Credit: © Mike Pomranz

Oregon’s Rogue Ales & Spirits made waves late this year when they announced they’d be releasing a beer brewed with one of the world’s most beloved hot sauces, Huy Fong Sriracha. Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer officially shipped out Dec. 8, and I was finally able to get around to cracking open my bottle this week.

The bottle has a distinctive green cap, meant to mimic Huy Fong’s iconic packaging, and the opaque red bottle leaves no confusion: This is a Sriracha-forward beer. Once poured into a glass, the scent confirms that fact. The spice tucked under the chocolate malt aroma is unmistakably Sriracha.

Once on the tongue, the spice reads more directly as heat. The beer’s smooth stout base (at 5.7 percent ABV, this would be a nice little drinking stout all on its own) masks most of that distinctive sun-ripened chili and garlic that was so prominent on the nose. Instead, a sharp spiciness strikes on the finish and lingers long after the first sip.

On the bottle, Rogue suggests that the Sriracha Hot Stout is “ready to drink with soups, sauces, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein or anything you’d like to wash down with a spicy kick.” I grabbed some crackers for no better reason than to clean my palate of all that heat and noticed that the true Sriracha flavor really popped on my next sip. It’s a tough call: Stouts can be an aggressive pairing for casual fare, but this brew really benefited from being paired with something. That’s when those ripened garden flavors really began to shine.

Overall, I was most struck by how much balance Rogue put into this product. Far from a Huy Fong-boosted novelty, this stout strikes enough of the right notes to please stout and Sriracha fans alike. If anything, people who truly love their rooster sauce might say Rogue took it too easy on us. But whereas some just can’t get enough of the spicy stuff, most of us prefer a deft hand. This beer reads just the way it should. Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer, from its packaging on down, is an inspired and well-executed experiment.