Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale | New Glarus Brewing Company

very good
157 Reviews
Unplugged Smoked Rye AleUnplugged Smoked Rye Ale

Brewed by:
New Glarus Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Smoked Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beerwolf77 on 01-17-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 157 | Ratings: 244
Photo of samie85
3.86/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark copper color with a finger of off white head.

Mesquite smoke and bacon with some light rye notes.

Sweet and smoky residual smoke and no discernible bitterness.

Slick and medium bodied with light bitterness.

Pretty drinkable for a smoked beer; I'm not sure I'd buy it again, but am glad to have tried it.

 325 characters

Photo of gford217
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle.

Pours a dark, clear amber with a small, short-lived beige head which leaves some legs of lacing on the sides.

The aroma is all about the smoke, and it's mostly of the smoked-meat variety with pork coming to mind. There is a bit of smoked wood in there and an interesting ashy, peaty thing as well as some sweat fruit way back behind the smoke.

The taste is smoky as well, but the first thing I noticed is that it's much sweeter than the aroma with some apples and caramel malts up front. The smoke is present throughout but especially in the finish where the meaty smoke lingers.

The mouthfeel is smooth with soft carbonation and ashy and smoky on the palate.

I love a good smoked beer so I was pleased with this beer overall. I still don't think this sits on the Schlenkerla level, but it's just a notch below. Solid.

 836 characters

Photo of beergod1
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear amber pour with a small off white head that fades fast. Strong smokey aroma with bacon, more smoke, a touch of alcohol, and more smoke. Sweet malty caramel flavor filled with smoke and yes....Bacon.The spicy rye on the finish makes it even better. Very interesting, but after 1 beer, I had enough.

 303 characters

Photo of Onenote81
2.3/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Big thanks to BeerFMAndy for another NG hookup!

Poured this one into a mug. Pours a cloudy rusty brown. This looks like I dipped my glass into the Yadkin River. Huh. Big smoky aromas - campfire, ham, bacon grease. Yowzas. Much smokier than I thought as it completely dominates the nose.

The mouth was way thin for my liking. Carbonation level was low, and there just wasn't anything to back up these unique flavors. The smokiness pervades the flavors as well, as I feel like I am drinking the dregs from a can of ham. Actually, that may be about right as the body probably matches that as well. I can't pull any rye character from this one. No spiciness; bitterness is near absent. I am not opposed to smoked beers at all, in fact, I have enjoyed them at other times, but this one just downright fell flat for me. This might as well be called New Glarus Liquid Pig. Pass.

 874 characters

Photo of bigfnjoe
3.71/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Victory goblet

A- pours a relatively transparent shade of a very dark amber with no head at all. The beer looks nice, but no head = no bueno

S- oh yeah, there's the smoke. And lots of it. It delivers on the name, at least

T- getting a tad bit of rye in front, and the finish is smoke...but mild smoke, not overwhelming at all. Pretty good

M- medium bodied

O- not bad at all, even as someone who isn't crazy about smoked beers

 458 characters

Photo of WastingFreetime
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Appears a deep amber color with brown highlights, has a small tan collar, no real lacing. Smells of smoke (beechwood maybe? seems similar in smoke aroma to other smoked beers that claim to use beechwood, but I might be wrong) on top of a medium strength rye aroma. I can't tease out any other particular special malt or hop aroma from the nose. On the tongue, a veil of smoke flavor hits first, than gets pushed to the sideman spotlight by a caramel malt / spicy rye malt blend of flavors. The rather dry finish also provides with a lovely array of drawn out tannic elements. Body is on the heavy side of medium thickness, yet very smooth and creamy. I feel as though I should have used a snifter (and perhaps sported a fez / smoking jacket combo) rather than a pint glass. A very nice smoked beer that doesn't let the smoke bully all the other flavors and aromas off the stage. Well done!

 911 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Michael, beer served in a snifter because that's what I had in my hand. At the time of this review, this is the #21 beer on the Top Beers - Smoked Beer list.

Beer is clear, amber, with a wispy lazy white head of small bubbles, some lacing, low retention, low carbonation.

Aroma is smoke and more smoke.

Beer is medium to light in body, a little sweet up front and a dry smokey finish, not too dry but dry enough to emphasize the smoke. Beer is sort of one dimensional to me, the smoke dominates everything else, still decent though.

 542 characters

Photo of dcloeren
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Joshua for sharing this bottle.

Review from notes...

Poured a crisp copper bronze with a finger of off white head.

Campfire smoke dominates the nose and has a nice backbone of caramel malt, spicy rye.

Taste followed the nose but more roasted and caramel malt upfront that quickly gets encapsulated by the smoke. The rye spices come into play about half way and finishes very smooth with a very slight bitterness.

Medium to light in body. Just enough carbonation to stay relevant.

