taste test

America’s Wackiest New Beer Tastes Like Babka — Is It Any Good?

Babka beer? Yes, please. Photo: Jed Egan

It’s a known fact that babka is the greatest food ever invented. So when Grub Street heard that a local brewery, Grimm Artisanal Ales, had partnered up with the specialty food shop Mekelburg’s to brew a new stout beer designed to taste like chocolate babka, it was clear what needed to happen next: a taste test. We assembled our panel and got to work — here’s what we thought.

It certainly looks (and smells) like a stout.
The Sumi Babka beer, so named for a dark Japanese ink, is rich in texture and almost black in color. It’s almost intimidating as it pours: thick and inky. Even though no babka is used in the actual brewing, this beer also smells very strongly of its special ingredients: vanilla and cacao. The beer also weighs in at a brain-stunning 12 percent ABV, meaning you (probably) won’t want to put down multiple cans in a single sitting.

This beer is sweet.
“Sweet is the overwhelming flavor” noted one tasting panelist, while another compared it to syrup, a comparison that’s helped by the beer’s relatively viscous texture. If you’re the type of person who prefers a hoppy IPA, or even a standard-issue Guinness, this silky sugar bomb won’t be for you.

You can, in fact, eat a little babka while you drink it.
It probably shouldn’t be too surprising that a slice (or six) of Mekelburg’s own chocolate babka was a great partner for the beer; the sweet but light beer and the cake work together quite well — which is admittedly something you can’t say about too many other beers, and probably the entire point of a babka beer in the first place.

Is This New Babka Beer Any Good?