Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shmaltz/Terrapin Reunion Ale '14


4.4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1163) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 28, 2014
I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. There was no freshness date. It cost $8 at the brewery ($0.36 per ounce).

Appearance: Deep reddish/mahogany hue. Pours to a three-finger, ivory, frothy head which laces and retains extremely well.

Smell: Candy bar-like aromas of coconut and chocolate, with subtle coffee notes.

Taste: I’m not sure if the annual “Reunion Ale” brewed by Shmaltz in collaboration with Terrapin is the same recipe every year or if it’s tweaked a little. The 2014 edition seems to be quite close to the 2013 version judging by both taste and the label description. I didn’t drink the 2013 edition until recently, so the hops had faded a bit and it was remarkably sweet. This fresh bottle is also quite sweet, but has plenty of coconut spice and hoppy bitterness, yet it’s still just as good.

There’s a lot going on with this beer. As it’s plainly stated, it’s brewed with toasted coconut, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and cocoa nibs and each definitely makes their presence known in the palette. It’s a liquid candy bar to be sure, yet it’s not sickly sweet or gimmicky in any way. All of these ingredients are noticeable individually if you look for them, but the brew also work as a mélange. The coconut and coffee seem to be the most prominent, with the chocolate character coming across as bittersweet rather than milky. The cinnamon shows up in the aftertaste, as does the vanilla. There’s bitterness to be found here; on the dry side, but nothing too intense. This is an impressive brew to be sure, but then again I do have a soft spot for beers that taste like candy.

Drinkability: Like most Shmaltz beers, Reunion Ale ’14 is a big brew, but keeps its ABV well masked, even a 8%. The body is certainly full, but not too intense in the mouth. It’s crisp and never cloying or sticky, which is impressive considering all the sweet ingredients it contains. No alcohol warmth nor taste, so it glides down smooth. A great dessert brew, or maybe with braised ribs or something smoky. 
Grade: 9/10