Black Rye Lager
Left Hand Brewing Company
Longmont, CO (USA)

This sample was provided by the good folks at Left Hand Brewing Company. I will admit that between these folks and the folks at Magic Hat in Vermont I am beginning to think that there is no end to the styles that brewers can come up with. As with all brews sampled here, it arrived via parcel post in good condition and has been kept refrigerated until an hour before opening.

Appearance: This is one deep red colored brew. Not quite opaque, it has a dense color. The head is a lush layer of large and medium-sized bubbles. They knit into lacy foam of deep dessert sand brown.

Aroma: As soon as I poured this brew there was a nutty roasted aroma in the air. The first impression was slightly dulled by a chilly brew. (It was, as you can see, in a large bottle and was not quite at cellar temperature.) The second impression introduced a hint of floral aromas. If you are familiar with the aroma of rye flour you can catch just a hint in that final aromatic reception of flavors that happens just between lips and sip.

Mouth feel: There is a fairly rich feel to this brew. I am not sure if it is the roasted, almost patent malt sensation, or the smooth effervescence. The peppery sensation is the rye at work and it does good work balancing out the other flavors.

Flavor: The first impression is of deep roasted, almost coffee flavors. The second taste reveals a slight sour sensation that blooms into a floral hop flavor. The specific hop is hard to pinpoint with all that is going on in the grain flavors.

Finish: There is a pallet cleansing quality about this brew that, for all its rich malt flavors, gives a reason to congratulate the brewer on the choices of hops.

Comments: This particular brew, if you can still find it, would do well as a beverage of choice with a seared shell-steak, creamed spinach and hash-brown potatoes.

As noted at the beginning, these folks constantly amaze me. There range of beers is both amusing and entertaining. I’m never quite sure what I’m getting, but it will be interesting.

Left Hand Brewing Company: http://www.lefthandbrewing.com/

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From the brewer:

Left Hand Brewing & Terrapin Beer Co., Terrorize Each Other

(Longmont, CO) – In today’s day and age with everyone trying like hell to kill one another, two craft brewers with different philosophies and from opposite sides of the country are actually putting aside their differences to, wait… yes, work together. No flashy mergers or hostile international takeovers, just two craft brewers interested in taking over your palate with unusual beers.

Left Hand Brewing Company from Longmont, Colorado and Terrapin Beer Company from Athens, Georgia, are collaborating on a series of one-time releases each year, calling the coalition the Midnight Project. The first release is Terra-rye’zd, and Imperial Roggen Schwartz Lager, with very limited availability – only six states will carry the brew.

“The entire “Manhattan Project” was born late one night” says Chris Lennert, VP of Operations for Left Hand. “We had finished a successful beer dinner in Athens together, as well as a beer festival in Decatur, and were having a few pints at the Brickstore Pub to celebrate when the idea started to take shape.”

“We’ve been friends with Left Hand for years, says Dustin Watts, Director of Sales & Marketing for Terrapin, “and really just thought about doing a beer dinner together out in Colorado during the Great American Beer Festival later this year (Saturday, October 11th at the Kitchen in Boulder). Then, somehow, it turned into making a beer together.”

After several months of back-and-forth recipe concoction and name brainstorming, Terra-rye’zd was finally brewed at Left Hand Brewing Company. Terrapin’s Head Brewer, Spike Buckowski, flew to Colorado in late July to brew the black rye lager with Left Hand’s VP of Brewing Operations Joe Schiraldi and Head Brewer Ro Guenzel. “I think Terra-rye’zd is a pretty incredible, interesting beer,” said Ro, “but the prospect of ever having to brew it again is terrifying!” The brew literally terrorized Left Hand’s new 60-bbl brewhouse, or as Ro claims “anyone who has ever brewed with close to 50% rye malt can understand the terror.”

Spike couldn’t agree more. “The Terra-rye’zd experience was one of pure terror. Not only in brewing it, but the madness of travel added to it.” He started his day brewing in Athens, got on a late flight that night to Denver had a few hours sleep, and started brewing early the next day all day. Then it was back to Georgia early the next morning after another full day of brewing. “All in all, it was definitely worth it. Great travels, great times and definitely a great beer.”

“Terra-rye’zd is a beguiling black rye lager that will hold you hostage with its complex flavor, and make you want to ransom off your neighbor’s children for another bottle. The spice derived from the judicious amount of rye malt will bombard your palate. Don’t turn your back on the hops, which we took all the way to level orange. After the assault the flavors will disappear until they rear up again with each sip.

Medium-bodied, with 6.6% alcohol by volume with 37 IBU’s, Terra-rye’zd will be available in 22 oz. bombers and 1/2bbl kegs starting in early October. It will only be available in the Southeast states where both breweries have a presence (Tennessee (Nashville only), North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida (Tampa/Fort Myers only)) and Colorado.

For more information:

Chris Lennert
Left Hand Brewing Company