Shmaltz Brewing Co.
Saratoga Springs, NY/San Francisco, CA
He’Brew Hop Manna IPA
I’m sorry to say, but Shmaltz Brewing – the makers of the He’Brew and Coney Island lines of beer – is one of those breweries that generally falls into the “miss” category for me. Among my beer geek friends, Coney Island is regarded with a resounding “meh” and He’Brew has never had much fanfare either. But lately, He’Brew has been on a roll with me.
To give credit where it’s due, the guys behind He’Brew make some ridiculous – and ridiculously good – beers, both in alcohol content and creativity. It’s as if they’re constantly trying to find new ways to barrel age and blend their catalog and one-up their last batch. For example, Genesis 15:15, their insane new anniversary barleywine, is brewed with a variety of fruit juices and then aged in rye whiskey barrels; Jewbelation Fifteen is a blend of 15 different malts and 15 different hops; and Funky Jewbelation blends six different beers, all aged in different barrels for different amounts of time.
And then, there’s Hop Manna, their new year-round single IPA. It’s a break from the extreme, coming in at just 65 IBUs and 6.8% ABV, making it a fairly sessionable beer. It’s brewed with 2-Row, Munich, Wheat and Vienna malts and Warrior, Cascade, Citra, Amarillo Crystal and Centennial hops, then dry hopped again with Centennial, Cascade and Citra. So, yeah, sounds hoppy as hell. I had previously grabbed a 12 oz. of Hop Manna a few months back and – as with most prior He’Brew offerings – was really underwhelmed. But as is the case as of late, the newest and freshest release really surprised me.
It pours a golden sunset orange and swells to a huge bubbly head on top. There are big fluffy bubbles throughout which lend to some really nice lacing.
This thing is a major hop bomb on the nose. It’s a big East Coast-smelling IPA, with grassy notes coming through most prominently. There are hints of tropical fruits, mainly pineapple and peach, but also a definite malt presence. It’s sort of a biscuit smell. There’s a hint of grapefruit on the back, but overall a really great showcase of the hop profile.
While it’s a hop monster on the nose, it’s a much more subdued taste, which was a nice surprise. The grassiness and spice notes come through first on the tongue. That dries out a bit mis palate and toward the back of the throat, where the maltiness comes back in. The citrus pops in the middle, with big grapefruit and orange juice notes being the most prevalent. It’s got a real nice dry finish to it and isn’t overpowering in one way or another.
With Shmaltz/He’Brew being a “bigger is better” kind of brewery and single and double IPAs trying to out-hop each other lately, it’s surprising to see Shmaltz not only buck their own trend, but that of the market as well. Hop Manna is a nice break from the monstrous hop bombs being produced today. It’s very well balanced, though clearly a hop-forward beer, but not overly so. And it’s definitely wiped away previous doubts about their products.
L’chaim to them.