Rye Guy is a natural guy, comfortable in his own skin: strong with a complex & sensitive personality ….
Rating → 90 points
Stats: IPA. 6.7% ABV. 52 IBUs. Ottawa, Ontario.
Size: half-growler (or full-growler also available)
Colour: Golden, unfiltered, brewed on lees
Mouth Feel: Low-Medium, very natural carbonation; refreshing, clean, dry finish
Purchased: From Brewery
Price: $7 (plus $3 bottle deposit)
Pairing Notes: Sushi
After recently reviewing Beyond the Pale’s The Mullet, the brewery’s impressive Belgian IPA, I was equally intrigued to try this rye IPA ~ RyePA as some call the style. This is still a bit of a fringe brewing style but one which is nevertheless growing in availability as other brewers try their hand at using rye malts in the brewing process.
While I”m not a brewer, I’ve made a lot of bread and used a lot of different grains and flours in the process. Rye is a troublesome one to work with — and I can only conjecture that it gives brewers grief too, perhaps for the same reason. Why? Rye doesn’t actually possess the same gluten protein as in wheat — but before that sounds like a salvation anthem, it’s important to note that rye contains secalin which is a form of gluten which possesses the same risk to those with celiac disease. Rye gluten, however, behaves very differently than wheat gluten in food. It tends to be more heat tolerant but is ‘weaker’ which means it’s less elastic. It also needs an acid (like a sourdough starter) which allows the bread to rise. Without getting overly technical, the different proteins, enzymes, and starches work differently in rye than wheat which means that traditional bread theories around pH levels and yeast differ as well. The result is a denser bread than wheat — unless wheat is combined in the bread-making process which produces “light” rye bread. A 100% whole-grain rye bread is a dark and rich like pumpernickel and is known for its spicy and nutty flavours. All to say, a lot of this translates into the flavours of rye beer but I wonder if this also impacts the brewing process like it impacts the bread making process because I’ve not tasted many good examples of rye beers …
… until today.
So given my history, I was a bit uneasy in both buying and purchasing this beer, but what a pleasant surprise awaited me.
Off the nose, it is a light fruity — tropical and citrus (grapefruit) both. Excellent presentation of the hops. And that all-important first taste — wow! Great balance that just pulls you in for a second gulp very quickly. The carbonation of this beer, like The Mullet, is impressive. If two samples are any indication, this is a brewer after my own heart who doesn’t abide the American tendency to over-carbonate beer. It has a beautiful, tender, very natural mouthfeel which works in great balance with the alcohol to nevertheless present a “big” strong beer. The bubbles don’t need to mask for testosterone here, and that is a big thumbs up.
The flavours in the mouth present a beer clearly influenced and paying serious homage to the Westcoast hop tradition: citrus (grapefruit, pineapple) and a bit of pine that emerges as it moves to the mid-taste. And while the hops are big on display, this is an infinitely approachable beer that will surprise. What really impresses me, however, is the play of the rye malts here which give this beer some serious ‘spice’ and a well-constructed backbone that lets this beer stand very upright at the end. If I were to be presumptuous, I’d say the ending is very Belgian, perhaps a result of the rye which leaves this beer exceptionally dry at the end, leaving the hops to beautifully drift from beginning to end with an effortless swipe across the palate.
Overall, this is the best rye-PA I’ve ever tasted and a beer that deserves some serious attention, especially for those drinkers that love American pale ales but want something with a balanced carbonation and dry ending.