Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shmaltz/Terrapin Reunion Ale ‘13


4.3
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1135) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 23, 2014
I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. There was no freshness date (my friend at the brewery tells me it was released in August of 2013). I bought it at the brewery for $7 ($0.32 per ounce).

Appearance: Seemingly opaque black but actually a deep blood/ruby red hue. Pours to a large, tan, soapy head which mostly dissipates and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Definitely the brown malts plus sweet flavors of coconut, chocolate and coffee.

Taste: Everyone’s making imperial stouts these days, but why not imperial brown ales? It’s a style that’s under-utilized and overlooked, so it’s nice to see it given some proper respect in the form of “Reunion Ale ‘13” – a collaboration brew between Shmaltz and Terrapin. Though the bottle I’m reviewing is nearly a year old, it’s held up extremely well. Big bold flavors of toasted malts, milk chocolate and coffee. It’s definitely not a hop-forward beer so it hasn’t lost much by aging. If anything, it’s become more sweet, and that’s something I’m okay with.

Right away there’s a strong sweetness of dark toasted malt. It doesn’t have the intense bitterness or burnt-like flavor of deeply roasted malt, so the variation is quite interesting. There’s a taste akin to toasted coconut or baker’s chocolate, though that could be the cocoa nibs and cinnamon (there’s no coconut in this beer). Mild bitterness at the apex and on the back end, though not so much from hops (which don’t really stand out) but from coffee. A medium roast blend that’s lasted surprisingly well after a year in the bottle (coffee tends to fade quickly). Some bitter dark chocolate on the finish with just a minor alcohol warmth that ties up everything nicely. A great dessert beer, and a beer that’s commendable for its originality.

Drinkability: Judging by the label, Shmaltz/Terrapin Reunion Ale ’13 would seem to be the type of beer you have to prep for. However, after just a sip or two it’s clear that this is not intimidating at all. The mouthfeel is well carbonated and more of a medium body with no cloying characteristics at all. It’s calm and comfortable in the mouth with just the slightest warming sensation. Even at 8% ABV, I had no trouble drinking the entire bottle myself (and rather quickly, too). 
Grade: 9/10