Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Rye IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dAnother review of a NW Peaks IPA? The gods must be crazy. I had actually been waiting for this one since the guys at NW Peaks told me it was one their brew schedule. I have become a huge fan of rye beers and they had tremendous success with their Cave Rye last year, so I wanted to know what they could do with a full blown rye IPA. I don’t think it is currently available at the brewery, but it clocked in at a nice 6.5% ABV.

The beer pours orange in color with a nice white head and there is an explosion of citrus on the nose when you first smell this beer, but with deeper investigation, you will find additional notes of orange peel and orange blossom, spice and rye and grain notes. The beer starts off with juicy fresh squeezed orange and tangerine with orange blossom without being cloyingly sweet before brining mild amounts of bitterness into the picture in the form of citrus peel combined with some grain and spicy heat. The beer finishes extremely long with signifiant citrus tempered with a pleasant bite of the rye and coupled with a hint of resin and spice in a moderately bitter finish. Not quite a good as my favorite rye IPA, Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA, this beer is extremely well balanced and very easy to drink and is outstanding in its own right.

NW Peaks Rye IPA finishes strong with a perfect 5 stone mills out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Yirgacheffe Rye

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2One of the highlights of the last couple Seattle Beer Weeks has been Ryefest at Reuben’s. They go all out and brew a bunch of different rye based beers that many of which are generally only available that weekend since they are small batch and it is a popular event. This year’s Ryefest brought us a total of 12 rye beers including the impossible to pronounce Yirgacheffe Rye, which is a coffee from Ethiopia. The beer clocked in at 32 IBU and 5.4% ABV and I believe was based on the American Rye.

The beer pours hazy yellow in color with a touch of white on the head. Touches of coffee, rye and grain dominate the nose of this beer. It starts off on the palate with light notes of lemon peel and hops before adding a touch of sweetness from the rye, with just hints of bite, finishing with a very mild coffee note with a touch of bitterness and hints of chocolate and dried fruit. The beer is light and crisp and easy to drink with a very nice hint of coffee that does not overpower the other flavors in the beer. It is also a nice change of pace from coffee stouts and porters that allows you to drink something lighter and still enjoy the nuances of the coffee contained within the beer.

Reuben’s  Yirgacheffe Rye takes out the jeep and goes on safari with 4 Seregetis out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Smoked Rye Saison

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMSmoked beers can be pleasant and roasty with notes of smoked salmon or BBQ that really compliment the other flavors in the beer when they are done well. When they are not, the beers tend to be roughly the equivalent of chewing on a campfire log. I was excited when Populuxe brewing partnered with Bitterroot BBQ to produce the Smoked Rye Saison. I love the Populuxe Saison, I love rye beers and I was very intrigued over what the combination of smoked rye and saison would end up tasting like. The beer clocked in at 6.8% ABV.

The beer pours deep red in color with a white head. Strong notes of roasted caramel with hints of smoke and rye dominate the nose with just minor notes of grass in the background. The beer has a significant amount of smoky sweet malt up front on the palate before quickly moving into light notes of lemon and grass with hints of Belgian character before finishing with layers of rye and very light smoke coupled with lemon and Belgian yeast that lingers pleasantly for a long time. The beer reminds me of smoked salmon with lemon and dill, with the dill (in a very light way) either coming from the grassy notes or my mind inserting it because of the smoke and lemon flavors.  This beer is very well balanced and layered and is very easy to drink for a smoked beer. It would pair fantastically with just about anything grilled.

Populuxe Smoked Rye Saison grabs the blue ribbon with 5 low and slows out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Cave Ridge Rye

By Iron Chef Leftovers

For our loyal readers, I am going to take us back on a trip to January in my beer of the year post:

This really was a challenge – I had about 15 beers that I scored 5 points so I took down my list from there to 4 contenders for the best. It was actually going to be 5, then I realized that the one that would have been in the 5th spot has not yet had a review posted, so, it is an early contender for 2014 (and no, I won’t tell you what it is).

Well, I am ready to reveal what that 5th beer is since this is the review for it. In some ways it is better that the review slipped to 2014, it would not have won in 2013, but it is really the front runner for 2014’s title of beer of the year.

