There are many elixirs I'll drink by default, because I love that particular style so much. For instance, I'll drink any bourbon. So will my wife. And I'm a sucker for any beer that's labeled as "bourbon barrel aged"... definitely a predominant trend in beer circles, especially the past couple years. But hell, most of the time they're amazing, trendy or not. I've seen some press about how 2013 is the Year Of The Sour for American craft brewers. While it's true they're noticeably on the rise, I think sours will peak more next year. I think the true trend of 2013 is barrel aged anything. There are more barrel aged brews than I can ever remember, not only on specialty shelves, but available in larger retailers like BevMo and Cost Plus. And I'm not seeing the Bruery or Avery sours stocked on those shelves yet.
But that's my long-winded way of noting a style I can never turn down: I'm a sucker for anything rye. This is where The Mrs. and I part ways. She likes the sweetness of most straight Kentucky bourbons, and tends to shy away from the dry, Midwestern barnyard taste of rye. I love it, and I'll buy any rye beer. Or any rye for that matter.
Epic Brewing doesn't live up to their name 100% of the time (I say ixnay on that Sage Saison of theirs), but they're pretty reliable overall, and thankfully they came through this time.
Rio's Rompin Rye is a winner. Strong rye presence, not overbearing, freakin' tasty. And even better when it's about halfway between fridge temp and room temp.
And yes, in the photo that's a plastic lizard in a bowl of water. Only my 9 year old can explain.
After finishing off the Epic rye beer, completely at random I grabbed something else new out of my trusty beer fridge, and by absolute chance it was yet another rye beer. My planets must be aligned. I cracked open the New Belgium / Elysian Collaboration - Trip XVI Seattle Farmhouse Rye Ale next. I'm a huge fan of Seattle-based Elysian. New Belgium... well.... I heard their tap room is excellent. But I've never been there. I've only had their bottled beers which have been OK. Then again, New Belgium is so huge, it's hard to tell if the bottles I didn't love were stored in a huge supermarket distribution warehouse for 6 months prior to my opening them. In any case, when I purchased this collaboration brew, I was pretty excited (I know, sad but true, these things excite me), especially about the Elysian part of it. And the rye part of it. Untappd has this listed as a "Saison / Farmhouse Ale" which doesn't remotely describe what I'm tasting. In fact, I'm not sure what I'm tasting from this bottle. It has hints of rye, hints of hops, but nothing predominant nor distinguishing. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it either. Admittedly, when the last of it got to room temperature, I got more rye flavor. Overall, Epic won this round of rye brewing.
If there's one thing I can't stand (OK, there's A LOT of things I can't stand, but I'll get into those eventually), it's self-righteous, foodie bloggers who give "Suggested Pairings" for food and beverages. No one wants to read that drivel. And by "no one", I mean Me. That aside, from now on I'm going to give my own Suggested Pairings for some of the beers I sample. But to be more practical, I'll be pairing BEER and MUSIC.
Here we go...
My Suggested Pairing:
Epic Brewing Rio's Rompin Rye
Poison Idea vinyl re-issues on TKO/Southern Lord
There's no better pairing than beer and punk rock, and both of these make me extremely happy. These Poison Idea LPs have excellent gatefold packaging, liner notes, and the tunes are unstoppable. You get all the songs from the standard releases, plus demos, live shows, and early comp tracks. I especially dig the tracks I never even knew existed, like the 1981 demo. What an ass-kicker! Highest recommendation. R.I.P. Pig Champion. Cheers!