Sunday, September 4, 2011

Quaff Review #15: HE'BREW Messiah Bold

Beer means different things to different people. For some, like me a couple of years ago, it was a vehicle to experience temporary lightness of being during busy times with the application of Lucky Lager, as it was the cheapest the LCBO had at the time and, therefore, the best. For others, they would want to throttle me for making such a claim, and as of late I've come more to that view. I've become more choosy about my beer, looking for new flavors and new experiences that don't end with me hugging a toilet, and whenever I arrive in a new land I look around to see what I can find in that regard.

San Francisco was good for that, once I found the sellers; it's unlike most American cities I've been to in that there don't seem to be liquor stores on every other block. At the bluntly, yet appropriately named City Beer Store in San Francisco's SoMa, I made a choice that had almost been chosen for me - HE'BREW, the Chosen Beer, produced by the Shmaltz Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, New York. Specifically, I got a bottle of Messiah Bold: "THE BEER YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR."

I mean, seriously. How could anyone, Jewish or otherwise, pass up a pitch like that? I couldn't. So I bought the bottle, and since it was sufficiently blessed to make it from San Francisco to Vancouver in my checked baggage without disappearing, kept it in reserve for the proper day. With my rent issues resolved, I think today is that day.

The circa-1991 Diet Pepsi glass really adds something worthwhile here, I think.

First off, this beer is dark. So dark, in fact, that visually it appears identical to the Diet Pepsi that you'd expect to be filling that glass up there. It looked thick in the bottle, but in fact it poured with very little viscosity, and when it did pour it left only a whisper of a head fizzing on the surface. That in itself could make it a worthwhile component in some kind of prank on a teetotaler, assuming anyone still uses that word to describe themselves.

They'd have to be having olfactory problems, though. Messiah Bold has a fairly strong woody smell - it seemed most like oak to me, and was in fact very reminiscent of the Innis & Gunn oak aged beers, enough to make me suspect that it was brewed in a similar manner. According to the brewer's website it contains five varieties of malts as well as Warrior, Cascade, and Mt. Hood hops, though this didn't taste particularly hoppy to me.

The taste is musky - it fizzes on the tongue and there's not much of an aftertaste. It does, however, make me want to have a bowl of peanuts or pretzels at my elbow for the nibbling. It's also kosher, "certified to the strictest Orthodox standards" - and here I thought there was only kosher wine. Shows how much I know.

As for where to find this - in addition to much of the United States, which always gets the really interesting beers, HE'BREW is apparently available in Canada as well; both Alberta and British Columbia are marked on the map in blue, but only a list of Alberta wholesalers is currently available. Seeing as how Shmaltz also produces the Coney Island Craft Lagers, which I have seen available in British Columbia, I wouldn't be surprised if HE'BREW gets here soon if it hasn't already.

So do what the bottle says, and drink to life!


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