So The Session decides to focus on anniversaries just as I reach my one year blogging anniversary. If ever there's an anniversary to celebrate with a beer, it's this. I pity the beer blogger who decided to shoe-horn his wedding anniversary into a beer blog post. "Honey, guess what I have planned for Friday..."
For the most part, I celebrate special occasions (e.g., Christmas, New Year's Eve) with wine or champagne rather than beer. It isn't always my choice, but I drink enough beer that it takes another beverage for it to feel like a special occasion. Also, one thing I like about beer, is you don't have to save up to afford the pricier ones. Really, there shouldn't be any 'special occasion' beers.
Why is it a beer you may only drink once a year? Why is that brewery’s annual release the one you selected?
Well, this isn't a beer I drink once a year. I've never had it before. I chose it because I'm currently running through much of He'Brew's product line. Also, when at the beer store, I couldn't tell whether Victory 12 was an anniversary beer or not, so I passed on that.
Jewbelation Eleven is made with 11 malts and 11 hops and clocks in at 11% ABV to mark the brewery's 11th anniversary. How long can they keep this up? Until 13 or 14? On top of this, they actually use the same malts/hops as last year, but add one each per year (Spelt and Amarillo in this case). I haven't tried any previous He'Brew anniversary ales, but I'm guessing they don't simply keep the same recipe and add to it; instead they re-work it. Possibly the 11 count is a bit of a put on: some malts and hops may appear as much for the tally as for the taste.
This monster pours very dark brown. I didn't get a full head, but I'll take the blame for that. Eleven is more malt than hops, tasting primarily of roasted chocolate and then of dark fruits and maybe some spice. It's vaguely reminiscent to me of the reverse of a strong Belgian, which I think of as dark fruits first (plums, prunes, figs...) with chocolate cake underneath. But Belgians also lack the moderately bitter hop finish of Jewbelation Eleven. This pulls it back dry. As it warms, the hops become more prominent. Maybe some alcohol warmth comes through then as well. Jewb11 is full-bodied and low fizzed (as I like it), and is hard to do anything but share and/or sip.
I mentioned above that the 11 counts may be merely for show. If that's the case, then it's a good thing, as it doesn't come across as a haphazard blend of too many ingredients. Still, you have to get into the spirit of American big beers to enjoy Jebwelation Eleven. I'm not a size snob, but I will say that this is one of the top beers I've reviewed so far. It's a decent bargain too at just over $5 a bomber. Happy Anniversary to me!