25 December 2010

KOTBR #118 - The 12 Days of Chrismukkah, Part 2

Merry Christmas, readers! The Knights of the Beer Roundtable's celebration of holiday cheer started in Part 1 of "The 12 Days of Chrismukkah." We continue our celebration here in Part 2. Unfortunately, our host, Burl Ives, has been called away by Rankin/Bass to film a sequel to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (we hear that the working title of this motion picture is "Reindeer Centipede"; sounds like a winner).

But never fear. Burl's more-than-worthy successor, the jovial Jewish singer (and Burl Ives doppelgänger) Theodore Bikel, has joined us. He has just stepped out of Taïm in the West Village, having just polished of a massive plate of falafel for lunch. I see him brushing the falafel crumbs from his beard, and a song is springing to his lips....

On the 7th day of Chrismukkah, the beer geeks gave to me:

He’brew Jewbelation 12 - As the numbers grow higher, the bigger, bolder dark fruit and boozy flavors are coming out more prominently than before. This beer is super-rich, full of roasty, alcohol flavors and has a chewy, raisiny texture. If this beer were a swan (as in 7 swans a swimming), it would be black and it would drown in a pool of syrupy bourbon. So while it is a nice sipping beer now, I think a bit of aging would mellow the heat and unmask the dark fruits more.

Be careful opening that beer. You might shoot your eye out.

Shmaltz Brewing He'Brew Jewbelation 12
Jess: 3.60 Mugs | Rod: 3.60 Mugs | Jason: 4.20 Mugs | Mike: 3.30 Mugs | Gina: 3.80 Mugs | Jim: 4.00 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.75 Mugs

On the 8th day of Chrismukkah, the beer geeks gave to me:

He’brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah 13 - The good news about this beer is that despite my last comment about how the flavors and booziness were jumping out of the beer as the numbers grew, this one turned out to be a little more subdued. Don’t get me wrong; 13% is still quite powerful, but Jewbelation 13 seems to be a bit more balanced than the 12. The alcohol gives way to brown sugar, molasses, and raisin flavors. If I had a choice of receiving either 8 maids a-milking or this, I would pick this. Because 8 maids a-milking as a gift, really? Who the hell would give this as a gift? And from someone who is claimed to be your true love? Do they really know you at all?

In case you were wondering--yes, that is a kosher pickle.

Shmaltz Brewing He'Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah 13
Jess: 4.30 Mugs | Rod: 4.00 Mugs | Jason: 4.60 Mugs | Mike: 3.70 Mugs | Gina: 4.00 Mugs | Jim: 4.50 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.18 Mugs

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing....

Okay, we've spent this whole roundtable focusing on this ubiquitous Christmas song. But have you ever thought about who writes the songs? "White Christmas," for example? Writer: Irving Berlin (born Israel Baline). "The Christmas Song"? Mel Tormé (born Melvin Torma). "Let It Snow"? Sammy Cahn (born Samuel Cohen). "Winter Wonderland"? Felix Bernard (born Felix Bernhardt). "Sleigh Ride"? Mitchell Parish (born Michael Hyman Pashelinsky). "Silver Bells"? Jay Livingston (born Jacob Levinson). "I'll Be Home For Christmas"? Buck Ram (born Samuel Ram).

Are you seeing a connection here? Yeah, I thought so.

And do you know what's so wonderful about all of these Christmas songs written by people who don't celebrate Christmas? They're all classics that give you the warm fuzzies. I like 'em all (and don't tell my wife that; she thinks I hate Christmas music, so I've been fooling her all this time).

Like all this Jewish-written Christmas music, Jewbelation 14 is an instant classic of a beer. With 14 hops, 14 malts, and 14% ABV, Jewbelation 14 is bound to give you the warm fuzzies. While you might think that this beer should be cellared, it's a winner in its youth and worth drinking right now. Indeed, 14 is amazingly drinkable for such a big beer. For me, it tastes like a hybrid of Monumental Jewbelation 10 with its burnt sugar sweetness and the Jewbelation 12 with its Maraschino cherry character. Couple those attributes with a moderately chewy mouthfeel and you have a beer that you may be reluctant to share with your friends. But the holiday season is all about sharing, so spread the good karma and invite your friends to join you in enjoying this beer.

