Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rye IPA's

Lately I've noticed a trend of more and more brewers experimenting with Rye in their ales and particularly in their IPA's. I find this trend most enjoyable and tasty.

Within the past year or so I have had the good fortune to stumble across a nice list of Rye's in bottles and in breweries I've visited.

Bear Republic - Hop Rod Rye......OK, OK I know.... this workhorse has been around a while and fortunately has become really easy to find. Available now in 4-packs as well as in the traditional 22oz bombers. A great 18% rye/80 IBU hop monster that is an all-time favorite in the garage fridge.

Alpine - Nelson .... This gem is yet another masterpiece from Pat McIlhenney's little mountain brewery East of San Diego. Brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand it appears impossibly light in color and equally as impossibly hoppy and smooth. I prefer the tap and growlered versions but the bottled version can be pretty darn good as well although perhaps a bit heavier if not fresh. An almost too delicate a beer for bottling.

Auburn Ale House - Rye Not? ..... This Remarkably refreshing Pale Ale has it's roots in an old recipe that I remember traveling to obtain for several years before Elk Grove Brewing closed it's doors. Brewmaster Brian Ford and Brewer Bill came up with another fantastically drinkable ale that frankly I hope will be a yearly seasonal in their lineup.

AAH also just released another Rye called Rye-Nocerous to mark their Third Anniversary. A bigger beer than the Rye Not it reportedly boasts a grain bill of over 30% rye....more than I've ever heard of in a rye recipe. It also has a huge hop flavor that meshes with the smooth crisp characteristics of the Rye perfectly. Slightly sweet with just mild carbonation. I believe it is still currently on tap in Auburn and I hope to get some more before it runs dry.

Bootleggers Brewing - Rustic Rye IPA .... this little Fullerton brewery brews and bottle one of the best of the bunch. I visited this hole in the wall Industrial Park location last year and was blown away by all their beers but predictably fell in love with their Rustic. They claim it's 85 IBU's...which seems a bit high considering the great balance of Rye and hops. I also just found it in Orange CA at Hollingshead Deli in 22oz bottles. If you are in Southern LA Basin and Orange County you should be able to find it

Ale Industries - Ryed Piper..... I found this inspirational rye beauty at the West Coast Brew Fest in early May. The brewer was himself pouring, and with a smirk, told me that there was merely 5.6% rye in the beer..... After I expressed my amazement he explained that they pulverized the rye which they felt extracted every bit of rye flavor without the inevitable gumming clean-up factor that most rye brews leave in their wake. I actually know very little about this brewery in Concord CA...but of course I plan to rectify that situation in the very near future.
Sequoia Brewing - Rye IPA..... I completely stumbled upon this beer like I always do.....stopping in Fresno on one of our trips down South to visit the parents in the Mojave Desert Cultural Wasteland. I always look forward to brewer Kevin Cox's seasonal creations and this year I was just so stoked I think my grin may have tripped Terri on her way in the door. I was really glad that I remembered a growler so I could bring a sample for my good buddies to try down that way. I'm sure they will comment here so you can see how great and drinkable this hoppy crisp Rye truly is.

OK...well...I guess that's all the rye I can think of at the moment. Kinda makes me feel like going to get a Reuben sandwich or some Pastrami or something. Maybe I can get Rick to drive me to Fresno for lunch's only 3 hours away and the rye bread sandwiches must be as good as the beer right? Ya.....dream on.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Traveling to Livermore California last weekend I looked forward to making my usual appearance at The First Street Ale House located at 2106 First Street in downtown. My last visit was in February so it was my first look since they finished their move into the more spacious building right next door. I was a little worried that the new place wouldn't have the great pub feel of the original but I needn't have worried.
Despite the fact that the place seemed to have quadrupled in size I still felt immediately comfortable...and of course thirsty. The bigger building also brought with it more tap handles...24 in all now I believe.
The Ale House has always had a nice eclectic mix of local and regional craft brew favorites along with excellent imports like Paulaner Hefewizen and Spaten Franziskaner. The day's line up when I was there included the Paulaner... two wheat beers from Pyramid, North Coast Skrimshaw Pilsner, Alaskan Amber, Stone Brewing IPA, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Snowshoe Grizzley Brown, Snowshoe Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin, Russian River Pliny the Elder, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and Port Brewings Wipeout IPA. If memory serves me well, which it rarely does anymore, I believe they also had an Anchor Brewing Beer, PBR and Woodchuck Pear Cider among others.
The beautiful thing is FSAH is on the 'A' list of pubs and always brings in the finest seasonals from all around Northern California and beyond. It's always a good time to check out the taps on First never know what you might find. Last year I just missed the tapping of one of their Russian River Pliny the Younger kegs.
The extensive pug menu is stellar as well and will keep your stomach happy after your fourth or fifth pint makes you I mean...your second pint.... and remember always drink responsibly....give some to me for safe keeping.