The HeBrew Jewbilation beers have always struck me as creative despite their strict rules: 1 ABV % point, 1 grain and 1 hop variety per year celebrated. It sort of seems similar to what KFB did with Excelsior! (née Manbearpig), except…different. Where we had no idea what our blend of however many different kinds of grain would yield, I’m sure the folks at Schmaltz (the parent brewing co.) are considerably more competent. No doubt these are complex beers, and they’re only getting moreso as the years go by. But they’re still really good without becoming bland or confusing messes of flavor.
That being said – the 12th is very tasty. I had significantly more trouble finding this one than the 11th last year, so it could be that I’m not alone in this opinion. Like I said, it’s complex. There’s a sort of general “maltiness” and a “hoppiness,” and of course a rather noticeable alcohol aroma as well. What stands out in the aroma for me is, for lack of a better description, the smell of fresh baklava. I mean, like, the second that the syrup is poured onto the pastry, when everything is a hot, crispy thing of beauty (not that the resulting product is any less beautiful, but that’s the topic for another post (ooh, a post about baklava aesthetics – intriguing)). There’s a certain sweetness reminiscent of honey, a spiciness that reminds me of cinnamon, and a malt aroma that evokes the scent of almonds and walnuts.
In the flavor, the spiciness takes a backseat to the other two major components, which themselves are transformed by their new liquid manifestations. The sweetness loses some of the delicateness and crispness of honey to instead be more of a cloying slap on the cheek (an enjoyable, endorphin-releasing slap). The nuttiness of the malt similarly loses some subtlety. This is also largely due to the presence of a number of other strong malt flavors, not the least of which is one of smoked malt that lingers for some time.
As I almost always do for beers of this type (i.e., anything over 9%), I wholeheartedly recommend letting this one warm up. Not only do the aromas and flavors open up massively as expected, there is a delightful smoothness and richness that simply isn’t there when cold. The closer it gets to room temperature (for me, around 65 F right now), the larger the beer feels in the mouth, the more substance it carries, and the better it is as a thing to drink.
Of course, as it warms up, I get progressively more drunk from actually drinking it, but certainly that has nothing to do with my final analysis: this beer is awesome, but probably only as a standalone. It would certainly overpower most pairings, except for perhaps some very good, preferably very dark, chocolate.