Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ruthless Rye IPA (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)

I know, another review of a rye beer, right? But the fact is, rye is a really fascinating ingredient to brew with. It adds subtle complexity when included as a low percentage of the grain bill, and increasingly adds a distinctive dry, spicy quality as its percentage goes up. It is a robust grain of ancient date, but it seems to be getting due appreciation only in recent years as the drinking public has grown more receptive to truly flavorful beers.

I am delighted to see rye taken up by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the country's second largest craft brewery (behind Boston Beer Company), and one of the great pillars of the movement. They have been making extremely high quality beer since 1979, but Terence Sullivan of Sierra Nevada confirms, "This is our first major release of a rye focused beer."

On to the tasting. The beer is a clear, deep amber/copper color, and pouring brings up two inches of very stable, clumpy off-white foam. The aroma is of earth and sappy hops, with just a telltale whiff of rye.

The frothy mouthfeel settles into an intense, concentrated bitter spiciness in the middle of the tongue. Flavors of black pepper, guava, and grapefruit ride the sweetness of a base that tastes predominantly like caramel malt. Very refreshing. The finish leaves long rye footprint once the bitterness falls off.

Overall, a terrific brew that delivers everything you came for in a rye IPA, with trademark Sierra Nevada classiness. Very drinkable, and at 6.6% ABV offers reasonable session potential.

From the bottle's label:

Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed with this rustic grain for refined flavors -- combining the peppery spice of rye and the bright citrusy flavors of whole cone hops to create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to Spring.

Featured beer:
Ruthless Rye IPA

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