Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Chico, Ca

Ruthless Rye Rye Beer

6.6% ABV

One of the most hyped and well-regarded new beers of 2012 was Ruthless Rye, the 6.6% rye beer Sierra Nevada introduced as its new spring seasonal. The Internets were wowed by its solid blend of rye spiciness and solid hop and malt profiles. As with the vast majority of beers produced by Sierra Nevada, it was regarded as a winner.

I was one of the few who didn’t jump to such a conclusion, which was strange for a lot of reasons. I love rye beers, I’m an unabashed hophead and I generally love whatever comes out of the Chico, CA, brewery. But for some reason, Ruthless Rye left me shrugging my shoulders and wondering what everyone was so excited about.

The year passed and a few weeks ago, Ruthless Rye returned to store shelves just as the warmer weather was beginning to roll in. No sooner had it arrived than the hype machine took over once again, with plenty of people proclaiming it to be better than last year’s batch.

With my palate having developed plenty since then, I gave it another shot. I was …

The nose is a juicy blend of wet pine, melon, sweet malts and a slight spiciness from the rye. Compared with other rye beers – i.e. Bell’s Smitten – there’s definitely more of a juicy hop presence on the nose than a rye bite. The hops give off rich orange, melon and honeydew notes with a light lemony citrus as well. It’s sweeter and fuller than I remember.

The bite on the front of the tongue is strong and spicy, a good mesh of the citrus notes from the hopes and the spice from the rye. There’s just a slight carbonation and a medium body. In the middle of the mouth was where the rye took over. It scorches the middle of your tongue with spiciness, which is accentuated by the bite of the hops. The finish is just slightly dry, with those citrusy notes popping up again and giving it a crisp lemony finish.

All that being said, Ruthless Rye – once again – left me unimpressed. Again, it’s a good, solid, flavorful rye beer, but I honestly don’t see what the fuss is about. For the second year in a row, it left me underwhelmed, and that’s not because I overhyped it in my mind. It just didn’t deliver what I expected it to. To be fair, it’s much better on draft, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it. But for the second year in a row, this beer did not deliver.


2 thoughts on “Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

  1. Maybe it’s the relative novelty of rye to some beer drinkers? Rye is much more present now, but does the hype machine get turned on by those who aren’t as familiar?

    • Could be. I wouldn’t go so far as to call rye a novelty, but I do think it’s something a lot of people aren’t used to having in beer. I’ve always loved rye (bread, whiskey, etc.) so the more, the merrier. But there are a lot of other rye beers – Coast Rye Knot, SweetWater LowRYEder, Bell’s Smitten – that use it much better than Ruthless.

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