French Broad Rye Hopper AleMarch 13th, 2010 beckel
I know nothing of the French Broad Brewing Company other than the fact that they are located in Asheville, North Carolina and were founded in 2001. But I always enjoy trying new things and upon seeing their Rye Hopper on the shelves of The Four Firkins I saw no reason not to bring it home with me particularly as I am a big fan of hoppy brews and always love seeing rye used in brewing. Apparently this ale begun as a fall seasonal and is now part of their year round lineup. Sounds groovy to me, time to enjoy. Pours an attractive relatively dark amber hue that is translucent enough to see my fingers behind the glass. A fluffy two fingers of clean, tight, white head were produced and leave behind a modest amount of lacing and a solid few millimeters of residual foam after largely fading. Aroma is quite malty with a good deal of sweetness coming through, heavy on rye and assertively hoppy with a variety of earthy, floral and fruit esters as well as modest bitterness. Flavor is exactly what I was expecting. Heavy rye esters followed by serious hop bitterness. Modest malt sweetness does a decent job of complimenting the hop bitterness but certainly does not hide it. Hop notes are largely herbal and earthy and quite enjoyable with very gentle passion fruit like esters and some floral notes. Alcohol is noticeable but the bitterness does a good job of obscuring it. At 5.9% ABV it is not overly alcoholic but plenty strong and very full of flavor. I sincerely enjoy the assertiveness of the rye in this ale, similarly to the RIPA recently produced by our own local Summit Brewing. Which I should get around to reviewing one of these days…anyhow. If you enjoy hop filled bitter brews as well as rye there is no reason you shouldn’t give this ale a chance. I consumed this ale quite a bit warmer than I would typically consume an IPA and after taking a few sips of it colder I will note that this ale becomes more smooth and the flavors meld together better at below room temperature, as I find is often the case with IPAs. If your not into bitter ales, obviously leave this one alone, but I have enjoyed it and would like to see the other brews available from French Broad. Give it a shot and ride your bike.