A few weeks ago, I introduced Reuben’s Brews to the ACB community by calling out the fact that the brewery’s first commercial batch was a Roggenbier…which begs the question, what the hell is a Roggenbier? I’m here to answer that question with the fifth installment in our new series on beer styles. Thanks for the inspiration, Reuben’s!
Roggenbier is a German style rye beer brewed with very large portions (30-60%) of rye malt. Roggenbier is mildly hopped, and the initial nose is one of light fruitiness and a faintly earthy aroma. Because Roggenbier is a medieval style that originated long before beer filtration, many Roggenbiers are unfiltered and fairly turbid. The body can range from low to medium-heavy, and modern renditions typically have 5-6% ABV.
Until the 15th century, rye malt was commonly used to brew beer in Bavaria and other parts of Germany. However, after a series of bad harvests, the rulers of that age determined that rye should only be used for making bread instead of its liquid cousin, beer. Thus, rye was relegated to a bread grain for the masses and Roggenbier virtually disappeared from the tables of Bavarians for almost 500 years. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Roggenbier was brought back to life by a brewery in Bavaria, and it’s been gaining popularity ever since as more craft breweries, such as those listed below, experiment with rye in their recipes.
Roggenbiers We Like and You Might Want to Try:
Live Oak Brewing Company Roggenbier – Austin, TX
Rogue Farms Roguenbier Rye – Newport, OR
Reuben’s Brews Roggenbier – Seattle, WA
Rye, like wheat, is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer, which means that many Roggenbiers are brewed as seasonals for summer and autumn. With that in mind as we approach the warmer months, we’d recommend reaching for a Roggenbier instead of your default Hefeweizen next time you’re craving a sessionable, non-hoppy brew.