Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beers that use Rye — Shmaltz Brewing Co. vs. Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Shmaltz Brewing Co.
Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A

(A Double India Pale Ale with Rye Malt)
ABV 10%

Clear copper orange.
Earthy, woody, sweet and flowery.
Sweet, smooth, malty with some citrus hops.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Very boozy with a harsh metallic bitterness
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):
Mediocre +

Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Hop Rod Rye

(Specialty Ale)
ABV 8%

Dark maple syrup.
Aroma: Sharp, spicy, piny hops with some malty floral notes.
Flavor: Medium bodied. Malty, piny and floral.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Mellow citrus at first then moves to intense, astringent lemon-rind bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good

Blow by Blow
Do you like bitter beer? If so, then pay attention.

These are two beers that use a portion of rye in the brewing process. We hadn't really tried too many beers that advertise their use of rye, so we were excited to feature these in a battle.

The Hop Rod Rye had an impressive hoppy aroma and a nice balanced flavor, but the finish was dominated by a face-contorting lemon-rind bitterness that was way too harsh for our palates.

The Bittersweet was more subdued in the aroma, but made up for it with a massive sweet and malty flavor that we were both very impressed with. Unfortunately, it had problems in the finish as well. Big problems. It did a terrible job balancing its 10% ABV, leaving us both with a distinctly hot and boozy taste, but that wasn't all. The booze quickly evaporated into a sharp metallic bitterness that had us reaching for the water to rinse out the taste.

Unfortunately, neither of us could tell if we detected any aromas or flavors brought on by the use of rye. Both beers were aggressively hopped and I think that the extreme use of hops may have masked some of the rye characteristics.

Beers that feature some rye seem to be gaining popularity, so hopefully we'll get to revisit rye beers in the future. As for these two, we gave the edge to the Hop Rod simply because it didn't completely fall apart in the finish. And we'd only be comfortable recommending these to those who enjoy punishing their palate with super bitter beers.

Winner by unanimous decision: Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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