Just a quick note about the rye bock and rye pale. My wife is not particularly interested in "rye pale ale", as she's found many of them exceedingly spicy and not inviting. In this case, though, the spice was quite mild, almost like the ale had been hit by a shot of Cascade and Warrior at the end of the fermentation.
The bock also has that little spiciness, which is useful in a subtle malt-forward brew. Since the bock isn't an explosion of malt but rather a light pinch of that flavor -- relying instead on the balance of malt and hops to make for a full but clean taste -- that extra spice offers an extra dimension: the sweet malt, the floral hops, the spicy but not acidic rye.
What was more interested was the fullness of both beers. The rye malt clearly gives both a more substantial mouthfeel. The rye carries some starch, and it feels like even more than oatmeal in an oatmeal stout. On the other hand, while some beers feel like a meal because of this, the rye bock just has a pleasant completeness, while the rye pale has something that cuts somewhat through the hop bitterness.
I think I'll be using rye again in a beer, with some caveats. Because of the spice, it's very easy to overwhelm the natural flavors of the rest of the brew, so it's important not to add spicy hops to the mix. Make your hops floral or, if using something very bitter, stick to neutral flavors.
Another note about the rye. I let this one ferment in an odd way because I couldn't stabilize the temperature well. Instead, it would ferment from 55F down to 48F, then I'd let it come back to 55F in about a day to repeat the cycle. This took a while to work through, as at 48F the yeast are a essentially inactive. This left the full span of produced flavors from the yeast, which worked out fine in this case but probably could have been improved with some stability.
On the plus side, this repeated heat-and-cool cycle led me to a new solution, which was to make a mini-fridge in my fridge surrounding the cool air vent shaft and the refrigerator temperature sensor. Hopefully on my next brew this will give me a better way to regulate temps without resorting to an in-line device -- one that may have negative consequences for the freezer that lives in the top half of my lagering fridge.
Mash out. Spin on.