From The Cellar: Boulevard Rye-On-Rye

In Cellared Beer Reviews by The Guys

Boulevard Says:

“Why Rye? A fair question, given this assertively flavored grain is more often associated with whiskey than with beer. Even in that arena, it has largely been eclipsed by corn and barley, the sources of bourbon and scotch, respectively. But when we procured some seasoned rye whiskey barrels from our friends at Templeton Rye, we asked ourselves, “Why not?”

Boulevard Brewing Co. Rye-on-Rye
Rye Beer Aged in Templeton Rye Bottles, 11% ABV

The Guys cracked this one open after being less than impressed by a previous Boulevard beer, the Imperial Pilsner. After being dropped to lessened expectations, it’s safe to say that the Rye-on-Rye rocketed them back up to new heights.

Ryan has already called aging in bourbon barrels one of the best things ever, so how about aging in rye barrels?  Karl has established his appreciation for the Manhattan which is traditionally made with rye whiskey.  Will that translate into enjoying a rye-heavy beer?  Could be…

Andrew: The Rye-on-Rye was by far the best beer we had during a night of heavy tasting, a fantastically smooth and boozy beer. It poured a very hazy dark brown/deep red with a slight head that dissipated quickly, leaving some great lacing on the glass. There was also a bit of sediment at the bottom of the glass.

The smell, and I kid you not, was like a Jack and Coke, whiskey with a hint of sweetness. I also detected some very nice spice and oak-y notes.

This was a very warm beer, definitely a sipper, that left a slight whiskey burn as it went down. The alcohol was not overwhelming, and the rye and oak flavors, joined by some citrus, really jumped out. A well-balanced beer.

With some beers, the booze seems to become more present as the beer warms up, but I didn’t really notice that with the Rye-on-Rye…maybe I was just too buzzed at the time.

Loved this beer.

Ryan: This is a beer that was on my target list to pick up in downstate Illinois since its release was announced after the first of the year.  Sadly, Boulevard does not distribute in Chicago but they do get in to central Illinois.  So, after sitting on a bottle for a few months it was time to crack it open.

This beer has the appearance and smell of a mixed drink; most notably, a jack and coke.  It pours mahogany in color with a finger or two worth of tan head.

The nose is all whiskey.

At first sip you definitely catch the whiskey and just a hint of some cherry or vanilla.  The latter two flavors become a bit more pronounced as the beer warms, but the whiskey remains the star of the show.

This was, hands down, the favorite of the night.  It is definitely a beer to share, though.  We split amongst three people and that seemed just right.

Karl: The Rye-on-Rye started off pouring a beautiful amber color edging into dark brown, a rich deep tone with a minimal yet lingering head to it.  Like Andrew and Ryan have mentioned above, my notes say “It’s like a Jack and coke – but with extra awesome.

There really was a very distinct cola taste, with what seemed like a little white pepper in there as well.  At 11%, this is definitely the kind of beer you want to share around in small samples or a tiny snifters, and take your time with.  That kind of patience will be rewarded.  Give it a few minutes and the cola notes dissipate and the whiskey really comes to the forefront.

It’s a marvelously complex beverage – like pouring a mixed drink with the whiskey at the bottom, the cola floating at the top and as you drink your way through the glass, the layers emerge.  This beer didn’t just taste good – it was fun.

If you see it, grab it. But based on the number on the front of the label…it might be too late.


Ryan: Wow. That was almost three years ago – when we used to setups to our actual reviews…

We cracked this now three-year-old bottle – or thereabouts – of Boulevard’s Rye-on-Rye on a celebratory evening full of vertical epics and big, angry barrel-aged beers. And despite the bottled wealth of riches, this beer may have been my favorite of the evening.

Surprisingly, not much had changed in the aroma of this beer. It still has a distinct smell of Jack and Coke – although now it’s a bit more Coke, or Cherry Coke to be exact, and less Jack Daniels.

Sipping away, the Rye-on-Rye is a touch tart with a distinct cola flavor a slightly misplaced nuttiness amongst more familiar flavors of raisins and cherry’s.

The body was a bit frothy, like each glass had been stirred, and a touch creamy too. The 11% ABV was completely non-existent.

When we cracked open a Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad recently I wrote that, after that experience, we should take the brewery’s Best By dates for gospel. But now I’m not so sure – because I don’t think this beer has peaked. It’s probably got another good year or two left in it.

If you have any Rye-on-Rye from early 2010 stashed away you could certainly pop the top now, or give it a bit longer to see what transpires, either way I doubt you’d be disappointed.


Karl: Even though it was years ago, whenever someone randomly asks me those classic oh-you’re-a-beer-blogger questions like “what’s your favorite beer” and “what’s the best beer you ever had” and so on. I’ve often answered the latter with, “Well, once we had this special beer from Boulevard…” and you can read the rest of the review yourself above. Because man, did we loved this beer. Still do. In fact, on our 1-year anniversary, I named it the favorite beer I’d had in the entire previous year.

Which is why it was so interesting to go back to it so many months later, to see whether or not my (our) adoration had faded, clarified, strengthened or changed at all.

Usually with these bourbon or whiskey aged beers, after some time we see that liquor fade off revealing the truth of the brew beneath. Not the case here – the whiskey was still strong, sharp and right up front. Smelling like cheap cola, akin to store-brand clones or even a can of RC, the complex flavors of Coke were watered down by time, still present, just different.

This brew was still sabre-sharp with new tastes of white raisins and grapes popping around, disappearing shortly after they surfaced to recede back below the soda-ness.

Still a damn fine beer…but makes me really want a fresh version.


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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.

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