He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye | Shmaltz Brewing Company

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He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On RyeHe'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye

Brewed by:
Shmaltz Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Rye IPA aged in a Rittenhouse 100 Rye Barrel.
The 2013 batch was aged in Willett Rye Whiskey barrels. 2016 batch aged in Jim Bean Rye Whiskey barrels.

Added by John_M on 12-20-2007

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Reviews: 148 | Ratings: 375
Photo of Arbitrator
1.85/5  rDev -52.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared at my post-"graduation" tasting.

A: Pours a neat, clear amber body with a pinky of off-white foam.

S: Slightly oxidized, dominated by caramel / whiskey, some rye malt, and a touch of pine. It had an overall sweet aroma that I likened to honey.

T: Caramel, brown sugar, whiskey, light tannins, some pine hops, rye spice. It remains firmly sweet, cloying, and syrupy throughout the flavor, and after a while I don't want to drink it. It's unrefined and muddled; nothing really stands out as impressive or well-integrated. Just a lot of sugars and rye.

M: Light-medium bodied; the beer is absolutely obliterated by the rye whiskey, which also imparts a mild heat to it.

D: This is the very example of why you can't just throw a beer in a barrel and automatically make it better. And it was $13 or so. Avoid, it's pretty vile.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.21/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark orange and relatively flat pour. Aroma was lots of alcohol, but not much in the way of rye. Didn't have the whiskey aroma, it was just pure alcohol heat for the most part, covering up any hop qualities in a significant manner.

Taste, lots of alcohol and bitterness. Where's the hops. Tastes a lot more like old coast ale instead of a dipa. I don't understand this beer in the least. Tastes like a boilermaker, at best.

The beer is a failure in the dipa department for me. It doesn't smell like hops, it doesn't have hop flavor. As for the barrel characteristics, its not pleasant, rather hot and boozy.

I've never been a big fan of this brewery, and this is probably the worst of the worst. Who thinks when buying a dipa with that list of hop additions, that they're going to end up with a subpar, undercarbonated old ale?

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Photo of largadeer
2.43/5  rDev -38%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This was shared by someone...chswimmer maybe? I can't remember. Oh well, thanks, whoever you are.

Pristine clear burnished amber, the color is beautiful but it looks oddly filtered. It's topped by a small off-white head. Very clean and refined appearance.

It has an oxidized hop aroma. Spicy rye and pine, almost cheesy, like an extra-sharp pecorino romano. This is stale-smelling. There's some whiskey aroma, but not a ton...makes me think of whiskey soaked pine needles. Strange.

Caramel malt and whiskey flavors hit the palate first, followed by strong pine that eventually turns into a firm bitterness. It has some rye spiciness and a bit of whiskey heat, but it's not overwhelming in any way. Quite muddled overall, I dislike the interplay between the barrel and the stale hop flavor. This may have turned out good with more time in the barrel, or if it simply had a more robust barrel character. As it stands, it's mediocre.

I remember enjoying this beer when I had it on tap at Toronado last year, but this bottle didn't live up to that memory at all.

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Photo of jsh420
2.48/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

botted 4/9/2010
pours ruby copper with a big 2+ finger head that left spotted lacing down the glass

smells like a barleywine dark fruit plenty of hops

taste is very bitter and overly sweet - dark nutty fruits spicey peppery rye citrus hops - a complete muddled mess

mouthfeel is full bodied heavy sticky got a brush my teeth after asap kinda brew

drinkability was not good since my share was 75% drain pour

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Photo of psuKinger
2.48/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to jchow79 for sending me this 22 ounce bomber via trade, the label reads as if this may have very limited release/availability. I'm relatively inexperienced in the world of "rye beer", but I'm excited to give this guy a try.

A: Beautiful pour. Large, lively 2-finger head sits on top of a deep hazy orange brew.

S: Earthy hops and rye malts dominate the nose. Also a hint of citra hops.

