By Iron Chef Leftovers
Until about a year ago, I had no idea what a Roggenbier even was, let alone what it really tasted like. Reuben’s changed all of that by putting Roggenbier on the menu and even making it one of the beers they initially bottled. The review is for the beer on tap, which clocks in at 5.3% ABV and 19 IBU. What is a Roggenbier you ask, well, the short version is a rye based hefeweizen. A much longer answer comes courtesy of the German Beer Institute:
Roggenbier is a medieval ale usually made from a grain bill of about half barley malt and equal portions of wheat and rye malts. Today, a Roggenbier may be either an ale or a lager. Modern renditions of the brew have about 5 to 5.5% alcohol by volume. Rye ales are mildly hopped, which allows the grain flavors to be dominant. Filtration appears to be optional in a rye ale and many, such as the Paulaner (depicted right) are “naturtrüb,” meaning naturally turbid. A yeast-turbid Roggenbier is more authentic, considering that the style had been around long before beer filtration was invented in 1878.
Being ancient brews, Roggenbiers can have a faint whiff of earthiness in the nose that is reminiscent of rye bread. The up-front sensation is one of mild fruitiness. There is a slight to extreme yeastiness and breadiness in the middle, and an almost smoky, spicy, faintly sour and very dry finish—clearly the effects of the rye malt. Effervescence ranges from medium to spritzy like a Hefeweizen. The body is substantial, almost reminiscent of a Bockbier. The brew has a pleasant, rich, off-white head when poured.
For the most part, Roggenbiers are tart, refeshing summer quaffing beers, a nice alternative to a Hefeweizen. They go extremely well with a succulent slice of barbequed roast pork.
Roggenbier pours dark amber in color with notes of rye, bananas, cloves and coriander on the nose. Slightly sweet when you first take a sip with notes of banana and wheat. The sweetness quickly drops off into light citrus and cloves before dropping the hammer with a rye finish = intense rye notes with hints of cinnamon with a dry mouth feel which lingers for a fairly short period of time before mellowing out and hanging around the palate with a background malt/rye/banana finish, noticeable well after you have taken a sip. For some strange reason, this beer seems like a liquid pretzel and that is a good thing. Incredibly well balanced and complex, you should try this beer if you have not done so already.
Roggenbier is a great alternative to a hefe or any other light beer if you are looking for something that isn’t terribly hoppy, is fairly low in alcohol and is refreshing, but still has a complex character.
Reuben’s Brews Roggenbier twists in with 4 Rolled Golds out of 5.