if it's quite worth the price tag - though the cool ceramic bottle probably has something to do with that. Worth picking up to try it at least once though!

Photo of atsprings
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black ceramic 750mL bottle into a Corsendonk tulip. Pours a crisp dark amber with a decent off-white head that is slow to diminish and leaves spotty lacing on the glass. Aroma is crisp earthy hops and sweet malt with that unmistakable Pacman yeast tinge. The taste is more like an IPA than an ESB, but like many people have said, an Imperial ESB cannot truly be an ESB. The taste is dominated by crisp pine hops and burnt caramel. The beer is medium bodied with slight alcohol presence that is not too overbearing. This is certainly an enjoyable beer, but, like the other expensive Rogue XS bottled beers, I won't be drinking it that often.

Photo of elniko
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Rogue Brewery Brewers on the Bay in Newport in goblet style glass.

A: Deep amber, half finger of head with very little carbonation.

S: The smell of hops is overwhelming on the nose.

T & M: Highly bitter, the mouthfeel is awesome; the bitterness sticks around but does not overwhelm.

D: I enjoyed this beer but so bitter not sure if I could have more than one in a sitting.

Photo of DefenCorps
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Max's

A: Clear copper with a thin white head. Nice lace

S: Candy-sweet with a lot of grassy hops

T: Starts hoppy with earth and grass - it's almost like chewing on a stalk of a flower! This is followed but a mild sweetness and a dry finish with mild sweetness.

M:Well carbonated with a great, dry finish!

D: I'd drink it again

Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml Swing Top Ceramic Gray Bottle

Poured into a Rogue Dead Guy glass a hazy burnt orange color, very nice carbonation, nice little creamy off-white head, there is some nice sticky lacing afterwards. The nose is a very good balance of malts/hops, slight pines, and caramel. The taste is slightly sweet (very nice), malty, slight hoppiness, pines/caramel. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden very well, goes down pretty easy/smooth. Very drinkable, another very tasty brew from Rogue, especially the 750ml bottles, have not had a semi-ordinary one yet. Recommended.

Photo of timbro81
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to paulthebeerguru for the opportunity. Pours a nice slightly hazed rich copper topped by a nice fluffy head that lingers around. Smells pretty tame, could be that it is a year or so old bur considering that its from a ceramic bottle I won't hold age too much against it. Malty sweetness is all that I am really getting from the nose. Some earthy hops subtly excite the tongue upon intial sip. Medium to full bodied, good silkiness. Noticable malts in the middle, nice nutty sweetness too. Good carbonation in the mouth. Nice earthy/spicy hops in the aftertaste. Nicely balanced. Can't imagine it being too badly affected by the age considering the root style (Special Bitter). Yum!

Photo of Douglas14
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just picked this up...I got lucky and found it hidden in the back of the beer store (thought I couldn't find this beer anymore). Love the ceramic bottles that Rogue has been doing. It pours a rich amber color with amazing clarity. Nice, thick, fluffy head, not much retention but leaves a lot of lace. It has a nice aroma, very floral and fresh. Awesome taste...nice subtle bitterness with perfectly balanced sweetness. Also a bit of floral flavors. I bet this would go great with spicy food. It has a nice mouthfeel; velvety and good carbonation. Awesome beer...glad I was able to drink it.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.55/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - a dull fuzzy dark orange pour. Quite an active bead, though hard to see. A soft soapy head of about a half-finger, pale mocha in color. A very sticky ring of lace around the top.

Aroma - faint floral citrus, some basic graininess, but nowhere near enough to do all that bottle art justice.

Taste - sweet and juicy, a modest roasted grain following. The hop element is varied but restrained. The bitterness has properties of earthiness, grapefruit rind, and juicy citrus. Mild alcohol warmth after a while. The aftertaste is fruity, a bit dry with hops gaining in their bitterness.

Mouthfeel - a fine creaminess throughout and muted carbonation make this go down so easily.

Drinkability - though it's a fine beer, it's certainly a bit cost prohibitive to having much in stock. I could drink another one but it isn't really necessary to have an excess of these unless you're looking for some spiffy bottles to hold your homebrew. I'm happy to have this one!

