Rompo Red Rye
How best to quantify the supremely drinkable beer style that is the Red Rye Ale? It’s harder than you might expect.
Certain things fall into the sweet spot where styles or flavors overlap, and this is certainly one of them: it’s flavorful without being overwhelming; complex without being too heavy. It’s light enough for spring and summer drinking, but it’s rich enough for drinking on a crisp fall day.
At the same time, the style isn’t as omnipresent in craft brewing as, say, IPAs. This isn’t necessarily a style to draw in hop enthusiasts or aficionados of barrel aging. Instead, Red Rye Ales sneak up on you rather than overwhelm you; they’re the kind of beer you can get lost in.
There are a host of notable examples out in the world. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey’s Carton Brewing is responsible for the highly recommended Red Rye Returning, which I first had at a bar far down the Jersey Shore late one night in the early days of autumn; it was just about perfect. Dublin’s Porterhouse Brewing Company has a red ale as well; it’s a denser, headier pour, but one that rewards nursing or rapidly downing in equal measure.
And then there’s Jackalope Brewing Company, who have been part of a growing and impressive craft brewing scene in Nashville since 2011. The name of their Rompo Red Rye Ale evokes a bizarre corpse-eating creature from the annals of cryptozoology – so between that and the brewery’s name, you’ve got two imaginary creatures fighting it out before you’ve even opened your can of beer. It’s hard to argue with that.
But charming names and memorable can designs only go so far – how, you may wonder, is the beer?
It never feels overly heavy, and the fruitier aspects keep the overall taste here quite refreshing.”
The beer, thankfully, is quite good. The aroma is initially citrusy, before giving way to something broader and floral. That carries through in terms of the taste: there are hints of tangerine present, along with something on the savory side of sweet. Think of pomegranates; think of a slice of watermelon after it’s spent a few minutes on the grill. It’s complex and unpredictable, and despite having a sense of where each of the flavors is coming from, the way that they converge is still a pleasant surprise.
When poured into a glass, the ale reveals itself to be somewhat cloudy, with a reddish-brown coloring. There’s an instantly crisp feeling when this reaches your throat; it’s here that the sweetest aspects of its flavor come to the foreground. There’s a slightly bitter aftertaste that follows, offsetting that somewhat.
That doesn’t change the fact that this is a remarkably easygoing beer – at 5.6% alcohol by volume, and 22 International Bittering Units, it never feels overly heavy, and the fruitier aspects keep the overall taste here quite refreshing.
So, yeah: a bunch of cryptids walk into a party with some cans of beer. It sounds like the setup for something promising and memorable, and it is.