Every once in a while, Creature Comforts, the Athens, Georgia-based brewery that has given the wonderful Tropicalia IPA, releases a different version of Athena, their take on the Berliner Weisse style. Back in the day, the Berliner Weisse was often served with a shot of fruit syrup to even out the tart notes. Creature Comforts eschews the sour for loads of fruit, brewing each version with a different fruit to give the sour a level of sweetness. They just released the latest version, which was brewed with cherries, raspberries and cranberries. It’s wonderful, and you should all go drink it, but I’m more interested in another beer that Creature Comforts just released, Reclaimed Rye. It’s actually a year-round beer, but they’ve only just started packaging it in cans, so for most of us, this is the first chance we’ve had to try it.
Reclaimed Rye is an amber, which is about as dull of a beer style as you can get. Don’t get me wrong, the amber has its place. It is the great American gateway beer. New Belgium’s Fat Tire. Highland’s Gaelic Ale. An amber was my first craft beer love and I still reach for one occasionally, but it’s not an exciting style. It’s not dark, it’s not light. It’s not sweet, it’s not bitter. It’s just…amber.
But Creature Comforts takes the mild amber to new levels in Reclaimed Rye by aging it on French oak. I think it’s the first oak-aged amber I’ve ever had, and it’s a hell of a trick. You smell the wood on the nose and it affects the sip in some interesting ways, delivering acidic notes that balance the sweetness of the style and giving it a really dry finish. And I mean really dry; The beer practically disappears on your tongue, like a magic trick, which is not something that ambers typically do. Yes, there is some malty sweetness and even a bit of vanilla from the time in the barrel, but it’s safe to say that Reclaimed Rye is like no other amber I’ve ever had.
Creature Comforts gave it the Reclaimed Rye name to signal the brewers’ intentions to shed new light on the amber ale as a style. In their own words, they are “reclaiming it back from the ordinary.”
I can honestly say, Reclaimed Rye is anything but ordinary. Look for it in six pack cans.