Beer of the Month: Recommend Rye Saison

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Recommend Rye Saison

Brewery/Brand: Proper Brewing Company
ABV: 5.6%
Serving Style: 22-oz. bottle

It’s always a good day in SLUG’s beer department whenever a new beer winds up at my desk. Imagine how excited I get when there’s a whole brand-spankin’-new Utah brewery attached to said beer. This month, I have the pleasure of introducing one of Utah’s newest breweries: Proper Brewing Company. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a sister brewery to the Salt Lake City Avenues staple, Avenues Proper and Publick House. While Avenues Proper is known as a nano brewpub in the beer industry (the smallest production size), the Proper Brewing Company is many steps above, with a capacity 10 times its little sister pub’s. With this greater brewing capacity, an added bottling line and the ability to make stronger beers, Proper is set to bring more innovation and choices to Utah’s craft beer lovers.

Description: When we talk about innovation with regard to beer, what we’re actually discussing is how we put a new twist on a beer that some of us may still consider to be a new beer style. Take saison beers, for example. If you’re an avid beer nerd such as me, you’ve been drinking this Belgian style of beer for quite some time—if not, they’re still very new and hopefully exciting to you. A good brewer/brewery will always try to keep both camps happy. That’s what Proper Brewing Company has done with one of their debut offerings from their new, Main Street brewhouse: the Recommend Rye Saison.

This Belgian-inspired ale definitely doesn’t look like a typical saison: The addition of the rye malt gives the beer an almost amber, stained appearance, with some mild chill haze as well. A sturdy, frothy-white head creates a nice lacing effect on the sides of the glass.

A light and bready nose, full of pilsner malt, merges pleasantly with robust aromas of spicy rye, which creates an almost crusty, cake-like dankness. The natural spiciness of yeast backs up the pungent rye grains, creating a pungent and peppery perfume that rounds out the dry malt balance. Fruity esters are nearly hidden behind the addition of spice and orange zest from hops, as mild caramel and toasted grains round out the very complex “nose job.”

Once you get a chance to wrap the beer around your tongue, you’ll discover that the flavors closely mimic the nose. That toasty/crusty cake from the nose comes through a much heartier blast than that of a typical saison’s malt base. Some fruity apple and pear notes struggle to overcome the malty base, while a zap of fresh peppercorn, coriander and clove easily uplift the tree fruits. As the tongue acclimates to the esters in the yeast toward the end, the added spices from the malt character are brought forward by the spicy and citrus bitterness from late-addition hops. A slight alcohol bite adds to the spiciness.

Overview: Staying innovative without getting too far off into “weird beer” territory, this ale’s strange combination of spice-rack flavors somehow pulls together a traditional feel with just enough challenges for a veteran’s broad palate. As darker saison styles become more prevalent, it’s important that you find a beer that has a complementary balance of malt and yeast so that the these two prime elements of the beer aren’t duking it out on your tongue the whole way through to the bottom of the glass. The quality of grains that give this rye saison its unique identity—rather than just giving a darker color—are what you should look for in a saison. The added rye takes away some of the heavy lifting from the yeast, and for me, it makes for a much more palatable saison experience. This beer is only (for now) available at Proper Brewing Company, located at  857 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, Utah.

Cheers!