Well this was certainly a fun one. Firstly, it was my first Oxbow Brewing taste (and coincidentally, my 500th checked-in brewery according to Untappd), and likewise, this was my first Roggenbier style (once again, according to Untappd).
According to Beeradvocate.com, the definition for a Roggenbier is:
Roggenbier is akin to a Dunkelweizen made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops. Expect a very pronounced spiciness and sour-like rye character, malty flavor, and a clean hop character. Often unfiltered and bottle-conditioned, Roggenbiers tend to be rather turbid and foamy.
The 2008 BJCP style guidelines gives a few more added information, especially relevant for those of you brewing your own. (As you can tell, I’m a beer and brew nerd and love reading the history on different styles.)
BJCP 2008 Style Guide:
15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)
Aroma: Light to moderate spicy rye aroma intermingled with light to moderate weizen yeast aromatics (spicy clove and fruity esters, either banana or citrus). Light noble hops are acceptable. Can have a somewhat acidic aroma from rye and yeast. No diacetyl.
Appearance: Light coppery-orange to very dark reddish or coppery-brown color. Large creamy off-white to tan head, quite dense and persistent (often thick and rocky). Cloudy, hazy appearance.
Flavor: Grainy, moderately-low to moderately-strong spicy rye flavor, often having a hearty flavor reminiscent of rye or pumpernickel bread. Medium to medium-low bitterness allows an initial malt sweetness (sometimes with a bit of caramel) to be tasted before yeast and rye character takes over. Low to moderate weizen yeast character (banana, clove, and sometimes citrus), although the balance can vary. Medium-dry, grainy finish with a tangy, lightly bitter (from rye) aftertaste. Low to moderate noble hop flavor acceptable, and can persist into aftertaste. No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body. High carbonation. Light tartness optional.
Overall Impression: A dunkelweizen made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops.
Comments: American-style rye beers should be entered in the American Rye category (6D). Other traditional beer styles with enough rye added to give a noticeable rye character should be entered in the Specialty Beer category (23). Rye is a huskless grain and is difficult to mash, often resulting in a gummy mash texture that is prone to sticking. Rye has been characterized as having the most assertive flavor of all cereal grains. It is inappropriate to add caraway seeds to a roggenbier (as some American brewers do); the rye character is traditionally from the rye grain only.
History: A specialty beer originally brewed in Regensburg, Bavaria as a more distinctive variant of a dunkelweizen using malted rye instead of malted wheat.
Ingredients: Malted rye typically constitutes 50% or greater of the grist (some versions have 60-65% rye). Remainder of grist can include pale malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, crystal malt and/or small amounts of debittered dark malts for color adjustment. Weizen yeast provides distinctive banana esters and clove phenols. Light usage of noble hops in bitterness, flavor and aroma. Lower fermentation temperatures accentuate the clove character by suppressing ester formation. Decoction mash commonly used (as with weizenbiers).
Ok, now that we got all of that long winded stuff out of the way, and we’re done with our history lesson for the day, lets get onto the actual beer…. the whole reason you’re here anyway.
Beer: OLD 51
Brewery: Oxbow Brewing Company
Beer Style: Roggenbier
Untappd Write-Up: Old 51 is a German-style amber ale brewed with rye.
I got a draft of this at the Black Gryphon in Elizabethtown (a wonderful bar, stop by, and talk to Toeny Morgan [he’s the blur in the background of this picture] for a while, great dude who will talk your ear off, more about the bar at the end of this review), and the pour is beautiful. Wonderful caramel notes. Beautiful frothy and foamy head. Lovely bubbles on the top of this. It’s just a downright gorgeous beer.
This is a beer’s beer. From the aroma, to the color, to the head, to the pouring style, to the taste. Everything about it is traditional beer. My first time trying this style and I was instantly in love with it (same goes for the brewery as well). I just love the look and appeal of the beer, the aroma is a wonderful malty breadyness that just begs you to drink it.
And it holds up to the first sip, a delicious beer. You get an immediate rye maltyness that is just wonderful. There is a bit of bittering hops underneath but very subtle and no where near the main flavors you get. As you begin to sip it, the sour notes and characteristics of the style creep in. First slowly, then more powerfully as you drink to the bottom. You get some notes of banana and clove to go with the breadyness and the rye, and this kind of gives it that tart flavorings. My perspective is that I like the style and love the flavor very much, but I could foresee how this can be a polarizing style where some people might not like the flavor profile much. Similar to how some do not like Rye IPAs but love regular IPAs. And those who don’t like Dunkels, Bocks, etc, probably won’t like the malt and grain bill on this as much either.
But I am definitely a fan and hoping to see lots more of the style in the future and will now be actively seeking it out. Its great to broaden your beer horizons and try all kind of new styles, breweries, and locations.
My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.73 (as of 7.10.19)
Now a word on the bar – the Black Gryphon – it is a wonderful and beautiful bar ran by Toeny Morgan who does a phenomenal job. I can’t say enough good things about him and the place. The tap list is top notch and is really one of the best craft bars in the area (check their constantly updated Untappd tap list to see just what great beers they have on draft as well as in can/bottle). Toeny does a superb job of getting some of the finest beers not just of the local area but of craft beer-dom as a whole. Take for instance his recent trip up north to the New England area where he then offered flights of some of these back here, from breweries such as Brick and Feather, Obercreek, and River Roost, (just to name some). He also has great ties with Strange Roots (formerly Draii Lagg Brewing) and gets a lot of their rare and hard to find sours.
The Black Gryphon had a horrible fire a few years back and bounced back from it in amazing fashion and it is just a wonderful and gorgeous bar that is a definite must check out if you are ever in the Elizabethtown area. I cannot recommend this place enough.