Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA

There is a saying about a given band or musical sound: I’m not into it, but I wouldn’t change the station. There are, of course, sexist versions of it: Well, I wouldn’t kick her out of bed …. At any rate, we all know the joke, right? Somewhere in there we find Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye.

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA“Rustic grains,” the brewery claims, “refined flavor, ruthless character”. The capsule summary is even better:

Rugged and resilient, rye has been a staple grain for ages and its spicy black pepper-like flavor has been prized by distillers and brewers for centuries. Rye thrives in the harshest conditions and comes to life in Ruthless, a spicy and rugged IPA with fruity, citrus and herbal hop notes balanced with the dry spiciness of the rye, making the beer aggressive yet comforting to bolster against whatever the winter winds may bring.

At 6.6% ABV and 58 IBU, Ruthless is a properly nondescript beer. If we ever need to know about the subjectivity of beer ratings, consider that the seasonal IPA is presently carrying a 97 at RateBeer, but only an 87 at BeerAdvocate. Both these ratings are excessive.

To the plus side, Ruthless Rye IPA would make a great baseball beer. It is also a wonderful crossover beer for the stats geeks who still think summer means a can of PBR.

But a Pacific Northwest hophead might taste Ruthless Rye IPA and wonder, “How do they call this an IPA?” It’s a spring seasonal that tastes more like a summer beer; introduced every year in January or so best suits baseball in July. Or futból. Indeed, with Summerfest Lager due on shelves anytime soon, one wonders at the point. Either Ruthless is a disappointing IPA, or Summerfest is, like New Belgium Hoptober, the encyclopedic example of the Bruces joke about American beer.

In truth, Ruthless Rye IPA should not be a blue line; it should be a year-round label. Its merit is one anyone who has been to a bad party recoginzes. After all, how many among us don’t have a memory of being somewhere, staring at the bucket of ice crammed with cans of Tecate and Bud Light, and wondering where the good beer is. On a smaller scale, one might imagine a drinker of industrial swills standing at the ice tub, staring at all the respectable labels, and thinking the same thing. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA is the perfect beer for that drinker. Match it with damn near anything, though cheap fish and chips are probably the best bet.

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