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Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale - Cigar City Brewing

Not Rated.
Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown AleImprov (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

359 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 359
Reviews: 178
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 15.96%
Wants: 40
Gots: 60 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing visit their website
Florida, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
What you have here is an Oatmeal Rye India-style Brown Ale. Now you might be thinking oatmeal, rye, brown ale, India-style; isn’t that a lot to be going on in just one beer? Well yes, it is. But that is the point. Layers. Flavor elements building on and playing off of preceding elements, like a building wave; a growing crescendum of taste bud temptation; a wall of sound expressed through flavor and channeled toward your mouth. This beer isn’t for everyone. In many ways it is more than just a little weird. It certainly doesn’t fit easily into any category. It isn’t a brown ale, not just a brown ale anyway. It certainly isn’t an IPA. Calling it a rye beer would be selling it way short. In the spirit of all great things that are conceived in the moment, but perfected through passionate repetition it started life as an improvisation and grew from there. And it might not be for you. But if the thought of big spicy rye notes, a wallop of a hop punch, multitudinous layers of caramel, sweet malt and a respectable balancing gravity sound intriguing then you might want to wing it and give Improv a try.

60 IBU

(Beer added by: tpd975 on 03-29-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 359 | Reviews: 178 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Rattle 'n' Hum Cigar City event. Hoppy aroma. Dark colour, some lacing. Imperial brown ale, lots of hop, above average mouthfeel boosted by oats. Citrus taste, some roast, chocolate malts. Decent drinkability.
Had again in bottle 5 months later and it was funky, thick, smokey, spicy.
Had again 2.5 years later and had a good balance, thanks Peter.

Sammy, Mar 04, 2011
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.23/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to ehammond1 for sharing this at DarthKostrizer's tasting.

Bottled 3/2012.

Pours a murky brown with a khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, rye, brown sugar, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a pretty harsh level of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer some some harsh flavors going on.

UCLABrewN84, Jun 03, 2012
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +6.4%

djrn2, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

zestar, Oct 27, 2013
Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev +6.4%

acurtis, Apr 16, 2012
Photo of Texasfan549
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

Texasfan549, May 28, 2013
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +6.4%

kjkinsey, May 28, 2013
Photo of brentk56
4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a muddy coffee color (as if just a touch of cream had been added to the cup) with a buoyant head that sheets the glass

Smell: Pithy bitterness dominates the aroma, but underneath are hints of brown bread, oats and almonds

Taste: Starts out either with a brown sugar, chocolate, oat and nut character or with a very bitter, spicy and pithy element that tingles on the tongue - with each sip I get alternating sensations, though by mid-palate, all of these flavors clearly come through; after the swallow, the spicy rye flavors are clearly dominant, along with the oatmeal and brown sugar to keep things in balance

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and prickly, with moderate to high carbonation

Drinkability: I cannot recall a more enigmatic beer - this one is like a chameleon, with each sip it changes its flavor profile

brentk56, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a cloudy deep brown color ale with a huge light brown color head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of strong grassy and earthy hops are mix with some rye malt. Taste is a somewhat unique mix between loads of rye malt with loads of grassy and earthy hops and a medium bitter finish. Body is quite full with limited filtration and great carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Not sure I would drink this on a regular basis but a very interesting experiment nonetheless.

Phyl21ca, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of kylehay2004
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Thick large tan head with lots of retention and tons of lacing on a dark amber/brown body.

S: lots of coffee, hops, with a grassy/floral and almost bourbon like note.

T: sweet rye and caramel malt to start, finishes with dark chocolate, oak and coffee notes.

M: moderate to high carbonation and medium to full body.

Overall: This one is very complex and very good, plain and simple.

kylehay2004, Mar 25, 2012
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%

ygtbsm94, Apr 24, 2012
Photo of mikesgroove
4.65/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was really quite the enigma for me. I was not really sure what to make of it and it took the whole session for me to really figure it out. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 10/27/2009.

Rich dark brown pour, just menacing looking with a huge tan head that just towered over the top of the glass. Fading slowly it left behind tons of side glass lacing and a huge amount of spider like webs. Aroma was sweet and spicy at the same time. Notes of rye, brown sugar, molasses like touches and hints of coffee are all coming through very clearly. Each sip now seem to get a bit more complex then the one before it, really very well done here. Rich chocolate notes blending well now with huge malts and a touch of rye that are just fantastic. Light suagry finish with a touch of hops in the back, just enough to push it over the edge for me. ABV is very well hidden and had no issues at all with polishing this one off.

