Monday, February 6, 2012


This past Hanukkah the folks at SHMALTZ BREWING put together a pretty inspired gift pack, as I now understand they do every year. 8 bottles of different types of HE’BREW, including some of their real heavy hitters, like this year’s 15% ABV JEWBELATION 15. It also has one of the older bottles of Jewbelation – a “mystery”, as in you don’t know if you’re going to get the 14, the 13, the 8 or so on (I got Jewbelation 9). Then there are some ales that you never see around in the stores by themselves, or that are “out of print”, as it were. You also get a glass, the one you see here, with a happy smilin’ rabbi on it. Finally, you can supposedly make all eight empty bottles into a Menorah, and they even throw in some candles if you’re so inclined. I’m still drinking my gift box, but, uh – maybe next year. Here’s what I’ve plowed through so far.

HE’BREW “HOP MANNA” – Let’s not forget that for all the gimmickry, this has been a top-flight brewer for twenty some-odd years now. I’ve been drinking their beer ever since they brewed back at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in the early 90s. This is the first basic IPA I’ve seen from them, and it’s really, really good. Simple stuff. A piney IPA that leaves lingering hops and bitterness on the tongue. It’s fairly still and not a foamy one at all, Just under 7% ABV – smooth but still quite punchy and delicious. 8/10.

SCHMALTZ & TERRAPIN “REUNION ALE 2011” – A benefit ale brewed in collaboration with Georgia heavyweights Terrapin Brewing. I’d call this an imperial brown ale, similar in taste to what the kids like a call a “Belgian strong dark”. It’s spicy (!). Vanilla and cocoa with some chili pepper on the finish. Approachable, interesting and decent enough to try again if I ever see it. 7/10.

HE’BREW “BITTERSWEET LENNY’S R.I.P.A.” – Yeah, I’ve had this one before, and it’s a real corker. An intense, high-alcohol IPA with a heavy dose of rye malts that you can most assuredly taste. It’s creamy, with a little bit of alcohol in the back of the throat as it’s going down (10% ABV). Some rye beers will bury this malt in with everything else, but this one brings it AND the hops front and center, and it’s one of those eye-watering beers that’s truly for the beer dorks and the beer dorks only. 7.5/10.

We’ve got five more to go, including both Jewbelations, and I shall be returning to this space to bring you a full report once we’ve completed our research on this box.


Barleywhiner said...

I thought this was going to be like last years with all the different Jewbelations, so I was a little disappointed when I opened it. I got 11 which was one of my favorites. I've had them back to 10. The last couple of years have been a bit of a mess, but I just have to see what they do with it, especially since they are affordable. I really enjoyed the Genesis 15:15, a big barley wine with some fruit juice and barrel aged.

Anonymous said...

They raised the price this yeasr- Last year we paid $16.95. This year the gift pack is $27.95