by James Beeson
I have a confession to make: I don’t particularly like rye beers. Personally, I’m of the opinion that the speciality grain is far more agreeable when used to make a pastrami sandwich with a healthy dollop of mustard than in an alcoholic beverage. Hence the prospect of a roggenbier, a niche style produced with upwards of sixty percent rye malt, doesn’t exactly set my pulse racing.
Nonetheless, I’m a great believer in stepping outside ones comfort zone, and when a box full of beers from Poland arrived on my doorstep, Stu Mostów’s WRCLW Roggenbier Rye seemed an excellent opportunity to challenge my own reservations of the style.
The roggenbier has a particularly interesting history. In medieval times, it was one of the most popular beer styles in Bavaria, but fell out of favour, due to the infamous Reinheitsgebot, which decreed that only water, hops and barley and yeast were to be allowed to be used in the production of beer.
Even today, the style is not particularly widespread, owing to the challenges its production creates for brewers (rye has no husk covering it, making producing a clean wort from the grain difficult). Nevertheless, Stu Mostów is one of a number of craft brewers now attempting to revive and reinvigorate the style.
The brewery was founded in 2014 in the city of Wroclaw in south-west Poland by Grzegorz Ziemian and his wife Arletta. Its name translates as ‘100 Bridges Brewery’, a reference to the picturesque structures traversing the River Oder through the city. Stu Mostów’s, beers range from modern strawberry milkshake IPAs and mint stouts to ‘refined classics’ such as its German-pils and the aforementioned roggenbier.
WRCLW Roggenbier Rye pours a hazy, marmalade orange, topped off with a sizeable cream head. The aroma is hefty and intoxicating, with cloves and banana being the dominant smells. Yeast has clearly played a central role here, compensating for the lack of hops in the boil. At 5.5%, it is slightly stronger than your traditional roggenbier.
Caramel and Munich malts give the beer a full-bodied backbone, and a rich bready texture on the tongue. This is balanced out with an almost cloying sweetness from the yeast, with a noticeable spiciness from the rye on the finish. There’s very little in the way of hop presence, with only small quantities of German Hallertau Magnum and Tettnanger used for bittering and aroma respectively.
“Rye malt has become one of signatures of Stu Mostów, even though it makes filtration very difficult.,” explains Ziemian. “We’ve also added rye into our Russian Imperial Stout and Baltic Porter, brewed in collaboration with Jopen [A small brewery in Haarlem, Netherlands].”
“Roggenbier is a traditional style that perfectly fits within our WRCLW line of beers. Around 60% of rye malt makes this beer very unique. Such malt composition adds character to beer, both in flavor and aroma, displayed by a distinct spiciness and oily texture. We use weizen yeast to add aroma of banana and clove, while the German hops add a medium bitterness and herby aroma.”
On the whole, WRCLW Roggenbier Rye is a pretty faithful interpretation of an unusual style of beer. It’s likely to tick all the boxes for rye-lovers, but unlikely to convert the skeptics. Now, where did I put that mustard?
James Beeson is the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Best Young Beer Writer 2017. You can read more of his work on his website Beeson On Beer, in The Morning Advertiser, or by following him on Twitter @jdbeeson16. Join the waitlist to be alerted when Stu Mostow’s WRCLW Roggenbier Rye is available in the online bottleshop here, or check out more of HonestBrew’s selection of Polish craft beers online.