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Beer Review #299 Reunion Ale 12

07-10-03I have yet another collaboration beer up for review today. Reunion Ale 12 is brewed by Shmaltz Brewing Company in collaboration with Terrapin Beer Company. This was a wife picked beer and not something that I normally would have gotten because of the description on the label. The bottle says it is a “dark imperial ale brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, and natural flavors.” I always hate the natural flavors part of a beer description. If you aren’t going to be specific, don’t add it to your label.

Reunion Ale 12 pours a deep black with an off-white head. The nose is packed with cinnamon and has a slight vanilla twinge. A light caramel note can be found in the background of the nose as well. I was expected to get some roasted odors out of this one but none could be found.

On the first taste the cinnamon really attacks. The cinnamon doesn’t taste fresh like a stick cinnamon would but rather powdered and clingy. The vanilla also comes in and asserts itself strongly. At the end the malt finally has a chance to show itself with some light bread coming out of the woodwork. The cocoa nibs also make an appearance at the end of this one, but they seemed to have missed the party as they don’t blend with the other ingredients. The beer finishes on the sweet end of things and lack any hop presence.

This one gets an “eh” from me. There is way too much going on with too many strong flavors. All of the flavors fight each other for dominance and they just don’t fit. I usually like flavors to sing when they get together, this beer’s ingredients yell. I would like it to end a bit more on the dry end of things as well to maybe closeout the beer on a better note. At 8% this beer will make you feel better but this one is just not for me.

Beer Review #133 He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA

I’ve heard a lot about Shmaltz Brewing Company when I first got into craft beer. I believe the main reason for this was because of their humorous names for their beers (He’Brew the Chosen Beer). I haven’t been able to find any of their beer around me until recently. I found that somewhat surprising considering that the beer is brewed Saratoga Spring, NY. When I saw a bottle of He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA at the beer store recently I decided to grab it up. The beer is named for Lenny Bruce, a Jewish writer and about a dozen other things.

He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA is a double India Pale Ale brewed with rye malt. This monster rocks in at an impressive 10% ABV. I’ve really enjoyed most of the rye beers that I have had in the past, so I probably would have purchased this beer had it been from anyone, not just Shmaltz.

This RIPA pours an amber color and it has an off-white head. The nose was a bit different than what I expected. It pours out rye aromas along with some caramel. The hops are there, but they are not the star in the smell department. As the beer warmed (or perhaps I warmed after a bit of drinking this thing) I found the hops aromas showed themselves more.

On the first taste I really noticed the hops. They were spicy but smooth and powerful. I really dug how the hops combined to make this beer super drinkable. The malt was big on this beer as well. The caramel notes are there along with a good helping of rye. I really like the flavor that rye gives to a beer.

Being a double IPA this beer is thick. But, for being such a big beer, this one is surprisingly drinkable. I wished that I had purchased more of this beer as soon as I finished the bottle. I will surely be getting more the next time I go to the beer store. (more…)