February 8th, 2010 beckel
Today I have an ale that has been sitting in my fridge for many months begging to be consumed, so I figure now is as good a time as any. As if their last iterations weren’t enough the fine folks at Shmaltz who produce the He’Brew line of brews have done it again with their 13th Anniversary Ale: Jewbelation 13 – Bar Mitzvah. For a moment lets pretend the 12 hops and 12 malts used in last years Jewbelation weren’t enough so this year they have continued the tradition with 13 hop varieties, 13 malt varieties and allowing this ale to clock in at 13% ABV. I have thoroughly enjoyed He’Brew’s past Anniversary Ales and I hope to feel the same way about this here lucky 13 ale I hold in my hands. Onto the good part. This ale pours with a lovely light creme brown colored head that easily creates over three fingers of tight bubbles that very slowly open fading after four or five minutes leaving a small ring of bubbles around the surface of the liquid. The brew is an incredibly dark amber hue that looks black even when brought to light, allowing no light through except at the very surface of the brew. Aroma consists of a solid dose of alcohol, enjoyable caramel & creme esters, additional gentle sweetness, soft dark pitted fruit notes and moderate bitterness. Flavor is massive and complex. A variety of contrasting flavors are present from sweet creme and chocolate to a myriad of bitter notes including coffee, bitter-sweet chocolate, many roasted malts and a good dose of alcohol. While malty notes are predominate for me in this ale as well as those in the series I have consumed thus far, this one allows the hops to shine through a bit more. A variety of gentle citrus, floral and other fruity hop esters are present throughout, but most notable towards the end of your sip and add a very enjoyable and needed contrast to the massive malt profile of this ale, though not quite as much as I would like. Alcohol is certainly present and notable but provides a nice bourbon accent to the ale and is no surprise considering its 13% ABV. Body is medium-heavy and the mouthfeel is full and quite carbonated. Over all this is one full flavored and incredibly malty bitter ale. I tend to drink my ales (including this one) at just below room temperature and would encourage you to do the same. The closer this ale gets to room temperature the more caramel and pitted fruit esters come out which is quite nice. While I enjoy and sincerely respect the task that He’Brew has set out to do with the last few ales in their Anniversary series this ale really makes me wonder how much longer they can continue with the current trend and manage to create a well balanced ale. Any homebrewer or knowledgeable beer connoisseur knows how difficult it is to manage such a variety of hops and malts and I am always an advocate of experimentation especially on such an intense level but with so many grains and herbs it is difficult to create distinct flavor profiles and I somewhat miss that in this ale. Definitely an incredibly flavorful ale, and one I have enjoyed drinking but unquestionably not an ale for everyone, or even most people. If you enjoy complex, inventive, malty and intensely bitter ales you should certainly allow this ale to tempt you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 8th, 2009 beckel
Here I have the second edition of He’Brew’s Rejewvenator which celebrates the year of the date. The folks at He’Brew seem to enjoy experimenting with fruit and beer and I for one always enjoy experimentation, particularly when it works out well as it seems to for Shmaltz. As if over 400 gallons of date juice wasn’t enough to impress this ale is also brewed with three yeast varieties, Lager, Trappist and Abby as well as Warrior, US Goldings, Cascade, Amarillo and Mt. Hood Hops, 2-Row specialty malt, Munich, 2 varieties of dark crystal, and CaraVienna Malt. So if that wasn’t confusing enough they also refer to this ale as half Doppelbock and half Belgian Style Dubbel, sounds complicated. Lets see how it tastes. Color is quite dark appearing almost black from a distance though when brought to light you can clearly see that the color is just a very dark date like hue. Creamy head is off white and about two fingers which remain for many minutes leaving a clean ring around the surface of the of the liquid almost indefinitely. Smells strongly of the Abby and Trappist Yeasts used in this brew and just a touch of the Lager Yeast. Dark pitted fruits come out nicely but are not over whelming, obviously date is quite identifiable. Some nice malt sweetness is present and nicely contrasts the moderate alcohol present in the nose. Flavor is quite interesting and believe it or not makes their style statement completely make sense. Solid malty sweetness, caramel notes and some additional grain flavors remind me of a quality Dopplebock while dark pitted fruits and gently spicy, herbal and earthy notes from the yeast strains remind me of a solid dark Belgian Style Ale. Date notes are relatively sweet and play well with the malt sweetness present making the solid 7.8% ABV of this brew barely noticeable. A small amount of bitterness is present giving this brew a nice finish but not over powering at all. Body is medium, not particularly heavy for the style. Mouthfeel is clean smooth and caramely. Over all this ale tastes largely of sweet dates, caramel and a delicious malt base with a notable Belgian Yeast influence. A quite nice and very smooth ale. If you enjoy Belgian ales with dominate dark pitted fruit notes and wonderfully malty Dopplebocks you will probably be all over this ale. One thing I would sincerely suggest though is to serve this ale closer to room temperature as the caramel notes are not nearly as noticeable when cold and add a wonderful character to this ale when present. Another fine offering from the fine people of Shmatlz and He’Brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
June 17th, 2009 beckel
