Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA

Type: Rye IPA
Origin: Chico, CA
Price: $7.99/6-pack
ABV: 6.6
NSP: 17.62 (unscaled)

That's a hell of an NSP. Giddyup. Out of curiosity, what's the highest NSP (non-shitty-beer category) we've reviewed so far?

Sierra Nevada kind of gets a bum rap around here sometimes, in that it seems like their reputation outside of California far surpasses it inside California. It's up in Chico, on the outskirts of the major NorCal craft brew region, and it sort of feels like it's just that- on the outskirts. It seems like the only time anyone ever drinks SN here is at a party when somebody else bought it, or when you bought it for a party and you have some left over. But on the flip side- nobody ever complains about drinking SN (particularly Torpedo). Quite the conundrum. So it came to be that every time I'd gone to buy beer in the past couple of months, I'd seen the Ruthless Rye and thoughtlessly passed right by it. But I kept reading about how good it is, and I figured at $7.99, what the hell am I waiting for? So far I haven't had a beer brewed with rye that I didn't like, from Hop Rod to Nelson to Avery's Eighteen (which I'll review soon to try and make up for Andy's disastrous POS). And this...well, it's no slouch.

The nose lets you know right up front that there's rye in the house, because it smells like pepper. Both black and dried chile, which is kind of cool. The hops aren't nearly as potent as I would've expected, given that this is a California IPA. But the hops definitely muscle their way in when you taste it, while the rye spice hangs around all the way to the end. It finishes incredibly cleanly because the body is really light, and it ends up pretty refreshing.

I have to say that this beer made me think. Because the flavors have a lot in common with the English IPA style that I rip on so frequently (including the TBA that I just reviewed), so I had to figure out why I liked this and not those. The rye spiciness, and the fact that the rye enhances the flavor but not the body (the latter being the real key), is what sets this apart. So even though it has a fair amount of malt flavors, it's still a California IPA at heart. I'll have to do a head-to-head with Nelson, just for shits and giggles. That's a tough spot for the Ruthless, kind of a 5 vs. 12, but upsets happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment