Fearful Symmetries

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23 January, 2016

Spirit of St. Louis: Hemp Hop Rye by O'Fallon Brewery



I believe that this is the very first time that I've reviewed a beer by O'Fallon Brewery. It resides in Maryland Heights, Missouri which is a suburb of St. Louis. Sadly, I've tasted and reviewed more beers by fellow St. Louisans Urban Chestnut and Schalfly and neither of those breweries are distributed here in Wisconsin unlike O'Fallon. As best as I can recall, the only O'Fallon beer I've tasted is their Wheach, a peach wheat beer that I sampled at the Great Taste a few years ago.

I'm not really sure why I've never bought any of their beers until now. Better late than never, right? I chose to buy some Hemp Hop Rye because I generally don't go seeking amber ales out and wanted to try something new; I absolutely love rye in beer; and I enjoyed hemp seed in Pearl Street's Smokin' Hemp Porter.

Hemp Hop Rye pours a gorgeous copper hue. It was crystal clear and so I could easily see the surfeit of bubbles inside the beer going up to the crown of tan foam. The head lasted for what I think of as being an average amount of time – about thirty seconds or so.

The aroma had a pronounced malt sweetness which sat comfortably alongside a mixture of grassy and citrus hops. Despite not smelling a dozen exotic fruits along with a cornucopia of spices and herbs, I rather liked the relatively modest combination of scents. The malts came to life on the tongue where a honey flavor joined a bit of toffee and a roasted grain taste. My beloved rye added a touch of spicy dryness while the hemp seeds imparted just a bit of nuttiness. I couldn't taste the citrus hops and instead found that another variety gave a gentle spiciness but little bitterness. O'Fallon seems to have used a yeast that didn't add much flavor because I didn't taste any. Either that or I'm very much out of practice on amber ales.

Those malt flavors faded on the finish allowing grassy and spicy hop flavors to come through with a moderate amount of bitterness and a slight dryness. Sadly there wasn't much lacing left in my glass beyond a few specks of foam.

I've been trained to think of amber ales as being IPAs with a modicum more malt flavor. Hemp Hop Rye clearly challenged this expectation. There is nothing big about it and instead its flavors are relaxed and balanced. It's only 25 I.B.U.s and the Cascade hops were used judiciously and not to batter my tongue with grapefruit flavor. On the grainy side of things, the malt makes for a nice medium-light body and is never cloying. I wish that there was more rye in the mix but I enjoyed the touch of spicy goodness it offered here nonetheless. I also liked the subtle nutty flavor of the hemp seeds. The beer excels at offering counterpoints to the malt while never letting one disturb the fine balance.

Very tasty.

Junk food pairing: Hemp Hop Rye pairs well with snack that contain nuts like a trail mix as well as cheesy foods such as plain Cheetos Puffs.

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|| Palmer, 8:02 AM

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