Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Beers of Christmas: 8 Jewbelation 9 Delirium Noel

So after a brief detour into the realm of disappointment and despair (hope I didn't dampen anyone's Yuletide spirits...if I did, by all means drink up), we have returned to a selection of beers that, while perhaps not on my short list for the season, are certainly tasty or at least interesting enough to warrant a try.

Without further hesitation:

16th Anniversary Ale
He'Brew, Shmultz Brewing
16% abv (seriously)

Let it never be said that I don't employ some level of diversity in my drinking - while beers celebrating the Festival of Lights may be relatively few (and by the way- I should hope that no one is silly enough to think that the beers of that other winter holiday are reserved for the Gentiles), a brewery out of New York has taken the Jewish culture and run with it. And run and run and run...

Presumably their first anniversary beer was kinda boring. Image from  Shmaltz
While Hanukah may be over, the brewery had a beer in time to celebrate it (and its own 16th Anniversary) with the Jewbelation, a behemoth of a beer that features a whole lot of everything - 16 hops, 16 malts and 16% abv. Hanukah beer is serious business.

But how does it taste? Well, it's certainly an experience.

The beer is very...everything. Bold, imposing and rich, it practically demands careful sips (chugging is out of the question) given its girth and heavy body. It activates every one of your tastebuds but no sense dominates. Bitter, sour, maybe a bit sweeter - all accounted for. Perfectly black and so thick you could chew it, the mass of malts stand out more than the whole hop harvest, but the flavors sort of cancel each other out. There's certainly a chocolate prevalence here, but it is sort of muddled. Each sip tastes pretty much the same, front to back, from first sip to last dregs.

So it doesn't sound like I liked it very much does it? I won't lie and tell you it's one of my favorites, but there's still something fun about it. Two friends and I stood around and discussed it, sipping and contemplating until a buzz had taken over. Not many beers would command that sort of discussion, so from that perspective the beer is truly fascinating and simply fun to experience. Whether or not I need to do it again is another matter.

The beer itself may be hard to find at this point (sorry...) but look for it next year, when they almost surely find another hop and malt to add...

Delirium Noel
Huyghe Family Brewery, Belgium
10% abv
750 ml 1 pint 9.4 fl oz

If you're reading this blog, you almost certainly have heard of Delirium Tremens, the flagship brew for a small family brewery from Belgium. For whatever reason (that is to say, a reason I will assuredly I investigate in a future in a future blog post), Delirium seemed to spearhead the emerging prevalence of Belgian beers in the United States. For many blossoming beer connoisseurs, Delirium Tremens was their first stop in a tour of more complicated, poignant beers.

And with good reason, really; tasty in its own right, it is well spiced, thoughtfully crafted, and decidedly more intoxicating than your average American pisswater (though it is probably a telling detail as to why anyone picked it up to begin with).

With that in mind, Noel should innately appeal to these drinkers, and it really doesn't disappoint. Noel starts a lot like Delirium, with a bright opening, but it fades into something warmer, gentler, than its year round cousin. The Christmas spices come to the forefront and its body is lighter and its color more coppery brown.

There's a lot of flavors present - a hint of this, a hint of that, a hint of orange, a hint of clove - that burst mid sip before combining into a melded sweet finish. Malts are prevalent here, not the hops, meaning this would please the most staunch IPAaphobe.

It should be familiar and welcome to anyone who is a fan of Tremens, but it manages to be a unique beer all it's own. Noel should be readily available at your favorite beer speciality store.

PS, this totally happened: A flight of 10 different Christmas Beers as part of my Christmas Homecoming Dinner. Tis the season, huh?

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