Shmaltz Brewing He'Brew Jewbelation 14
Jess: 4.29 Mugs | Rod: 3.80 Mugs | Jason: 4.25 Mugs | Mike: 4.40 Mugs | Gina: 4.20 Mugs | Jim: 4.25 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.20 Mugs

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love game to me ten lords a-leaping...

If you're the sort of person who consults Wikipedia regularly, you might already know that the Twelve Days of Christmas song has no satisfactory explanation. Some folks believe that the whole thing is a Catholic plan to teach young Catholics their faith, with each day standing for something - Jesus is a partridge in a pear tree, six geese a-laying are the six days of creation, and ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments. This makes for a nice story, but seems like an ineffective way to teach anything - now instead of just remembering who Jesus is, we have to remember which bird he is, who the other nine guys he's leaping with are, and if he hangs out in trees or lays eggs. Sounds a lot like Easter to me.

If you're the sort of person who doesn't consult Wikipedia, you might know the Twelve Days of Christmas better as an excuse for John Denver to get together with the Muppets.

Some people seem to forget that Jesus was Jewish. This is sort of a reminder.

Regardless of your background, I can tell you that most folks' sources say that there's no real explanation for the Twelve Days of Christmas song. Again, regardless of your background, I think we can all agree that a person who can tell you that your version of the story is wrong without giving you the right version is the worst kind of person. Right now I'm that person.

There's good news here, though - this is a beer review, so we can pretend none of that just happened.

The eighth and final (depending on which way you're drinking) beer in the He'Brew Vertical Jewbelation gift set is near and dear to our hearts because it uses an idea that we often do - it takes seven versions of the beer and combines them: the beer suicide. We do it because we're a bunch of goofballs that generally open too many bottles at a roundtable. He'Brew does it because it's delicious. To take things a step further, Vertical Jewbelation is aged in rye whiskey barrels, bringing out a hint of whiskey to go along with the rich dark fruit flavors that seem to carry throughout the series.

As a result, this is a beer that actually might benefit from some aging. But as far as I can tell, the only way to get one is to buy the entire box set, and if you're like us that means you'll want to drink them all at once. Drinking them separately.. well that makes no sense. Kinda like that 12 Days of Christmas song.

Shmaltz Brewing He'Brew Vertical Jewbelation
Jess: 4.567 Mugs | Rod: 3.90 Mugs | Jason: 4.20 Mugs | Mike: 4.70 Mugs | Gina: 4.40 Mugs | Jim: 4.50 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.38 Mugs

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Jess gave to me, eleven pipers piping. Now this one actually did happen. Eleven pipers arrived at the Larrison household with a bottle of Mikkeller Black Tie. They all told us what an incredible beer this was and how, despite its high price, this honey-infused imperial stout would make for a great Christmas. We cracked open the bottle with much excitement and were greeted with warm notes of tire rubber and charcoal. At this point, we were all suspicious of the pipers. How could this make our Christmas great? We warily sipped the Black Tie and tasted a bit of the honey. Then came the chocolate and cocoa nib flavors. Then came the horrid, charred, bitter, mouth-drying finish. I've scorched the brew kettle while homebrewing in the past, and that's exactly what this beer tasted like. We all agreed that we could not get past this burnt, rubbery sensation. It was only then that we realized that all eleven pipers were smoking crack. Damn you, crack smoking pipers. Damn you.

Sorry Mikkel. We love your beers, just not this one.

Mikkeller Black Tie
Rod: 1.00 Mugs | Jess: 1.20 Mugs | Jason: 0.125 Mugs | Mike: 0.00 Mugs | Gina: 1.50 Mugs | Jim: 2.00 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 0.97 Mugs

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Okay, you're sick of this by now, aren't you? Well, we're almost done.

As Mike noted above, we occasionally throw together a beer suicide with the leftovers of the beers we've reviewed at a roundtable. And wouldn't you know it, we ended up with a little bit of each Jewbelation left in each bottle. So we poured the leftovers into a single glass to build our own version of Vertical Jewbelation. Our apologies to Shmaltz, but we couldn't resist.

Hoosier Beer Geek's Jewbelation Mash-Up
Jess: 3.70 Mugs | Rod: 3.50 Mugs | Jason: 3.67 Mugs | Mike: 3.50 Mugs | Gina: 3.00 Mugs | Jim: 3.25 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.45 Mugs

In closing, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable would like to wish our readers Happy Holidays! May your time be joyous, and may your glasses be filled with craft beer!

Jason, Jim, Mike, Gina, Rod, Jess, Matt, & Chris

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