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on cask, with a lot of friendly sass at the Horse Brass in Portland. One of the finer ESBs I’ve tasted. All I can say is, wow! Pours a burned orange-gold with a thin head. Aroma is rich with caramel, light fruit, and Amarillo/NW hops. Yum! Body is creamy and smooth and the booze is invisible. Breakfast tea and orange are big flavors. Caramel is also present. Somewhat bready and biscuity. Hints of grapefruit. Downable by the gallon. Simple but exceptional.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brassy burnished orange that looks to have a reddish tint when backlit with sunshine. It's a bold, rich color that is perfect for an Imperial ESB. The pale orange-almond colored head is both bubbly and impressively sticky, like caramelizing sugar. Thick, honeycomb-like lace is plastered all over the upper reaches of the glass. Subsequent pours murk things up nicely, changing the color to glowing sunset tawny.

The nose is pleasant, but it could stand to be more aromatic. The standard Younger's uses Willamette and East Kent Goldings. This beer uses Willamette, U.S. Goldings and then adds Amarillo (hopbacked) for aroma. Although the Amarillo aren't exploding out of the glass, they are identifiable.

It's been a long time since I've had the non-Imperial YSB, but I do remember that I liked it quite a bit. It's no surprise, then, that I like this turbocharged version just as much. It isn't exactly a session bitter, not at 7.1%, but then it wasn't designed to be. It's a fantasically delicious, ingredient-intensive ale, the likes of which Rogue does very, very well.

The malt backbone is a perfect combination of sugar cookies (Maris Otter), drizzled with thick ribbons of brown sugar-caramel icing (Crystal). The hops are orange peel zesty and English Breakfast tea-like, the exact flavors that I normally associate with a beer of this style. Orange blossom honey notes abound as well. I love the exquisite balance, coupled with the taste bud saturating amount of flavor.

I'm not a bit surprised that the brewers have nailed the mouthfeel. It's light enough to be easily drinkable, yet there's a heavenly silkiness that coats the mouth and tongue with a microthin layer of lingering stickiness. This stuff is pure pleasure.

Rogue has yet another winner on their hands. Given the $15 price tag (at least half of which is due to the painted ceramic bottle), I probably won't be buying it again. I'm still glad that I splurged and bought this one. I plan to display it proudly on my bookcase at work.

Imperial Younger's Special Bitter Ale (brewed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Horse Brass Pub in Portland) is... wait just a minute... I've just emptied the last of the '750' into my glass. I had no idea that it was disappearing that fast. On second thought, maybe a second bottle is in order. Hey Rogue, put this beer in bombers and watch it fly off the shelves.

Photo of ccrida
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On draft at the Public House in Portland, the Imperial YSB is a hazy orangish amber, with an eggshell head that quickly fades to a slight collar.
The aroma is soft and mellow, sweet malt and bright fresh citrusy hops that makes me think this is dry hopped.
The taste is smooth and mellow malt, slighty sweet and nutty, with a tang of citrus from the hops, fading to a nice, mildly bitter finish. Even though the hops contribute a lot to the taste here, they are mellow, particularly for Rogue!
The mouthfeel was okay, medium bodied and very low on carbonation.
This was quite drinkable, especially for something labeled imperial. Interesting that most NW breweries jack up the ABV on their ESBs beyond the traditional range, and even more unusual for Rogue to nod towards tradition and acknowledge this does not abide! Still, it is pretty light and easy drinking, tasty enough that'll you'll want another!

Photo of scarletfire79
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

got this one for free at the rogue public house. looks nice in the glass, smells extremely inviting and backs everything up with a kick ass balanced flavor. there's almost a caramel sweetness that balances the bitterness and makes every sip extremely enjoyable. i personally think this is better than the brutal bitter, which i felt is an awesome beer in its own right. good job rogue.

Photo of peabody
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a cloudy amber brown with off-white suds . Lacing does occur here.
Smell is mild hops and cane sugar with roasted malt.Raisin and bread mix with the sugar.
Taste is hoppy sugar with a hint of grape and grapefruit. Can't taste the alcohol here. There needs to be more flavors here.
Mouthfeel is very clean and the alcohol is barely detectable.Not a lot of carbonation here.
This is a good beer no doubt, but Rogue makes much better brews so don't spend 14 bucks on a bottle of this unless you save bottles.

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on-tap during a recent visit to Sunset Bar & Grill in Boston. Typed from notes.

Poured a burnt mahogany amber color. Slight off-white head that receded to a thin veneer. Nose is more malty than hoppy, which have just a slight presence.

I really like the bready flavors in this beer. Very unexpected considering the style. Hops are also a tad more subdued than expected and balance out the malty wholeness with a slight spruce-ness. Some heat from the alcohol is not very well concealed though. Mouthfeel is perhaps a tad thinner than ideal but no great knock. Interesting take on the style and I can definitely enjoy more of these.

XS Imperial Younger's Special Bitter from Rogue Ales
87 out of 100 based on 212 ratings.