Review: two whiskey barrel aged rye beers
The reason why I initially named the magazine “Malt Advocate” is because the magazine equally covered beer and whisky. (Malt being the common thread.) I was a beer writer before I wrote about whisky.
I still have been reviewing beer, freelance, for America’s longest running beer magazine, All About Beer. (A great magazine, by the way, if you are a beer enthusiast.)
I’ve now decided to focus my beer reviewing efforts back here, under the Malt Advocate umbrella. So, to kick things off, I thought I would write about these two beers I recently received. Both have a whiskey connection: the are beers made with rye and aged in whiskey barrels. Their oak aging is evident but not excessive. They are best enjoyed at cellar temperature. And as you can see from my rating, I like both of them.
HE’BREW “R.I.P.A on Rye”(beer on left) is a rye double IPA aged in rye whiskey barrels. (Six year old Sazerac Rye barrel, in case you were going to ask.) It checks in at 10% ABV. A sipping beer for sure. The bitter hop notes mask some of the rye spice, but there’s still plenty of rye spice to go around. I can really taste the spicy and citrus rye notes in the beer, along with the caramel, vanilla, apricot, dark chocolate, espresso bean, and gritty, dry, rye barrel notes emerging and concentrating on the finish. Very bold and dynamic. ($12)
Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90
RY(e)AN ALE is beer produced by Smuttynose brewery for Julio’s Liquors. It’s simply described as a “rye ale aged in bourbon barrels.” (Buffalo Trace and Four Roses, for the record.) It doesn’t have the hoppy bitterness like the HE’BREW beer (it’s smoother too!), but it sure is full-bodied (as it should be, if it wants to stand up to the wood) and fairly strong, logging in at 7.7% ABV. I can smell and taste the charred oak influence. It’s rich, sweet and malty, with chewy caramel, molasses, malted milk balls, plum skin, black cherry, licorice and pleasant orchard fruit for balance. Liquid Dessert! ($9)
Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91