Thursday, September 1, 2011

Red's Rye P.A. (Founders Brewing Company)

Who is this impish looking feller on the label of Red's Rye P.A.? He looks like a pagan sun gnome, if there is such a thing. Dave Engbers at Founders Brewing Company generously shared that Red is a real person -- a denizen of the streets of Kalamazoo, whose likeness was rendered by artist Justin Bernhardt. The folks at Founders thought the image was a good match for the rye beer they were adding to their lineup.

I've sampled a few rye beers now, of quite different styles. This one is less like Hoss Rye Lager and more like Hop Rod Rye , but it is easily distinguishable from that one as well.

The beer pours a hazy reddish apricot with a fairly modest off-white head. There appeared to be a ring of yeast in the bottom of bottle, making me curious whether any estery subtleties would make their voices heard amid the boisterous conversation of rye and hops. The aroma is spicy and fruity. Dominant is the requisite grapefruit, but I also clearly pick up black pepper and malt.

The taste is big, but more controlled than the rye-heavy beers previously sampled, and not nearly as sweet. There is a short, spicy main flavor, with long, grainy finish. When I say "short," I do not mean to imply that the body is insufficient -- in fact, it is packed with hearty, dry malt and rye flavors; but there is a definite contour to the taste.

The mouthfeel is quite chewy and rich. The only fruit present perhaps a bitter guava. The hops is there, of course, tightly shoring up the grains, and the quantity used is evident in the bitterness of the aftertaste.

Red's Rye P.A. is not to be missed by rye lovers, but I can't predict its appeal beyond that enclave. Personally, I loved it, but I may have lost my objectivity about these bold, spicy brews. Though this Founders offering seems somehow more serious or workmanlike than the frolicsome Hop Rod Rye, it is tasty, well-crafted, and certainly worthy of a spot in the occasional rotation.

Featured beer:
Red's Rye P.A.

Honorable mentions:
Hoss Rye Lager
Hop Rod Rye

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