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Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye.... WELL worth a try ....

I've tried a few rye-based beers here and there... Founder's Red Rye and Hop Rod Rye that I can recall... was never particularly impressed with them... there was something off-putting about the flavor that I didn't get attached to.

So I see this Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye on the shelf a week back, I'll try any SN product once, so I buy a single... not bad...

So I go back tonight for the confirming test... and this stuff is good. Taste-wise it's akin to a semi-dry pale ale. It has sort of a singular flavor punch rather than an evolving bouquet, which is fine as long as that flavor is interesting. Not thin, sort of medium texture.

I do notice that it pours with alot of head and carbonation, maybe that's typical of ryes?

Give it a try, I like this stuff and think there's a place for it on my beer rotation. In full disclosure haven't tasted it blind heads up against other brews, but not sure that really applies here b/c it's not really appropriate to test it against anything other than other ryes...

Further, I'd even go so far as to say it's one of my favorite SN products from their entire line ("regular" SN pale ale, and torpedo being probably the two others), I can take or leave bigfoot, and the fresh hop series...

It's also interesting that SN positions this beer as a "transition beer going from winter to spring"... which fits actually, it's heavy enough for winter-time, but that sharp focused flavor says "not dead of winter"... and that it's transition into spring rather than into fall-winter the way IPAs seem to fit best.

Now I notice they date these bottles, do they expect them to age?

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  1. I had a six-pack when I was in California last month and it is really a nice switch-up from the usual IPA. In fact, I have heard this beer called a Rye-P-A and that seems to be a good fit. When I drink it, I sometimes wonder "Where's Ruth?" for no reason.

    1. What's the level of hoppiness? Not a fan of the death-by-hops IPAs.

      1. Ruthless Rye is a spring seasonal that is disappearing now, next up being Summerfest.

        1. > "Now I notice they date these bottles, do they expect them to age?"

          Sierra Nevada (like many brewers) dates all their beers. Putting a date code on a beer (either a bottling date or a "Best before" date) is not an indication that a beer is meant to be cellaring. It is there so consumers, retailers and distributors know how fresh a beer is.

          Sierra Nevada gives their flagship pale ale a shelf life of 5 months (150 days), and probably would do the same for Ruthless Rye. Since, as noted, it's one of their 4 "seasonals", they probably hope the beer is sold or pulled by the time Summerfest is distributed, which, in most markets, is already the case.

          1. This is a nice beer. I'm coming back to SN after a while away. The trend tp wreck your palette had bored me and leads me to believe that many of the brewers out there are semi skill less Balance baby balance. I do love Rug Brod from the Breuery, chewy and reminds me of good Baltic rye breads..

            1 Reply
            1. re: MOREKASHA

              Their celebration ales have been pretty good too for my palate... nothing that leaves an indelible impression, but solid. Seems like everything they make tends towards singular bouquet, dry to semi-dry, well-made...

              SN Pale Ale on tap was one of the first microbrews (can't really call it micro but...) that really got my attention...

            2. Its my least favorite SN beer. I think the brownish malt character, rye, and hops all clash. And I'm quite pissed that they killed one of my favorite beers, Glissade, in favor of it.

              1. Had some more Ruthless last night... holds up solid the 3rd tasting, very nice.

                Also picked up a lone bottle of this years Big Foot.... traditionally not one of my very favorite barleywines but it'll do in a pinch... This year it was a little nicer than my memories of years passed... real nicely made, solid texture, complex flavors. I'll try another soon if still on the shelf. Nice finding a BW still on the shelf in May :)

                12 Replies
                1. re: TombstoneShadow

                  Depends on the individual of course; Bigfoot is my favorite beer, hands down. Far too easy drinking for such a powerhouse!

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    How do you compare it to Foghorn, the other old time California barleywine? In the past I've consistently found I like Foghorn a bit better... it just tastes extremely rich and concentrated

                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                      I like the hoppiness of Bigfoot. That's what really makes the beer for me. It cuts the malt and makes it very drinkable.

