This week’s Canadian Craft Beer post comes from our Atlantic Canada craft beer guy, Todd Beal. This week Todd visits the Garrison and Boxing Rock breweries to explore the use of rye in craft beer making.
People tend to think of whiskey when you mention rye, but craft breweries have been adding it to their mashes more and more. Now, the use of rye in beer isn't new; in fact, it's been used for centuries with the roggenbier style using a high percentage of rye for the grain.
Craft brewers are adding rye — in amounts usually up to 20 percent — to many styles, creating new variations. Rye adds crisp, spicy, bread-like flavour and sometimes dryness to the beer. Rye also tends to blend well with most hops types, particularly spicy or citrusy hops. Going above 20 percent on the grain bill, the spiciness becomes forefront and tastes more like rye bread.
Garrison Brewing — Sweet Rye'd Harvest Wheat Ale
Garrison Brewing, which has been making beer for almost two decades now, collaborated with one of Canada's largest craft beer brands, Beau's All Natural Brewing, in 2014 to make Sweet Rye’d Harvest Wheat Ale. Since then it has become one of Garrison's favorite seasonal releases. Sweet Rye’d is a copper coloured ale brewed with rye and wheat malts, and a good dose of floral hops that include citra, cascade, and columbus and bog myrtle. Bog myrtle is part of traditional gruit, an herbal mixture that was used in beer before hops were introduced.
Sweet Rye'd pours a clear amber in colour with an off-white head that has good retention and lacing. On the nose there's caramel, grassy, earthy, rye and spices. There's a floral taste with some grassiness and spiciness, with the rye shining through in the aftertaste. It also has a slightly dry mouth feel.
ABV 6 % IBU 40 | Available NS, NB
Boxing Rock Brewing — Next Chapter Rye IPA
Boxing Rock made this seasonal beer in its first year of release only for the New Brunswick market. Andrew Estabrooks worked on this one at Boxing Rock and will be the head brewer at Fog Horn Brewing when it opens later this year.
The malt bill is over 30 percent rye malt to give an unmistakeable rye. The ale pours a clear reddish-amber colour with a decent light tan head with good retention. The aroma is spicy, caramel malt, pine and citrus. The taste is caramel, spicy rye, piney and citrusy. The beer has a medium body and a good amount of carbonation with a slightly bitter and spicy finish.
ABV 6.3% | Available NS, NB
There are a multitude of rye beers available in Canada. It may be time to try a slightly hardier ale or a variation on a favorite style. Generally the spicier beers will pair up with hardy meals of meats and root veggies as well as spicy foods.
Check out all our Canada’s Craft Beer articles.
Todd Beal follows the craft beer scene closely in the Canadian Maritimes and reports on it weekly on his blog, Maritime Beer Report. He’s frequently asked to comment on television, newspapers and magazines as a craft beer expert. He can be heard Friday afternoons on News 95.7 commenting on beer. Visit his blog and follow him on Twitter @MaritimeBeerRpt.