Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Rye Stout

Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg, MI

Style: Dry Stout

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Pair With:
• Brats
• Chili
• Crab
• Fajitas
• Lobster
• Nachos
• Oysters
• Salami
• Shrimp
Rye is an old, hardy grain native to northern climes. It’s been used on and off in beer for a couple millennia at least, but usually only when barley was scarce. It’s not a fun grain to brew with—in the mash it gets pretty damn goopy—but it has a lot to offer a brewer whose willing to deal with it. Rye dries a beer out, sucking away the body and playing against a brew’s maltiness. When enough rye is used—say, 20 percent or more of the grist—it’ll add sharp peppery aromas and flavors that can give an otherwise straightforward beer a distinctive twist.

Like, for instance, a stout such as Bell’s Rye Stout. The rye really keeps things dry and crisp, in essence creating a dry stout à la Guinness (although not nearly as watery as Arthur’s 250-year-old world classic) but with a spicy snap only rye can impart to a beer.

Rye Stout pours a warm mocha color with a perfect but short-lived sepia-colored head. The nose is sweet chocolate maltiness with tiny anise notes popping here and there. For a stout, its body is decidedly medium—dried out and lightened up by the rye—with a fairly neutral mouthfeel, not sharp like I was expecting. The sip starts out malty, with dark toastiness, even a tiny bit of smoke flavor. The middle is ale-like light fruitiness with more of the anise notes coming in, this time a bit stronger. The finish is only medium—extremely short for a stout—but here is where we get the spicy, peppery character indicative of a big rye presence in the brewing process. This also dries the finish out, lickety-split, making me immediately want to take another sip.

Yet another strong, complex entry from Bell’s. If you like your stouts and you like your rye, you will love this beer.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on November 16, 2009.
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