Saturday, September 3, 2011

MADISON RIVER - SALMON FLY HONEY RYE REVIEW

Winner of the 2011 Shitty Cellphone Beer Pictures Award.
Brewery: Madison River (CA)
Style: ??
ABV: 5.5%
Grade: B


I didn't plan to review that many beers while on vacation out West, though my dad is also a big fan of brewpubs and we included quite a few in our itinerary. Reviewing brewpubs I know nothing about, thousands of miles from home, in areas I know little about, seemed kind of... pointless? Presumptuous? Unfair? But naturally, I came across a lot of beers I had never seen before and will likely never drink again. Salmon Fly Honey Rye was interesting enough for a review to be in order.

Normally, I’m annoyed if a beer defies expectations with a misleading name. <rant> At the same meal, I also tried Grand Teton’s Bitch Creek ESB, which seriously pissed me off by turning out to be an “Extra Special Brown Ale,” instead of, you know, Extra Special Bitter. COME ON. You can’t just go around labeling beers as an established style and then deciding to make it something else. Example: if you bought a beer called Bear Flavored IPA, wouldn’t you be a bit annoyed to learn that, in this case and this case only, “IPA” stood for  “Imperial Prune Ale.” Yes, yes you would be. </rant>

Well, Salmon Fly Honey Rye isn’t much of a rye beer, but I’m inclined to forgive it. The honey at least indicates something sweet and smooth, which is what this is. Without internet access at the time of drinking, I couldn’t decide if this was even an ale or a lager — it has the smooth, clean mouthfeel of a lager, but without the tastes I associate with lager yeast. And now... I still can't figure out if this is an ale or a lager, as it's labelled as a "rye beer," and that's the last thing I would classify it as. The sweetness from the honey is far more prevalent than any dryness or spiciness from the rye, though perhaps the rye simply helps balance things out. This is a clean and balanced beer for how sweet it tastes initially — the sweetness disperses very quickly, leaving none of the cloying sugariness I’ve come to fear from sweeter beer styles. It makes for an excellent summer session beer, pleasant and easy-drinking without tasting artificial. There was no unpleasant aftertaste, and it remained drinkable even as it warmed.  Overall, a pleasant surprise.



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