14 May 2012

Seasonal adjustment

Few tears were shed, I'm sure, when Sierra Nevada's execrable Wheat Ale went out of production, to be replaced by the superior Kellerweis. And I was not overly distraught when I read the news that the spring bock Glissade was being retired after only a couple of years to be replaced by the new Ruthless Rye IPA. Yes, another hop-forward beer from Sierra Nevada might seem a little boring, but it's a medium in which they work pretty consistently well. Rye, on the other hand, isn't usually my bag, beerwise. I'm slightly dismayed by the current fashion for it. Still, hop-confident I bought four bottles of the untasted newbie to bring home.

Alas and alack the rye is in the driving seat. The hops are in a binbag in the boot, hoping that if they stay quiet they'll get out of this alive -- just a light dusting of mandarins in the aroma and a hint of mangoes on tasting betrays their presence. The rest of the flavour shows everything I dislike about rye in a big way: the grassiness that's harsh at the start of the flavour and then lingers on the palate for ages as a sharp, dry sort of unpleasant tang.

I've no doubt there are people who like big rye flavours in a beer. There must be. But for me they just spoil an otherwise enjoyable hop party. I'm afraid I won't be crying at Ruthless Rye's funeral either.


  1. I was sad to hear of the demise of Glissade, having enjoyed plenty of it last spring. Haven't tried the Ruthless Rye yet, and unlikely to bother really, because I am a big fan of neither rye nor IPA.

    I realise that extrapolating out from my local supermarket is no indicator of sales generally, but they have had cases and cases of the stuff sitting there for weeks now, seems I am not alone in not being fussed to try it.

  2. Why is this great thundering demand for rye beer that the brewers seem to think is out there? Could it be that there is actually an end to endless variety?

  3. SN hasn't totally given up on the malt. They followed Ruthless with Summerfest—a decidedly milder Pilsner.

  4. Yeah, enough already with the rye beers. This, on tap at the Rake a few years back, is about the only one we've ever enjoyed, and that's probably because it was Christmas and we were in a good mood.

    Alan -- and hops and grain aren't the only variable to play with, either -- why aren't more brewers testing the limits of their yeast with warmer or cooler fermentations? Blending yeasts? There are lots of subtle, pleasing variations to be found, I'm sure.

  5. I don't think this existed a few years back.

    Funny, all the anti-rye sentiment is landing on this comments page while the pro-rye lobby is tweeting me.

    I think the only way to settle it is with a dance off.

  6. Ah, yes, as per usual I'm confused: it was Sierra Nevada Unrivaled Rye we tried at the Rake -- a beer with no IPA element whatsoever. Do excuse me.