a beer’s ABV is in double digits it can be a little intimidating to
drink, especially when that beer comes in a 22oz bottle. Shmaltz Brewing
is known for making huge beers for their anniversary every fall and
they always play a numbers game, so it’s not surprising that their 16th
Anniversary ale would be made from 16 different malts, 16 different hops
and weigh in at 16% ABV. I’m just glad I waited until their 18th
anniversary to try it.
I split a 22oz bottle with three friends. We each poured it into tulip
glasses. (I cannot remember how, where or when I got this bottle,
Appearance: Opaque, stout-like black. Pours to an amazingly large, dark brown, frothy head which retains and laces pretty well.
Smell: Pungent aroma of black licorice, chocolate syrup, sour grape, and some alcohol.
Taste: A beer this strong blurs the styles lines for sure. He’Brew
Jewbelation Sweet Sixteen could be considered an imperial stout as it
has most of the qualities usually found in the style: almost sickly
sweet amount of black licorice and chocolate, along with confectionery
notes of raw toffee and caramel syrups. There’s a distinct sour grape as
well, which is often found in many of my favorite imperial stouts. What
it lacks, however, is a presence of roasted malt and coffee. Perhaps
that’s due to the fact this bottle was two years old at the time and
they had faded. The hops have also faded a bit as this beer is not
especially bitter, though there is subtle dryness at the crest of the
swig. The finish is equally sweet, almost sickly sweet with a slightly
cloying aftertaste. Personally, I think it’s delicious, but then again I
have a predilection towards sweet brews. The alcohol is quite mellow,
which is nice, though there’s just a faint hint of vanilla character
akin to bourbon or rum. I don’t see much more to be gained by aging this
any longer, so if you have one stashed now would be a good time to
break it out.
Drinkability: I was fully expecting He’Brew Jewbelation Sweet Sixteen to
be flavored rubbing alcohol, but it drinks like any other imperial
stout. The mouthfeel is, not surprisingly, thick and viscous, though
calm with a smooth texture. It definitely leaves a sticky sensation on
the tongue that’s a little cloying. However, there’s no raw booziness
for a 16% ABV brew, which is nice. An experienced drinker could probably
handle an entire bottle himself, though I’d recommend sharing with
friends since a short pour is satisfying enough.