I thought this beer was amazingly well done. The smokiness never took it over the top and all though it did dominate the beer it was very tasty.

 641 characters

Photo of jmarsh123
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours murky brown with very little head or lacing.

Very smoky aroma. Almost like apple smoked bacon. A little bit of caramel sweetness as well.

A brief bit of caramel sweetness at the beginning followed by an intense smoky bacon flavor in the aftertaste. A little bit of sugary sweetness as well.

Mouthfeel and carbonation are both on par for the style.

The smoke element is a little too strong in this. I like subtle smokiness, but this one overpowers most other flavors.

 476 characters

Photo of nataku00
2.43/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I've had this bottle for 7-8 months now after receiving it in a trade and tucking it away in a hidden place. Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a ruby red and amber with some dark cola browns, mostly clear with no head. Light alcohol legs and minimum off white foam from swirling, and a few tiny bubbles sticking to the glass.

Nose is very smokey, applewood smoked bacon like with that hint of burnt sugar sweetness or a wet camp fire. Can't smell any of the rye component as the smoked malts are dominating.

Taste is like drinking liquid smoke. Very savory tasting, smoked bacon and ham, with minimum amount of caramelized sugar sweetness. Not too much rye or sweeter malts in this either, as the smoked malts just continue onto a medium finish, with lingering smoked meats flavor on the tongue.

Light to medium body with a light tickle of carbonation. Beer is a bit difficult to drink as it is one dimensional in the smokiness. Too bad I'm not having some bbq as this might be a decent pairing. By itself, it really is one big smoke bomb of a beer. Really fatiguing smoky flavor that I struggled to finish off by the end of the glass.

 1,152 characters

Photo of Prostman81
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poors a nice, almost ruby color, with a slight brown tint. Nice malt aroma, no hop presence, and a definite wallop of smoke.

First impression when drinking is the dominant smoke flavor. Like smoked bacon except more earthy. The smoke doesn't linger, and you can get a feel for more of the malt background, but each time you sip, that smoke just erases the palate again and puts itself firmly in place.

I rate the mouthfeel a 3....this, to me, is one heavy beer. I actually feel full after drinking just one, and then I don't want any more beer. I understand heavy beers have their place, but the heavyness along with the smoke are just too much in my opinion.

I appreciate the perspective from NG on this; the brewer wanted to make a smoke beer with rye (noted for its incredible body-enhancing properties, not its 'spiciness' as a lot of folks believe). They definitely nailed both aspects. However, this is just not something I'd drink again, or encourage the non-smoke beer initiated to try out.

 1,002 characters

Photo of jegross2
4.29/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale from New Glarus Brewing Company.
Score: 91

2011 vintage bottle served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber/dark mahogany color. Very hazy and opaque with lots of highlights around the core the beer's body. Pours a third a finger of head that completely settles save for a thin ring around the glass. The actual lacing of the beer is very average. 3.5/5

Smell: Big aromas of smoked, smoldering hickory woodchips. Incredibly peaty. The beer smells like I am sitting around a campfire, smoking meat for a BBQ! Very peaty. Spiced rye bread comes through as well. Toasted caramel malts too. 4.5/5

Taste: Tastes very similar to the aroma. Very complex, smooth and balanced. Front and finish is prominently smoked hickory and quite peaty. Definitely get some rye flavors too. Roasted caramel malts on the mid-palate. As the beer layers on the mid-palate, the caramel malts get a little sweeter. Some bready yeast on the mid-palate too. A little earthy spiciness. Alcohol is completely hidden; I was shocked to discover this one was 8.5% ABV. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, light carbonation. Finish is slightly sweet. 4/5

Overall: I finally found a beer by New Glarus that I can not only say that I legitimately enjoyed, but also which stands up to a lot of its midwest microbrew counterparts. New Glarus certainly deserves a kudos for this one! I must try more brews in this style.

Recommendation: This is a ridiculously smooth, complex and balanced beer in both flavor and aroma. I recommend it all around.

Pairings: BBQ Brisket Sandwich on rye bread or, as I am eating it, a whole wheat bagel.

Cost: $2.99 for a single 12 oz bottle, or $10.99 for a four pack.

 1,722 characters

Photo of mrand01
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured into a Duvel tulip. Shared with nicoco.

A: Pours with minimal head. A cloudy chestnut brown. Leaves a very thin ring of lacing that quickly fades.

S: Smoky & peaty, like a fine Islay single malt. Rye is hard to detect under all the smoke/peat.

T: Liquid smoke. Lots and lots of peat malt. The deceiving part is, this does not taste or feel as strong as it is. The taste hangs around for a while.

M: Medium bodied, at best, with minimal carbonation...just enough to be slightly prickly.

