I mentioned in a previous post that my palate has a hard time picking out the flavor of rye in rye beers. Well, the “Reeb” has changed that. I used too much. At first I wasn’t sure what the odd, spicy, grainy, grassy flavor was. I thought that it was perhaps due to oxidized, grassy flavor hops. But I took some of my beers, including the Rye Pale Ale, to Doug at Just Brew It! this week, and he was able to pinpoint the odd taste just from my description – without even opening the beer I’d brought him. I wouldn’t have thought to describe it as grainy and spicy at first – just grassy and rough. But now that he’s mentioned that it was the flavor of rye, I’ve sampled the beer again and can definitely identify a spiciness and graininess – which is how rye is typically described.

I used two pounds of rye malt in my recipe. Doug mentioned that he and his friends have designed plenty of rye pale ale recipes, too, and that they’ve found that one pound – or maybe even a little less – is just right. Even one and a half pounds is a little too much since some of the flavors in the rye begin to detract from the finished beer when it is present in too large a quantity. I don’t mind the “Reeb” finished product – in fact I like it a lot. But the rye flavor is certainly strong – at least when drinking the first one. If you have a second helping, you don’t notice as much :)

While at the homebrew store I bought three ounces of high-alpha hops – the final acquisition of luscious hops for my upcoming double IPA. While there I also decided to do my part to help out with the hop shortage by purchasing a couple of hop rhizomes. This, of course, is also a hedge against decreasing hop availability and rising hop prices – and it’s just plain fun! They are already starting to produce shoots, protruding from the dirt. Malin is planning their final planting location in the yard and has already designed a trellis for the vines once they start to get big. The hop vines can grow as long as 20′ in the first year; and, once they are mature and really growing (not sure how many years go by before that happens, but it apparently doesn’t happen in the first year), they can grow as much as 1′ per day! We’re pretty stoked. Doug says that his hop plants grow great, despite our not having a climate like the classic hop producing regions (Pacific Northwest US, Southern Germany, and Southeast England).

I bought one rhizome each of Mount Hood – a US aroma hop based on a German Hallertauer cultivar – and Chinook – another US hop that is high in alpha acids (so it is frequently used for bittering) and has strong notes of evergreen (pine needles) with some bitter citrus (grapefruit).