An Interview with Jeremy Danner: The Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye Brewhouse One Release

Monday, March 12:  A Brewhouse One release for Boulevard.  After dropping my kids off at daycare, I headed down to Boulevard's Tap Room to get my hands on the latest Brewhouse One release, Rye on rye on rye on rye.  Given the popularity of the previous releases, I knew that I had to get down there the day of the release if I was to try this.  I love rye, and I love beer, so I knew that I must have it!

When I arrived, there were about 30 people in line ahead of me, which is impressive given the fact that it was also about 30 degrees outside.  However, Boulevard supplied us with donuts while we waited for the doors to open.  Score!  I was also able to get an interview the Boulevard's Ambassador Brewer, Jeremy Danner for this release.  Please note:  He prefers to be called Danner.  Everyone calls him this.  Danner was amazing about giving me this interview.  He's also quite funny, engaging, and has forgotten more about beer than most people know.  He's also very approachable and loves everything Kansas City, so go up to him and say hello if you see him out somewhere at a tasting or beerfest.  Give him a follow on Twitter @Jeremy_Danner.

Tell me about the new release of Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye that the average consumer may not know.  How does this differ from previous versions of this beer?

JD:  Regular rye on rye is 2/3 barrel aged, 1/3 fresh beer.  We wanted it to be a little more balanced.  The other 2 versions are 100% barrel aged.  The other major difference for this year’s version that they were not aged in all Templeton barrels.

I noticed that the entire process to make this version of this beer took about 2 years.  Why did you choose to do it in the manner that you did?  In other words, why did you select the 10-year Canadian Rye Barrel first for a year, then Templeton and Woodford barrels for six months each?  Do you do any blending from different barrels, or is it a single barrel process?

JD:  It wasn’t necessarily a plan.  It was just the barrels that we had on hand at the time we started the project.  The barrels had to be quality.  Good whiskey barrels make good beer.  It was all about the base beer.  We wanted to make sure that the beer was high quality before we started aging it.  Multiple barrels were blended in.  It was more than one whiskey barrel to create the entire batch.

What characteristics were you hoping to import from each of the rye barrels to the beer as you went through this project?

JD:  Rye on rye when we first made it was to showcase what the rye whiskey does to the rye base beer.  This mission was ridiculous.  We wanted to blur the line between the beer and a rye.  Personal note:  mission accomplished.

How much of the beer is lost due to evaporation over time/angel’s share?

JD:  Danner texted Ryan (who is one of the barrel aging brewers for this project) who informed us: We typically lose 5 gallons per 10 months.  We lost about 10% to the barrels over the course of the project.  Thanks Ryan!

Why did Boulevard elect to do a brewery only release this time around?  Is this something that you are going to do for future releases going forward?

JD:  For this beer, the logistics were that we weren’t able to produce a lot of it.  We have a considerably smaller batch to distribute and allocate.  You could only get a very tiny batch per distributor.  We decided to release it at the brewery so we could get as many folks in KC to try it.  That’s been the limiting release factor for all of the Brewhouse One series beers.  This is the only rye on rye series beer that’s brewery only.  The future releases will be on a larger scale.

Are there any other bourbon or rye makers out there that you would love to collaborate with on future versions of this beer?  Would you alter the aging process of this project in the future?  Personally, I’d love to see you guys make this beer with Angel’s Envy, or another collaboration of some sort.

JD:  We wouldn’t make another variant.  When our barrel guys are working with brokers, we never say never.  We are looking for the best quality barrels that we can get our hands on.  I don’t think we’d mess with the process much.  I think the process is pretty good man.  If we have something turn out really well, as this one has, we don’t want to mess with a good thing.  Personal note:  Danner and I agreed that Angel’s Envy rye is amazing.   

I’m sure there will be collectors/fans who will choose to cellar this beer instead of drinking it right away.  In your opinion, how long should this beer be cellared for to allow for any subtle changes to the beer?

JD:  Personally, I’d drink it fresh.  It will only fade with time.  If you do cellar it, I wouldn’t cellar it for too long.  It’s meant to celebrate rye whiskey barrels.  The max I’d cellar it would be two years.  The beer is boozy and fun, and that’s the point.

I loved to learn that a portion of the proceeds are going to the Rose Brooks Center.  Are there any other times where Boulevard does a similar event to donate to institutions or charities like this throughout the year?

With the first to Brewhouse One beers, we did chartable events.  We do a lot of charitable events in the beer hall.  As a brewery, we are lucky that KC supports us, and we like to give back when we can.  It’s a big deal to John, our founder.  As a brewery, we don’t play in the political arena.  We wanted to work with Rose Brooks and their mission to support their desire and the need for people and pets to be safe.  We feel really good about keeping folks safe.

Finally, what types of local dishes from the KC restaurant scene would you pair this beer with if you had the chance?

JD:  First thing is the Howard Hanna’s pork soup at the Reiger.  It is amazing.  It’s very rich and savory.  I’d pair this with anything that I’d pair with whiskey.  I would also pair this with some lemon pie from Rye.  I like citrus in my rye whiskey.  From Grunauer, the Jager Schnitzel Vom Schwein.  From the menu, it’s a pork scallopini with a mushroom cream sauce served with spatzle.

Personal tasting notes:  This beer is dark caramel in color.  It comes in at a whopping 15.5% ABV, with 33 IBUs.  When you smell it, it smells quite sweet, which definitely comes from the barrel aging.  I can honestly say that wow, the rye flavor really stands out, but it isn’t quite as spicy as drinking a rye whiskey.  The sugars from the rye and beer have married quite nicely.  It’s a rather smooth finish.  It’s a fantastic sipping beer/rye.  A true powerhouse.

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