Recipe: Rye Pale Ale By: Ben Bakelaar

A few months ago I shared the current recipes that were in my keg. Since then I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from regular brewing, but had a chance to start catching up a few weeks ago. The recipe I chose to brew again? You got it, the Rye Pale Ale. This recipe is now part of my permanent rotation, thanks in part to how much my wife likes it! I can definitely say that it doesn’t taste like a clone of any of the major rye pale ale’s I’ve tried: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye (which is actually an IPA), Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale, or Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye (another IPA). As described in my original post, this one has somewhat of a session quality to it - it’s fresh, hoppy, and certainly has a malt backbone, perhaps on the thinner side, and I guess it all just seems to balance together nicely. If anything, the hop aroma and flavor dominates, but not in a bitter way. Sierra Nevada is of course super hoppy, as hop heads love. Terrapin, I recall simply tasting mostly like a regular pale ale, but slightly spicier. And Bear Republic was quite a malt bomb in my memory. So you almost have a spectrum from featuring hops to malts there. This recipe would fall somewhere between Sierra Nevada and Terrapin on the hoppy side.

Description of Rye Pale Ale from April 2012
This is a great spring/summer recipe that I picked up from Mike D. in the WHALES homebrew club. It’s not your typical Rye PA – it has a great hop nose due to dry hopping with Simcoe and Amarillo, a fairly hoppy body with 2.5oz added during boil, but it’s very thin on the malt even with about 25% ryet, and somewhat dry. This is what makes it a great spring/summer beer, because you can have a few pints and not feel full. I guess it’s almost a session beer in that sense, and you could certainly play with the malt quantity to adjust the ABV upwards or downwards to your taste. I’ve already brewed two batches of it and both came out tasting almost exactly the same, despite some variation in brewday variables.

So what did I do differently this time? First of all, I planned on a 10 gallon batch instead of 5. I’ve slowly been learning how to upgrade to 10 gallons, and for me it’s been tough as a 1-man brewing team. I just don’t quite have the hang of it, or all the right equipment for it, so I’ve run into having to carry 10 gallons of hot wort from my back porch to my sink (never again!), having my brewday last 10+ hours instead of 6-7, or in this most recent case, chilling for about 1.5 hours to get it down to 80 degrees (outdoor brew, hot day, summertime) and then only ending up with 8 gallons of fermentable wort! The other major difference was that I fermented this with a combination of Kolsch and British Ale yeast. The original creator of this recipe, Mike D. from WHALES, had recently tried this and said the kolsch yeast really accentuated the fruity character of the hops. I made a 1000ml starter, added in both flasks of White Labs yeast, and ended up using it about 24 hours later. This made the yeast really active, although I don’t think it was at its optimal pitching time. Either way though, fermentation was done in about 3 days.


10 gallons
14 lbs pale malt (62.5%)
6 lbs rye malt (26.8%)
1 lb Cara-Pils
0.5 lbs Crystal 80
0.5 lbs Crystal 40
2-3 lbs rice hulls (use at bottom of mash tun to prevent stuck sparge)
1 oz Simcoe at 60 mins
1 oz Simcoe at 20 mins
2 oz Amarillo at flameout/whirlpool
2 oz Simcoe at flameout/whirlpool
1 oz Simcoe dry hop after 1 week for 1 week
1 oz Amarillo dry hop after 1 week for 1 week
154f mash temp. for medium body
1 vial White Labs Kolsch yeast
1 vial White Labs British Ale yeast


If you love your hops, throw 2 oz. in dry hopping, or extend dry hopping to two weeks.
If you prefer a thinner, higher ABV beer, lower the mash temperature to 150 for maximum fermentability.
If you prefer a maltier beer, up the mash temperature to 158f. It sounds out of style, but I’ve done it before with the second batch of this and it came out just fine.
If you prefer clean yeast, use Safale S-04 or Cali 1 instead of Kolsch.
If you prefer a highly carbonated beer, like Sierra Nevada, make sure you maximize hops. Maybe up to 5 oz per 5 gallons, with the extra 1 oz in the boil rather than in the dry hop.
If you prefer a lower carbonated beer, more like an English style, I think the Kolsch yeast and limiting the hops will give it a really sessionable quality.