Tag Archives: Rye Ale

Exhibit A Danko

Happy Massachusetts Beer Week! If I had my stuff together I would have had a whole series of articles lined up about the great beers in the state that you need to try, but I was in Maine with friends last weekend and I fell behind on getting my links article out, so all I have is a lonely review. I also won’t be attending any events this week, it’s my son’s second birthday on Saturday and we have a bunch of family in town, so the weekend will revolve around that. I do have some more amazing Massachusetts beers in my fridge, so I will be celebrating in spirit. Fortunately I do have one local beer in my review queue, Danko, the double dry-hopped rye ale from Exhibit A in Framingham. I really like the way Exhibit A has started, they test-run new beers through their Demo Tape series and then tweak the recipes until they turn into a regular release. Exhibit A Danko is brewed with local rye from Valley Malt and a copious amount of Simcoe hops. It is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans.

Exhibit A DankoExhibit A Danko pours a murky light orange with a small white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity new world hops. There is also plenty of hop flavor, notes of orange, grapefruit and cut grass along with a little bitter bite. This is balanced by substantial malt character, spicy rye and bread crust. Some hoppy rye beers skimp on the grain to the point that you can barely tell that the rye is there, this is not one of those beers. The hops and the rye complement each other pretty well. Danko is medium bodied, drinks easy and isn’t overly boozy at 6% ABV. The finish is crisp with lingering hop and rye flavor. This is another very tasty beer from a brewery that has come out of the gate hitting on all cylinders. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Exhibit A Reviews:

Exhibit A The Cat’s Meow and Demo Tape 5


Barrel House Z RR#23

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that as more breweries open and move into the state it becomes increasingly important for a new brewery to stand out from the pack in some way. A great way to do this is to focus on a specific subset of style of beers to start, like Mystic does with saisons or Notch with session beers. Another great example is Barrel House Z, which launched last year with a focus on barrel aged beers. I loved the idea when I first heard about it, I think there is a real need for a more diverse selection of beer and barrel combinations. Barrel House Z was launched in Weymouth by Russ Heissner, the former head brewer at Harpoon. Unfortunately I don’t wake it to Weymouth very often, but some of Barrel House Z’s beers have started making their way to local bottle shops. One I tried recently was their red rye ale RR#23, this batch aged in Jamaican rum barrels. Barrel House Z RR#23 is available on a rotating basis aged in different barrels for different lengths of time then distributed in bottles and on draft.

Barrel House Z RR#23Barrel House Z RR #23 pours deep red with a small white head. The rum dominates the aroma, with just a hint of hops mingling in. The rum also leads the flavor, notes of molasses, sugar and booze. This is complemented by the rye and crystal malts, spicy with notes of crackers and caramel. The hops round out the flavor with hints of orange and grass. The body is on the light side for a big beer, and RR#23 has a little alcoholic burn to go along with it’s 9.1% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering rum flavor. The combination of rum and a rye ale in RR#23 was interesting, I like the idea but the rum flavor was a little strong for my tastes. Still, this was a quality beer and I look forward to trying more of Barrel House Z’s offerings in the near future. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Part 2

Yesterday I reviewed the first three beers in Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp 12-pack. Today I’ll continue with the final three and some thought on the pack as a whole.

Sierra Nevada Moxee MoronMoxee Moron Imperial Session IPA: Represents the Pacific Northwest and Rockies in collaboration with Bale Breaker, Barley Brown’s, Black Raven, Melvin and Odell Brewing. The “style” imperial session IPA is obviously a contradiction, or an oxymoron, and the town of Moxee is in the Yakima Valley hop-growing region, thus the name of the beer. This is a pretty straight forward West Coast style IPA, notes of pineapple, peach, mango and pine along with a solid bitter punch. This is balanced by a full malt backbone and packs a little punch at 7.5% ABV. Nothing wrong with this beer, but I would rather drink Sierra Nevada’s staple IPAs like Torpedo or Hop Hunter. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Sierra Nevada Stout of the UnionStout of the Union Robust Stout: Represents the Southwest in collaboration with Bagby, Beachwood, Lost Abbey, Smog City and Societe. I’ve been advocating for more stouts and porters that feature full malt flavor without double digit booze or whiskey barrel aging and this fits the bill. Pitch black with huge malt flavor led by coffee, chocolate, caramel and toasted bread. The hops add enough bitterness to keep the malts in check and at 7.3% ABV it isn’t a light beer by any measure. If this beer was available regularly I think it would become a staple winter beer in my fridge. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Sierra Nevada Pat Rye OtPat-Rye-Ot Revolutionary Pale Ale: Represents the Northeast in collaboration with Devil’s Backbone, Dogfish Head, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Stoudt’s and Trillium. A rye pale ale brewed with apples along with a big dose of hops. The hops come through first, notes of orange, passion fruit, tangerine and lemon. The subtle rye adds some spice and the crystal malts contribute some bready flavors and just a hint of sweetness. The beer is crisp and very drinkable, the flavors here are all in harmony.  Call me a homer if want, but this was my favorite beer of the bunch. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Overall I really enjoyed this years Sierra Nevada Beer Camp pack, all of the beers were good to very good and there was some good diversity of flavors and ingredients. There has been a number of complaints about the price (which is over $30 in some places), and I completely understand but to me it’s worth it as an occasional splurge. I would like it if they went back to 1-1 collaborations next year though. One of the things I love about collaboration beers is tasting the styles of breweries I rarely get to try but with 6 breweries collaborating you don’t really learn much about individual brewers. Still, I would recommend giving this Beer Camp pack a shot if you see it around!




Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2016 Part 1

Last year Sierra Nevada launched Beer Camp, a series of beer festivals in different cities across the country. As part of this celebration they brewed 12 collaboration beers each one with a different brewer in a Beer Camp host city. The 12 beers were sold as a 12-pack, which sold out incredibly quickly around here so I never got a chance to try it. The reviews I read all told a pretty similar tale, the beers were OK but expectations were much higher considering the names on the bottles. This year Sierra Nevada is doing a similar touring beer festival, but the 12 pack is slightly different, it features 6 different beers that are each a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and 5 breweries in a particular region of the country. I was able to grab a twelve pack and spent my weekend sampling a critiquing each of the beers, it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. I’ll give my thoughts on three today and then do the other three and a summary tomorrow.

Sierra Nevada Family ValuesFamily Values Imperial Brown Ale: Represents the Midwest in collaboration with Dark Horse, Half Acre, Perennial, Schell’s and Sun King. This is a flavorful and very malt forward brown ale brewed with wild rice, oats, cocoa nibs and honey sourced from Midwestern states. It’s full bodied and plenty of chocolate, caramel and toasted bread flavor, and packs some punch at 8.5% ABV. There are just enough grassy/earthy hops to keep the beer from being overly sweet, and it drinks very easy for a bigger beer. Brown ales aren’t my favorite style but I really enjoyed this beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Sierra Nevada Sweet Sunny SouthSweet Sunny South Southern Table Beer: Represents the South in collaboration with Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche, Creature Comforts, Funky Buddha and Wicked Weed. Again the focus is local ingredients in this saison brewed with corn grits, black tea, honeysuckle, peach, papaya, guava and prickly pear. The adjunct ingredients lead the flvor here, especially the peach, papaya and guava along with a little tea. This is complemented by the fruity hops which add some orange, lemon and grape notes. The beer is light and refreshing and sessionable at 4.9% ABV. My only criticism is that I don’t get much of that distinct yeasty flavor that I expect from a saison, if you’d told me this was an APA I would have believed you. Still, a very nice offering for summer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Sierra Nevada West LatitudeWest Latitude Session Rye: Represents Northern California in collaboration with Bear Republic, Faction, Mad River, Magnolia and Maui Brewing. A rye ale brewed with a solid dose of New World hops along with hibiscus. First and foremost, it is kind of disingenuous to call this a session beer at 5.5% ABV, the highest “limit” I’ve seen for session beers is 5%. I was also really surprised by how dark this beer was, not what I expected in a rye ale. That being said, the beer is delicious, spicy rye, some roasted malt barley and midnight wheat, fruity hops and hibiscus all come together to make a beer that is complex and delicious. This was one of my personal favorites in the sampler, I think there was one beer I liked slightly better, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out which one! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.


Stoneface India Red Rye Ale

I am going to take a quick break from porter month to review something a bit different tonight. Stoneface Brewing Company in Newington, NH is one of the vast number of breweries that have opened in New England in the last few years. It was founded by Peter Beauregard, an avid home-brewer with substantial New Hampshire roots. Stoneface is named in honor of the iconic Old Man in the Mountain, a New Hampshire landmark. I had heard some positive things about Stoneface but I was unfamiliar with their beer until I noticed it’s appearance in Massachusetts bottle shops over the last few months. Stoneface has a series of year-round and rotating beers. The most common I’ve seen locally are their IPA, Pale Ale and India Red Rye Ale. While some beer enthusiasts like to judge a brewery based on their IPA (and I have done this many times in the past), I am trying to familiarize myself with new breweries by trying some of their other releases. With this in mind I grabbed a bottle of the India Red Rye Ale, I am a big fan of carefully crafted rye beers, when you get the right mixture of barley, rye and hop varieties all working together you can make a phenomenal beer. Stoneface India Red Rye Ale is currently available on draft and in 500 mL bottles.

