Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and non-review posts here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…
April 2019 started off with a bang, I did a bottle share with some friends/co-workers then had a big blast of different beers in the middle with the second annual (and somewhat disappointing) Bridgewater Beerfest. Quite a few very good beers at the bottle share, but since I only had a 2oz pour of each, I hesitate to include them in full detail aside from pointing out the highlights right here: a 2016 batch of Russian River’s Consecration (an American Wild Ale) and Grimm Artisanal’s Chocolate Cherry Icing on the Cake. One of the participants (a former boss of mine), brought vintages of Kane’s Sunday Brunch and Mexican Brunch. My contribution, Conclave’s Moonwater, seemed to be well-received.
On to the main six pack, which is a little different this month…
Balinator (Carton Brewing Co) Bock – Dopplebock – 4 bottle Caps on untappd
As soon as I saw that one of my favorite breweries was brewing one of my favorite, least made styles (Dopplebock), I was going to buy the beer. So this beer is made with a great deal of coffee, specifically, per the video Carton put out explaining the beer, coffee beans are added during the brewing process where hops would normally be added. Carton plays a nice coffee beer game and this beer is a really interesting example of the skill they have in blending elements of the two most popular beverages on the planet. This beer is what you’d have if you made a perfect blend of iced coffee and a malty, sweet dopplebock.
Sneakbox (Kane Brewing Company) Pale Ale – American – 4.50 bottle Caps on untappd
The other NJ Independent brewing giant/legend, Kane makes it two months in a row here at the Tap Takeover. This is a beer I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while, especially since coming to enjoy hop forward beers over the last year. However, like most of Kane’s beers, this one was available only on draft only outside of the brewery, while cans could always be purchased at the brewery. As of this month (April 2019), Kane started to softly distribute this to Wegman’s stores throughout New Jersey. As soon as I saw it available at my local Wegman’s I picked up 4 pack. This has a damned near perfect hop profile from the Citra hop and is probably my favorite American Pale Ale. A beer that is perfect for any occasion or any time.
Sucaba 2019 (Firestone Walker Brewing Company) Barleywine – English – 4.50 Bottle Caps on untappd
Few breweries in the United States have as respected a barrel-aging program as does Firestone Walker. This beer is their annually released barrel aged Barleywine and is an outstanding beer. At 11.3% this is a complex, hot beer to sip over the course of an hour or so. Like most big beers, the flavors come alive as the beer settles to room temperature. I enjoyed this rich, sumptuous beer while watching the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones, a perfect pairing. The beer has hints of vanilla, cherry, and a little toffee with a pleasant hop bite at the end.
Da’ Nile (River Horse Brewing Co.) Red Ale – American Amber / Red – 3.75 bottle Caps on untappd
Although I haven’t been running much lately due to back issues, when a brewery run comes up, I’ll make the sacrifice. In 2016 when I was running 3 or 4 times per week, my wife and I ran the first River Horse 6K. Three years later, the great NJ brewery finally did their second 6K and as part of the race fees, each runner gets a pint of beer at the finish. Since my wife does not drink beer, I had two pints and this was the best of the two. I wouldn’t typically think a Red Ale would work as well with Vanilla and Molasses as this beer does, but here we are. This is about a notch away from being a porter and is quite tasty. A very sweet beer that seems a little better suited to cooler months, but a nice post-race beer nonetheless.
Moment of Clarity (Tree House Brewing Company) Stout – Milk / Sweet – 4.25 bottle Caps on untappd
This is the first beer I had 100% brewed by Treehouse. I say 100% because I had the outstanding IPA they collaborated with Sierra Nevada to brew in Sierra’s 2017 Beer Camp pack. Back to this beer and all I can say is holy sweet breakfast Batman! Take the flavors that comprise the wonderful breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes doused with maple syrup and topped with a shake of cinnamon and blend it with a delicious milk stout. That’s my guess as to what the alchemists at Tree House Brewing did when they made this beer. Although the ABV isn’t a bomber in double digits, the potent sweetness of the beer makes it best suited as a slow sipper.
A Selection of Tasters from the 2019 Bridgewater Beerfest
I was excited to attend the Bridgewater Beerfest this year since I enjoyed it so much in 2018 (as that link indicates). While there was a good selection of beer, the fest was a disappointment. There are two reasons, the first is is that 6 breweries listed as appearing (with 5 of them being NJ breweries) did not appear or have any of their beer available. If it was just one brewery who did not appear, I could lay the blame at the brewery’s proverbial feet. However, when at least a half dozen breweries listed end up not attending, I have to think the event organizers posted the list of breweries without getting final confirmation from those breweries. The other frustration was that for the beers that were there, most of the people pouring the beer knew very little about the beer they were pouring for us. I will not be attending this beerfest again, I think.
So, kudos to the breweries who did appear and provide their beer, which is worth highlighting, with the four below as the standouts:
- Worker Drone (Twin Elephant Brewing Company) – Cream Ale – 4.25 bottle caps)
I don’t often go for Cream Ales, especially those not brewed by Carton, but this is a beer I want every day from April to October. One of the most refreshing beers I’ve ever had. Brewed with local honey, this is a great beer. Honestly, Twin Elephant was the MVP of the beerfest, all the beers they were pouring were excellent.
- Triple Power Bomb (Brix City Brewing collaboration with Barrier Brewing Company) – IPA – Triple 4 bottle caps
I wouldn’t expect a Triple IPA to be as smooth as this beer, but the malt characteristics sweeten the beer and balance the big hit of hops.
- Wrench (Industrial Arts Brewing) – IPA – New England 4.25 bottle caps
This beer is one of the more revered NEIPAs, it seems. It largely lives up to that hype as it exhibits all the fruity/hoppy characteristics associated with the style. Industrial Arts make some great beers and this is just one of them.
- Ex Cathedra (The Lost Abbey) – Belgian Quadrupel 4.25 bottle aps
As regular readers of The Tap Takeover may have noted, I’ve come to revere Belgain Quads over the past few months. This one is sweet, smooth, and simply outstanding. I need to have myself some more beers from The Lost Abbey.
Sure this was a bit of a cheat for the six pack by adding a four pack to the six pack, but given the size of the tasters, these four beers equal – in volume – one full beer. There was another beer that stood out head and shoulders above all the others, but I’ll be reviewing that all by itself in the near-ish future.
So there it is, another monthly six pack in the proverbial books.