Yesterday I was strolling the aisles of my favorite local bottle shop when I happened upon this little gem. I had heard about it in emails I get from Clipper City Brewing and was anxious to try it. The Letter of Marque series is the product of a yearly homebrew competition, hosted by Clipper City. The bottle reads:
“Winners from our annual ‘Letter of Marque’ homebrew competition will work along side our brewmaster to create a yearly special release. Historically, a Letter of Marque was a document that made a Pyrate (sic) a legitimate privateer. Our Letter of Marque makes a home brewer a legitimate professional!”
Entries are limited to beers over 8%; it is their Mutiny Fleet afterall, so if you’re thinking of entering next year’s competition, save the Mild, Bitter, and ESB for personal consumption.
My first though was intrigue at the idea of using rye malt in a Porter. Lately rye used in brewing IPAs (aka Rye-PA) has gotten the lion’s share of attention. Rye tends to lend a dryness and a slight spiciness and is typically used in 10-20% of the total grist when used in conjunction with other malts. Brewing with rye malt brings its own brand of complications and considerations. Still, it can pair famously when used correctly.
I gotta say I did enjoy this beer. From the pillowy tan head that lasted and left lace on the glass, to the spicy rye notes that complemented the restrained roasty flavors, to the prominent floral hop aroma and flavor and mildly alcoholic aroma and taste, each sip was absolutely enjoyable. Homebrewers Frank Butt and Neil Heinlein did their homework and raised the bar for coloring-outside-the-lines beer. And kudos to Clipper City for the beer’s production and overall support of the homebrewing community. Cheers, gentlemen!