Overall this was very, very solid. Not really sure what style it fits into but it was soo damn good. I was very impressed here.

mikesgroove, Oct 30, 2009
Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ordered a bottle of this to split with a friend at the Tap and Table before it closed up. This beer poured out as a deep brown color with a creamy tan colored head on top. The smell of the beer was mild yet had some little pops of spice that filled the nose. Lots of roasted aromas too. The taste of the beer was roasted with an interesting amount of spicy rye and citrusy hops. There was a lot going on in this brew, it's hard to pin point specifics really but I found it to be a very neat beer. The mouthfeel was on the heavy side, thick and rich leaving a coating in the mouth for a bit. Overall I thought this beer was very good and would enjoy having it again one day.

Knapp85, Aug 01, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.35/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours an opaque, dark brown body with a suspiciously tall, compacted, yellowish head.

Smell: Toffee-scented malts with additional hints of toast, citrus, nuts and rye grain are quashed by phenol-soaked work rags forced over my mouth and nose by an unseen assalant. What I hope was an unintentional funkiness is uncomplimentary to the rest of the brew.

Taste: Toasted nuts and toffee with a zip of spicy rye and hint of cocoa. Fruity citrus hop character with ample bitterness. Sadly, all this is lacerated by a voracious funkiness and once the stale, tart fruit, cobwebs, and bandages swiped from a first aid kit start rolling in, they don't roll out. Hard dryness and a continued phenolic fanfare on the finish you need to be sitting down for.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Soft mouthfeel from all of the rampant carbonation present.

Drinkability: Unfortunately, a real dud for me, but with all of the home runs they've hit, I can allow a shameful strike out. With enough improvising you're bound to let out some real sour notes.

ChainGangGuy, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of largadeer
2.5/5  rDev -33.5%

largadeer, Apr 12, 2013
Photo of zeff80
2.4/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Poured out a fairly dark brown color with a thick, tan head of foam that had some good retention. Some lacing.

S - It smelled very malty and of some pine. There were some funky notes, too.

T - Something wasn't right here. The flavor was pretty messy with an odd funkiness and metallic taste. Hoppy bitterness plus tons of malty sweetness couldn't correct the other odd flavors.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A medium-bodied beer.

D - It just didn't taste right. I don't know if the funky flavor is intention. To me it seems they tried to do too much with a unique style.

zeff80, May 05, 2010
Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - One finger of light tan foam on top of an opaque, dark brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Velvety pine hops with spicy rye and some cloves.

T - Sweet rye and toasted malt up front. Moderately strong pine hops and brown sugar notes. The hops come out more towards the end with a spicy flavor and stronger bitterness. Lots of grapefruit and brown sugar in the finish.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Very aggressive, sugary malt and dark, spicy hops make for a robust, heavy beer that borders on barleywine territory. It is relatively well balanced, but the malt is kind of muddy. A more aromatic, fruity hop presence might help lift it off the palate in the finish.

nickfl, Sep 24, 2009
Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into a pint glass. Thanks go to Ffej for sharing this one.

Pours a deep unfiltered brown in the glass, with 1 1/2 fingers of foamy light mocha head. Very robust retention here, leaving back a good bit of heavy sticky lacing. The aroma is floral and even a bit piney, with some earthy green citric tones and the bready spiciness of the rye really coming out strong. Some sweeter caramel malt notes ride along the back.

The taste is sharp with hop resins and fairly spicy overall in the mouth, while a deep tang of bread, caramel, and earthy citrus that does it's best to try and keep this on the sweeter side of the profile. Very spicy and dry finish on this, which isn't too surprising. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a good bit of sharpness to the carbonation up front but then definitely gets more bubbly and creamy towards the back of the swallow. And wow, I'm not really getting too much alcohol here at all for a 9% beer. I was actually quite shocked when I saw the ABV on here, as this definitely felt more like it was in the 6-7% range. Very impressive feel on this.

Another nicely done brew here from Cigar City, with the rye and hops complimenting each other well, while the alcohol content of this was hidden most impressively. I wouldn't hesitate to check this out again down the line.