T: Wow, a unique blend of a hoppy-IPA mixed with a loaf of rye bread. The malts speak first, here, as the initial taste is sweetness, but the hops quickly move and the flavor turns warm and bitter. A mild citrus hops flavor, as detected in the nose, is present in the middle, and slowly gives way to a dominant rye finish.

M: Light and bubbly in the mouth, which gives way to some hop tongue-coating as it finishes.

D: This has a lot of flavor, just not flavors that I personally care for. I love IPA's, but I've never really been a fan of "Rye", and it just doesn't work for me here, either. Still enjoyed trying it, this just wasn't for me. I would not seek this out again.

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Photo of donniecuffs
2.55/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Ditto my ratings for the regular version of this beer, with 2 exceptions: first, the color is much more intensely mahogany brown, with less carbonation (to be expected), and second, the taste is even more syrupy sweet and therefore annoying. If the original beer had more balance, I'm certain that the balance would be accentuated and become more complex via aging as well.

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Photo of claspada
2.58/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Original release date 8/3/10.

Aromas of strong rye whiskey, pretty intense to be honest. You would think a year would mellow this but unfortunately not. As it warms you get more of the malt which is equally as spicy from the rye and ample hopping (I am guessing) and the alcohol. Some bready and caramel maltiness is evident once you dig deep here.

The taste begins with spicy rye malt and a boat ton of strong biting rye booziness. I am pretty overwhelmed to be honest, this is not balanced nor do I think any age will help... So so so much barrel and booze flavors. Caramel malts and citrus hop bitterness try to sneak in but the overwhelming drying/palate wrecking booziness is too much.
Mouthfeel is moderately full but this is soooo dry and unpalatable from the intense rye barrel aging I cannot move past this...

Overall I am pretty much about to give up on Shmaltz Brewing Co. because I have not had a good beer from them yet. They have all been way way way too boozy and unbalanced and abrasive. The Vertical series was decent but less than extraordinary... no I have decided, I am done with them. Not recommended unless you love rye whiskey and want a beer that is virtually unpalatable unless you love rye whiskey.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.74/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Served up an opaque, dark, deep amber body with an inch or so of bubbly, light beige foam.

Smell: Looking forward to this one! Caramel cubes layered with a jolting, frown-inducing medicinal, band-aid-riddled phenolic scent. Some earthiness, some booze, but I'm rather done smelling it for now. Well, I WAS looking forward to it.

Taste: Toasty, caramel candy-coated malts with a modest sweetness. That zippy, spicy rye component still remains, as does the citrusy hops and bitterness. As you get into it, there's this odd, off-putting phenolic acetone flavor leaking in from the aroma. I must say, it really spoils the whole proceedings. Bitterish, sourish finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Not altogether pleasant. Sorry, He'Brew, but the thumb points down on this one. I'll be sticking to the standard R.I.P.A. in the future.

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Photo of zhanson88
2.84/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: R.I.P.A. On Rye pours a thick-looking, almost sludgy copper color. It has a big, slow-forming off-white head that has good retention. Not a whole lot of carbonation is apparent.

Smell: Whew, a bunch of astringency and whiskey scents. Underneath, some caramel malt and piney hops. Definitely interesting but not real appealing.

Taste: Some spicy rye flavors, whiskey, and astringency hit the palate first, and they are strong. Underneath, caramel malts, toffee, and lighter piney hops.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Medium bodied for sure, with low carbonation that is fine. Pretty slick mouthfeel, this is one of this beer's best traits. This beer is too odd and astringent for me to find it very drinkable. It's one of the most unique beers I've had, but probably not something I'd have again.

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Photo of Prospero
2.98/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass with very little head and the color a very clear copper. The nose is strong with caramel & rye malts with quite a bit of alcohol present. Slight floral notes in the aroma as well. The taste has a stong caramel almost liquorice taste which masks the hops in this beer. The aftertaste lingers on the tongue and the alcohol is very present. A little disappointing for a double IPA to have the hops masked by the rye whiskey. If you like rye whiskey and english strong ale, this is for you. It's not for me.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a slightly hazy, light copper color, with a light beige finger of head.

