Sometimes life catches you by surprise, and for me, the best place for this to happen is at the beer store.  Recently, as I was surveying the humdrum contents of the shelves–shelves I had scanned scores of times before–in hopes of discovering a new addition to the stock, I caught sight of a bottle my eyes had somehow missed over the three quarters of a year:  He’Brew’s Jubilation 12.

Jubilation 12 is a limited edition beer:  meaning, it is only brewed once.  Regardless of the quality of the bottle’s contents, I am instantly drawn to limited edition beers, as each ensuing sip reminds me that I have eliminated a bit of a beer that will never grace the beer world with it’s presence again.

Additionally, it is my opinion that Schmaltz’s He’brew Jubilation 12 is a somewhat obscure beer to the average craft beer consumer.  Many are familiar with their Messiah Bold or Genesis Ale, but I doubt many sippers nationwide can claim a Jubilation Ale in their beer stock.  To add to my delight, the brew was exceptionally fair priced.  I purchased one, obviously.

Jubilation 12 was produced to celebrate the 12th birthday of the He’Brew line’s brewery, Schmaltz Brewing Company.  The beer features 12 malt varieties, 12 hops, and an ABV of–you guessed it–12 percent.  I have sampled a few He’Brew beers (the reviews of which can be found on this site) and have found them delicious, bu not necessarily earth shattering.  Thus was my expectations for this beer.

The Pour:

Jubilation 12 enters the glass with lackadaisical ease.  A nice tan head tops the surface of the beer and then slips into the body.  The beer, while not black, is a very dark brown, the color of a dark top soil.  Carbonation appears minimal.  Gentle swishing leaves a clingy sticky layer that eventually dissipates.

The Aroma:

The complex aroma just leaps out of the glass alongside a boozy alcohol hint.  This beer lets you know that it a grain product.  Rich toasted chocolate malt is upfront, alongside a very pleasantly abrasive toasted aroma.  I actually was reminded of the smell of raisin bread toasting in the toaster.  There is a faint coffee/mocha aroma.

The Taste:

This beer is far richer and complex than any He’brew beer I have sampled–not surpising from the varied grain build (12 malts) that comprise it.  Surprisingly, I found the beer a bit dry, in a pleasant way.  Somehow, this seemed to embolden the flavors.  Chocolate and Munich malt flavors first hit the tongue, but are then complimented by flavors the you often find in a true pilsner beer.  There were hints of raisin, but I also picked up on apricot flavors.  There is a very earthy flavor, that reminded me of the smell of burning wood.  The beer is very sweet, but completely balanced by intricate hop flavors.  In fact, I may have mentioned to my wife, “THIS is what hops are supposed to do!”  Despite a high ABV, the beer starts and finishes smooth.  As it slid down my throat, the warming alcohol reminded me somewhat of sweet after dinner liquor,  Drambuie.

Overall Thoughts:

To be honest, this beer not only surprised me with its lingering presence in the local beer store, but also by its refined and complex flavor.  I only wish I had sipped it sooner.  The making of such a bold beer is a gutsy and expensive move, but in my opinion, it paid off.  I intend on making my way back to the store, and buying the rest of the stock so that I can observe the changes that time inflict upon this beer over the next few years.  Be looking for Jubilation 13, which should be coming out in the near future.  Unfortunately, as far as I know, I will not be able to purchase Jubilation 13 in Ohio, as per dysfunctional alcohol laws.

Nate’s Rating:

DISCLAIMER:  I was unsure how to categorize this beer, as I couldn’t find a great deal of information on it.  Beer Advocate classified it as an “American Brown Ale,” but I could not quite accept this designation.  Thus, I am pleading the fifth…

Overall Satisfaction: ★★★★¾ 

Fun Stuff:  A link to humorous Schmatz commercials.