The Beer & a Book blog has been noticeably devoid of beer lately. This is due to Laziness times lack of Inspiration minus Time. Speaking of lack of inspiration, I was recently fished-in by Guinness to disregard past experiences with new Guinness offerings and buy a six pack of their Rye Pale Ale. This is a new Guinness introduction you may see on some shelves (my prediction is, not for long). This is part of their Brewer’s Project series which I surmise is a defensive move to protect business in light of the American craft brewery movement which has been gradually making a mark on the more traditional European brewing culture. You may have also seen Guinness’s American Lager (you’re Guinness, why bother?) or their Nitro IPA (avoid.) But sucker for marketing and pretty colors that I am, I fell for the Guinness name and the blue label with orange lettering: striking, simple, enticing. Irish Rye Pale ale. It sounds like an old recipe dusted off from the Guinness archives.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t give a hoot about Guinness Stout as I find it far too mild—tastes like black water to me, or at least the imported version does. That’s not to say I won’t drink it, or even on rare, rare occasions, order it. It absolutely is the archetype of dry Irish stouts, and for that, as well as the Guinness lore, I tip my hat to them.
The flavor profile per the tag on the six-pack carton says, “First brewed as a gift for friends, Rye Pale Ale offers a rustic peppery bite, balanced with citrusy grapefruit notes from Mosaic and Cascade hops.” What you get however is a very mild pale ale, a little aromatic with malt and hop profile, with distant hints of fruit and “peppery” rye. Peppery really isn’t quite the right word, but is often used to describe beer with rye. Rye generally imparts a unique flavor to beers that is almost a little hard to describe (don’t confuse it with caraway which flavors most rye breads.) In the end, this really is a very mild pale ale with very subtle hints of flavors not typically encountered in all barley ales. It is amber in color, slightly hazy, and as you can see has a carbonation that results in large gassy bubbles (ok, duh, all carbonation is “gassy.”)
In the end, I just can’t see anybody finding true joy in this beer. Neither am I sensing inspiration from the brewer, despite well intentions. I’ll credit them for the effort and exploring their brewing roots. But with the mind-boggling selection of truly great beers on the shelves these days, why you would buy this one once, that I totally get. The question is why you’d buy it again. I’m having a hard time seeing that happen.