Whiskey aroma, with some oak, malts, hops are hard to pick out from everything else going on. Its good though.

Big booooze and whiskey, rye sweetness and twang. Bits of hops, but not much. Too intense for me, as it s like drinking a mixed drink.

Feel is creamy, slick, full, and slightly coating. Good.

Its not bad, but the strength is top much to drink loads of this.

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Photo of TLove
3.03/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

(From Notes)

At local beer festival.

Spicy rye beer with a touch of whisky/scotch flavor...who could say no to that? Sounds enticing, but there is a lot more going on here. Unfortunately, however, the beer comes up a bit short for me.

Deep mahogony color with a decent retention and sticky lacing that I find to be common in Rye beers for some reason. Vanilla bean, rye, and wheatberry. Grainy on the tongue, but has some soft toffee and syrupy fruit flavors of raisin and plum.

The whiskey/scotch flavors in the beer really come out on the back end and, like bourbon beers, really amplify the ABV presence in the mouth, which is a bit offsetting when combined with the upending bitterness of the hop structure. Could used a little sweetness to round out the flavor and perhaps a bit more rye grains to cut through the coarseness of the malt.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.1/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sampled at the Extreme Beer Fest on 2/15/2008: Pine, cirtus, and whiskey were the most notable flavors. I didn't get any rye. Mostly, the whiskey was too overpowering in this beer.
Aroma: 6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Flavor: 7/10
Palate: 3/5
Overall: 13/20

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Photo of heliosphann
3.21/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft. Served in a pint glass. Paired with some very tasty wings at a local establishment.

A: Nice finger of frothy white head. Pours a cloudy reddish/orange. Plenty of active carbonation. Very nice.

S: Big rye whiskey and alcohol notes. Some bitter hops and barrel present as well.

T: The smell was a clear portent, this one is loaded with booze and hot hops. The malts and rye are almost overpowered by the whiskey and barrel taste. Sweet malts and caramel notes squeak through somewhat, but they seem to be losing the battle.

M: Typical rye silky smoothness is there, but not as pronounced. Solid carbonation.

D: First sip was intense, but as it warmed up I enjoyed it more. Still I thought it was hot though. I don't think I could down more than one of these at 10% (or more?).

Overall this was pretty messy affair. I had several of my friends rave about this beer when they had it at a local festival, and they described it as being much different. I'm wondering if there's some significant barrel variation or possibly some other issue.

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Photo of Kshock
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- An orange to ruby red color, amazingly bright just like a fresh ipa. This was the most impressive aspect to the beer. For a barrel aged beer, its as clear and bright as a summer day in San Diego :).

S- You can smell the rye, but its very faint. The aroma is very simple and mild. Very slight notes of vanilla.

T- Lots of caramel malts, followed by the heavy amounts of rye. Vanilla its very faint in this beer, but its a nice note with the malts and rye.

M- Abrasive and lots of residual mouthfeel and bitterness. This beer stays with you for a while.

D- Pretty abrasive with lots of residual bitterness, not too impressed.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.26/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From a 650 ml brown bottle. From the start I must state my apprehensions of both barrel aging any sort of hoppy beer (counterproductive for the most part), and any use of rye barrels since rye is such an inferior spirit to begin with. But let's give it a shot...

Pours out a bright clear red/amber hue, tall creamy off-white head. If nothing else it looks great!

Sweet, sharp, woody rye character pierces all else in the aroma at first, beneath lies some rich bready toffee malt, mild earthy notes, and herbal hop character.

