U.S. Route 90 is a 1,633 mi stretch of road that winds its way east from Van Horn, Texas to Jacksonville Beach, Florida. It can claim to pass through the county seats of all 15 counties on its course in Florida. It's for these 'fun facts' (and probably some other more interesting ones) that the Route 90 Rye Pale Ale from Engine 15 Brewing Company in Jacksonville, Florida got its name.
I picked this bottle up over in Fort Myers (along with some other Florida Beer Friday future goodies) while passing through. With a slightly different distribution area over there, it is possible to score some different brews. Heck, just travelling north a bit into St. Lucie County can net a few more Northern Florida specimens.
Route 90 is apart of an American tradition of experimentation with the India Pale Ale style. With bigger and bolder hop varietals available to us through growing regions in the Pacific Northwest, we've been able to develop styles that blend different traditional categories together. Here, the IPA and the Rye Beer make a flavorful marriage. Some will call it a 'Rye-P-A', in which a percentage of the malt bill (the grains) are substituted with this alternative ingredient, which "makes for an interesting recipe component, contributing a distinctive, refreshing flavor."
According to the brewery, the aim with this beer is to combine "the citrus and floral character of a classic american ipa with the spicy earthy notes of a rye ale."
The beer pours a murky orange with a slight off-white head that dissipates quickly. It's not particularly attractive in ways that other IPAs might be, but it shows that it holds a bit of body in the glass.
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The aroma is sweet, with a treacle-forward character (refined sugar or golden syrup) that brings to mind barleywines and Belgian quads. Or perhaps, more appropriately, it reminds of an Old Fashioned cocktail?
On the flavor, some bitterness flavor comes through, along with the traditional spicy rye component. There is a heft to the body, which does hold on to some of the sweeter malty parts of this beer. Some drying and hop bitterness comes out at the end, giving it a uniquely complex, but not overwhelmingly so, flavor package.
Engine 15 Brewing is located at 1500 Beach Blvd. #217, Jacksonville Beach. Call 904-249-2337, or visit engine15.com.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.