Matt’s Myriad of Beer Styles #2 – Rye

(First published in 2015) Welcome to this second chapter of my journey through the myriad of wonderful beer styles there are for us to enjoy. This time, I am going to look at my favourite style of the last year or so and one which seems to be becoming more popular amongst UK brewers- Rye beers.

As the name suggests, a rye beer is a beer in which rye is substituted for some portion of the barley malt. When I mentioned rye, you are probably thinking of thick, flavourful breads, crisp crackers, or distilled spirits, but rye is increasingly used in beer production.

The style has been developed in the USA over recent years and, as with so many innovations in the US home-brewing and micro-brewing scene, it has inspired many brewers here in the UK. As you might expect from a US influenced style, the beers are often so heavily hopped that they resemble American IPAs, hence the coining of the term “Rye-P-A”.

Rye beers also often have spicy and sour-like rye characteristics. Generally, the more rye used in the grist bill, the spicier the beer. Rye is commercially available as malt, roasted malt, and in rolled, flaked, and whole grain form, which gives the brewer many options. Rye beers are usually light-coppery orange/amber to very dark reddish or coppery brown in colour.

Sub-categories of rye beers are Roggenbier of Bavaria, Sahti of Finland, Kvass of Eastern Europe and Russian-influenced areas of China, and Rauchroggen of Germany.

Examples of rye beers I have tried over the last year or so are Hand Drawn Monkey Brewing Co. What Would Jephers Do? (4.5%), Wharfe Bank Ryestone Cowboy (5%) and Atom Rye Saffron (5.5%). Others I am aware of are Rudgate Brew No. 13 (4.0%), Black Sheep Reaper (4.0%), Roosters Kushty Rye (4.5%), Wharfe Bank Red Ryesing (4.2%), Rudgate Brew No. 2 (3.8%), Ilkley Bike Rye’d (4.0%) and Acorn Quercus (4.5%). If you’ve never tried a rye beer before, I recommend you give it a go. You never know, it might become your favourite style too!

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