From the Beer Writer: As brewers keep pushing the envelope, it gets harder and harder to find something truly unique in this bold new craft-beer world. But undiscovered territory is out there. All you have to do is go out there and find it. I recently came across a rare first-time beer style last week on a visit to 32 North Brewing Company. I was there to check in on head brewer Will Gallaspy, who has been at the Miramar-based brewery for nine months and now completely responsible for everything on the beer-board. It’s a wide-ranging assortment of traditional and edible-enhanced ales, plus an oddity of sorts called Rum Runner that’s billed as a “rye wine.” The wine descriptor comes from the alcoholic strength of beverages such as the common English-style barley wine and its less-common wheat wine cousin. This is the first rye wine I’ve ever heard of, and it’s not surprising considering how infamous rye malt is for causing stuck mashes. Gallaspy encountered that very problem and isn’t sure if he’ll ever produce this outlandish creation again, but I’d attest it was worth all the extra elbow-grease he slathered on it. A healthy infusion of rum-soaked grated ginger from local distilling outfit Malahat Spirit Co. (they make the best rum in San Diego, in my opinion) and a high but not over-imposing level of alcohol (8.2% by volume) makes this taste like a floral cocktail with an equally botanic and earthy spiciness from both the rye and ginger. No beer I’ve ever had has tasted like this. It’s definitely worth a taste for those chasing the high of something new, but get that taste soon, because it’s not expected to last long.
From the Brewer: “Nothing beats good neighbors. The guys across the street at Malahat aren’t just masters of hand-crafting world-class spirits, they are also class acts. When they knocked on our door asking if we might possibly have any use for hundreds of pounds of freshly grated rum-soaked ginger, we quickly found a home for it in this rye wine, a strong ale brewed with a high percentage of rye. This unique spring seasonal beer has a nose of roses and lilac, picked up from its meeting with Malahat’s reliably floral spirits. Expect a malty sweetness counter-balanced by the spicy synergy of ginger and rye.”—Will Gallaspy, Head Brewer, 32 North Brewing Co.