Kegatron, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev +6.4%

oline73, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%

MarkyMOD, May 10, 2013
Photo of beernads
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%

beernads, Apr 29, 2013
Photo of WesWes
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a killer hop nose that's full of citrus hop bitterness. It has a nice pale, crystal, and roasted malt scent as well as a spicy rye aroma. The rye spiciness compliments the citrus hop character. The taste is good. It has a solid malt bill that produces a dry roasted flavor as well as a spicy rye edge. It goes down smooth and easy with a dominating hop bitterness that resinates in the finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a terrific beer. I'm a sucker for rye IPAs anyways, but this one brings a more complex malt profile.

WesWes, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of Mora2000
3/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer opens with a huge pop and immediately starts gushing out the top. Something smells sour. This is not looking good.

The beer pours dark brown with a huge tan head that takes up most of the glass. This is definitely a bad bottle. The aroma is tart dark fruit. The flavor is rye with some dark malts, oak, smoke and quite a bit of tartness. Thick mouthfeel and low carbonation, despite having the huge head. I guess that is the infection that caused the huge head. Disappointing overall since I was really looking forward to this one.

Mora2000, Jun 10, 2010
Photo of drewone
3/5  rDev -20.2%

drewone, Apr 22, 2013
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.13/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased from the Brewery January 2011; Sampled 11 days later
A solid pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a three-finger thick, nicely browned, dark tan colored head. As the head subsides it leaves a nice amount of lacing on the sides of my glass, though it doesn't have the dense, staying power that would make it perfect, but near perfect is pretty damn good. The beer is a very dark, concentrated, amber-brown color that shows a bright, brilliantly hued (though not perfectly clear), rich ruby color when held up directly to the light. The beer smells thick with fruity, then resinous hops that are backed by supporting notes of caramelized malt and toasted whole grain. Super tropical fruit hop character of lychee, kumquat zest, sweetened hibiscus, amplified ruby red grapefruit juice (think Ocean Spray brand), honey drenched orange blossoms and super ripe tangelo that has been freshly juiced with the zest added are all quite noticeable. This is backed, distantly, by some supporting resionous notes that contribute hints of pine, maybe a suggestion of menthol and even a hint of herbal "hemp" oil. I wasn't expecting the nose of this beer to be so incredibly dominated by fruit leaning hop notes, but I really am enjoying it quite a bit. You wouldn't ever guess how dark this beer is from the nose unless you really, really dig around in it; after you do there is a touch of nuttiness as well as some spicy, toasted whole grain notes that peek through just a touch.

Fairly thick, and definitely viscous as it hits my tongue; you can feel the density of this thing as it clings to the palate after my first sip. A bitter, herbal and pine-like hop character does a good job of cutting through the viscosity in the lingering finish and helps to clear the palate up in anticipation of another sip. This has quite a bit of sweetness to it that accentuates and is accentuated by an aggressive, loud, fruity hop character that is dense with notes of candied kumquats, lychee syrup, Curacao orange zest, ruby red grapefruit, . The malt character from the brown ale does still play a secondary role to the hop flavors, but it is a lot more noticeable than it was in the nose; flavors of roast leaning coffee intermingle with and linger on the palate like the pine and bitter notes towards the finish (and in fact accentuates the bitterness a bit), there is a definite nutty note to this brew, and a really nicely spicy, almost rye-like (wait, I just checked and this does actually have rye in it, so I wasn't imagining it), dark grain character to it. Interestingly enough, after only a bit of time, the body of this beer seems significantly reduced; it still has some heft to it, but it is now not nearly as viscous and the density of this seems much reduced; this now seems to fit into the quaffability region of something like a Double IPA (even if it is still on the high end for that, at least for me (in that I prefer lighter bodied versions).

Both the touch of roast and to a lesser degree the spicy grain character accentuate the sharper, not quite harsh, herbal and bitter hop notes that dominate this beer; it is not enough to really detract from the beer, but it keeps this from being wonderfully integrated. I have yet to really find a dark malt leaning, super hoppy beer that doesn't do this and it has honestly made me think that if you want a really hop focused beer you should not add any dark / roasted leaning grain notes to it. Having said that, this beer definitely is quite tasty, definitely enjoyable and something I would happily drink again; it is just that the hop character would be so much brighter, smoother and well integrated without the roast grain notes (though I wouldn't mind seeing the spicy rye component staying on). In the end this is a fantastic beer that I can't quite help thinking is a bit Bi-polar in character.

Gueuzedude, Jan 31, 2011
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Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale from Cigar City Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 359 ratings.