Introducing Green Mountain Ryed: Hops & 100% Rye Whiskey
November 2, 2021
A blended and partially barrel-aged New England Rye IPA might seem like a novel concept, but it was the only way we could achieve our goal of creating a beer that had both Rye Whiskey and hops in the flavor profile. Read more below to see how we landed on this concept with our Vermont friends at WhistlePig and check our beer finder to track down some Green Mountain Ryed near you!
For year three of our collaborations with the team at WhistlePig, we wanted to give our brewers a challenge. While our previous collabs— Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter and The Bock Hog— were great examples of how Rye Whiskey barrel-aging can add a whole new world of flavor to some traditional malt-forward styles, this year we decided to turn our attention to hops. There was one big question that stood in our way though: “How can we work Rye Whiskey and oak characteristics into a hoppy beer’s flavor profile without lessening the flavor of the hops?” Short of adding some WhistlePig Rye straight into a tank of Hazy IPA— which is a very large no-no for regulatory reasons— we weren’t sure.
“Barrel-Aged IPA” has always been a tough concept to nail. While time is normally a friend of barrel-aged beers, as longer barrel residencies increase the transfer of flavor from the wood, it is the enemy of IPAs, as aging hop oils break down and lose their potency. We thought we could maybe soak some oak spirals in Rye Whiskey and add them to the beer while conditioning, but even then, we weren’t confident that enough flavor would come through. In our attempt to achieve the best of both worlds of flavor (aged whiskey and oak AND fresh hop juiciness) we felt we couldn’t brew just one base recipe— we had to brew two.
First, we brewed a high-gravity Rye Ale and aged it in freshly-emptied WhistlePig PiggyBack 100% Rye barrels, capturing the true essence of whiskey made from 100% Rye and imparting some warming notes of vanilla, dried citrus, and spice. Two months later, we brewed a heavily dry-hopped New England Rye IPA featuring some classic citrus-heavy hops (Citra, Centennial, Simcoe, & Amarillo). In both cases, we added some of WhistlePig’s own estate-grown rye into the grain bills for good measure. After emptying the barrels, we blended the two into one. The result is subtly hazy and gold with plenty of rye-like spice— perfectly balancing the whiskey and oak characteristics of a barrel-aged beer with the juicy citrus zest characteristics of a Hazy IPA.
Store cold, drink fresh, and enjoy with a pour of Piggyback 100% Rye for the peak Harpoon & WhistlePig experience.