Name: Colonial Brewing Company Project #21 The Reuben Sandwich

Style: Rye IPA

Country: Australia

ABV: 5.6%

Beer Description: Western Australia’s Colonial Brewing Company served up an almost literal mouthful with their recent Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) release: the Project #21 The Reuben Sandwich. Yes, the name is a mouthful, and the beer lives up to its namesake covering the drinker’s taste buds in the perfect combination of tasty rye IPA and the brilliance of one of the best sandwiches ever created.

For those who have never had the privilege of trying a Reuben, as mentioned, it’s probably one of the best sandwich creations of all time. Corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing are combined and toasted between two pieces of rye bread. It’s truly an amazing creation that will have anybody hooked.

The key to the (original) Reuben sandwich is the rye bread. Without it, it’s simply not a Reuben. So, evidently, the folks over at Colonial Brewing Company thought “hey, we can make a rye IPA, so we may as well add some sandwich to it as well.” To add to that, the brewery also team up with West Winds Gin to add some interesting botanicals and a martini vibe to the beer.

So, basically speaking, this beer is like enjoying a lovely Reuben while sipping a martini. And they pulled it off.

First off, many of these “weird beers,” while being great for a taste, can be difficult to get all the way through or, while perfectly drinkable, aren’t really a beer to go back to. Colonial’s Reuben Sandwich beer is anything but. Yes, it’s a bit weird, but in no way is it extreme to the point where it’s not enjoyable. Some beers one drinks to experience, some one drinks to enjoy. Colonial has found a good middle ground between experience and enjoyability that make this beer worth trying, and trying again.

Really, the Project #21 Reuben Sandwich does what it says on the bottle. It tastes and smells like a Reuben, plain and simple.

The beer pours a relatively dark brown. This is only to be expect from a rye IPA. But it’s darker and murkier than a standard rye IPA. The beer settles well. It’s not the prettiest beer out there, but, then again, the Reuben sandwich isn’t the prettiest sandwich either.

In the aroma, it’s interesting and different. It’s not overtly salty, but there is the definite aroma of beef and sauerkraut with that pickled saltiness that’s such a pleasure. Of course, this interacts well with the general spiciness from the rye.

While this is an IPA, it’s not an extremely hop forward or bitter beer. IPAs are not necessarily all about bitterness, as noted in the story of the IPA. IPAs are about hop flavours and, since IBUs are not about how bitter a beer tastes, but how much iso-alpha acid is in a beer, there’s (probably) still plenty of bitterness in this beer, but it’s just disguised behind the myriad of other flavours in the beverage. These flavours are just the general “sandwichiness” of the beer. There’s salt, beef, and pickles. The gin botanicals takes the edge off somewhat so the drinker doesn’t experience simply swallowing brine.

Because of this, in a roundabout way, this beer may disappoint the big hop heads who see a new IPA and get excited on the new mouth puckering experience. Even if you’re a more aroma or taste driven hop head, the hops fall by the wayside a little bit. As gin is involved in this beer, it’s hard to tell if some of the flavours that we often associate with hops are from the gin or the hops.

That being said, Colonial Brewing Company’s Project #21 The Reuben Sandwich comes in as a very good beer. It’s a bit weird, but, most importantly, it’s very drinkable. It’s not a beer one could sit down and drink a six pack of, but probably one that you could do two or three of in a night, especially if you have a couple less flavourful beers in between. Also, coming in at 5.6% ABV, this beer isn’t going to get the drinker too drunk too quickly.

Colonial sought out to make a Reuben sandwich beer and they succeeded. And they did a damn fine job of it too.

Go to other Rye IPA reviews.

See our other reviews of Colonial Brewing Company beers.