Homebrewing With Rye Vol. 2: Rye-Licious Recipe Kit and Process

This article proves two things:  Our love for Rye as a high percentage base malt knows no bounds, and we are obviously gluttons for punishment!  As you may have seen in the video released on February 27, 2019, we absolutely had to do the Rye-Licious again, and we had so much fun doing it that we decided that it needed to be a recipe kit for everyone else who shares our love of Rye in all of its many forms.  

Since you have all read our post from February 8th about what and what not to do with rye, this is going to be a follow up on what ACTUALLY worked, what didn’t, and what the finished product was like.

Mashing Rye

Our Rye Mash Revisited

So last time we mashed with 100% Rye, it was painful because of the high amounts of beta glucans present in Rye, and we were about two seconds away from busting out the fruit press and just pressing the whole mash into the boil kettle!  This time around, knowing that our Malted Rye didn’t have nearly enough betaglucanase enzyme on its own, we threw all of the science we had at it, covered our heads, and prayed for the best!

First big change was adding about 20% of Irish Distiller’s 2 Row.  Not only is the flavor of this grain absolutely and insanely good, but it’s also crazy high in enzymatic potential across the board.  This means that there’s some extra beta-glucanase in solution, and maybe brewing this beer can be fun instead of painful!

To supplement this extra enzyme, we also added half a vial of White Labs Clarity Ferm, saving the second half for fermentation, but more on that later. Clarity Ferm is primarily a proline-specific endoprotease, which, in lamens terms, means it eats the polypeptides that create chill haze, and also breaks down glutens.  This definitely helps with solubility and making it so that we can actually lauter!

Actual Movement During Lauter

With all of this extra enzyme, we had some success!  Yes, percolation was pretty slow, but it actually happened, which was a huge step up from the last mash we tried!  Between that and the extra rice hulls for space between the grains, we got a solid, if long, lauter, and some pretty reasonable sugar extraction!

Recirculating the Boil Through a Bag for Clarity

Better Sparge, Better Boil

So in Version 1 of this beer, the boil was a milky, grain-laden mess.  Enough of the malting grains got through the mash screen into the brew kettle that the pump clogged, and transfer had to happen through the grace of gravity.  So much, in fact, that if we could use an extra grain bag with the Robobrew, we would have.  If your system is set up in such a way, definitely use an extra bag!  

Instead, we limped the pump along from the get go, and whirlpooled through our hop bag for the majority of the boil.  There was still so much substrate that we had to clean the bag several times so it wouldn’t clog! The effect of this, though, was a cleaner, and more normalized, boil, and by the time the immersion chiller and whirlfloc went in, we had captured the majority of this mess and discarded it.

Hops, Hops and More Hops

Although the initial thought was Rye IPA, because that seems to be where my mind goes with any beer, we wanted to really taste the grain in this beer before we started hopping it up, so we kept the same, simple hop schedule.  We bittered with 5 mL of CO2 Hop Extract to acquire about 50 IBU’s, then whirlpooled and dry hopped with 2 oz of Czech Saaz each. 

Our thought was a clean, bitter balance with a nice, noble pop of spice and floral character to pull out the natural rye flavors.  Although rye is generally considered spicy, it’s a bit of a misnomer. Rye has a slightly more earthy and grainy flavor, with hints of spice.  The flavor profile of IPA-like hopping with Czech Saaz REALLY pulls the rye flavor out, and compliments the finished beer in a pretty amazing way.

Happy Kveik Voss at 80° F

More With Kveik

The Imperial Loki strain is the ‘Voss’ Kveik strain, which ferments at about 80° F and leaves a clean, malty profile with a distinctly citrus aroma and flavor.  For this second round, we decided to use the same yeast to finish fermentation, and although we dried out two more gravity points because we pitched onto the original yeast cake, we felt this was the best way to ensure that we were comparing apples to apples.

Having only used this strain twice so far, I have to say I’m pretty impressed.  Both times we fermented this at 80° F as directed, even though that seems WAY too high.  Surprisingly, both fermentations were clean and crisp, with the distinct Voss citrus character and a deliciously malt forward flavor, perfect to showcase this rye madness.  It does seem to be a little hop suppressive, but we will have to do some further testing to really determine if that’s the case.

Finished Rye-Licious Gravity

The Finished Product

Finally!  We have a keggable, drinkable, and pretty delicious beer!  Version 1 is also in the keg, but after clearing what amounted to about a gallon and a half of clogs and general nastiness, it’s still almost impossible to pour more than a taster because of the phenomenal, out of this world head retention due to the effects of beta glucans left in it.  Imagine a tasty, alcoholic ice cream, and you’ll have it!

On top of that, it’s very, very viscous.  It’s not that it has this huge body, because it actually tastes like a lighter bodied beer, but more that it has a thick, syrupy quality in the mouthfeel.  Imagine drinking a nice, synthetic 30 weight, and you’ll have a better idea!

Version 2 is WAY more balanced, with only a slightly viscous mouthfeel, and head that, while still thick and pillowy, will actually dissipate in a reasonable amount of time.  The citrus character is still a driving flavor force, but without the weirdly viscous mouthfeel, everything kind of snaps into place and the balance of the whole thing is just right!

Finished Ryes, side by side

The Saaz hop character helps bring out the earthy characters of the Rye Malt and Flaked Rye, while the mildly burnt toffee of the English Crystal Rye rounds out the overall malt profile.  The Chocolate Rye was intended as a light color addition to bring us close to an amber color, but also adds a very lightly roasted, coffee background characteristic.

Rye-Fucking-Licious

Your Turn

Ok, we’ve laid the groundwork, delved deep into the pain of this soupy, gel-like mash, and have done our best to make this a brew-able dream.  Now it’s your turn to try it! You can check out the Rye-Licious Recipe in both Extract and All-Grain, and the recipe comes complete with tons of rice hulls, Clarity Ferm, and enough rye to make anyone smile!

If you haven’t already, check out our video on BrewChatter TV  about our experiences brewing this recipe, and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!  Let us know in the comments below how your high rye beer goes!  
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