As has been done before in this realm, the hops immediately fight with the flavours from the barrel, and it's a clusterfuck from then on. The sweet booziness from the rye kicks in first, earthiness from the rye grains and wood surface in the middle and make an appreciated appearance, only to be drowned out with the booziness from the rye creating a cacophany with the aggressive presence of herbal and citrus hops. Finer spirits have come before in this sort of match up and failed miserably, the rye never stood a chance in this instance....

A fair amount of ambivalence carrying over in the mouthfeel as well, which does not benefit the overall delivery. Full mouthfeel, that starts out sticky and develops a contrasting astringency. Carbonation is low but but everything is pretty full otherwise, but lacks cohesion overall.

He'Brew is capable of putting out some pretty amazing beers, and does not shy away from experimentation, and I will always give them props for that in general. Yet this rye barrel aged RIPA is no better than their regular version of it, in fact it tends to detract, so while I still salute the effort I cannot commend the final product. They claim on the label that they will try other combinations, but I hope they figure out sooner than later than any hoppy barrel-aged beer is more than likely to fail based on the basic combination. Also, like I said before, rye whiskey is always an inferior choice and a waste of time....

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Photo of jbakajust1
3.26/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into an 8 oz snifter @ Davis Beer Shoppe

A - Pours a hazy chestnut w/ 1 finger beige head that persists, and leaves great lace

S - Smells of big malts, caramel, vanilla, oak, whiskey, spicy hops, little citrus, like a big barleywine and oak

T - Taste mirrors the nose, lots of caramel, fruits, oak, vanilla, whiskey, spicy hops, rye, light citrus, chocolate

M - Big, full body, medium carb, bitter semi sweet finish, warming.

O - Big, rich, full, deceptive, nice barley wine, oak and whiskey are not overpowering, touch of the rye, not an Imp IPA, too chewy, and the hops are not aggressive enough. Still a great beer though. Would have given this a solid 4.0 if I hadn't looked up to see the "Imp IPA" category.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

650ml bottle, 2013 vintage. Served in a snifter glass.

Pours a dark brown, slight reddish hue, one finger white head, good retention, bits of lacing. Smells of a big spicy rye bite up front, with a fair bit of graininess, hefty oak and tannins. Flavour is pretty heavy on the oak, like licking the barrel. Moderately bitter oak and earth, light cereal sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, not syrupy but a bit on the thicker end than expected, good substance and plenty of flavour. Finish is a lightly ethanolic rye spiciness and oak. Overall, a heavily barreled rye IPA with a non-descript, slightly burnt and oaky bitterness.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22oz brown glass pry-top bottle. Neck label declares Batch 001/ Cases 469. Bottling Date 4/9/2010.

Appearance: Pours a super red mahogany with thick, dense buttermilk-colored head that falls back to 1/4 inch with lots of spotting.

Nose: Super dense caramel and whiskey right up front. Smells slick, sweet and bready (not biscuit though). Lots of bourbon vanilla bean and rye whiskey without the sharp alcohol notes. Smells exactly how I want it too.

Palate: Bright and sharp with alcohol burn. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and injured by the alcohol, thinned out a little too much. Flavors are great, lots of rye bread (not caraway, mind you), toasted white oak, and some fruity esters. I can't past the sharpness, but there's some pink pepper and white pepper notes, black pepper is a stretch because the fruit notes are missing from that specific flavor. The hop flavor is missing, but the bitterness is persistent. Long, spicy finish and much drier than the original Lenny.

Notes: Ho-hum. I really really really WANTED this to be my absolute favorite beer, but I have to say the Rye whiskey is less than integrated. It sits on top of the beer and disrupts the body and mouthfeel. Flavors are great, but integration is missing. Maybe Batch #2? Please consider a new attempt. Also, Lenny Bruce regular is one of my favorite brews and I love rye whiskey, just to my credit/in my defense.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.43/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Thanks again to cjacobsen for sharing!

(A)- Pours a hazy orange amber color. Produced a light cap of off-white foam.

