Whenever I see Great Lakes’ Rye of the Tiger on tap, I start to sound like Homer Simpson — “Mmmmmm Rye of the Tigerrrr (insert drooling noises here)”. It is a beer I have had before, and have always enjoyed. But with great blog comes great responsibility, and, therefore, I must review!
Now, many of you know about Great Lakes Brewing. They are most famous for their delicious Christmas Ale, which sells out almost instantly in this area, but they are also noted as one of the top craft breweries in the nation. Looking back on it, there are only a few beers I’ve ever tried from GLBC that I didn’t like; they just know how to make incredible brews.
Rye of the Tiger is called ”A handcrafted rye India pale ale”. Rye seems to be a trend in the IPA world (I’m also thinking of Red’s RyePA from Founders), and that is because of the crisp and spicy notes it gives to it’s beers. I’m hoping that was the inspiration for creating this beer, and that they didn’t think of the name “Rye of the Tiger”, laugh, and then decide to reverse engineer an IPA to fit. That would just be evil. (Come on, you can’t hear that name and not want go into a drinking montage!)
Rye of the Tiger pours a deep copper with a thin, slightly off-white head. The head is quick to dissipate. Maybe it was because I washed my glass in the diswasher (I know, I know, what was I thinking?!), or maybe it just doesn’t have great head retention. Normally I find that dishwasher-cleaned glasses will create a head, just not keep it, and that isn’t the case with RotT. That being said, the color is beautiful, and the beer is cloudy, kind of like a jello mold with air bubbles trapped inside.
Although the head normally helps retain aroma, I can still smell huge hop notes. The hops smell of citrus and flowers, and there is definitely an alcoholic presence in the nose; slightly shocking for only being 7.5% ABV.
Rye of the Tiger has a slightly chewy mouthfeel. It isn’t thick like a stout, but it has a good amount of body to it. While the carbonation would seem to be low due to the small amount of head on the beer, it delivers the perfect amount of tingly bubbles to accentuate the hop notes in this Rye IPA. This beer coats your mouth with the tingling of carbonation and bitter hops, but that doesn’t linger to leave a dissatisfying aftertaste.
Rye of the tiger hits the toungue with a mixture of piney bittering hops, and citrusy flavor hops. There is a strong, caramel malt and rye backbone that gives balance to a well hopped beer. The rye helps it finish smooth and rounds out this beer wonderfully.
Once again, Great Lakes hit it out of the park with Rye of the Tiger. This beer is deep, bold, and complex. The more I drink the more I get out of it.
I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a hop head. IPA’s and Pale Ales are always what catch my eye when I see them on tap. If you’re anything like me, do yourself a favor and order a pint of Rye of the Tiger (though don’t order it with a light dish, your pallet will not recover quick enough from that amount of hops). It may be bitter for some people, but I think it is incredibly well balanced and it keeps me wanting more. Isn’t that what every beer should strive to be?
My overall score for RotT is a 4.8/5. I’m of the school of thought that almost everything can be improved. This is a world class example of an IPA, but with just a little bit of tweaking to create more head retention and clarity this would be a perfect beer.