O: Well, if you're into smoked beers, but you're not in the mood for a stout, this would be right up your alley. Huge peaty taste, yet surprisingly drinkable.

 661 characters

Photo of nrbw23
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a nice, clear dark amber color with a fairly thin white head. Head has little retention and leaves no lacing.

S- Smell is pretty awesome. It smells like a smoked roasted ham sandwhich. A bit of sweetness, smoke, and meat.

T- Taste is a good mixture of sweetness and smoke a great balance. A bit of brown sugar, smoke and meat dominate. A great use of malts and a nice char taste.

M- Medium in body and a tad on the higher end in carbonation.

O- This is a very solid beer. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I'm just not quite sure how often I'd could drink this, and could not have a few of these in a row for sure.

 629 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In my Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche tulip. Thank you, Mike.

A beautiful clear beep amber with a dense, off-white head with excellent retention and lacing, this is a good-looking beer. The nose is moderately smoky with caramel, light brown sugar notes, a little vanilla and a nice, earthy, leafy hop character. A little rye is noticeable as well. Mildly fruity and mildly nutty as well. It's not as smoky as a rauchbier, but fairly smoky.

The palate is surprisingly boozy with a definite alcohol bite, coupled with a mild smoke character. There's a moderate sweetness with honey, sugar, toasted rye bread and caramel. Drying on the finish with a lingering bitterness, caramel and vanilla. Light in body with medium-high carbonation, this beer is decent. While not the best Unplugged beer I've had, I'm still enjoying drinking it. Critically, though, it's not terribly good.

 868 characters

Photo of greenmonstah
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear red-brown with some murkiness. A tiny wisp of head is all you get.

S - Smoked meats and gouda-like aromas dominate. It's a wood smoke, like an applewood or something. Smells just like a smoked gouda.

T - "It tastes just like it smells. DELICIOUS!" Smoked malts and a bit of a spicy rye characteristic. An almost medicinal sweetness is present as well.

M - Medium body, sticky with sugar and a lighter, drier finish.

O - Overall an interesting beer that exemplifies smoke in a good way. Nothing game-changing here, but a good beer altogether.

 563 characters

Photo of Yagman3000
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to fellow BA CosmicEvan for passing this along. He gave it a C and thought it was a smokey mess but I'm giving it the college try by pouring this 12 oz. bottle into a Chimay silver-rimmed goblet. Let the festivities begin...

Appears as a cross between brown and ruby red. A small pleasant head of foam, about a quarter inch, remains. I hope it will lend a creaminess to its mouthfeel. Nice looking.

Smells of smoke in a strong but not overpowering fashion. I feel like I'm picking up on a little of the rye through its malt.

Tastes less overpowering than I thought it would be. I'm surprised by its sweetness. I do taste rye here (I enjoy Canadian Whiskey and High Balls especially) and think this is pleasing.

The mouthfeel is understated in a good way. I like the finish here also. There's no booze burn at all despite its 8.5%.

Overall I'm happy I tried it and I'd certainly rate it an above average beer. I don't know if I'll ever encounter another one but I'd gladly accept it.

 998 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Buddy brought home a bunch of beers from New Glarus. The Smoked Rye Ale poured a light amber with a faint haze. Half finger head faded to a wisp rather quickly. Smell included lots of hardwood smoke with an underlying caramel malt sweetness. Taste had malt some sweetness, spicy rye, and smooth smoke that stay in pretty good balance. Finishes dry and smokey. Mouthfeel was medium/full bodied with a nice smooth carbonation little too much ABV. Overall a decent beer.

 467 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.49/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Style tick #99.

A: Clear dark copper body under a finger of fine tan foam; mediocre retention, light lace. Gorgeous color, but a bit underwhelming in terms of head.

S: Smoke dominates the aroma (predictably), with delicate cherry-wood notes joining the straight campfire. Beneath the smoke is some lovely rye malt sweetness and spiciness, as well as a bit of dark fruit. Complex, aromatic, and lovely.

T: Smoke shows up right away, but is quickly joined by deeply flavorful rye that's bready, spicy, and even a bit tart, as it evinces a vaguely raisin-like fruitiness. Woody smoke dryness finishes things out. Alcohol does shows up noticeably on the finish, which is about the only flaw I can find in this lovely beer.

M: Thick and rich, with a nice amount of fine, late-developing carbonation. Despite its heft stickiness is kept to a minimum. Perfect for such a big beer.

O: I enjoy smoked beers on occasion, but usually find their one-note approach boring after a while (even in great examples like Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche). This beer, happily, combines the authentic smokiness of Bamberg with greater depth of maltiness than usual, and the rye really seals the deal with some terrific complexity. This definitely isn't a brew for the faint of heart, but if you like smoke and you like rye, you'll love it.


 1,355 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a becker glass.

