Nick Carr on January 24, 2020 0 Comments Rye grain has a long history in the brewing and distilling world, but its use, both in flaked and malted form, to augment the character of IPAs, really only started back in the early 2000s. Rye as a brewing ingredient can bring a spicy, sharp character and added crispiness. If you’d like to give rye a shot in your next IPA recipe, here are a few tips to guide you through the process. Grain Bill The spicy complexity rye brings is equally inviting in an American IPA as an English IPA. You could even go as far as adding rye to one of the other specialty IPA styles, such as a Brown rye IPA or Black rye IPA. Really, the recipe changes to convert an IPA recipe to a rye IPA recipe only consist of replacing some portion of the base malt with rye — that’s it! It sounds simple, but it’s important to remember the type of rye used (flaked or malted), the kilning of the malt rye, and how much you use, will all affect the brewing process and how your beer turns out. Rye is available in several different forms including flaked, malt, kilned malt, rolled, and whole berries. Each of these will change your brewing procedures slightly. Flaked and malted are the two most often used for brewing. Rolled and flaked can be added straight to the mash without any extra processing steps. Generally, the flavors from these are less intense than using rye malt. Using flaked rye will not slow down your lauter time. Forms of rolled and flaked rye can be easily found at many grocery stores. Rye in whole berry form is also often available at co-ops or other grocery stores. It will have to be cracked and then cooked like a cereal to make the starches available in the mash. Using whole rye will generally slow your lautering Rye malt adds a stronger flavor to the beer. It can be mashed like any other malt, but because of its high protein content, it’s a good idea to make some adjustments to your mash and expect lautering to take longer. Increased interest in the rye as a brewing ingredient has driven malting companies to increase the types of rye malt they offer. You can find pale rye, chocolate rye, crystal/caramel rye, and roasted rye. As with barley malt, expect more intense flavors and darker color contribution as kilning increases. If this is your first recipe using rye I’d suggest going with the flaked form. This is the easiest to work with and while it will bring the spicy, sharp flavors of rye it will also be mellower than if you used malted rye. It’s a good starting ingredient for experimentation. If using malted rye and you crush your own grains, mill rye separately from the rest of your malt. Rye is a smaller grain than barley and you’ll likely need to tighten the gap of your mill before processing the rye. Quantity Most recipes will not use more than about 20% rye. This is especially true of rye malt; largely dictated by the amount of lautering difficulties encountered as amounts increase past about 15 percent. However, many intrepid homebrewers have gone far higher than 20% and made fine beers. But, I’d recommend getting some rye recipe brewing experience under your belt before you shoot too high. Flaked rye can be used in higher quantities than can malt without affecting lautering extensively. It’s also often used at higher rates because of its softer flavor profile. Briess suggests using up to 40% of their rye flakes, but with a starting point of 5 to 10 percent on your first batch. Increasing the quantity by 5% over future batches until you get the flavor you’re looking for. The 5% to 10% starting point is a good rule of thumb for your first time using rye malt as well. Extract Brewing Rye IPA recipes aren’t relegated to the all-grain brewer. The extract brewer too can make a fine example of this style. There are even a couple of extract recipe kits out there. Rye extracts are actually a blend of base malt, rye malt, and crystal malt. Both Briess Malting and Maillard Malting sell rye malt extracts that are 70% base malt, 20% rye malt, and 10% crystal 40L. Another option is to stick with the recipes original pale malt extract, but include rye in your specialty grains to be steeped or mini-mashed. Both flaked rye and rolled rye do not have enzymes for conversion, so if you use them you’ll have to combine them with either rye malt or a portion of base malt in a mini-mash. Rye malt has enough diastatic power to convert itself and a number of adjuncts. You could also steep chocolate rye or crystal rye malt with (or in place of) your other specialty malts to get some of their unique flavors. Hops Generally, hop varieties do not have to be changed for a Rye IPA. Those already in the recipe you’re adjusting will usually work just fine. However, in case you need a few ideas of hop varieties that would complement the flavors of rye, here you go: VARIETIES TO CONSIDER Chinook Liberty Brambling Cross Centennial Cascade Boadicea Simcoe Sorachi Ace This list barely begins to scratch the surface. Spicier varieties tend to complement the rye more, but many fruity varieties have also been used successfully. The takeaway here is don’t worry too much about the hop variety clashing with the rye. Most will not. The Mash And Sparge Since you’re adding rye to your recipe you’ll have to make a few adjustments to your mash. Rye, like wheat, does not have a hull, and because of its high beta-glucan levels can become extremely gluey, which can slow runoff, and ultimately end in a sticky non-draining mess. To help avoid a stuck sparge there are a few things you can do. Add rice or barley hulls to your mash. This is a worthy addition no matter the amount of rye you are using. You may get away with not using them if you are only including a very low quantity of rye, but really there’s no reason to take the chance. It’s not something you can adjust for once you realize you probably should have used them. So get yourself some hulls. In most cases up to a pound of rice and/or barley hulls is all you’ll need. If using higher than about 15% rye (or any amount if you just want to be safe) do a 30 minute beta glucan rest at 110oF. This will help break down some of the beta glucans. We all know we should start lautering slowly, just barely cracking the drain valve, to keep the grain from being sucked down onto the manifold, but it’s also important to keep your runoff slow, especially in cases like this brew. Don’t get impatient. In fact, it’s better if you go into this brew expecting, even if everything goes exactly to plan, that it will take longer to sparge. Keep your mash above 160oF through the sparge. This will also help keep the rye from becoming gummy and hampering flow. For further tips on avoiding and dealing with a stuck sparge go to our article. Like American IPAs and other specialty IPAs your shooting for high fermentability. You want your finished beer to have a light to light medium body and good crispness. To get this done, shoot for a saccharification rest between 148 – 152oF. Boil Boil as you normally would and add your hops per your schedule. The one place you may want to play with adjusting hop additions is in the last 15 minutes of the boil. According to Brew Your Own magazine, these late-addition hops can make the rye character harder to detect. Experiment. The number of late addition hops and the quantity of rye in your recipe will all make a difference here. If you really want to test the difference; brew the recipe once with your regular late hop addition(s) and the next time leave them out. Yeast Depending on the amount of rye you have in your IPA certain yeast profiles may clash with the rye flavors. Beware of those yeasts that tend to produce a lot of fruity esters. This isn’t to say you can’t use them, just maybe don’t use them your first time out. It may be better to get base-line flavors with a clean fermenting ale yeast before exploring other yeasts in subsequent batches. A clean fermenting yeast will give you the best idea of what rye brings to the table. Remember, if you do use yeast strains that are known to produce high levels of fruity esters, you can control it somewhat by keeping the fermentation in the yeast’s lower temperature range. Yeast that brings spicy notes to the beer could also complement the rye flavors well. Here are some choices to explore: WHITE LABS WYEAST DRY ORGANIC Dry English Ale American Ale Safale-American Ale Imperial Yeast- House California Ale Belgian Strong Ale Lallemand- Nottingham Imperial Yeast-Joystick Fermentation and Bottling Fermentation is carried out like any other IPA. Cool your wort to your pitching temperature, aerate well, pitch your yeast, and control that temperature. When packaging time comes, shoot for the higher end of the American IPA carbonation range; between 2.5 and 2.8 volumes. This will help carry the rye flavors. All that’s left at this point is to kick back, open a bottle (or pour a glass) of your new Rye IPA, relax, and either consider what a fantastic job you’ve done or what you’ll do to your next batch to make it that much better!