It was 2008 when I scored my first bottle of Reunion: A Beer for Hope. Oddly enough I can still remember holding it in my hand, admiring the label and, once I read a bit more about the beer, admiring its purpose even more. And that was even before I got out of Mink’s Package Store in Marietta, GA with the bottle. Anyway, that was Reunion 08, a tasty organic Red Rye Ale from Bison Brewery. It was delicious.
More about that purpose I alluded to above. The proceeds from Reunion beers go to the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research. Brewing legend Pete Slosberg (he put the Pete in Pete’s Wicked Ale) is one of the major names behind the project; Alan Shapiro of SBS imports being the other. Sadly, Virginia MacLean, the inspiration behind the Reunion, passed away in 2007 from Myeloma. But her desire to fight the disease goes on, and you can help by buying a bottle of Reunion '08 or donating directly in Virginia’s memory by clicking the donate buttons to the right.
Now, it always feels good to do the right thing, and when you can do it by picking up some great beer, that’s always a bonus. To be sure, the Reunion beers are always tasty, always slightly different and at times from different brewers. Hence when I picked up a bottle of Reunion 10 (I never saw the 2009), it was a malty Scotch Ale brewed by the Terrapin Brewery right here in Athens, Georgia.
Reunion 11 eluded me too, but I made up for it by enjoying the beer I’m sipping tonight, Reunion 12, in both its incarnations. What’s that you say? It has two incarnations? Indeed it did, my friends. That’s because Reunion 12 was a collaborative effort between Terrapin and New York’s Schmaltz brewing, famous for the He’Brew line of beers. Terrapin brewed the beer for packaging in 22-ounce bomber bottles, while Schmaltz brewed it in New York for six-packs distribution. You’ll notice the labels have “Terrapin and Schmaltz” on the bombers and “Schmaltz and Terrapin” on the 12-ounce bottles.
I picked up both, and enjoyed them immensely. Both were delicious with little difference, though I do think the Schmaltz version had a touch more cinnamon and chocolate and was darker in appearance and flavor. But only a touch. Oh yeah, and while I’m talking about the cinnamon and chocolate, perhaps I should let terrapin tell you a bit about the beer:
Dark Ale Brewed with Cocoa Nibs, Vanilla and Cinnamon
Collaboration with Shmaltz Brewing Company
This year’s beer is a similar dark ale to the one we brewed for Reunion ’11. It’s brewed with cocoa nibs from our friends at Olive and Sinclair in Nashville, vanilla, and this year cinnamon. The flavor begins with complex malt overtones and quickly gives way to the chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla. Inspired by rich mugs of Mexican hot chocolate this is going to be especially good with BBQ, Mole and Churro…maybe from your favorite local food truck?
And some specs:
Malts: Canada 2-Row Silo, Victory, Special Roast, Crystal, Brown Malt, Chocolate
Other: Dextrose, Cinnamon, Cocoa Shells, Vanilla
On the bottle label, Pete and Allen mention this beer was also inspired by a dessert they used to enjoy at one of Virginia’s favorite restaurants. The beer is based on a strong brown ale of 8% alcohol by volume. But it is certainly most remarkable for its spiciness.
Terrapin and Schmaltz/Schmaltz and Terrapin A Beer for Hope Reunion Ale 2012 pours to a dark reddish color with a thick creamy head and a soft dark malty nose laced with spicy cinnamon. In the palate, the beer is thick and creamy with strong notes of rich vanilla underneath. Roasty bittersweet chocolate emerges as well, along with some dark fruit of prune and at the last the cinnamon really explodes like a hot ball dissolved in chocolate. It’s really delicious, and in a spicy cinnamon way, very drying. This beer is amazing, I love the balance here between the chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon; they work together in amazing harmony. It reminds me of a cinnamon hot ball coated in chocolate and soaked in vanilla.
Reunion Ale 2012 was released in July of 2012, so my samples have a year of age on them, no problem for a beer with this much spice, alcohol, and character. If you should come across them, they should be perfect for drinking, and here in Atlanta they were reasonably priced at $8.99 for the six-pack and $7.99 for the bomber.
If you can’t find the 2012, though, don’t fret: Terrapin has announced they have partnered again with Schmaltz for Reunion 2013, which should just be hitting store shelves as I type. It has all of the great ingredients of reunion 2012, but goes that one better with the addition of Georgia’s own Jittery Joe’s coffee. I’m already out the door to find it.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.