Monday, July 8, 2013

He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (921) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 8, 2013
I 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 liquid dessert. 
Grade: 9/10

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