Schmaltz Hebrew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA

Schmaltz Hebrew RIPA bottle

Spring has definitely sprung. It’s been an absolutely beautiful weekend so far and I’ve made the most of it: ran a 5k last night, biked to the farmer’s market this morning, went for a long hike on Sugarloaf Mountain with my dog, got a bunch of plants from the garden store, and I’m about to cook some tuna steaks on the grill with wifey.

Of course after such a great day, the logical first step is to crack open a beer and let LIBA know what I think. Today I’m reviewing Schmaltz Brewing Company’s Hebrew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA. It’s a double india pale ale brewed with “an obscene amount of malts and hops” including a TON of rye malt. I’ve been drinking a lot of rye lately, usually Bulleit on the rocks, so this was a no-brainer.

Bittersweet Lenny’s is a homage to the classic “obscene” comic Lenny Bruce, well known for his shocking jokes in the 50’s and 60’s. Today he’d probably be considered a little tame, but back in the day his jokes were like a punch in the mouth – kind of like this brew.

Schmaltz Hebrew RIPA glass

RIPA pours out a deep, dark and opaque amber color with a huge foam head. There isn’t much aroma to this beer, maybe just a faint hint of malts, but it looks amazing. I must say I’ve tried my fair share of rye malted beers, but this one is beyond compare.

The first flavor you get with RIPA is serious rye – it tastes just a touch less hot than a glass of rye whiskey with ice. There are a ton of spices here, and the rye opening blends nicely into a super-stanky hops middle with some hints of roasted malts toward the end that winds down into a long bitter end note. The mouthfeel is intense but fades pretty quickly.

Overall, this is a serious beer. As in, if you’re into light or crisp brews, this isn’t for you, and with a 10% ABV it’ll kick your ass. But if you like rye whiskey and/or intense IPAs, you’ll like it to the point where it’ll probably curl your toes, and you should run to the beer store to get a sixer of this joker.

Schmaltz Hebrew RIPA bottle and glass

Founders Brewery Old Curmudgeon Ale

This was a surprisingly rough week. I was in San Francisco on the final leg of my California vacation Monday and Tuesday (I snuck in a brewery review while away, stay tuned), but took a red-eye back to D.C. and it totally screwed the rest of my week. Fortunately, Friday was a chill night of drinking beers and watching old Mad Men episodes with wifey.

I was crazy psyched about one of the beers I drank, and revved up to review it…until I realized Josh already profiled Founders Brewery’s Old Curmudgeon Ale in 2009. However, he had a pretty negative experience, chalked up to the bottle possibly going bad, so I wanted to show a little love for the 2011 version.

Let’s start with the pour. For me, it was great – a dark mahogany color, tons of suspended sediment in the glass, and a nice creamy yellow foamy head. The aroma piqued my interest with a straight bourbon-beer style smell.

This guy knows the score.

I love bourbon, and the taste definitely delivered on the aroma’s promise. I immediately got bourbon flavor on the front of the taste, with oaky and malted flavors through the middle, and some hints of chocolate toward the end. The brew wasn’t carbonated, and I had to remind myself I was drinking beer and not Makers Mark.

Overall I couldn’t like this beer any more. It’s smooth, drinkable, tasty, and not as sweet as I expected. There was a little alcohol burn toward the end, which wasn’t a surprise given the 9.8% ABV, but it’s a complimentary kick to the overall smoothness.