Friday, October 23, 2015

He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. on Rye

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20Chad9976 (1482) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 23, 2015
Call me a homer, but I really think Shmaltz Brewing Company of Clifton Park, New York (about 20 miles north of my house) really is one of the best and most underrated breweries in the country. They make a lot of big beers that don’t get the acclaim they deserve. A great example of that is their He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. on Rye which is their 10% ABV rye IPA aged in rye whiskey barrels. The result is everything that’s great about an Imperial IPA combined with everything that’s great about barrel-aging. 

I poured a 22oz bottle into my Shmaltz snifter. It did not have a bottling date beyond “2014 Edition” and cost $10 at the brewery ($0.45 per ounce).

Appearance: Kind of an ugly muddy brown hue though there are some pretty ruby red/mahogany highlights. Pours to a fairly large, yellowish, foamy head which laces and retains rather well.

Smell: As soon as I creased the cap I could smell huge barrel notes of wood, vanilla and whiskey. In the glass the dark malts and rye are quite prominent with just a touch of citrus and piney hops as well.

Taste: Barrel-aging is something usually associated with stouts and other dark brews, but this shows a strong IPA can be benefited from the technique just as well. Though I’m not sure you’d know this was an IIPA from the palette as the rich malty sweetness and spiciness from the rye dominate the palette. They create for a delicious blend of fruity flavors such as cherry and pomegranate but also classy spirits of brandy and sherry. There’s a significant taste of wood and vanilla in the middle which complements the malt base perfectly. The rye lingers in the background throughout to deliver subtle – yet noticeable – spicy pings on the tongue. It finishes with a fairly strong hop bite, especially of citrus and pine. The Chinook hops are the most dominate. This is what I would consider a perfect-tasting beer.

Drinkability: I was hesitant to drink at entire bottle of He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. on Rye alone consider it’s 10% ABV. And while the booze is noticeable in all aspects, the beer does not feel like a behemoth. The mouthfeel is soft with a noticeable thickness to the body. It’s extremely smooth going down with a gentle warmth. Everything lingers on the palate, though I would not consider it cloying. This should be approached with caution as it’s literally dangerously drinkable.

RATING: 10/10

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