Beer Review 0537: Southern Tier 2XRye Imperial IPA
Southern Tier Brewing Company have been in the beer business since 2002, when founders Phineas DeMink and Allen Yahn started the brewery with the goal of reviving small batch brewing. At first, this goal was a reality — using equipment gained from the purchase of Old Saddleback Brewing Company, various brews were distributed in and around the Lakewood, New York area. The distribution circle quickly expanded to New York City, and then to the entire New York state. Small batch, not so much.
That’s what happens when you make good beer. The rest, as they say, is history. Since 2009, the brewery has continually expanded, and the bottling line at Southern Tier can crank out 10,000 bottles per hour. The company’s brews are now distributed in about half of the United States and several foreign countries.
New for autumn 2013 is 2XRye, an Imperial IPA brewed with rye. Technically an adjunct ingredient in beer, rye is known for its ability to withstand harsh growing conditions. In beer, rye is a powerful flavor, especially when teamed with hops; this beer is brewed with three different varieties of hops, and five types of malts. 2XRye is 8.1% ABV (alcohol by volume) and is available in six-packs.
The pour made a very nice looking brew, topped with an average size, soapy head that was bright white in color and lasting. The beer itself was golden-orange in color and brilliantly clear, featuring no particles or sediment, and no hop haze. Lacing was most excellent, leaving a fully coated glass — this is typical of most beers brewed with rye, but it never fails to be pleasing to the eye.
The good times continue on the nose, where a small surprise waits: you might would think this beer to be dominated by a rye scent, but it’s really not — big, punchy grapefruit and pine hops greet the nose, opening up to softer layers of tropical fruits, especially lime. The pine is sticky and the grapefruit is slightly astringent; it’s balanced out by a nice sweetness from caramel malts and the hops themselves actually smell quite sweet. The rye is here, but it’s a subtle supporting character, lending well to blend the caramel and hops together nicely.
On the taste, 2XRye starts out bland, kind of like a hoppy pine needle tea, but that quickly changes as you swirl the drink around your tongue. Deep notes of grapefruit and tropical fruits arrive, all at once dank and light; fleshy fruits dance around dark hits of pine and grapefruit rind. The rye is absent until the finish, which sees some bread crust mixing with a general caramel sweetness; believe it or not, the hops here get sweet until the swallow, when the bitterness comes into play. It’s moderately bitter, doesn’t dry out the mouth, and the alcohol is completely hidden. Final notes are of grapefruit, pine, and fresh rye bread. 2XRye is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.
I really enjoyed tasting this beer and found it very subtly played in all directions. While I like rye beers, the majority of them tend to be overwhelming on the rye, and when you start mixing rye with hops, medicinal bitterness often occurs. Not here. This drinks like a really nice, somewhat sweet Imperial IPA that has a dash of rye. I’d even go so far to say this is one of Southern Tier’s best. Bravo!
Southern Tier 2XRye Imperial IPA, 93 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 12 oz. bottle.