                      You think of Old Foghorn, Liberty Ale ... Fritz Maytag was making those outrageous beers before anybody.

                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        Liberty Ale has long been one of my favorites. A few years ago I noticed that it tastes quite good at a wide range of serving temperatures, and I can't figure out why. Back in the late 1970s, it was truly unique. I believe a lot of modern beers were influenced by Liberty Ale.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          I suspect many people who clamor for IPA these days have never heard of Anchor Liberty Ale.

                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                            I like (love, really) almost everything I've ever had from the Anchor line... Liberty Ale, Foghorn... and they make IMO one of the consistently best porters out there > Anchor Porter, it always had a bit more cherry to my palate, which I really appreciate in a porter.

                            Unfortunately most Anchor products I've had out of a bottle, they're not on tap much where I'm at.

                            BTW... sampling an SN 2013 Summerfest now... don't really care for this. Bought one of the last 2 6-packs of ruthless rye from the same shop so snagged one of these Summerfest, presumably it's the next release in the seasonal line. Summerfest is billed as a "classic summer pilsner"... nothing about this leaves me craving another.

                            1. re: TombstoneShadow

                              Anchor has always strove for identical flavors from both bottle and tap. ALL of their beers (both bottle and tap) are flash pasteurized, and with proper refrigeration, a six-pack of Liberty Ale will be drinkable after three years.

                            2. re: Jim Dorsch

                              Anchor Steam beer was the first beer I had from the US (v. early 90's) that wasn't Bud, Coors or Rolling Rock. It showed that the US did make interesting beers it's just that we didn't get any of them in the UK.
                              Now of course a lot of bars and pubs in London have Sierra Nevada Pale ale on tap and Goose island and Brooklyn beers in bottles.
                              Also many local London micro breweries are making American style IPAs (the most English of institutions Marks and Spencers even has a single varietal IPA called Citra on sale) but Anchor was something of a pioneer.

                          2. re: Jim Dorsch

                            You're right about Anchor paving the way with their big beers, Jim.
                            IMNSHO, they still do it better than many of the newer brewers taking up shelf space these days.

                            As much as I am a big SN fan, I do confess though that I prefer Anchor's Old Foghorn over Bigfoot...although one store near me in NJ is still fairly well stocked with the 2012 bottling of Bigfoot, and I have to say that it really benefitted from that extra year of storage. A side by side tasting next to the 2013 was a revelation; still _plenty_ hoppy (and aromatic, too) but with the rougher edges mellowed out very nicely.

                            1. re: The Professor

                              Very good point about the aging, Professor. I have found that in most cases, Anchor's Christmas beer is improved by at least a year, of not two, of aging in a cold refrigerator. Smooths out the sharp edges on the spices, for a start.

                              1. re: The Professor

                                Here in SF Anchor's started doing specialty releases they call the Zymaster series, only available on draught. They've released a stout and a mild so far, both excellent.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  Those are sold in the east as well.

                      2. I agree, I've had it a few times and it's really nice. It has a feint grapefruit taste in the background to me, which I really like.

                        1. Well I have a couple 6-packs of the 2013 R.R. still lying around, they can't be any good, right?

                          So let's try a blind heads up tasting between the 2013 and the recently released 2014. Actual tasting notes follow

                          Brew A: Smooth, nice lingering mellow flavor, rich texture. Very tasty

                          Brew B: Lip smacking, definitely drier than A. ... Did I mention dry? There's a very "well made" quality to this brew.

                          Re-tasting A: a welcome smoothness vs. B.

                          Revealing the (probably obvious) identities:

                          A: 2013
                          B: 2014

                          The 2013 is still drinking great for my palate, that young rye harshness has mellowed out....

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: TombstoneShadow

                            Bottle conditioning is a beautiful thing.