By Blaidd Drwg
A while back, I wrote a post on food memories. Smells and tastes can invoke a powerful emotion and sometimes they can come from an unexpected place. A recent trip to visit my friends at Reuben’s Brews was such an experience. With their extensive and ever changing tap list and usually stellar beers, I am always torn between trying their new stuff and old favorites. A recent trip to the brewery saw the Imperial Rye IPA on their board; a rye based imperial IPA clocking in at 8.4% alcohol and 90+ IBU. This beer is not really for the faint of heart – it is a big, bold hop monster.
The beer pours amber, almost rosy in color. There is lots of citrus on the nose (predominately grapefruit) and rye – you take one whiff of this beer and you have no doubt that this is going to be a big IPA. The beer has a smooth, almost creamy feel on the palate with a slightly sweet hit giving way to a light bitterness with tons of grapefruit. For a beer with that high an IBU, the hops bitterness is incredibly well balanced with the rest of the beer. The Imperial Rye then gets really interesting – the grapefruit gives way to a dramatic rye finish with such a rye hit that it brought back memories of my grandmother making me fresh rye toast from the Jewish bakery in my home town. My only complaint, and this is because of the memories this beer invokes, is that the beer goes from sweet to bitter to citrus to rye too quickly – I really want that rye to linger on the palate for a long time. The reality is that this beer does have a fairly long finish and it is very pleasant and not overpowered with the high alcohol content it possesses. The bitterness does become more pronounced as it warms and I think this beer would be a good candidate for a cask treatment (Note to Adam: Big Hint!)
I did try this beer a second time without my notes from the first tasting handy and compared the two – they were both virtually identical with what I initially wrote. I loved this beer. As Rye IPA’s go, I probably rank this one as my 3rd favorite behind Anacortes and Laughing Dog, but this one has the childhood memory associated with it, so it really does make ranking it a lot harder.
I would have given this beer an easy 4 out of 5 if it weren’t for the memories, but since I do consider emotion as well as price when I come up with my ratings, Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA invokes a perfect 5 Judicke’s Bakeries (that is where my grandmother usually got the rye bread from – it is still there and has been in operation since 1924) out of 5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane as well as the fantastic beer!