Monday, December 15, 2008

Rhino Rye and the Zen Porter

Both the Rhino Rye and Zen Porter had very similar hopping, and I finally did a side-by-side tasting with new brew friend Devon. As you can see in the photo, they're both drastically different in color, which effectively displays the difference in the malts that made them. There are definite differences, but there's a hoppy element that brings them together.

First of all, the Rhino Rye beer was an experiment that went right. Never did a rye beer like this before, and while pushing the flaked rye to 30%, I also wanted to push the hopping to a point where solid bittering and a fairly full flavor and aroma came through. I like the hoppy rye beers out there, like Two Brother's Cane & Ebel.

I like how the Rhino Rye had everything going on, while being a very light colored beer. The rye came through nicely and the sweetness was smooth without that caramel quality on other pale ales. The choice of hops were both cutting and soft/floral...Cluster and Mt. Hood. A nice combo! And the amount of dry hopping was perfect.

The Zen Porter (robust & dry-hopped), is a full flavored, rich tasting black porter with great body. It's well balanced, sweet and dry qualities are nice. The roast comes mostly from a generous helping of Brown Malt and a more understated portion of black patent and chocolate malts. It's not "roasted" like a stout.

Since the Zen Porter was rich, and I envisioned it being smooth yet sharp in taste, I thought the hopping should be somewhat aggressive. Then the Rhino Rye came to mind. The hop varieties are different, so they come off being a bit more intense. Target and Glacier for bitterness, moving into Cascade and Columbus for flavor and aroma. Overall, the hopping works very well. The bitterness is solid and compliments the black malt, and combined it sets up this beer with a clear hop focus. The first word that comes to mind for both the aroma and flavor is...green...perhaps...dark green! A unique and robust hop aroma bursts out of the glass and it sort-of takes a bit of getting used to. But after a few tastings, I became hooked and started to crave my unique tasting beer.

Both these beers surprisingly, and quite delightfully, have become two of my favorites this year. Unique in both malts and hops. A hopping strategy that's assertive, yet not overbearing in beers that have interesting/complex malt characters and at a higher level 6% abv.

Please below for more info on each beer.
Rhino Rye
Zen Porter

3 comments:

The Bearded Brewer said...

Both sound excellent! After my recent hoppy porter experiment, I feel like I can push the limits of the hops even more. I love the contrast of the hops and roastiness. Your Zen Porter sounds delicious!

Ted Danyluk said...

I know its a bit misleading, but the Zen Porter is the same Robust Porter you tried and reviewed. Sorry for any confusion.

The Bearded Brewer said...

Well, in that case...it was delicious!