(S)- A rich malty caramel aroma combined with an oaky, almost salty bourbon aspect.

(T)- Same as the smell. A rich caramel and bourbon core with hints at oaky vanilla and citrus.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Malty and rich with obvious bourbon notes. Not much in regards to a DIPA though.

(D)- A far better example than the regular version; very rich and oaky in this one, however still a strange and bizarre take on the style itself. This one reminds me more of a strong ale.

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Photo of philbertk
3.46/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Shmaltz Brewing Company--HE'BREW The Chosen Beer Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.--Tribute To Jewish Stars No. 1--2006 22 oz. Bottle. 10.00% ABV. 100 IBU's? (4.0 / 5.0) IPA--Imperial. Rich lacy tannish head. Clear rich bright amber red color. Fruity floral hop front. Sweet hot rich thick caramel rye fruit ester body. Hot EtOH hop spice fruity ester end. Barleywine IPA. Rich! Sampled 5/4/2007.

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Photo of Treebs
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch one, bottled 4/9/10

A: Pours an auburn with a 2 finger off yellow head leaving behind a solid lace.

S: Sweet rye whiskey fills the nose off the bat followed by some roasted malts. Slight hops come through, but I feel the woody, whiskey smell is too overpowering.

T: Again, full rye whiskey with a woody undertone. Finishes with a sweet, almost boozy note. I can sense the hops trying to shine, but I'm just not picking them up as well as I would have liked. Especially with the disclaimer on the bottle about the brewing with an insane amount of both malt and hops.

M: Nice smooth finish with a medium body and decent carbonation.

O: Too much whiskey and not enough hops. I feel this would be much better fresh out of the bottle.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: half finger head on a clear amber and crimson body. Excellent lacing.

S: sweet caramel malts and citrus. Relatively mild on the nose.

T: very malty. Candied citrus, floral and herbal hops. A little boozy.

M: medium body ad moderate carbonation.

Overall: very malty IPA approaching barleywine status. ABV and booze hurt drinkability.

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Photo of 2Stout4u
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm surprised at the wide rating scale of this beer. I think it's a pretty solid beer that laces very well. The taste reminds me some what of Arogant Bastered. The color is nice and the complexity is there. Overall a good brew at 10% , but for the price of a four bannger(10.99) there are other brews I would prefer.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

"I won't say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: what I'm going to be if I grow up."

--Lenny Bruce

Polished persimmon with an infusion of pomegranate juice. Four full fingers of foam were produced on the pour and overflowed the glass, despite my frantic attempts to corral it. Once it finally fades, the whipped marshmallow creamy cap blankets the drinking vessel with loads of lace.

Barrel-aged or not, an American DIPA needs to be more hoppy than this. Especially since this brew hasn't even reached its 4 month anniversary yet. The same problem is present in the standard Bittersweet Lenny's, but it seems even worse here. Rye whiskey is front and center, which means the brewers must have used some pretty leaky barrels.

Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye is probably best thought of as a big, bold, hoppy rye beer. In that context, it's a semi-success. The fact that a killer lineup of little green cones (Simcoe, Warrior, Cascade, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial) provides much more bitterness than flavor is disappointing.

If you don't enjoy the earthy spicy power of rye whiskey, then steer clear of this brew because it dominates a flavor profile that also includes sticky toffee pudding and orange peel macerated in Stolichnaya. A 10.0% ABV this soon after bottling can only be masked so well. This stuff will definitely warm your cockles.

The mouthfeel with be a treat for those of you who like full, lush, lip-sticky American big beer. Somewhat shy bubbles that still provide plenty of creaminess are just what the doctor ordered.

In the final reckoning, aging Bittersweet Lenny's in Sazerac Rye Whiskey barrels doesn't transform it into something amazing, but it does add another flavor element to a better than decent big beer. I'm still disappointed by the lack of hop flavor in both of these He'Brew brews.

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He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye from Shmaltz Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 375 ratings.
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