Today I have another brew that I was ever so excited to see on the shelves of The Four Firkins last Monday at their Flat Earth tasting (North West Passage rocks by the way) He’Brew’s Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. an IPA brewed with rye in honor of the “obscene” Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce. Upon reading about this brew on their website I was very curious about the concept of an offensively intense 10% ABV India Pale Ale brewed with some malted rye. So far I have been very pleased with the beers I have tried from He’Brew and from reading the solid list of hops contained in this brew (Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo, Centennial) I doubt I will be disappointed. This beer pours a somewhat dark flat red hue that looks a bit like sherry but is relatively translucent. If you allow it to this brew will easily produce 3 fingers or more of off white head that lasts for a number of minutes and leaves a bit of lacing once settled. Aroma has some nice hop bitterness, dark pitted fruits, a bit of malty sweetness, a good dose of rye and even more alcohol. The flavor of this brew is quite interesting. Citrus and bittering hops hit my tongue first followed by a smooth malty flavors of dark pitted fruits particularly date with rye throughout and decent amount of alcohol in the finish though I find the hops and some malty sweetness lingering in my mouth after swallowing. While I wouldn’t call this brew obscene it sure does have a lot going on yet has a pretty nice balance provided you don’t mind a bit of an alcohol punch and the additional bitterness that the rye adds on top of the hops. The body of this beer is medium and the mouthfeel is smooth for this malty of a brew. This is one tasty rye beer and it will be interesting to contrast it with the other rye beers I have recently purchased. If you are not afraid of large doses of hops and malt and don’t mind alcoholic brews you will likely enjoy this beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
March 20th, 2009 beckel
Another busy week and hopefully another delightful beer from the fine people of Shmaltz Brewing Company. This beer was brewed for their 10th anniversary and as it is over two years old now I must say it is a miracle I found a bottle at Zipps Liquor.Â Though not quite as insane of an ingredient list as Jewbelation 12 [review] Genesis 10:10 was brewed with 2-row, Caramel 40, Munich, Black Malt, Wheat, and Dark Crystal 80 Malts as well as Warrior, Centennial, Cascade, Willamette, Simcoe, Crystal and Mt. Hood hops oh and did I mention, 10,000 pomegranates. According to Jewish tradition pomegranates symbolize righteousness so lets get into this righteous ale! Pours an attractive dark apricot color that is a bit hazy and not penetrated by light. Two finger head is off white and leaves a good amount of lacing around the glass, though most of the bubbles dissipate with in a few minutes. The aroma of this beer makes me hungry, but I think that is because I haven’t eaten a proper meal all day. Smelling strongly of fruit juices, slightly fermented pomegranates are easy to identify and are accompanied by some other orange like citrus and an unexpected ginger like spice scent on top of a nice malt base. Very interesting, I really wish I had sampled this beer when it came out so I could compare how the flavors have changed but I have no real excuse to complain. The flavors I get from this beer initially are a variety of sweet malts with an interesting bitter hop taste hidden towards the middle of the flavor which is quickly subdued by the tart pomegranate finish. The many sweet malts in this beer are balanced quite well by the sour pomegranate present giving it a surprisingly smooth mouthfeel. The body is medium and this is certainly a drinkableÂ ale even at a hefty 10% ABV you won’t notice too much alcohol.Â The malts in this beer have certainly matured over their 2+ years and the addition of fruit certainly creates some interesting extra flavors that are hard to single out. As it warms the pomegranate flavors start to take on more characteristics of dark pitted fruits such as dates which adds a very nice balancing component. Overall this is a tasty brew that further encourages me to try their Origin Pomegranate Ale which is brewed year round beer and an offspring of Genesis 10:10. Not that you can find it anymore but people who enjoy a malty beer and fermented fruit flavors as well will most likely enjoy this beer. In unrelated news I finally purchased a new camera after using an almost decade old digital camera it will be a nice change to be able to take a picture and not wait close to 30 seconds before I can take another one, not to mention the increase in mega pixels by over 12x, hopefully my beer pictures look better now. So go ride your bike, even if it’s raining out and a titty bit nippley.
March 13th, 2009 beckel
Today I have an ale that I was lucky to find because I didn’t search for it until months after its release. Shmaltz the brewers of He’Brew “The Chosen Beer” out of Saratoga Springs, New York decided there was no better occasion than their 12th year of production to make one simply insane brew. Crafted with 12 varieties of hop, 12 varieties of malt and and an impressive 12% ABV. Boy golly I can’t wait to see what this ale has in store for me but if you want to see more iterations of the number 12 feel free to check out their website. I had the opportunity to sample a few “Freak Beers” from Shmaltz at the Autumn Brew Review but thanks to many samples prior I don’t recall much about them other than they tasted fine so lets get onto the important part. This ale pours a dark color that looks black until you bring it to light where you can see some ruby hues but just around the edges of the glass. The brew is incredibly opaque and produces about two fingers of creamy light brown head that lasts for a few minutes and leaves a bit of lacing around the glass and on the surface of the beer.Â Aroma includes some dark pitted fruits, mostly date, raisin and a bit of cherry with some alcohol on the nose, but not very much considering the 12% ABV. Sweet malt comes across most in the aroma though there is certainly more going on it is difficult to separate the scents with the amount of pitted fruits I am getting. Well done. Upon my first sip of this brew it is amazingly more balanced than I feared particularly after watching the guys over at Beer Tap TV review it, though they certainly do it justice. Flavor is of strong sweet dates, slightly sour cherries and a decent amount of hoppy bitterness near the finish though you are left with a sweet flavor in your mouth. There are so many flavors in this brew it is wonderful, yet it doesn’t seem confused because of the amazing malt backbone. Mouthfeel is smooth and a bit creamy and the body is medium but relatively light for a beer with so much in it. The 12% ABV is undoubtedly there but only slightly noticeable in the taste. This is simply a marvelous ale though it is more malty than my staple brews I plan to return to a secret location and grab whatever stock they may have left (cross your fingers). Though of course if anyone here would like to sample some let me know, I’m always happy to share good brew. Those who enjoy big beers and dark pitted fruit flavors will most likely appreciate sampling this ale just be aware your not getting into something average. A great beer for connoisseurs who can handle their alcohol and enjoy expanding their palate. Give it a shot and ride your bike.