Rye Times: The Wonders of Rye Beer at GABF

I’ll admit right up front. My experience with Rye beers pre-GABF was a big fat goose egg. I have enjoyed occasionally the Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic, but that’s about the size of it. Limited knowledge to say the least!

So it became my mission to try a few Rye beers and get to know the style a bit. But believe me, I was a bit reticent. I’ve never a big rye bread fan. I don’t know HOW people eat those bizarre, demonic, foul-tasting caraway seeds. Nothing ruins a perfect Everything bagel quicker than one of those little devils.

So obviously, I had a bit of a mental block when it came to rye beers. Yes, I know caraway seeds aren’t always involved, but I just couldn’t help getting that bleech taste in my mouth whenever a rye beer was mentioned.

But I decided to cast prejudice aside with a flourish and promptly march my black-booted self right up to the Great Lakes booth and try their offering. And afterward? I treated myself to their deeeelicious Christmas Ale. I figured, I had just torn down my own Berlin wall, I deserved a treat!


Who doesn't love these guys?!

Great Lakes Rye of the Tiger (Rye IPA), 7.5% ABV: Mmmm! WHAT have I been waiting for?? A Great Lakes brewer’s favorite, this beers is only available in house. (insert frown HERE). Meaning no bottling folks. So it was my great pleasure to be able to taste this brew at GABF. And I am silently pleading and hoping it’s on tap when I go to Ohio in November for a football weekend….(Are you reading this, Great Lakes?)

Wonderful rye backbone on the beer (grain notes of wheat mingled with caramel malt) with a fantastic punch of hop citrus, florals, pine, and grass. Super hoppy bitterness on the palate, which just makes this girl want more and more. A truly delicious, and well-crafted beer.

or THESE guys? What a combo.

Great Lakes was opened in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway. Before long, they were a national hit, brewing award-winning beers such as Dortmunder Gold, which won Gold at the GABF in 1990. By 1998, they had expanded into a SIX-building facility and to date have brewed over 55 beers! I am thrilled to be visiting their brewery in November. STAY TUNED for a full writeup, featuring some of their Pub Exclusives!


Beer is INDEED food.

Bluegrass Brewing Rye 75 IPA, 7.5% ABV: Nice grain nose of wheat and barley, with notes of citrus hops mingled with multi-grain bread, and dried field grassses. Hints of honey and malt. On the palate, a more subtle hoppiness than the Great Lakes, with more spiciness and the grain of the rye dominating. A smooth and easy-drinking IPA, an admirable offering from Bluegrass.

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Bluegrass Brewing was opened by 1993 by Pat Hagan. Now with two locations, BBC, as it is lovingly known, keeps Louisville humming with live music on the weekends, and a lineup of beer events. Next time I am in Bourbon country, I am definitely paying these guys a visit.

Besides, there are several more of their beers I would love to try, including their Bourbon Barrel Rye Porter and Hot Carl, a chile beer. And with their obvious love affair with smoked beers (I’m all for that!), I have a date with offerings Bourbon Barrel Smoked Stout, Smoked Bock, and Smoked Porter.

I also tried and enjoyed Portsmouth Brewing’s Rye Not (I reviewed their Gose for this challenge), which later won Silver in the Rye category.

Most recently I discovered the deliciousness of a local brew, Alpine Brewing’s Nelson, a Rye IPA. I sat down with a few of these recently at San Diego Tap Room, and was in Hop/Rye heaven. They do a brilliant job of melding the earthy grain quality with the hop vibrancy to create a refreshing take on the IPA formula. Look for a full review of this beer in the future!

Conclusion? Rye beers have become my new little beer obsession. I want to try EVERY Rye beer out there. And you know how I am….When I get an idea in my head, it’s ON.

Until next time,

Be happy, drink craft beer, and…get your Rye on.



One Comment Add yours

  1. JohnKing says:

    Thanks for giving my hometown Louisville brewery some rep! Their smoked beers and bourbon barrel stout are fantastic.

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