Beer Details: Funky Jewbelation from Shmalz Brewing Company, Saratoga Springs, NY (Blended strong ale aged 73% in rye whiskey barrels and 27% in bourbon barrels, 9.8% ABV)
Appearance: A frothy head of milkshake-like foam tops the glass before it's even half full. The beer itself is an opaque and somewhat muddy dark brown with a few glints of red against the light.
Aroma: The aroma sticks close to the glass — you really need to plunge your nose in there to get it, which I fully recommend. The first inhale brings aromas of baked cherries and other juicy summer fruits. The second is more reminiscent of thick caramel frosting. If "sticky" had a smell, this would be it.
Taste: There is a lot going on with this beer, which isn't surprising given its six-way blend. Playing the taste-association game between sips, I went from jammy cherries, figs, and raisins through to dark boozy fruitcake and ended with cocoa and very ripe bananas. The barrel-aging doesn't hit you right away. It's more like a cozy blanket wrapping you in vanilla and oak-y flavors.
Given its name and the current trend for sour Belgian-style beers, I expected more tart and funky flavors. But this beer was downright sweet with very little tartness or bitterness to balance it out. Molasses and brown sugar flavors dominate every mouthful.
I would have liked a little more bitterness to balance out all that the sweet. Delicate hop flavors and aromas are usually the first to go when beers are aged, so it makes sense that they are muted in this beer. I'd be curious to see how this beer ages over the next few months. You won't get more bitterness, of course, but it would be interesting to watch these beers chill out together for a little longer.
This is a fairly heavy beer for warm weather: I say drink it now while the nights are still crisp or buy a few bottles to stash away for fall. P.S. That nearly 10% ABV is extremely well-hidden in this beer, so be careful with your sipping!
Food Pairings: Given the strength and the sweetness of this beer, it's an obvious pick to go with an after-dinner plate of rich cheeses, dark chocolates, and dried fruits.
Have you tried this beer? What do you think?
Related: Barrel-Aged Beers: Loving or Hating?
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image: Emma Christensen)