The Beer: Roggenbier
The Brewery: Scottsdale Beer Company
The Stats: 5.3% ABV, 15 IBU
The Story: "Roggen" is the German word for"'rye," and this beer serves as a showcase for this lesser-known brewing grain. In fact, roggenbiers are quite rare to find in the United States. When you search the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, there are no American-made commercial examples listed, which is why finding a roggenbier crafted right here the Valley is a real treat.
So, what exactly is a roggenbier? Let's compare it to a more well-known German cousin, the hefeweizen. Hefeweizen is made with a lot of wheat and then fermented with an interesting yeast strain that provides both banana and clove characteristics in the finished beer. Roggenbier is similar, except the wheat is replaced with rye malt. The same yeast that produces the clove and banana essence is used and some of the flavors are similar, although the rye provides a spiciness not found in the hefeweizen.
Scottsdale Beer Company's version pours a perfectly clear copper color. Small off-white bubbles hit the sides of the glass with no persistence, unlike the never-ending head of a hefeweizen. A tart rye spice aroma with spicy clove-like phenols and esters of banana are prevalent, yet somewhat more subtle than in a typical hefeweizen. In this case, the rye takes a more noticeable presence and fights for its own equality in the mix. There are no perceptible hops at all in either the flavor or the aroma. Some residual sweetness exists aromatically. The flavor is dry and spicy, with hints of toasted rye malt, flavors of clove, and, to a lesser extent, banana, finishing crisp and clean with no lingering sweetness as found in the aroma. Medium body and high carbonation provide a sharp and pleasant bite. The beer is neither creamy nor astringent.
Roggenbier is an absolutely under-served style from German brewing excellence worth giving a try if you like rye or if you like hefeweizens. Or, simply give this beer a try to say you had the pleasure to experience a true-to-style roggenbier. Scottsdale Beer Company's roggenbier is tasty, but not an outstanding beer when judged against other styles. Still, it's absolutely worth trying due to the rarity of the style and the nice execution.
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Scottsdale Beer Company is located at 8608 East Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale. For more information, check the Scottsdale Beer Company website.