From the NW Peaks website:

Cave ridge, fresh hop, rye. Cave ridge rye features fresh simcoe hops, imparting a beautiful/delicate piney aroma and acidity in the beer. To feature the simcoe hops, we put the hops on top of a light, dry pale. We used ~35% rye, which aids in drying out the beer, but also adds a little complexity complementing the simcoe. Some might find this a strange pairing, but they work really well together in Cave Ridge rye.

untitle8dThe beer pours a very pale yellow in color with strong notes of berries, grain and mild notes of rye on the nose. The beer starts out quickly with a quick hit of hops showing some light resin and pine before moving into heavy rye notes with a mild fruitiness before finishing off with a tinge of very pleasant bitterness, pine needles and more rye dryness at the very end of the beer, showing notes of raspberry on the finish as the beer warms. Layered and complex, the beer doesn’t have the strong bitter/citrus hop character of most fresh hopped beer, but is much deeper and show how the hops can play with several other complex players, making a the hops an important member of the symphony rather than the star of the show.

NW Peaks Caver Ridge Rye stirs the cauldron and makes a prediction of 5 oracles out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Epic Ales Desert Rye Farmhouse Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untsaditledThere are two breweries that drive me nuts because their names are almost identical. There is Epic Brewing out of Utah which makes some fantastic Belgian style beers and there is Epic Ales out of Seattle who tend to do some off the wall farmhouse style beers. I have seen more than one occasion where a tap last has listed the wrong brewery. In the case of the Desert Rye Farmhouse Ale, I originally just wrote Epic on my noted. In going back over them, I realized that I had no idea which Epic it was. After doing a bit of digging, I realized that it was the Seattle Epic that put out this beer. Given that it was a farmhouse beer with rye, I needed to give it a shot.

The beer pours cloudy with the color of peach/apricot jam and has an interesting nose – notes of grain and yeast dominate, supported by light notes of rye and hints of sugar. The beer is really complex on the palate, starting off with heavy rye notes before moving into a grassy farmhouse funk with lots of Belgian yeast and grain helped by very light citrus, finishing with light hops and more funk. The rye lingers thought the entire progression and is a bit harsh at the beginning, but it smooths out by the end of the sip and enhances the other flavors. The farmhouse component becomes more pronounced as the beer warms making for a very different beer by the end of the pint.

This is a beer that is really not for everyone, but is well balanced and complex to the point of being very different than most everything else out there.

Epic Ales Desert Rye Farmhouse Ale comes in out of the field with a heavy load of 4 hay bales out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews AmeriRoggen

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Reuben’s does love their rye beers and they excel at them. One of the styles that you don’t see very often anywhere is a Roggenbier, but that is one of their flagships (and one of the first beers they bottled) and they do it well. A few months back, they decided to use different yeast and transform the Roggenbier into AmeriRoggen, putting a twist on an already solid beer. The beer clocked in at 6% ABV and 28 IBU. It is not currently on tap, but might be making reappearance in the next few months, so keep an eye out for it.

The beer pours a solid brown in color, almost like dark brewed tea with notes of rye, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom dominating and a slight hint of chocolate on the nose. The beer drinks very smoothly – it starts out with a little citrus before moving into the spices and then quickly fading into a pleasantly mild rye finish with notes of warming spice and hints of grain. It drinks much lighter than it looks (it doesn’t have deep roasted flavors) and is smooth and well balanced. Definitely different than anything that is out on the market and a beer worth trying if you are looking for something unusual. It would probably serve as a nice gateway beer into the realm of ryes or browns also.

Reuben’s AmeriRoggen waves the flag to the tune of 4 National Anthems out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Blood Red Orange Rye

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2There are very few flavors that I love more than blood orange, but the track record in having beers that included it are spotty. Some have been good (Elysian) and some not so good (also Elysian).  I was excited when Reuben’s decided to do one as part of a Seattle Beer Week event – their track record on beers has been outstanding and if anyone was going to do it right, it was going to be them. So I rushed down to the brewery to try the beer.

