My love of rye in beer is relatively young. About a year ago I stumbled upon Founder’s “Red’s RyePA” at the Amesbury Ale House, when the Hop Head Red I ordered had already run dry. The Founder’s rye IPA was completely different to me. New flavors and textures, especially compared to the standard IPA here on the East Coast. I had heard great things about Bear Republic Brewery from the folks on the Brewing Network.
Hop Rod Rye is a big beer, and not just in alcohol content. West Coast big. Tons of hops (mostly) balanced by deep caramel and bready malt. And then there’s the rye’s spiciness poking through right in the middle.
Like I said, it’s big. Current bottles are listing 8% ABV. Their website says it’s 80 IBUs (bitterness units) and uses 18% rye in the grain bill. While 80 IBUs is pretty high, the malt does it’s best to match it’s intensity. The hop aroma and flavor is there, but it doesn’t dominate. Floral and earthy, perhaps Columbus and Amarillo hops? The big percentage of rye offers up a lot of flavor in addition to the caramel, giving this beer nice complexity in which the various components come through but don’t dominate.
The beer finishes relatively easy. A nice bitterness in the finish the is relatively dry considering all the malt flavor that exists. Makes it pretty drinkable, especially for an 8% beer! I had a couple and realized I could have easily grabbed a third, but reminded myself of the ABV and switched gears, saving the other two for another day.
I used to think the Founders RyePA was my favorite, but I’ve had that recently, and this Bear Republic offering has taken it’s place. Not for the timid, but it still manages to be a drinkable, more than one, IPA.