I thought I’d write about a beer from a brewery relatively new to Pensacola, Blue Point’s Rastafar Rye Ale, and it dawned on me – I know very little about Rastafari faith. That in itself is nothing surprising as most people know little of their own religion much less faith-based belief structures not part of the “big three.” Sikhism, breatharians and Quakers will have to wait for another time… I and I want to know about a man called Haile Selassie.
The “I and I” reference is actually an integral portion of Rastafari; the notion that God lives within everyone. According to Wikipedia, it is used instead of saying “we” to emphasize equality in all people as the Holy Spirit unites everyone on the planet. Followers of Rastafari believe former emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, a direct descendant of King Solomon and Makeda, Queen of Sheeba thus making the people of Ethiopia part of the true children of Israel. In addition, Selassie is considered an incarnation of God on earth who will lead the righteous to the promised land, or Zion. Even the word, Rastafari, comes from Selassie’s name and title prior to being crowned emperor; “Ras” or head, ruler, and his given name, Tafari.
When most people think of Rastafari, they picture dreadlocked hair, reggae music and copious amounts of cannabis. Well… yeah, all three are facets of the faith, actually and the reasons behind them are rather fascinating. Rastafari faith is Christian-based and they take literal direction from scripture. Leviticus and Numbers both mention not cutting hair while portions of Genesis, Psalms and Proverbs can be interpreted for the advocacy of marijuana. The music aspect was born out of traditional Jamaican folk music and evolved into a method of espousing Rastafari belief.
So, back to the beer. Aside from the clever play on words in the name, the only connection I can draw between Rastafari and the beverage is that hops and cannabis are distantly related biologically. Big deal. You learned something, right? Anyway, Rastafar Rye is hazy amber in color and it’s got a huge head of foam that never goes away like the thick hair of a life-long Rasta “natty dread.” The use of sticky rye in the wort imparts a beautiful spicy quality to the ale. Scents of caramel sweetness from the malt then pine and flowers from the hops give way to flavors of grapefruit rind, pepper and rye with a touch of hickory and mango towards the end. It’s medium-bodied with just enough carbonation to keep it from feeling texturally heavy.
I and I thank Jah for this beer!