Brewery Vivant – Sgt. Peppercorn Rye Ale


Reviewed by Ron DeGregorio

With Halloween upon us, the time for my pumpkin ale expedition has come to a close. I had a great time, but like all wonderful things, this too must come to an end. I am moving on to non-traditional beers; sours, spicy beers and whatever else I can find that breaks the mold of IPAs, stouts and lagers.

My first go at this trek was to taste a very limited released by Brewery Vivant; an AWESOME brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Vivant specializes in Belgian style ales. What is extra-neat about Vivant is that they are located in an old chapel, which totally adds to the whole ‘Belgian feel’. It almost feels like you are sitting in an medieval chapel sipping on some Monk’s beer!

There are not many details surrounding this beer, but what I found to be interesting is that Vivant sells their Brewer’s Reserve Limited Releases in cans, which I think is the bee’s knees. This is a rye ale brewed with peppercorns added.

Here is what Vivant says about their beer: “Rye pale ale. Standard rye with a touch of caramel rye produces a dry and spicy flavor with beautiful color. Green peppercorns are thrown in the kettle as well as “dry spiced” in the fermenters for a little kick.”

Let’s see what I thought.

Appearance: Sgt. Peppercorn pours reddish brown, almost copper toned. It is similar to a cinnamon color, but lighter. It has an orangish hue, and comes with very little head that disappears quickly. Well carbonated.

Aroma: Sgt. Peppercorn, though brewed with peppercorn, has almost no aroma. While it obviously does have a scent, it is very weak. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping for a little more on the nose. What I do gather is a strong rye smell, with a bit of a peppery note, though definitely not strong or overpowering. A very light Belgiany yeast aroma comes through (hints of banana and clove) but again, extremely light. I was hoping for more of a nose on this one.

Taste: Right away, Sgt. Peppercorn has a spicy backbone. It is not spicy in the sense of spicy food, but in a peppery way. It is by no means overwhelming, but it is a welcomed peppery spice. I wish there were more to be honest. While it does leave a nice, peppery tingle on the tongue, I wish Sgt. Peppercorn gave me more. I get a very slight hint of cinnamon and allspice, but could actually be from the peppercorn.

Conclusion: All in all, I enjoyed Sgt. Peppercorn. I love the presentation of the can, and I really love this brewery. The beers I enjoyed at the brewery were fantastic and the staff is awesome. I wish Sgt. Peppercorn packed more of a punch, because while it is tasty, it is kind of boring. Definitely would try it again and would recommend it to people who are looking for a different kind of beer in today’s world of IPAs and hop concoctions. Make a trip up North and visit my friends at Brewery Vivant. You won’t be disappointed.

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Brew Review Crew

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