Saturday, November 1, 2014

He’Brew Jewbelation Sweet Sixteen (Shmaltz 16th Anniversary Ale)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1208) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 1, 2014
When 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, though!).

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. 
Grade: 9/10

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