Today is the third review of eight in our nine part He’brew Gift Pack series. For links to the other posts, see the intro.
Similar to last nights amazing Funky Jewbelation, Shmaltz once again goes with the theory of “why brew a simple beer when we can combine multiple styles and ingredients, and just maybe we can make something unique and great.” Unique, check. Great…we’ll see. Let’s start with the description from the brewery themselves:
“Brewed with a combination of Abbey and Trappist Belgian ale yeast and European lager yeast, this ale-lager hybrid showcases qualities of two of our favorite traditional styles in the most untraditional way,” says Shmaltz Brewmaster Paul McErlean. “The addition of California Merlot and Upstate NY Concord Grapes brings Shmaltz’s bi-coastal roots full circle and contributes a luscious complexity of vibrant flavors.”
The experimental process of brewing Rejewvenator® 2014 begins with 4 specialty malts and 4 hop varieties blending European tradition with brazenly innovative American craft beer flavor and attitude. Cold, bottom fermentation starts with the European Lager yeast, and once the beer warms, McErlean pitches the Abbey/Trappist Belgian Ale yeasts brought in exclusively for this brew. Finally the succulent juice of grapes is infused into the wort (beer) and ferments for several weeks before filtration and packaging. A delicious tribute to the original craft beer warriors, the Monks, and a fitting welcome to warmer days and the new life of Spring and Summer.
Born in California now Reborn in New York – it’s a Rejewvenator 2014 – with grape! Concord & Merlot, East Coast West Coast mashup – everyone is a winner. Malts: 2-row, Munich, CaraVienna, Dark Crystal. Hops: Warrior, Cascade, Amarillo, Crystal, Goldings. California and New York Grape Juices.
So it starts as a lager, continues as an abbey ale, then gets infused with two kinds of grape juice. Sounds intriguing, let’s get right to it!
First things first. My friend Bobby is drinking this sampler is the same fashion I am reviewing it. I asked him to send me some thoughts each night, but then forgot to include them due to sheer tiredness. I won’t make that mistake again tonight:
Not as dark as the rest of the series. Aromas of sweet raisins and toast. Taste is smooth, not hoppy and not malty. Light grape juice sweetness. Slight bitterness on the finish.
That sounds like a pretty good summary to me, let’s see if we agree.
The first thing you notice is the color: orange, amber, brown, and even golden at the edges. It is much lighter than the previous two, and lighter than I expected given the addition of grape juice. The cloudiness reflects light and makes this brew burst with color when held up to light. I got about a half inch of head off the pour, light brown in color, and consisting of medium to large bubble sizes. The carbonation activity seems low as I watch the glass, and is supported by the head which is all but gone after only a few minutes.
The prominent aromas for me are 1) grape juice and 2) Belgian yeast and 3) caramel malt. I love this aroma. It’s simple, but it’s excellent.
Compared to the aroma, the taste is far less grape and much more alcohol. Additional flavors not noticed in the aroma are a honey sweetness and a bitter hop edge. I am really enjoying the caramel malt, the bitterness balancing out the sweetness, and the high ABV, which is much more noticeable that last nights, even though this one is lower (8%). I’m really missing the grape flavor though- it was so prominent in the aroma, I got my hopes up for a big tart grape flavor, and for me, it’s just not there. In fact, if I try not to smell it before drinking, I don’t get any grape in the flavor at all. The lack of grape flavor doesn’t turn the other good flavors bad, it’s just not what I had hoped for.
You know when you notice the grape flavor? After you’re done the glass. You get the tartness and the slight dry finish associated with a white grape juice. I think that the grape flavor is there, but in this presentation, it is mostly masked by the relatively strong bitterness.
Stealthy carbonation- plentiful in the mouth, but no where to be seen in the glass…interesting. Strong alcohol flavor, but it is well supported by the malt backbone. Medium heavy body, and honey/syrupy feel are all very nice.
This is an interesting combination of two styles- caramel malt from the lager and yeasty, high ABV flavors from the Belgian ale. The grapes don’t shine as bright as I wanted them too, and I wonder if toning down the bitterness might let them come through more. This is an interesting beer with good flavors in a unique combination, but it falls just short of being great for me.
Score: 18.5/25, 3.7
Tomorrow Night – St. Lenny’s Belgian Strong Ale