poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. I got it directly from the
brewery on the day of its release for $7 ($0.32 per ounce). Though
there’s no freshness date on it I’m sure it’s extremely fresh.
Appearance: Ink black body, though some carbonation can be seen sticking
to the glass. Forms a large, dark tan, foamy/frothy head, which retains
and laces wonderfully.
Smell: Dank, resiny/piney hops, plus some orange juice concentrate sweetness.
Taste: Shmaltz rarely brews beers "by the book," so it comes as no
surprise their commemorative black IPA would be a pretty special brew.
Made with seven types of malts and seven types of hops, "Death of a
Contract Brewer" is an excellent way to celebrate the opening of their
very own brewery. Not that this beer suddenly re-invents the style or
anything, it’s just a really good example of it.
The black IPA is a fairly new, and often controversial style, though I’d
say this is one of the better examples of it. There’s significant
bitterness from beginning to end, though it’s genuine hop flavor and not
just arbitrary sharpness. I get cat pee, orange juice, and sticky pine
sap at various points throughout the palette. The beginning and middle
have a prominent stout character of dark chocolate, roasted malt and
coffee. The malt character transitions and balances with the hops well,
so that the bitterness and sweetness complement each other. There’s a
residual resiny, slightly smoky, hop presence in the aftertaste, though I
find it enjoyable. I’d like to see this as a year-round beer in 12oz
bottles, as it’s too good to be limited to just a one-off release.
Drinkability: What really sold me on this beer being excellent was the
ease with which I drank it. Though 7% ABV is not too big, it’s far from
sessionable, yet "Death of a Contract Brewer" drinks like something half
its size. It doesn’t feel heavy on my system and there’s no alcohol
presence whatsoever. The mouthfeel is thick and soft, but not tepid,
slick, or phenolic. The flavors light up the palate, they don’t tear it
up, and it goes down velvety smooth. The hops do linger, though I
wouldn’t consider it cloying. This is quite a versatile brew, as it
would work well with the right food or cheese, or stand alone as a