Knut Albert was hovering behind me as I made my selections at Utobeer. While I was still boggling at the selection on the shelves he leaned over and pointed out Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA by American brewery Shmaltz, giving it a glowing endorsement. It's a 10% ABV double IPA with added rye and brewed in honour of the late Lenny Bruce as part of Shmaltz's Jewish Stars tribute series.
The first thing that struck me was the texture: it's very thick and pours slowly from the bomber, the ivory head settling slowly, almost like it's nitrogenated. On the first pull it coats the mouth and is very nearly chewy -- one of those knife-and-fork beers.
Oddly, it doesn't have much to say for itself aromawise. There's just a mild herb-infused toffee vapour from the surface. Toffee is the dominant flavour, underlaid with hot boozy sherry notes. The big hops start fruity -- lychees and peaches -- but run the gamut through oily, roughly bitter, metallic, to finish with an acid burn in the back of the throat. Hopwise it's less of a beer and more a tour of duty. The finish is oddly quick, yet because of the thickness there's a residual flavour left behind. It's only here that the grassy notes from the rye are apparent. Frankly, that's a good thing in my book. I'm just not a fan of rye in beer.
I'm not sure Knut's enthusiasm is justified. It's certainly a huge and interesting beer, and I wouldn't be so gauche as to accuse it of lacking balance or subtlety. But the soupy consistency just doesn't do it for me.
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