Thursday, March 15, 2012

Harpoon - Leviathan Imperial Rye Review

Brewery: Harpoon (MA)
Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 8.9%
Grade: B+

There's a lot of consistency in rye beers, considering it's a "style" defined only by the inclusion of just one ingredient. They're almost always big, malty beers with IPA-like levels of hops. I was hoping the "imperial" angle would make this something more unique, but that's okay; it fits in pretty well with its brethren while managing to be interesting all on its own. If there's one major compliment to this beer, it's that I almost finished drinking it before I was done with the first paragraph of this review. So obviously, it's drinkable and tasty. The 8.9% ABV certainly doesn't slow you down too much. If you've had other rye beers that you liked, you'll like this one too; you'll just be buzzed faster.

Leviathan Imperial Rye isn't necessarily an imperial IPA with rye — hops are here in force, but far from the focus, though I wouldn't say that rye is necessarily the focus here either. The dominating flavor is caramel malts, which make any beer taste sweeter than it actually is. And tasting sweet is fine, to some extent, when it's limited to a flavor (not a sticky rich sensation) and balanced with a dry finish. The rye helps out that dryness, and provides a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. There are subtle woody flavors, almost whiskey flavors. Mostly, though, caramel malts dominate throughout.

This is probably on the sweeter end of rye beers that I've had, and even if it's not my favorite, there's something to be said for any 9% ABV beer that I can drink in 10 minutes without flinching.

Availability: Relatively easy to find in the northeast. 12 ounce bottles. Year-round.

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