Amber Rye Ale

I firmly believe that amber ales deserve more love than they get nowadays. A well crafted amber ale is one of my favorite beers, but ambers are often hard to find relative to their zenith around 20 years ago. I make them semi-regularly, but wanted to take things in a slightly different direction this time around. So…why not add some rye?

With this particular batch, I wanted a beer that had the caramel quality and dry hop character of my favorite ambers, while adding a bit of rye spice to help it stand out. The recipe was loosely based on one by Charlie Papazian, “Choco Red Rye Wedding Ale.” I got a bit of feedback via the AHA forum, which was helpful in further refining my plans. For something a little different, I used Lutra kveik — it is supposed to ferment fairly clean at lower temperatures, so I thought it would be an interesting experiment.

I served the beer at the Lake Arrowhead Brewfest this past weekend, and it was pretty well received. I maybe have a gallon left, and will be savoring that.

Amber Rye Ale

  • 8 lb. 2-row malt (Rahr)
  • 2 lb. rye malt (Weyermann)
  • 10 oz. crystal 60 (Great Western)
  • 8 oz. caramel/crystal malt 135/165L (Bairds)
  • 2 oz. chocolate wheat malt (Weyermann)
  • 6 oz. rice hulls
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Lutra kveik (Omega OYL-071) dry yeast
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.048 s.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.8% abv, 31 IBU, 17 SRM
  • Full-volume mash, no sparge, at 156°
  • Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet

Procedure

  • I heated the strike water to 162° (with Campden tablet), and mashed in to hit a mash temperature of 156. I added 5.6 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH.
  • After 60 minutes of mash with recirculation, I raised the temperature to 168° for a 10 minute mash out. Then, I pulled the grains. In total, I collected 5.9 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.045, for 67% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I chilled the wort to 85°, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast. I let it ferment at ambient in the garage, which was around 66° for most of the time. Vigorous fermentation took off in under 12 hours.
  • I brewed this beer on 25 May 2022, and kegged it on 9 June 2022. I added the dry hops to the keg in a bag.
  • Starting gravity was 1.052. Final gravity was 1.017, for 4.6% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • This beer pours with a creamy, tall, and persistent ivory head. The beer itself is deep amber and brilliantly clear. It is beautiful in the glass!
  • Aroma
    • There is plenty of rye “zing.” I pick up a little dried stonefruit, and some fresh hay from the hops. The fermentation profile is surprisingly clean.
  • Flavor
    • Rye and rich malt, with a touch of dark caramel behind that. The bitterness is moderate and clean. Just like with the aroma, I don’t get anything really for yeast.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, moderate carbonation. Smooth finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • YES! This is a fantastic and interesting beer from start to finish. The end product was exactly what I envisioned. Fermentation profile is wonderfully clean (or at least playing well with the malts and hops). I can’t think of anything to change.
  • Overall
    • 10/10

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