Emerald Rye, the new year round beer from the August Schell Brewing Company, has been out for a while now. I had the opportunity to taste it some time ago, but I’m just now getting around to giving it some proper attention. Things are busy, you know.
People were somewhat surprised when this beer was announced. A 60 IBU brew from Schell’s? How could this be possible from Brewmaster Dave Berg, a brewer somewhat famous for his aversion to tongue-scraping hop loads? But a suggestion from Jace Marti, soon to be CEO and 6th-genaration (or is it 7th?) descendant of the original August, proved too much to resist. Having just returned from brewing school in Germany, Jace was excited about a new hop called Smaragd – the German word for Emerald – that had the spiciness of a classic noble hop combined with copious fruit character. A touch of spicy rye would be the perfect complement to this hop, they decided. And true to Schell’s tradition, the new brew would be a lager.
Here’s my notes:
August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, Minnesota
Style: Rye Lager
Serving Style: 12 oz bottle
Aroma: Tangerines and toast. A bit of caramel-like sweetness lies underneath. Lime zest, oranges, pears and herbs sit on top. It’s a freakin’ fruit basket.
Appearance: Amber with reddish highlights. The long-lasting, creamy, off-white foam settles slowly to a film on the surface. Brilliantly clear.
Flavor: Sweet and bitter balanced. Bitterness hits at the top and returns at the finish. In between is toast and melanoidin malt with spicy rye flavors to give it some pep. The delicious fruit basket returns in the flavor; melons, citrus, floral and herbs. The finish is long lasting, leaving traces of sweet malt and fruit after that last bitter bite.
Mouthfeel: Medium-high body. Medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: Yes, it’s a bitter beer. 60 IBU is relatively high, especially coming from Schell’s, a brewery – and brewer – not known for the excessive use of hops. But this is not excessive. The sturdy malt backbone balances perfectly, leaving neither hops nor malt with the upper hand. The body reveals every bit of its 6% ABV, making for a satisfying quaff. This is a great food beer. It would be wonderful with cheddar or blue cheese, or maybe a hard cheese like aged Gouda. It was a great accompaniment to my Greek-seasoned, grilled pork chop. It would stand up well to a steak.