by Dave Nelson
This past Friday O'Fallon Brewery released its newest beer, O'Fallon Hemp Hop Rye, in bottles. O'Fallon president Tony Caradonna describes it as "an amber ale brewed with both toasted hemp seeds and rye."
Head Brewer Brian Owens' recipe contains three kinds of malted barley, two types of rye, three varieties of hops and toasted hemp seed. Rye isn't traditionally a common brewing ingredient, but it has been gaining popularity with craft brewers for the unique spiciness it brings to beer.
And what about the hemp?
"Hemp is a botanical cousin to hops and we use one that's grown organically," Owens explains. "It's extremely nutritious and adds a wonderful nutty flavor in the finish. It's a perfect complement to the rye and to the Cascade, Hallertauer and Summit hops in the beer."
Kudos to O'Fallon for not playing up the marijuana connection in its marketing for Hemp Hop Rye (like so many beers that make use of hemp seeds).
Gut Check grabbed a six-pack on release day and spent some quality time with it over the weekend.
Hemp Hop pours a decidedly hazy light amber color. It smells of caramel malt, with a bit of butterscotch and a touch of spiciness. It's pretty heavy-bodied, with plenty of toffee and toasty malt flavors. There's enough hop bitterness to keep it balanced, but it's not a particularly hoppy beer in either taste or aroma. The finish is plenty long, and would pair with food much as a traditional English pale ale would: fish and chips, shepherd's pie or other classic pub fare.