Beer Review 0282: SweetWater LowRYEder IPA

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Meet SweetWater Brewing Company’s (Atlanta, Georgia) newest year-round beer, LowRYEder IPA.

In the summer of 1996, Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney, both aspiring brewers who had been roommates together at the University of Colorado — and after graduation went to the American Brewers Guild in California to learn Fermentation Science — decided that Atlanta sorely need a brewery making drinks in the West Coast style. Thus, SweetWater was born and named after the nearby SweetWater Creek.

As you might have guessed, LowRYEder IPA is an India Pale Ale brewed with a 25% shot of rye malt. It is then dry hopped with Mt. Hood and Centennial hops. This beer has won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Coming in at 6.2% ABV (alcohol by volume), the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) are just 45.

It should also be noted that SweetWater are very concerned with the freshness of their beer; not only do they print a best by date on each bottle, they also employ a “Hop Cop” that you can report your out-of-date beer to. They print her phone number on the SweetWater website. A “Hop Cop.” I like! We appreciate the serious effort to maintain freshness.

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Release from bottle gave a small, creamy head that quickly diminished. The beer was golden-orange in color, with a very clear body and no particles or sediment. Lacing was great, leaving behind thin but solid sheets in the wake of each sip.

On the nose, the rye is noticeable straight away, with a kick of peppery spice. This is notable because many rye beers provide more of a bready note; this is more peppery and earthen. The hops are also present, with a glorious amount of fresh pineapple juice, and some grapefruit. This beer smells sweet, with hops that deliver more on the sugary end and a solid backing of caramel. I thought the aroma to be very nice.

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Tasting, there’s bready rye up front — peppery on the nose, bready on the taste. Couple that with a nice layer of pineapple, and a dash of orange…but the taste is subdued, unlike the aroma. Middle of the taste doesn’t vary much, and the finish comes on with rye, pineapple, and grapefruit. As the beer warmed, the finish got more pleasant, taming the rye just a bit. For an IPA, the bitterness level here is fairly low, and this one just barely makes it to medium-bodied.

I was a bit surprised by LowRYEder — for a brewery that says “don’t float the mainstream,” they kind of play it safe here. I really loved the pineapple scents and flavors going on, but the overall verdict on the palate is mild, and a bit dull. I think SweetWater could have done much more here, and I know this is a fresh bottle thanks to their great dating system. This is highly drinkable, but if you’re looking for a rye powerhouse, you might want to look somewhere else.

SweetWater LowRYEder IPA, 85 points. Price: $1.69 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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