Those nice Jewish boys at Shmaltz Brewing are always up to something. One day they're concocting a recipe for a Pumpernickel Bagel Porter, the next day they're opening the “world's smallest brewery,” pumping out craft lagers one gallon at a time next door to the Coney Island Circus Slideshow. The brewery, one of the newest inductees to the San Francisco Brewer's Guild, certainly knows a thing or two about chutzpa.
They also have a knack for adapting to trends in brewing culture. A few years ago, Shmaltz picked up the barrel-aging torch and never looked back. Their line of brews aged in used spirits barrels (particularly bourbon and rye whiskey) have garnered awards and held the attention of beer geeks from coast to coast. This week, the chosen ones are set to release one of the finest beers in the Coney Island line of lagers: Barrel-Aged Human Blockhead. While most lagers arouse preconceived notions of light, crisp summery beer, this one belies expectations. The doppelbock style beer is cold fermented like a lager, but the finished products resembles a rich barleywine. Extended aging in still-wet Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels lends pronounced notes of vanilla and oak to the layered flavors of brown sugar, raisins, and caramel.
On Tuesday, you'll have the chance to try the beer side-by-side with its non barrel-aged counterpart. Other tap offerings will include Mermaid rye pilsner and Albino Python, a white lager spiced with fennel seed, orange peel, and ginger. The release will be at Blackbird, whose bar staff has collaborated with Shmaltz to create two beer cocktails for the event. The first, “Two Shots and a Beer,” uses a syrup reduction of the Human Blockhead beer to impart a sweet toasted malt flavor that hints at the origins of both the beer and the whiskey. The cocktail is rounded out with scotch, Fernet, and Cardamaro.