The interior at Yin Yankee, the Bethesda offshoot of the original Annapolis mashup of sushi and Asian-flavored dishes, makes you feel as if you’re drowning in elegance. Its oceanic theme has all the subtlety of a tsunami—-starting with the aqua-colored walls, extending to the silent waterfall behind the bar, and culminating with the solicitous, barnaclelike nature of our server. Fortunately, the folks behind this deep-sea dive into conspicuous consumption have a 40-fathom sense of humor, which even includes the options on the drinks menu.
Amid the sake selections and signature cocktails with names like “NIH Monkey Bite,” there’s a 24-ounce beer bottle simply listed as “Hebrew, Lenny Bruce.” I could not resist the temptation and ordered it despite the $16 price tag. Turns out the brew is actually named “Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.,” an extreme, 10-percent-alcohol-by-volume beer made by the Shmaltz Brewing Company, which produces an eccentric line of suds under the label, “He’Brew, the Chosen Beer.”
Released last year to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the foul-mouthed comic’s death in 1966, the R.I.P.A. promotes itself as being produced with “an obscene amount of malts & hops.” No kidding. The beer is brewed with eight grains, including a substantial amount of rye, and seven different hop varieties, not counting the two varieties used during dry-hopping. This thing is a monster; it produces a thick, slightly tanned head on the pour; a rich, bready, caramel taste on the palate; and a pleasant bittersweet, astringency on the finish.
The R.I.P.A. is as over the top as its inspiration, and that seems just right to me.