Jew Brew: He’Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13)

12 Jan

Beer by Schmaltz, Goblet by Schlitz. I'm schvitzing just thinking about it.

Schmaltz Brewery’s He’Brew line is a brewery of two faces.  One one side, they offer a pair of decent, if underwhelming session beers by the six-pack – the cash cows.  On the other – a series of special releases and one-off beers that really allow the brewers to showcase their chops offered in 22oz bombers.  Beers like Bittersweet Lenny’s R(ye).I.P.A. and their Origin Pomegranate Ale pleasantly surprised me after nearly brushing the brewery off as little more than a gimmick brand dependent on schtick for its appeal.  Now I come to expect interesting things from their special releases and rarely have I been disappointed.  In 2009, Jewbelation entered its teens.  Look out world.

Beer: He’Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13)

Style: Strong Ale


13% abv

13 malts (Specialty 2-row, Canada Munich, CaraMunich 40, Chocolate, Crystal Rye, Dark Crystal, Flaked Spelt, Flaked Oats, Kiln Amber, Pilsner, Rye Ale, Vienna, Wheat)

13 hop varieties (Ahtanum, Amarillo, Apollo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Crystal, Fuggle, Golding, Palisade, Simcoe, Tettnang, Willamette)

(see a pattern emerging?)

Company line:  “On April 24, 1982, I chanted, gave a speechabout Leprosy, got my first Walkman, 3 pensets, and 2 swiss army knives. The band was called Hot Borscht. As with all Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids, my parents recited a blessing thanking God for finally being relieved of punishment for their child’s sins. Lucky 13 all around. At High Holidays, Jews recite 13 Attributes of Mercy revealed to Moses at Sinai. 13 million Jews inhabit the globe. Maimonides wrote the dogmatic 13 Principles of Faith, and died the 13th of Dec. 1204. The mystical Zohar emerged in 13th c. Spain, ascribed to a 2nd century Rabbi who studied Torah in a cave with his son for 13 years. The Jewish calendar follows 13 lunar cycles. Apollo 13 failed to reach the moon after an explosion on April 13 (1970). July 4th falls 13 days after summer solstice. 13 stripes on our flag represent the 13 Colonies. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. Barack Obama represented the 13th district in the IL State Senate. In 1957 Sandy Koufax made 13 starts, struck out 13 in his first complete game, and pitched the final Dodger strike before they left Brooklyn. 13 attended the Last Supper. 13 bagels make a Baker’s Dozen, began for fear of punishment under a 13th c. English law regulating the price of bread and beer. Genesis 13:13 tells of the wicked men of Sodom. Genghis Khan conquered the world in the 13th century. Black Sabbath released its debut album on Friday Feb 13th (1970). Recording Rain Dogs, Tom Waits old guitarist Marc Ribot “Play it like a midget’s bar mitzvah.” Happy 13, Shmaltzers. Together we rise and  holler, “L’Chaim!”

That was helpful now wasn’t it?  Still with me?  Good.  Let’s talk about the beer itself, shall we?

My take: Pours a nearly opaque mahogany with garnet highlights in my venerable Schlitz chalice (which I realize isn’t Jewish in origin, but it sure sounds like it could be).  Not surprisingly, the sheer breadth of the ingredient list makes it difficult to trace back particular aromas and flavors to their source.  The bouquet is evocative of a feeding trough of mixed grain, doused in molasses  and caramel.  Alcohol vapors and whisps of bittering hops try in earnest to balance this malty monster.  Toasted grain and caramel dominate on the palate as well, creating viscous and rich malt backbone bolstered by notes of vanilla and dried fig.  The lingering effect of the 13 hops is a medicinal bitterness that teams with the considerable alcoholic heat to cut the cloying sweetness of the malt.

Each beer in this anniversary series ads another malt and hop variety, along with a point of ABV and at the ripe age of 13, Jewbelation exhibits an impressive richness; however one that can’t help but come out somewhat muddled.  Like any 13 year old, Jewbelation is going through some growing pains as it struggles to reconcile its newfound maturity and depth of character.  Despite its clutter, it ultimately works and makes for a rich and satisfying cold weather warmer.  Schmaltz has managed another impressively bold special release in a long line of understated stand-outs.  Mazel tov.

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