Rye whiskey is a glorious thing. It's a spicy liquor produced with at least 51 percent of the mash containing rye (with the rest corn or malted barley). Imbibed neat, it has a drier character than bourbon and mimics the Scottish Islay whisky. Add some honey and the flavor is rounded out with a bit of sweetness. Make that whiskey a beer, though, and you've just made quite a tasty concoction.
For this year's Beerfest, the New Times teamed up with Davie's premiere brewing experience, the Mack House, to put together a unique beer that would be available only at Beerfest. That beer is the Moustache Rye'd, a honey rye brown ale made with pounds of locally harvested honey from Natural Chai Farms in Davie.
Have you ever had such a beer? A quick and dirty Google search reveals a few rye and honey brown ale homebrew recipes and a fun-sounding Great Deep Che'lu Honey Rye Brown Ale from the Mermaid Tavern & Grille in Guam, but not much else.
"I've never seen a beer like this," Mack House brewer said during an early-morning brew day and tasting session. "I think brown ale is a style that a lot of people don't brew; they're usually base for a culinary beer.
"It's not as hot or trendy as an IPA or a sour. I think some people, when they hear the term 'brown ale,' they just think Newcastle. I think the public has this perception... people aren't attracted to them. There's a lot of good brown ales out there; maybe this will get them to try other ones."
The Mack House's New Times honey rye brown ale is the real deal. We were able to sample some of the two barrels that were produced (61 gallons for you nonbrewers out there), and it's quite the drinker. A big khaki frothy crown releases aromas of mead, apple, and some fresh bread, while the body is full and round with a playful dancing of subtle rye spice and dark bread. Balanced to a T, the honey rye brown ale shoots right to the top of "drink anytime" beer.
"We use 20 percent [of the grain bill] rye," Miles explains of the recipe, "with some chocolate malt to balance it so it's not so intense. So it's just 2-row, some Biscuit, caramel [malt], the chocolate malt, and rye... with the honey about ten minutes after flameout.
"I can't wait for people to try it and see what they think."
Seek out the Mack House at Beerfest on Saturday to get a sample of this once-in-a-beerfest opportunity. Remember, when you get to the booth (number 36, for those following at home), ask the person serving if you can have a Moustache Rye'd. Hopefully you'd just get a sample of beer. It is the New Times Beerfest, after all.
The New Times' Broward-Palm Beach 17th-Annual New Times "Original" Beerfest, presented by Isle Casino, returns from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 25, to Esplanade Park. General admission is $30 through October 24 or $40 at the gate -- if it's not sold out! Purchase a Brewmaster Ticket for $45 to get in an hour early, taste specialty brews only available in the VIP section, and see this year's homebrew competition. Get your tickets now at ticketfly.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 Instagram.