A: Clear, dark amber color with less than one finger of cinnamon-tinted foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass and scattered solitary bubbles rise in the column.

S: Wood smoke dominates, slightly musty, with some lesser caramel and rye bread also present. Fruit is very faint, possibly existing just as a component of the smoke. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with simplistic caramel malt accompanied by fairly potent wood smoke from which some of the residual sweetness seems to be derived. Acidity is a bit overstated, refusing to let the savory flavors mature on the palate. The middle is very clean, showing minor earthy qualities that seem to be from the leftovers of the smoke. Estery fruit develops gradually, remaining predictable even at its most noticeable. Fennel seed develops into the finish, proving transient and short-lived. Other later flavors are mild and uncomplicated, including the bitterness. The smoke qualities are reestablished, lingering late. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, slightly sticky on the palate but also palpably acidic into the middle, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Quality wood smoke elevates this amber ale beyond what it otherwise would have been. Aside from the smoke, it is malt-dependent to the point of being boring and forgettable--but never challenging. Note to New Glarus: This beer isn't special enough to be sold in four-packs.

 1,475 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

09/11/11- Review of 12 oz of this courtesy a kind trader.
A: Clear copper, thin cream head.
S: Smokey peppered bacon, rye bread... interesting orange citrus syrup.
T: Caramel smokiness, sweeter, green spinach hops, nice bread... cough syrup campfire with cranberry sauce. Interesting.
M: Creamier than expected and thicker, which is a good match for the taste.
O: Weird. Nice to try and well done, but not for a regular beer.

 425 characters

Photo of mdwalsh
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice golden amber with a too small (less than one finger) soda like head, but good active carbonation. Sits a slightly murky brown in the glass.

S: There is a strong smoke smell with a slight sweet undertone. Maybe a very little roast or even chocolate behind there, but very little. The smoke might be overbearing, or at least for this particular version of smoke it is.

T: Still way smokey, but it's a little different, and there is a little more sweetness. The chocolate from the smell is gone, this is a little more of a tootsie roll chocolate I might expect from a Belgian Quad. Still very smokey. And there's nothing really porter about it. I know porter seems to have become the de facto smoked style in America, but then you have to hold some porter like qualities.

M: lighter, smooth, perfect carbonation.

D: The smoke is just too much here. I would maybe say yes if I was eating some grilled meats, but on it's own...nope.

 947 characters

Photo of augustgarage
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to northyorksammy for the box of Wisconsin brews! Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Spirit Sippers snifter.

Clear rust liquid with a hint of burnt orange capped with a small active beige head. A thin collar remains as the head fades away. Delicate sandy lacing and viscous legs.

Heavily smoked malt notes - on par with Aecht's rauchbiers - suffuse the nose. Some fruit and toasted malt come across as well.

Low but pervasive smokiness throughout the flavor profile, accompanied by apples, toast, and layers of malt. Gentle peppery rye notes emerge in the finish. Rich yet docile. The turbinado comes out as a vague molasses/toffee/burnt sugar combo in the finish.

Somewhat creamy yet light-bodied overall with modest carbonation.

A unique smoked beer - a bit fruitier/sweeter/softer than most rauchbiers, but still deeply savory.

 848 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
2.97/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

big thanks to yeahnatenelson. enjoyed in my E snifter.

a - opened and poured a nice subtle semi clear brown with a reddish tint. head was thin and an off white bubbly, gone quick leaving just a ring.

s - good big roasted smoke. nice char. really just all smoky so much so that it is a bit rubbery even. great for the fan of smoke, not so great for the folks who don't dig smoke.

t - leads with rubber. aftertaste is band aides. i'm a huge fan of smoke but this might be a bit too over the top for me. i don't get anything that isn't peaty smokiness.

m - a bit thin, leaves a bit of a tingle.

o - overall, a bit of a one trick pony...this one is just smoke. so much so that it becomes a bit of a turn off. the smoke flavor is a bit rubbery and peaty and that's all that is there. should be called smoked smoke as the rye is wasted on this beer since it is hidden.

 867 characters

Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours incredibly red out of the bottle but less red looking in the glass where it is more orange-red and light brown. The pour looks very thin. A small quickly dissipating off white head hurries off as if it late for a bus. An extremely nice smoke aroma easily dominates the nose reminding me of my years covering day old fires for local TV News. First sip is smoking but not overly so. First sip - Sure the smoke dominates like the nose but it is not over powering. As the smoke hits first, there is a rye malt finish even though the smoke lingers as well and compliments the rye. Very light bodied and just enough carbonation to make it work though a tad more carbonation would be desired. The 8.5% ABV is well hidden. Pretty damn nice.

 738 characters

Unplugged Smoked Rye Ale from New Glarus Brewing Company
3.79 out of 5 based on 244 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.