Rye is desperate need of a second chance in craft beer. Once considered among the trendiest additions to any style (rye IPA, anyone?), the spicy cereal grain is now something of a signifier that the beer you’re drinking was probably concocted a decade ago.
Georgia’s Creature Comforts wants to set the record straight. Last year, it went to the mat for the whiskey-esque adjunct and made its rye amber ale a year-round canned flagship. Is the revival all in vain, though? Can on beer undo a near-decade’s worth of beer snobbery and bring rye back to its former glory?
Appearance and Aroma
When you think of a typical rye beer, you think of a thick, reddish-brown slurry. Reclaimed Rye is indeed thick, but it’s atypical in its astonishing redness. When it comes to the nose, any beer that incorporates rye comes away stained with its sweet, raisiny aroma. Reclaimed Rye combats the spicy grain with woody, earthy elements and a faint sniff of herbal hops. Though pleasant, they're ultimately unable to quell that sickly sweet cherry syrup stink.
In 2019, it's a bold move to moor your brewery's national reputation to a rye-based amber ale.”
If you’re a fan of a good Sazerac, Reclaimed Rye could become a standby. The beer was aged on French oak spirals, which infused the beer with a playful hint of vanilla to complement the caraway flavor from the rye. The woodiness is a companion for the deeper, candied malt flavor. Good news: the aging only brings Reclaimed Rye up to 5.5% ABV, so it hardly has the impact of that rye whiskey cocktail.
In 2019, it's a bold move to moor your brewery's national reputation to a rye-based amber ale, and you have to give Creature Comforts credit for having the chutzpah to lead with Reclaimed Rye. Perhaps a bit more time aging or a wildcard ingredient (like smoked malt, perhaps) would make Reclaimed Rye something truly special, but it's ultimately a beer that repeats too many of the offenses of its predecessors.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly claimed that Reclaimed Rye is aged in French oak barrels, but it is actually aged on French oak spirals.