HE’BREW RECENTLY collaborated with Cathedral Square Brewery of St. Louis to produce St. Lenny’s, a Belgian-yeast fermented version of He’Brew’s formidable Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. It was a startling effort and powerfully composed, considering how many threads it tried to draw together. Less surprising, though, when weighed against He’Brew’s precedent in supercharging Lenny’s with other bold flavors. To wit, their fourth batch of R.I.P.A. on Rye, which doubling down on the rye kick of this imperial IPA by aging it in Redemption Rye whiskey barrels.
The beer pours a tawny pour with decent head formation, a touch less robust than the St. Lenny’s plume but still generously formed from divers grain proteins and high-AA hops. With the base beer as a starting point this version’s aroma is naturally more distinguished by caramel and vanilla notes from the Redemption Rye barrel-aging. The panoply of hops is still there, this time even further diversified with Saaz, though no longer making the first impression on either nose or tongue. Rye is prominent in both, meanwhile, more conspicuously spicy and peppery on the tongue than was St. Lenny’s, and trading out bready sweetness for the corn-driven kick of bourbon booze. The rye remains strong enough to almost lend a sourness near the midsection before the remaining malts of the full body start to reassert a modest caramel sweetness. Hops contribute a citric fruity tang and underscore the rye’s spice.
The finish combines alcohol slickness (showing all of its 10% ABV), moderate barrel char, and again the rye tingle in a complex if slightly coarse interplay. Fans of bourbon-forward barrel-aged stouts like Goose Island’s BCS (don’t overlook Central Waters Bourbon Barrel) may be intrigued by this beer’s integration of stout’s robust features. But its first impression may also be its best—spending more time with R.I.P.A. on Rye will begin to draw out those slightly ragged edges. Best to share around a table in smaller doses.
Served: 750 ml bottled 1/7/14