By now, my beloved readers, you’re probably figuring out that this whole craft beer thing is more than just a hoity-toity way of “enhancing” your karaoke voice. Many of you are actually discovering that it’s far better to stimulate your tongue than just numb it. This month, we’re going to take you to another level. You’ve gotten to know barley (and wheat–based) beers, amber ales and hefeweizens—now I want you to experience rye beers. Rye malt has a slight herbal spiciness that sets it apart from other grains. I beg you to step out and try some of these locally available examples.
Cahoots Double Rye IPA
Brewery/Brand: Uinta Brewing Co.
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle
Description: This one is brand new from Uinta. This beer pours a gorgeous, orange-ish copper color with good carbonation and a small, white head. Holy shit, there’s a huge punch of fresh citrus and spice going on from the generous hops and the rye. Some tropical fruit and orange peel aromas come through, too, with some faint toffee rounding it out. Fresh hops come first on the tongue, and are citric and slightly herbal with some tropical fruit flavors––not over the top, but good bitterness, with some noticeable spices—possibly from the rye and hops. The malt is solid enough to balance the hops, and there are slightly sweet hints of toffee and fresh bread. The finish is on the bitter side.
Overview: This beer was a collaboration between Uinta and award-winning homebrewer Chris Detrick as part of the Pro/Am Competition for the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. It is so balanced and fresh-tasting that my taste buds were squealing with each sip.
Rio’s Rompin’ Rye
Brewery/Brand: Epic Brewing Co.
Serving Style: 22 oz. Bottle
Description: This rye pours a hazy, almost murky, burnt orange with one finger of off-white head. The nose is grassy/fruity with a bready rye spiciness. The taste starts with bready malts, fruity and sweet. The hops are herbal, earthy and spicy. There’s a nice balance between the bread, hops and rye—malt and bready at first, then hops and spice. The finish is clean and smooth, and the aftertaste is slightly bitter.
Overview: It’s a nice, approachable beer. This one is a little more traditional than the other two. It feels full and round for as light as it is, and isn’t as hoppy as its counterparts. If you want to make the teacher happy, start with this one and get to know the rye malt on a more personal level.
Hop Rod Rye
Brewery/Brand: Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Serving Style: 22 oz. Bottle
Description: The Hop Rod Rye pours a dark tea color with brilliant ruby highlights. The nose is sweet with caramel/toffee and a piney, citrus grove spiciness. The taste is big and malty at first, then wham-o! The hops hit with a lovely grapefruit and hop oil finish. This is full of spicy rye bread and malt to give it a nice, chewy flavor and overall feel. The finish is quite nice with dry graininess and a light, minty grapefruit.
Overview: This is the only rye beer in the group not made in this city. It is a great, robust beer that rewards sipping, but begs you to keep it up so seductively that the glass is empty before you know it. It’s very drinkable without any real notice of the 8 percent ABV, so watch your pretty lil’ heads, class—simply one of the best rye beers I’ve ever had.