From the archives: Review of Double Trouble's Fire in the Rye Ale

Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, November 25, 2015

It’s Grey Cup weekend and there’s a lot of new treats available in time for the Sunday evening kickoff by local breweries and distilleries! First off, Half Pints and Fort Garry Brewing teamed up to create a collaboration taster pack called the “Manitoba Social Pack” featuring the most popular beers by Half Pints and Fort Garry as well as a Route 90 Vienna-style lager that was brewed in collaboration with Half Pints and Fort Garry, this marks the very first time that Half Pints and Fort Garry have worked together to create a beer for public consumption. You can find the Manitoba Social 12-pack for $22.74 at Liquor Marts in Brandon (South End and 10th & Victoria) and Virden (somehow). The Manitoba Social Pack is easily one of the better beer variety packs I’ve seen available in Manitoba, so get it before it’s gone! Fort Garry has also released their latest version of Portage & Main IPA this week. Portage & Main is the first India Pale Ale to use Manitoba hops to give it its earthy, hoppy aroma and flavour. This year’s version is more mellowed down than previous years but I believe it will sell out completely within a few weeks. You can find Portage & Main at the Liquor Marts in Brandon (South End and 10th & Victoria).

You have likely already heard that Crown Royal's Northern Harvest won the title of “World’s Best Whisky” for 2015 in the Whisky Bible. Gimli’s Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Whisky is a Canadian whisky that contains 90% malted winter rye grain. I haven’t had a chance to try the Northern Harvest Rye Whisky yet as it is completely sold out province-wide and I’ve been putting off trying new whiskies for the past few months now. Talking to my whisky connoisseur friends, they were surprised how tasty the Northern Harvest Rye turned out, so that makes me want to try it more! In the coming days you will see Northern Harvest Rye back on shelves, and you may even see local restaurants and pubs starting to serve it. It’s great to see whisky distilled in our own province win such a prestigious award!

Speaking of rye, my favourite Rye Ale by Swift Current’s Black Bridge Brewing is surprisingly still in stock at the Keystone Motor Inn beer vendor. Black Bridge’s Rye Ale is a sweet, nutty, caramelly rye ale with a hint of roastiness and has a great balance of rye and amber ale. Pick up a few cans while it’s still around!

Lastly, on to the review! This week’s theme will continue to be about… rye! Double Trouble Brewing out of Guelph, Ontario has been one of my favourite up and coming Ontario breweries as they’ve consistently brought out solid products with great names and great labels such as Hops & Robbers India Pale Ale and Prison Breakout Pilsner. Their newest beer, Fire in the Rye Ale is now available in Manitoba. Fire in the Rye is described as being unfiltered and containing the smouldering aroma of rye with the floral notes of centennial hops. Who doesn’t love a great rye? How about a RPA (Rye Pale Ale)?!

Fire in the Rye pours a medium heaviness with a hazy nutty brown appearance, a hint of floating sediment throughout the glass, a good amount of micro-carbonation and a yellow to beige creamy head on top. The aroma certainly is reminiscent to rye for me as I’m getting a rich toasted grain scent followed by caramel, light amount of burnt wood chips, a slight peppery spciness and last but not least, well roasted grains. The spiciness from the rye reminds me of your typical Canadian rye whisky like Lot 40 by Corby Distillers, but don’t be fooled - even though that this is a rye ale, you’re not going to smell or taste whisky in this beer as a lot of the notes we associate with whisky are from the barrel aging process. The flavour is very similar to the aroma as you get a moderately spicy yet roasted rye graininess to it followed by a bit of sweet caramel. In this instance, my palate was believing it was getting fooled into drinking rye whisky rather than beer, so I had a bit of gagging at the beginning of sampling this beer.. but that’s over now! To compare this to another style would be difficult as the rye grain is what gives this beer the punch. It reminds me of an unfiltered red ale with moderate hop bitterness that gives off an earthy bite to it, but in all fairness - this is nothing like a red ale in my opinion. The closest thing I can compare this to is Unibroue Raftman, but wait.. that’s another Rye Ale! So all in all, I think this is more of an earthy ale than most ales on the market and it’s quite thick and almost chewy to the palate, perhaps it’s from the rye sediment? Who knows!

This is one of the more interesting beers I’ve tried here at First Draught. First off, it’s part of a style I’m not that familiar with, and secondly - it has lots of notes reminiscent of a solid rye whisky, but without the oak and vanilla that we know and love. I love the slight spiciness from the rye malt, the caramel sweetness and that this is something I could drink on a cold winter night like tonight. If you’re a rye connoisseur, this is certainly something I would suggest trying. You can find Double Trouble’s Fire in the Rye Ale at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart for $3.05 per 473mL can. 6.1% ABV

If you find any Crown Royal Northern Harvest Whisky between now and Grey Cup Sunday at your local Liquor Mart or rural liquor retailer, consider yourself lucky! Cheers!

4/5 Pints

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