Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager review

Great Divide Hoss Rye LagerDon't let the word "rye" scare you. It won't bite, and may even surprise you. I found a single bottle of Great Divide Brewing Company's Hoss Rye Lager and wanted to try it. It's based off of German Märzen lager recipes and has been highly rated on the various beer sites. This is a year-round offering from Great Divide and recently had it's label redone to a more modern, contemporary look.

This bottle had a "bottled on" date of February 16, 2012 so I knew it was just over 3 months old and mostly fresh. The beer was brewed to just over 6% ABV and has won a few medals at various competitions over the last 3 years. I'm surprised I waited this long to try one.

I've recently gotten use to the taste of Rye in a beer. Rye beers are typically pale yellow to gold in color, but this one was made nearly red, much like it's label. Rye beers tend to have a touch of haze with a spicy, slightly acidic character and end in a sweet tone. These beers typically have a dry and crisp finish as well. How would this beer stack up to the usual style?

Appearance: Hoss poured a fiery orange-red and yielded just an off-white, slightly tan head that quickly dissolved. The beer itself was very clear with no visible sediment. There seemed to be adequate carbonation out of the bottle.

Aroma: Rye beers tend to have a wide range of aromas and Hoss came in on the spicy side with a dash of fruit and semi-sweet malts. There were some earthy tones to this beer coming from both the rye and the hops. Great Divide states that you might find some notes of cherry in this aroma, but I found that there was a sweet spice about this and perhaps some bits of dark fruit.

Taste: Served cool (not cold), this beer had some subtle spicy overtones and a low roasted maltiness. There was a bit of sweet caramel malt up front that gave way to some rye earthiness. I was reminded a bit of a pilsner taste but amped up with some biscuity flavor and an underlying bitter base. Hoss had a bit of a bite to it, a moderate body with a clean semi-dry finish. The brew seemed to coat my tongue just a bit with a lingering flavor of malts.

Overall: If it weren't for the fact that I've had a few rye beers before and knew what to expect, I might have thought this beer had a strange taste, but I've come to recognize what rye can do for a beer and have come to enjoy that taste. The last time I had this rye-like sensation was in an experimental rye saison from Black Bottle Brewery. I've come to enjoy it, but admittedly had to get used to the flavor.

This beer was easy drinking, yet with a complex flavor that made me want to slow down the pace a bit and enjoy it. Even at 6.2% ABV, it didn't feel like a big beer. It's strength may fool you at first, but savor a bit slower than other lagers.

I was very satisfied with this beer. It's a beer that I could drink at a ball game and also savor with some spicy foods at a nice dinner, or go the opposite direction and eat this with a sweet dessert. Great Divide seems to have found a good mix that won them a Bronze medal at the GABF in 2009. I'd definitely recommend it to a friend and would buy it again.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this single bottle as part of a build-your-own six pack.

Video showing the pour of Great Divide's Hoss Rye Lager:

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Related articles:
- Great Divide Saint Bridget's Porter review. (2008)
- Great Divide Hades Ale review. (2008)
- Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout review.


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