Stoneface India Red Rye AleStoneface India Red Rye Ale pours deep red with a massive off-white head. The scent has a solid burst of fruity hops, the aroma you expect from any beer with the word “India” in the title. The taste is hop forward but not overwhelmingly so, more rye ale than rye IPA. You get some notes of grapefruit, orange, pine and grass along with a crisp bitterness. There is also a full and complex malt profile with spicy rye, fresh bread and a touch of caramel. The beer is medium bodied and easy to drink, middle of the road at 6% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop bite and spicy rye. I really enjoyed this beer, I love the combination of rye and hops, when it’s done right it makes a complex and delicious product. I look forward to sampling more of Stoneface’s offerings now that they are available in MA! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

603 Brewing 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale

I have recently spent some time discussing how I select the beers that get reviewed on Hoppy Boston. It is usually a combination of recommendations, buzz and some random choices. There is one situation that will almost always result in a purchase; when I walk into a bottle shop and see beers from a New England brewery that has recently started to distribute in Massachusetts. This is especially true if the brewery leads their release with an interesting style (namely anything other than a standard IPA). On a recent trip to my local Craft Beer Cellar I noticed a new-to-me beer from 603 Brewery in Londonderry, NH. This beer is 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale, one of 603’s flagship beers. 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale is named after the 18 miles of coastline in New Hampshire, the shortest (non-zero) coastline of any US state. One of the towns on the New Hampshire coast is named Rye, so a rye based ale seemed like a perfect style choice. The beer is brewed with a combination of rye and pilsner malt along with European noble hops. 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. cans.

603 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale603 Brewing 18 Mile Rye Pale Ale pours a hazy copper with a mild white head. The scent is a mixture of herbal and grassy hops along with some spicy rye. Some brewers use rye as a specialty grain that just adds a little complexity, but 603 adds a substantial dose of rye malt flavor to this beer. The rye adds earthy and spicy character along with some bready notes from the pilsner base malt. The noble hops complement this flavor with touches of cut grass, pine, earth and lemon along with a dry bitterness. The beer is clean and easy to drink at 6.0% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering rye and hop flavors. I am a fan of rye as a beer ingredient, and when something is labeled as a rye ale I want to taste the rye, so I really enjoyed 18 Mile. Looking forward to trying some more 603 brews now that they are available in MA! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Baxter Hayride

I love seasonal beers, we have such diverse seasons in New England and it is fascinating to see how creative brewers develop beers that complement each unique season. Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of ingenuity in the fall. For years most brewers made Oktoberfest/marzen beers as their fall seasonals, and lately it seems like every brewer is making some version of a pumpkin beer (some are even making multiple versions). I understand the desire to brew a traditional style like a marzen or to brew one of the pumpkin beers that sell so well, but it would be great to see a little more creativity and variety in the fall. One brewery that breaks the mold is Baxter Brewery in Lewiston, ME. Every fall Baxter brews Hayride, a rye ale brewed with New Zealand hops along with ginger, orange peel and pepper, and then cold conditioned on oak. Baxter Hayride in available during the fall on draft and in 12 oz. cans.

Baxter HayrideBaxter Hayride pours a deep amber with a solid off-white head. The scent is a mixture of fruity hops and lightly roasted malts along with a little spice. The taste is very complex, there are lots of different flavors in this beer but they work well together. The malts add substantial body along with touches of caramel, whole grain bread, honey and spicy rye. There is also a noticeable hit of hops, notes of pine, lemon and cut grass along with mild bitterness. The spices are subtle, but add some ginger and orange flavor, especially as the beer warms. You also get some of the vanilla flavor that is standard for a beer aged on oak. Baxter Hayride is medium bodied and goes down smooth, at 6,6% ABV it’s perfect for cool autumn evenings. The finish is crisp with just a little lingering spicy, sweet and bitter flavor on the tongue. I love seeing a brewer go against the grain for a seasonal release, and Baxter nails it with this beer, a great change of pace from pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Baxter Reviews:

Baxter Bootleg FireworksBaxter TarnationBaxter Phantom Punch Stout