A Tale of Two RyePA’s
We’ve been very busy little homebrewers of late, and it feels so right.
I’ve been talking a lot about these RyePA (Rye IPA) beers we brewed on our friend Sean’s Electric Brewery system, remember that gorgeous system I told you about? Well, they’re all carbonated and ready to enjoy!! To celebrate, last weekend we had a combined tapping/birthday party. What better way to celebrate my late twenties than with a duo of delicious home brews!
We went ahead and splurged by getting Eli’s BBQ catered which was UH-mazing. God I love that place. Beers and BBQ, ya’ll. Happy birthday to me.
Out of curiosity, we asked our friends who attended the party to rank which of the RyePA’s they preferred.
But first, I’ll tell you a little more about the makings of these beers. The only major difference between the recipes was the yeast we used, the very versatile Pacman Wyeast (Rogue’s brand) and the other a Belgian Whit, Wyeast #3944. The other difference is that we added an ounce of our home grown hops from last year to the straight up RyePA, which we had dried in our oven on convection setting, then froze. The recipe was designed to have a very straightforward, pale-ish malt profile, with 20% rye. We really wanted the rye, hops, and yeast to be the primary focus of the beers. This was particularly important for the Belgian so you could really taste all of the flavors without being muddled by any darker, or more caramel malts. We stuck to two-row, crystal 10 and just a little Vienna malt.
For hops, we used Nugget, Fuggle, and Citra. We opted to add the hops throughout the boil in order to get hop action in all three major categories: bitterness, flavor, and aroma. You achieve higher levels of bitterness the earlier in the boiling process you add the hops. Later in the boil, you’ll pick up the flavor of hops, and at the end of the boil is where you achieve aroma.
Amazingly, despite the similarities of the beers, there was a clear, somewhat surprising winner:
The Belgian RyePA. By a lot.
The Belgian yeast added just the right amount of fruitiness to balance the big hop flavor and dry-ness of the spicy rye. Interestingly the appearance of the beers is extremely similar. I kind of expected the Belgian yeast to impart more of a haziness, but after a week of kegging, I couldn’t really tell the difference.
The straight up RyePA smells of citrus and floral hops. The flavor, also lemony citrus, with a slight peppery spice and a bitter but well balanced finish. The Belgian RyePA has much less on the nose, which makes sense because we didn’t dry hop it. The fruity Belgian yeast complements the hops and rye extremely well. The overall flavor of this beer is more earthy, and slightly more sweet. That little touch of fruity sweetness from the yeast is what makes this beer so good.
Also, can we talk about the lacing on these beers? Lacing is that gorgeous pattern of proteins that is left on the glass of a well foamed beer. Phenomenal.
Both beers turned out really exceptionally, I’m thrilled to report, but I think that the Belgian RyePA is one of the best beers we’ve ever made. It is light enough to be a great summer beer, but not your typical Belgian whit, or one note Pilsner.
I’ll leave you with a hop update. The Nugget hop vine is currently around 4 feet tall! We’re not quite at peek growing season but I’m happy to say that no squirrels have stolen our roots, and all the hops are making great progress.
Next up on the docket for homebrews is an experimental brew: a Mesquite Honey Wheat with a super bizarro ingredient. Any guesses?