Tasting Notes: “Rye Wit” Session Beer

The Rye Wit is light, hoppy and refreshing.

The Rye Wit is light, hoppy and refreshing.

I thought I’d better write a post about this beer before it’s gone. It appears my goal of coming up with a very low gravity hoppy beer and to be able to brew it repeatedly has been achieved. (Arm severely straining from the awkward position of patting myself on the back.)

As seen in the article detailing its brewing, the “Rye Wit” had a shockingly low starting gravity of 1.018. My hydrometer says it finished at 1.008, giving it an alcohol by volume of 1.3%. According to the BrewMath iPhone app, the calorie count for this lightweight is 76.

Thanks to the magical properties of rye, the body of the beer is satisfying. It would in no way be mistaken for a high gravity beer, but at the same time, it’s not watery.

I hopped the beer in the keg with an ounce (28 grams) of Cascade pellets. This, combined with the ounce of Mosaic pellets at flameout, gives the Rye Wit a very nice hoppy aroma. It’s a little grassy around the edges, but as a hop lover, that suits me just fine.

The flavor is all about the hops. Again, it’s not an IPA, but it’s not trying to be. The hops are a bit lemony and piney with a bit of resin in there, too. The beer is very thirst quenching, which is one reason it’s not going to last very long.

I’d call the color a cloudy straw with a voluminous white head. It’s something you’d expect from a beer that’s nothing but wheat and rye.

I’d love to brew this again with Citra hops. Or, maybe with Amarillo. Both.




  1. A winner recipe for sure. Session beers are in session nowadays anyway. Thanks for the ideas. Cheers!

  2. How did you achieve the very low attenuation? It seems the mash temperature is pretty standard (maybe a bit on the high side of standard but nevertheless….not THAT high), and you use no specialty malt/crystal etc. I would have assumed it would have ended on a much lower FG.

  3. Instead of Citra (which I love), you might think of Zythos with its tangerine, lemon, grapefruit, and pine notes, it should be a winner.

  4. Fortunately for us, the Zythosians come in peace.

  5. James or Chris, any concerns with the Bittering Unit (BU’s) to Gravity Unit (GU) ratio in a low ABV beer? I put this recipe into my brew calculator, and I came up with a BU/GU of .89. Fuggles has a low Alpha Acid around 4.5%, so it appears this would be a good mild selection. Citra has a much higher AA (12%), so a 60 minute boil with the same .5 oz looks like it would knock the flavor out of balance with a 1.61 BU/GU ratio (very bitter). This is something I’m sure a brewer would want to measure prior to putting in your standard hop additions. Hop utilization would be much higher with the lower wort gravity.

    • Dan, we found in one of our experiments on BBR that wort gravity didn’t have much of an impact on hop utilization. That being said, I think you’re right that brewers should keep an eye on the bitterness levels with lower gravity beers to balance the lack of sweetness from the use of less malt. This beer without the late hop and dry hop additions is not very bitter, IMHO, and is pretty bland.

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