Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Brewday - The Rye Revival Roggenbier

One of the most interesting trends in the brewing industry today is the revival of rye as an ingredient in beer. I say revival, because using rye in beer is not one of the many new gimmicks seen on the marketplace, but rather a return to an older style of beer making, one not seen in widespread usage for centuries.

Roggenbier, or rye beer, is a medieval brew that was common in Germany before the much-lauded Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. The Reinheitsgebot stated that in addition to yeast, only water, barley and hops may be used as ingredients in the production of beer. In modern times this has been held up as a testament to purity in brewing, but was indeed far more complicated. One of the contributing factors behind the law was the desire to reserve wheat and rye for baking, and to allow only barley in brewing, a cereal that was viewed as being inferior for the production of bread. Ironically, the Reinheitsgebot is often heralded as a triumph for the brewing industry, but was in fact a major contributing factor in the extinction of many brewing traditions and local brewing specialties.

The Rye Revival Roggenbier aims to help return rye to its rightful place inside the brewer's circle. The goal is to create a beer with an emphasis on the Rye malt that makes this beer unique. This malt, complemented by Munich malt, creates a beer with a crisp and dry finish that exemplifies the style. Northern Brewer hops were added with complementing this character in mind, adding an earthy, Old World flavour, while the Cascade hops give a slight citrusy, New World twist to this very old style of beer.

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