Beer Review 0539: The Bruery Rugbrød Dark Rye Ale

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The Bruery opened in 2008, the homebrew product of Patrick, Chris, and Rachel Rue. Patrick and Chris are brothers; Rachel is the wife of Chris. The first home brew batch the three made was an amber ale with Cascade hops; as the years went by, Patrick, who was going to law school, saw his beer passion become bigger than his law studies. He decided the rest of his life should be dedicated to making beer, so he got loans and started The Bruery, which is a fusion of his last name, and well… Brewery.

Located in Placentia, California, most of The Bruery’s beers are considered to be experimentations brewed in the Belgian tradition. None of their beers are filtered or pasteurized; all are bottle conditioned and use a proprietary Belgian yeast strain.

Rugbrød, which means “rye bread” in Danish, is a brown ale brewed with three different varieties of rye malt. It’s loosely based on Scandinavian Christmas beer, known as “Julebryg.” The Bruery say if you don’t know the correct pronunciation of Rugbrød, don’t worry — they don’t, either. The beer comes in at 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 30 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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Pouring produced a large, billowing head that was both fluffy and foamy. It quickly disappeared, leaving behind a very murky brown, cloudy beer. Although so cloudy it was opaque, there are no particles or sediment, and lacing never happened.

The nose features rye and pumpernickel breads, mixed with a definite Belgian yeast presence. There’s notes of orange peel, dough, and floury bread, along with some very light sweet caramel, chocolate, and toasted grains. There’s a slight tartness to this beer as well, which I was not expecting; overall, it does fall more on the sweet end, especially with hits of brown sugar as it begins to warm.

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On the taste, I have to wonder if this brew isn’t slightly infected — there’s an initial tart sourness that reminds me of an infected beer, but it goes away, overwhelmed by the malts. But one thing that never disappears, despite how much I jiggle my glass around, is the carbonation. It’s lively and damn near fizzy like a soda. The tart flavors break fast to orange peel and heavy doughy yeast. The flavors don’t change much until the middle of the taste, which brings on caramel sweetness and a hint of milk chocolate. The rye comes on for the finish, drying out the palate significantly and bringing a very earthy flavor. It’s definitely a twangy finish that grows bitter the further you get into the bottle. Rugbrød is medium-bodied, with an extremely foamy, thin texture.

I was shocked by how disappointing this beer was. Possible infection issue aside, the flavors here are just boring, bland, and frankly…dead. While not something I would consider a drainpour, I’m not going to lie and tell you that I had fun working my way through all 750 ml. of this. I didn’t. The only saving graces are the caramel and chocolate flavors, which are nice, but the rye finish is too much and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This is money better spent elsewhere in The Bruery lineup.

The Bruery Rugbrød Dark Rye Ale, 72 points. Price: $10.99 US for one 750 ml. bottle.

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