and Terrapin have been brewing their “Beer for Hope” Reunion Ale for
several years now. They change the recipe every year, though one thing
that stays consistent is the use of an array of sweets and spices in the
brew. For the first time ever, Shmaltz has made a beer with pumpkin
(though this is most definitely not a pumpkin brew per se). I appreciate
the originality and creativity that went into this beer; that it’s a
beer for charity makes it even more impressive.
I poured a 22oz bottle into a Shmaltz snifter. It was bottled on 8/21/15 and cost $8 ($0.36 per ounce).
Appearance: Dark brown/mahogany hue (though seemingly black). Pours to a
small, off-white, soapy head which fizzles away quickly and leaves no
Smell: Quite reminiscent of a pumpkin beer with cinnamon, ginger and
vanilla being quite prominent. A subtle pumpkin pie sweetness is
noticeable as well.
Taste: Looking at the label for this beer, it’s clear that there’s a lot
to this recipe and, therefore, a lot to expect. Brewing with pumpkin,
chocolate, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, Mexican chile peppers
and fermented with Belgian yeast, it stands to reason that this is going
to be a complex palette. Though I think it might be a bit of a victim
of its own success. It starts out tasting a lot like a bold pumpkin brew
with cinnamon and ginger being the most dominate flavors. A light
spiciness up front with sweet chocolate and vanilla notes on the finish.
Right as I swallow I get the sensation of capsaicin along with a mild
alcohol warmth. It’s interesting to say the least, though also quite
tasty. I don’t get much Belgian character, though, other than just a
general floral character. Any spiciness from the yeast esters might be
overshadowed by the actual spices. It’s a continuously entertaining
one-two punch of both sweetness and spiciness; for what that’s worth.
Drinkability: Every Shmaltz/Terrapin Reunion Ale tends to be pretty
hefty, and the 2015 edition weighs in at 8% ABV. However, the actually
delivery process is a bit off. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and
under-carbonated. I was hoping for a bigger, thicker, stickier
mouthfeel. I will say that it’s smooth and easily drinkable, though not a
refreshing brew per se. Versatile, too – this would pair with a steak
or pumpkin pie.