The beer poured more pink than red, almost the color of pink grapefruit juice. Lots of mild citrus and grapefruit juice dominated the nose, reminding me of something that I could not quite place. The initial taste was slightly tart and sweet with mild fruit character. There were definite notes of blood orange in this beer but it completely overwhelmed the rye, no easy task, to the point of having to really look for it on the finish. The beer lacked balance and integration of flavors making it more like drinking fruit juice than beer as the hops and rye character of the beer were almost completely lost. It was still an interesting enough beer to be worth trying and probably could have used a bit more bittering from hops to balance out the sweetness of the blood orange and to add more depth, but it definitely falls into the miss category for Reuben’s, which was bound to happen at some point.

Maybe my expectations clouded my judgment on this beer, but it could have used more beer character and less fruit character to make it more interesting.

Reuben’s Blood Red Orange Rye peels out of the picture with a disappointing 2 sour oranges out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Rye Saison

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2I can really appreciate the complexity of a saison – on the surface it looks like it is going to be a light beer with not much going on, but once you get past the looks, you discover that you are drinking something that can have as much complexity as any other beer on the planet. Saison has been made for hundreds of years and is not a beer that you usually see with much variation in the recipe – you will find very different tasting saisons from brewery to brewery, but they don’t generally deviate in their ingredients too wildly. When Reuben’s decided to do their take on saison by including rye, I had to give the beer a shot.

The beer pour a very un-saison like beautiful brown in color with notes of sugar and malt on the nose with mild fruit and hints of chocolate.  Despite the lack of rye on the nose, there is no question that it is in this beer. The beer has roasted rye notes upfront before yielding slowly to a more saison-like back end with notes of grain and citrus in a slightly sweet, subdued finish. There is a very long, slow fade back into rye at the very end of the beer, producing something that just a touch dry at the very end.

I had some major doubts about this beer – saison’s appeal comes from subtlety of character and I was worried that the strong flavors of rye would overpower the beer completely, but Reuben’s did a great job balancing the beer out so that you get the strong rye character while still having enough of the saison character to appreciate the beer for what it is – an amped up version of a saison.

Reuben’s Rye Saison brings you back to the countryside with a stellar 4 farmhouses out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Red Rye Pils

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Reuben’s branches out into the world of pilsner in a collaboration with Airways Brewing, mixing in their signature use of Rye with a style that is known for mild, clean lines and flavors. Curious on what rye would do to pilsner; I had to give this beer a shot. It clocks in at a fairly mild 36 IBU and a light 5.0% ABV.

Golden amber in color with an interesting nose – hints of rye are noticeable but the pilsner yeast notes and grain dominate this beer. Think of this beer as a pilsner with a bite. The beer starts out unremarkably mild before building into something that is unmistakably a pilsner – dry with noticeable grain and a pleasant crispness. Once you move beyond that, the beer gets really interesting – the rye notes slowly replace the pilsner flavor, transforming the beer into something more spicy and deep. The rye notes accentuate the crispness taking it to a much drier place and bringing out just a hint of the hop flavor. The rye finish is long and pleasant and just hints of the pilsner notes hang around with it. This is definitely a different beer – not sure if a pilsner drinker would appreciate it and I am not sure that a hop-head would recognize the mild complexity of the beer, but if you are looking for something different and a touch on the lighter side, this would be a good beer to give a shot.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Nitro Roasted Rye PA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Sometime last year, I reviewed the Reuben’s’ Roasted Rye PA (short version, I liked it a lot, long version is here). Like everything else in my notebook, I never bothered to getting around to posting a review of the nitro version of the Roasted Rye, so here it goes:

The beer pours brown with hints of orange hue, almost looking like iced tea, and a short tan head. Light notes of rye and toast appear on the nose with a faint hint of hops hiding in the background. When you take a sip, a quick hit of hop bitterness gives way to a long, heady rye drag that seems to last forever before finally yielding to a burst of citrus and citrus peel on the very end. This beer has a creamy mouth feel from being on nitro. Some of the more interesting flavors from the regular version are subdued, but the rye is really the star of this beer; not quite the heavy rye bread flavor of the Imperial Rye PA, but a really pleasant rye/grain beer that feels the need to be its own beer.

Reuben’s Nitro Roasted Rye PA smokes it with a solid 4 kilns out of 5.