The holiday of Hanukkah lasts eight days and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple after the Maccabean revolt in the second century Before Common Era.
When the temple was cleansed after being defiled by the Assyrian Greeks, a small vial of olive oil was located to light the menorah or candelabra. This tiny vial lasted eight days, thus one day is celebrated for each day the lights burned. A candle is lit on the Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiah, for each day of the holiday.
Since many Jewish holidays can be described as “they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat,” the traditional foods associated with Hanukkah are latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil, and sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts. Bags of chocolate coins, called gelt, and small tops called dreidels are the other items used to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Enough of the history lesson and Judaism for goyim, this is a beer page!
The first beer consumed from my Schmaltz variety pack is Shmaltz Brewing Company’s Eighth Anniversary He’Brew “Miraculous 8.” Brewed with eight malts and eight hops, this is an 8% ABV beverage. From the label, “8 is a miraculous number in Jewish life” and “Miraculous Jewbelation celebrates all the dedicated souls with the chutzpah to rise up and to risk lighting those final precious drops of sacred oil.”
Miraculous 8 pours a very dark, opaque brown with a nice, two-fingers wide tan head. The head lasts throughout the glass with significant lacing. Carbonation lasts a good while, too, though it is hardly detectable since the beer is so dark. One notices an aroma with hints of toffee, molasses, and chocolate. Upon first sip, however, I tasted, well, nothing. Nothing at all; the bottle was consumed cold . As the glass warmed, a nice flavor developed: the toffee, molasses and chocolate notes became more apparent, with hints of dried fruit, too.
The mouth feel is clean and light with no aftertaste and no tongue coating. Interestingly though, there was an almost burning sensation at the back of my mouth and throat after the glass was finished. One does not notice the alcohol content while the glass is enjoyed, but certainly does when standing up afterwards. Categorize this as a porter, and as a fan of stouts and porters, Miraculous 8 hits all the right chords. I’d definitely choose this Chosen Beer if available again. 4 Mogen Davids!
The next beer is Jewbelation 9 5766 Ninth Anniversary. The Hebrew year 5766 corresponds with the the fall of 2005 to the fall of 2006. Brewed with nine malts and nine hops, the label of this 9% ABV beer begins “The number 9 in Jewish tradition bursts with esoteric connotations…”
Jewbelation 9 pours a very dark mahogany, almost black, opaque brown with a one finger wide beige head. The head lasts for several minutes before dissipating into lacing that remains throughout the glass. Number Nine has a very sweet aroma, almost like a Manischewitz or Mogen David wine, with traces of coffee, and I noticed the aroma had more of a dried fruit scent as the glass was consumed. The taste has little of the sweetness that the aroma suggests, with coffee the dominant element.
Those same dried fruit flavors are more apparent as the glass approaches room temperature. Jewbelation 9 has a more “earthy” taste than Miraculous 8. I would compare this to Kona Pipeline Porter, Sam Adams Wee Heavy, or Troegs Java Head Stout.
Jewbelation 9 has a strong alcohol bite that one definitely notices with each swallow. Like the Miraculous 8, there is a burning sensation in the back of the mouth and throat. The mouthfeel is medium with a noticeable coating on the tongue.
This is definitely a winter warmer beer, but one is enough at one sitting for this mensch. Overall, a very enjoyable beverage, but I enjoyed Miraculous 8 better. Three Mogen Davids.
“In Jewish tradition, the number 10 demands Monumental gestures” begins the label of Jewbelation Monumental 10. Or perhaps “commands” the label of this Tenth Anniversary Ale. “Conceived in San Francisco 1996. Brewed in New York 2006” is written on the neckband.
Brewed with ten hops and ten malts, Monumental 10 is a 10% ABV beer,and since I’m somewhat of a lightweight, the increasing alcohol content of the bottles makes me glad I’m enjoying these at home!
Monumental 10 pours the same dark brown as Jewbelation 9, with a head that is around ½ fingerwidth, though it leaves nice lacing and a “ring” lasts throughout the glass. Coffee is the most detectable scent, while floral hints can also be found in the aroma. Coffee and molasses are quite evident in the taste. Monumental 10 is nicely carbonated and has a smoother mouthfeel than Nine, even though it was a higher ABV, with the same alcohol bite and a noticeable tongue coating. Another winter warmer to be savored one at a time. Three and a half Mogen Davids.
Jewbelation 11’s label begins and ends with quotes from “This is Spinal Tap”:
Nigel “Most blokes will be playing at ten … all the way up. Where can you go from there?”
Marty, “Put it up to Eleven.”
The neck band of this limited release beer states “Celebrating our Second Decade of Brewing with Chutzpah,” and features a volume knob cranked all the way up to 11. Brewed with eleven hops and eleven malts, Jewbelation 11 is 11% ABV, and pours an almost opaque black color with a fingerwidth creamy white head, similar to a glass of root beer. The head remains for some time, and there is nice lacing and light carbonation throughout the glass.
Like Miraculous 8, I couldn’t detect anything specific in the aroma. Maybe a mildly sweet toffee or molasses smell, but nothing distinguishable. The alcohol, however, does stand out. After consuming ¼ of the glass, I was starting to feel a nice buzz. Eleven is the hoppiest of the first four anniversary beers; I’d categorize this as a Black IPA as there is a little sweetness left behind, especially as the beer warmed. Or as I warmed up to it.
Despite the hops and alcohol content, Eleven has an extremely light mouthfeel. The taste, unfortunately, was not distinguishable. It was hoppy and left a coating on the tongue, but no distinct flavors were present. Prior to September 2001, eleven was my lucky number, and Jordan Staal, number 11, scored a goal in tonight’s Penguins game, so I was anticipating much more, but this beer is anything close to an eleven. Score this one II Mogen Davids.