L'Chaim or to life, is the way Shmaltz runs their business. Originally a contract brewer, someone who comes up with a recipe but then hires someone or someplace else to brew said recipe, founder Jeremy Cowan opened a fully functional brewing facility in Clifton Park, NY in 2013. Shmaltz is known for their tongue-in-cheek approach to marketing and it shows in perhaps no greater detail in this beer. I mean, look at that label. It is glorious in every respect. This is a company that has a beer called Messiah and the tag line is, "The beer you've been waiting for." And that bottle opener. My goodness that bottle opener. Available on their webiste, here, it combines an amazing jewfro, a pick, and the star of David into one fabulous piece of merch. (anyone who wants to buy me one, I'll take it... I'm cheap AND easy) This is also a company that brews a year round Rye IPA dedicated to one of the greatest comedians who has ever lived, Lenny Bruce. If you have never heard Lenny Bruce, you are missing out. On the Mt. Rushmore of comedy, Lenny Bruce is there. The fact that the beer inside is also great makes this the total package.
As for the beer itself, it's a blend of six beers aged in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels. (you could probably tell that from the picture up there huh...) The beers being blended are all staple Shmaltz brews and each one has been aged in differing amounts and ways. The beers in this years vintage of Funky Jewbelation are Jewbelation Reborn 17 aged for sixteen months, Messiah Nut Brown Ale aged for eight months, Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. aged for six months, Winter Lager 13 aged for fifteen months, Rejewvenator 14 aged for eleven months, and Death of a Contract Brewer Black IPA aged for sixteen months. The blending percentage wasn't included, how much of each beer, but they did take 65% in bourbon barrels and 35% in rye whiskey barrels to end up at a final ABV of 9.4%. It pours out a really deep brown with garnet red highlights if you hold it up to light. The aroma is gorgeous. There's this funky sour cherry thing going on right up front. That's followed by a sweet vanilla and oak from the barrels, some stone fruits like peaches, some sweetness, some alcohol, some caramel and toffee, a touch of hops, look... there's quite a bit going on in this beer. The taste is dead on to the nose. The first thing that hits you is this creamy tart fruit note, definitely cherry but peachy and well, fruity just in general. Then there's the oak and vanilla, the bourbon and the whiskey are there but not too much, the caramel from the malts, and the hops at the finish. It's definitely got a bitter kiss at the end that's quite nice and changes up the overall experience. That rye note is strong too. It's just so damned interesting. There's so much here, so many different elements, it's a wonder this beer is as drinkable as it is. The lack of alcohol presence throughout the taste is barely there and that is dangerous when this comes in 22oz. bottles and sits at almost ten percent ABV. It's one of those experiences that has you going back over and over again just to see if you can pick out something new. The skill on display here, the blending being done to create something new and wonderful, is nothing short of amazing. If you see this, pick it up. It is not to be missed. And if you missed it this time around, it is seasonal after all, be on the lookout next March. It's different every year but always plays in the same ballpark.
Chris from Beer Geek Nation, here, was awesome enough to let me include his review of a previous vintage of Funky Jewbelation. His channel is great and worth a sub if you are even remotely interested in craft beer. Pay particular attention to the similarities and differences in the vintages. He's also got a few of the beers used in the blending this year reviewed on his channel that are totally worth checking out.
Abobo's Big Adventure is one of the most surreal video game experiences I have ever had. Developed by Roger Barr, of iMockery, and friends, this game takes everything classic Nintendo and mashes it together into an absolutely amazing whole. The sheer number of references in this game is staggering. It is obviously a labor of love; deep, deep love of these classic franchises. The stages alone, based in order on 1. Double Dragon, 2. Super Mario Bros., 3. Urban Champion, 4. Legend of Zelda, 5. Balloon Fight/Pro Wrestling, 6. Mega Man, 7. Contra, and 8. Punch Out! are literally filled with characters and set pieces from tons of classic games. You will find Goombas from SMB, Zombies from Ghosts and Goblins, Huggers (fighters) from Kung Fu, Jason from Friday the 13th, and tons more. Just look at this picture. Everything in this picture is in this game plus more.
The story is simple enough. Bad guys have kidnapped Abobo's son, the aptly named Aboboy. As the titular hero you are tasked with rescuing your son and kicking as much ass as possible. The controls are simple; they were meant to be played with an NES controller after all. The graphics are also simple. There is a mix of 8-bit and 16-bit scenes that will feel completely new and wholly familiar at the same time. Everything is borrowed heavily from the source material and looks gorgeous. The goal was to create the ultimate NES tribute game and they absolutely nailed it. The sound work is stellar, music and effects, and also walks that line between new and familiar.
It's not just NES games that play a part in Abobo's Big Adventure. There are a few nods to relatively more modern titles as well as pop culture/game crossovers. Mortal Kombat makes an appearance as does the WWE. Jaws is in, along with frickin' sharks with frickin' lazer beams attached to their heads. And in perhaps the most in your face video game/movie/pop culture reference is the Power Glove (it is indeed so bad...) You've seen the Wizard right? If not, go watch it now, I'll wait... Back? Good. Wasn't it awesome? I digress...
There is so much love on display here. This game is everything great about video games in general. It harkens back to a time when games were just fun. And the best part, it's free. Head on over here and play the hell out of this right now. If you get stuck, check out the video below for a complete playthrough.
So why these two together? They are perfect examples of what happens when those with a particular vision can see the forest through the trees, the mashup of seemingly disparate elements, and combine the familiar into the unexpected and somehow better whole. The creators behind these projects took what they knew and made it more. And the most impressive thing, to me anyway, is that each element blended together makes so much sense AFTER the fact. Certain things are easy. Chocolate and peanut butter, of course. Steak and potatoes, naturally. Baseball and Cracker Jacks, take me out to the goddamn ballgame. But this? This is something different. This is a collection of pieces that to the rest of us, would not have made sense together. Funky Jewbelation is a blend of ales and lagers! Most craft brewers are making ales mostly with a lager or two thrown in as almost an afterthought. Abobo's Big Adventure is a mix of at least nine different base gameplay styles. Most games fall apart when they mix two different styles. It's a staggering achievement that it works so well. You owe it to yourself to experience these two together. I can promise you won't find many mashups anywhere close to this level of competence let alone fun. Follow me on twitter, @geekadedan, and let me know what you think. L'chaim sucka!