Beer Review 0558: Brau Brothers Rye Wyne Ale (2011)

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Today, we’re looking at a beer that is three years old, and much has changed with the brewery that produced it in 2011. I received this beer in a trade with Dave (Untappd user OnWisconsin) and have been holding onto it for quite a while.

Brau Brothers, based in Lucan, Minnesota at the time Rye Wyne Ale was brewed (population of 191 as of the 2010 US Census!) is a tiny brewery that produces beer in batches that are around 200 cases in volume. While small, they have expanded since making the beer we’re reviewing today; now, the brewery is located in Marshall, Minnesota, (20 miles from Lucan) and conducts operations in a 37,000 square foot building. According to their website (braubeer.com), the brewery apparently had to shut down for some time while moving to the new digs.

Even though they’ve moved to a bigger city, Brau Brothers believe in doing things locally — they grown their own hops and barley, and actively seek out local business with which to collaborate.

Founded in 2006, the facility in Lucan continues to operate, but their new home allows them room to grow in the future. Rye Wyne Ale is brewed with malted rye and then aged in rye whiskey barrels from Templeton Rye, headquartered in the (also) extremely small town of Templeton, Iowa. The beer comes in at 11% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 55 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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On the pour, a small, soapy head is stirred up, and it doesn’t linger for long. The color of the beer is murky brown with some lighter amber highlights, very much resembling dirty river water. The body is filled with a light, fine sediment; lacing is excellent, leaving razor thin and solid sheets of suds.

The nose showcases a huge barrel aged beer, giving off lots of buttery vanilla, coconut, and woodsy oak. I wouldn’t exactly call this a whiskey aroma, but it has all the attributes one would expect, just in lesser strength. Add in some nice touches of dark fruit (prunes) and sweet caramel, and this really reminds me of a barrel aged Scotch Ale. The rye is completely absent; perhaps this is due to the beer being three years old — I would imagine that the rye aroma would fade first. The barrel character certainly isn’t going anywhere. Alcohol is completely hidden, which is a great feat considering this is on the higher side. A nice, candy-like liquor soaked aroma.

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The missing rye in the nose finds itself front and center on the palate, mingling with a big dose of vanilla and caramel. The rye lends a bitterness and stiff note to the beer that doesn’t exactly play well with the barrel notes, but if you allow it to warm, it eases off and you get more of the barrel smoothness. Middle of the taste introduces some dark fruits, raisins and prunes, and sees full on whiskey come out. Immediately, you’ll notice how thin the mouthfeel is, and it doesn’t support the full flavors this beer displays. The finish has bitter rye bread crust on the front end, which brings out some medicinal qualities, but it mellows with more of the vanilla, caramel, and oak notes coming through. Rye Wyne is full-bodied, with a warming finish, and an unusually thin mouthfeel.

You’ll definitely want to let this beer warm up a touch in order to get the best from it. Two things bring this down, in my opinion — the rye, which adds a detracting medicinal quality, and the mouthfeel. The good news is that the rye tames as it approaches room temperature, but the mouthfeel lingers, making this less of a star than it should be.

Brau Brothers Rye Wyne Ale (2011), 88 points. Price: $16.99 US for one 750 ml. bottle.

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