Beer Review: Shmaltz Wishbone Session Double IPA

Shmaltz Brewing Company

Wishbone Session Double IPA

The Details:

Style: Double India Pale Ale Alcohol by Volume: 8% Color: Deep Golden Yellow Brewery: Shmaltz Brewing Company Location: Clifton Park, New York

Gold Medal Winner at the TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Festival

Before we even get into the whimsical rhetoric of how I acquired this beer, allow me to give you full warning - just because something SAYS it’s a session ale, does not mean the alcohol content is going to be that of a session ale! Thanks to this lovely little mistake my devout Jewish father-in-law almost lost his chutzpah and his religion in one fell swoop!

It all started about as typically and innocently as one could expect. For a little background, about 2 years ago I married into a Jewish family and although my husband was not seriously driven by his religion, his family certainly was, especially his parents. On this particular evening we were due at their house for dinner and I was planning to stop at a nearby wine shop to pick up a bottle of kosher wine for an after dinner drink. However, at the last minute I decided to stop by a local bottle shop and try my luck at finding a kosher beer instead. When I arrived, I saved myself the time of aimlessly perusing the aisles and asked if they had any kosher beer. To my astonishment, they did, and I was pointed to the far corner where they had stocked a couple varieties of beer from Shmaltz Brewing Company, amazingly located right in New York.

Slingshot American Craft Lager….naahh, not feelin’ the lager. Bock Bock Imperial American Bock? Barrel aged? Naahhh, maybe too boozey. Wishbone Session Double IPA? Ooooo….

The double IPA would please my hop-driven palate and the session tag would surely indicate that the alcohol content was within sober range for my prude in-laws (don’t tell them I said that). So I grabbed a 6-pack of the Wishbone IPA and headed to my destination.

Dinner was a mouthwatering brisket and my mother-in-law’s specialty - a delicious and savory Kugel (a sort of potato casserole-y dish). We ate and enjoyed each other’s company, and as the meal came to an end, my husband went into the kitchen to pour everyone a nice refreshing glass of the double IPA I had chosen, and served it to everyone at the table. The beer was a beautiful golden haze and offered a thick, lacy head that subsided within minutes.

“Dad, this beer is brewed in the Hebrew tradition from a brewery in Clifton Park,” my husband said proudly. I pepped up and smiled, hoping he’d appreciate my efforts.

My father-in-law raised a skeptical eye but smiled back as he took his glass. He took a generous sip, and puckered his face as he swallowed. We all followed suit, enjoying the first sip as it infiltrated our palates. This was definitely a full-bodied brew, bringing on a surprising complexity for a session beer. I loved the mix of acerbic citrus backed by the piney, grassy feel of the hops.

“This is kosher beer? Very well,” he said, trusting that we wouldn’t steer him wrong.

We continued to talk and laugh around the table, the beer becoming a pleasant part of the conversation. My husband and I reminisced of the big hop flavor, which did well in covering up the amped up alcohol content (which we had yet to discover). I particularly enjoyed the Citra and Simcoe hops, a combination that to me, seems to always create a unique crispness amongst the myriad of flavors in just about any beer. I would later discover that Shmaltz Brewing didn’t just stop at those two hop flavors, they piled on the Warrior, Calypso, and Crystal hops as well. Absolutely a dream.

But then, something strange began to happen. I looked over at my father-in-law, who was oddly looking around the room with half a smirk on his face. His usual upright posture gave way to a slightly slouched, laid back approach. His reserved sips began to look like super-thirsty gulps. While I noticed, my mind hadn’t set any alarms off...yet. He finished his beer and to everyone’s surprise, said, “Well, I’ll save you the spiel, but I’d like another.” This being quite an unusual request, we all stopped and looked at each other for a moment. My husband complied and poured his father a second beer. As big sips disappeared from the glass, my husband, whose back was turned as he went to set down the empty bottle, let out a significant “Ooohhh, noo.”

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked nonchalantly.

“Hey dad, you may want to stick with just one drink, there’s quite a lot of alcohol in here,” my husband replied. Surprised, I stood up and went to see what he meant. Sure enough, right on the bottle it read “8% ABV”.

“What?!?” I almost cried out, taking the bottle from his hand to study its label, “this is supposed to be a session beer!”

By this time, my father-in-law had just about drank ¾ of his second beer, and the not-so-apparent slouching became a much more apparent stagger as he stood up to investigate the breach, “What are you talking about son, you mean to tell me there’s some sort of glitch with my beer?”

After a few minutes of confirmation, which felt like forever as I stood, eyes darting from person to person as they spoke, revealed that this delicious Wishbone “session” IPA was an alcohol loaded bomb which no one expected, certainly not me! In my haste, when I read “session IPA” on the bottle, I automatically assumed the alcohol content would be a reasonable downgrade from the normal craft beer range. I could see 5%, maybe even closing in on 6%, but a whopping 8%?! No way! What’s worse is that my wine sipping father-in-law had just drank almost TWO?!? Oh no indeed…

“Oy vey! What kind of shtick have you gotten me into! No wonder I feel like a shagetz on the prowl!” my father-in-law raved. At this point he was pacing back and forth in the room as if trying to figure out which corner would sober him up faster. My mother-in-law stood quietly concerned, not sure what to do.

I’ll tell ya what though, have you ever heard a drunk Jewish man talk? As concerned as I was for my father-in-laws well being (whether it be mental or physical), I had to really try hard not to laugh at his slightly slurred speech, especially when he decided to forego the English language altogether….

“Oy my head, I must lay down!” he exclaimed. My mother-in-law immediately went to his side, ready to guide him to safety, apparently away from me and my horribly boozey beer.

“Dinah, call Rabbi Liebowitz, I am drunk, I have sinned! Oy vey!” he continued. “Dad, calm down, you’re going to be okay, It was an honest mistake, you’re fine”, my husband tried to come to my defense.

“Mr. Braum I am so sorry! I had no idea,” I attempted.

Before we could say anything else, my buzzed father-in-law disappeared into his bedroom, his wife following closely behind. As the door closed behind them, my husband and I stood facing each other, wide-eyed and in a moment silence. Then, we burst into stifled laughter as we retreated back into the dining room.

“Oh my God I had no idea!” I reiterated to my husband. He laughed and shook his head, which caused me to laugh even more.

“Do you think he was really drunk? I mean, I guess he could have been, he rarely drinks more than a glass of wine,” I started.

“I have no idea but I think he may be giving up alcohol for good after this. Don’t worry, Rabbi Leibowitz will help him repent,” my husband teased sarcastically.

The two of us cleared the table and put up the leftovers in the kitchen. We could hear anxious conversation coming from the bedroom, but no one had emerged. My husband decided to knock on the door.

“Ma? Ma is everything ok?” he asked. The door opened a crack and my mother-in-law poked her head out, sighing.

“Yes my son everything will be fine. Your father is on the phone with Rabbi Liebowitz, he is coming over tomorrow to help him cleanse his spirit,” she said in complete seriousness.

At that point we said goodnight and let ourselves out of the house. As bad as I felt for having “poisoned” my father-in-law, neither my husband nor I could help but laugh all the way to the car about the fiasco we had witnessed. We certainly learned a few very important lessons that night.

Never underestimate the devotion of a Jewish man to his religion. Never trust a beer that says “session” on it to actually offer session-sized alcohol content.

So with that, I leave you until next time, Mazel Tov brew friends!