When starting this whole writing shindig I realised pretty quickly that first impressions are the most valuable (and frequently funniest) asset to reviewing a beer. As such New Release Tuesdays at work are a godsend: every week a new beer I’ve (probably) never had before.
The problem is though, that NRTs usually are one keg only (sometimes as little as 10 litres only). By the time I post it and you read it, the beer will be probably be long gone.1 So in writing about NRTs, particularly Garage Project ones, I’m being a bit of an [insert preferred genitals here] tease. That’s certainly the case here: the Rye Chai lasted until 10 pm. I have no idea if it will ever be brewed again either, so sorry if you’re reading this and missed out on Rye Chai, because I’m now going to tell you how nice it was.2
That said, at first I didn’t like it. I grabbed a quick taster before the beer went live at 5 pm (perks of the job) and I found it really overbearing on the spice character. Forget rye or IPA, this one was all chai spice dominant, with the major character being clove. Also, being a cloudy brown-amber (I have no photos unfortunately), it certainly didn’t look like any IPA I know of. So I more or less dismissed it as a one note song and left it at that.
But then a bit later on in the evening we had to change to the second keg of Rye Chai, which meant running through a jug of foam, which settled down to about a pint of beer. Now we can’t let good beer go to waste and I was about to knock off, so I valiantly volunteered to drink it (more perks of the job).
What I essentially got was flatter, slight warmer Rye Chai and I have to say I found it really quite lovely. There was still spices all up in the whole thing but the malt body was so much fuller and richer. I can’t say I got much rye character, but it probably contributed to the body and mouth-feel.3
What really took me by surprise though was the hop character. Rye Chai was dosed with the classic Simcoe/Amarillo combination that so many American IPAs use. On my first taste I remember thinking ‘what waste of good US hops’. However having the beer flat and warm brought out both a pleasant bitterness in the beer but also surprisingly, a zesty citrus-hop character! It was so noticeable that I went to check and see if chai had bergamot in it like Earl Grey tea. It doesn’t.
So all in all, Rye Chai IPA was an interesting and pleasant beer, as well as a fascinating example of what different temperatures/carbonation levels can do to flavour. Also, maybe next time, we could try a little of it on hand-pump? Just say’in…
- Usually a keg lasts a few days at Hashigo, but some last a matter of hours. At the hight of the 24/24, beers like Day of the Dead lasted only minutes. 45 minutes to be exact.
- Aside from the usual criticism: it was a bit grainy, Pete.
- As a total aside, Pete has gone a little rye crazy lately (or should I say crazy from rye). I like it. Also I was there when he did his first rye beer. That too was a bastard.