Soaking Up the Suds
by James Crane
For many of my favorite breweries, I can pick the beer that put them under my radar. There’s usually a certain brew that makes me realize that they have something special. With more and more breweries popping up, it’s harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. It’s not enough to make a solid beer anymore. It has to be unique and distinctive if it wants to be in the big leagues.
For Shmaltz, it was their Bitter Sweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. It was an imperial IPA brewed with rye, which gave it some incredible character. It was sweet and spicy and strong. Though I had some brews from their Coney Island series of lagers, the R.I.P.A. was what put them over the top. It blew my mind just a bit.
This week, I’m returning to Shmaltz and their He’brew line of beers to try their Funky Jewbelation. Whoever comes up with the names for their brews deserves an award. Whoever comes up with the recipes behind them deserves a bigger one. Funky Jewbelation is their sixth barrel aged release and quite an adventurous one at that. The bottle has a lot going on inside it. Thankfully, it’s nice enough to tell you what you’re about to swallow.
Funky Jewbelation is a blend of ales. How many ales you ask? Six. That is correct; six different ales. You may think that is already funky enough, but Shmaltz apparently came to party. These six ales were aged in 72 percent rye whiskey barrels and 27 percent bourbon barrels. That is a lot of barrels and even more math. They brought together their Jewbelation Fifteen, Vintage Jewlbelation, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., Origin, Reunion Ale ’11, and Messiah together like a team of super heroes ready to save the world.
The pour was impressive. The beer was black as they come with about a finger and a half worth of head that never really went away. One could tell form the way it splashed into the glass that it was thick and syrupy. This one wasn’t playing around.
Primarily, it smelled of booze and molasses with hints of dark fruit lingering in it. It was just a little bit like alcoholic prunes. There is the slight bit of fermented funk to the scent as well, which was not displeasing. Everything about it was promising that this would be a big beer.
The taste did not disappoint. It was huge. At first, you’re buffeted by insane amounts of sweetness. It’s like fruit and brown sugar mixed with bananas. Then, rolling right on the heels of that is the barrel aged smokiness. It’s a bit like a campfire or a cigar. This gives way to a boozy burn, more prune-like flavors, and finally a little bit of malt and hop combo. I had trouble telling where one sensation ended and another began. This beer is not a delicate mixing of refined flavors. It’s a circus of bold acts and you’re drinking out of the same fountain as the rest of the carnies. That is to say, you may not know what’s going on, but you do know you like it.
If all this wasn’t good enough, Funky Jewbelation clocks in 9.8 percent ABV. It’s big, it’s strong, and it packs a punch. It is not, however, too terribly drinkable. This is one to share and savor, and you’ll be glad you did. Try it. It might be the reason you fall in love with Shmaltz yourself.