Draught Diversions: Summer Six Pack 2021

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Summer is nearly upon us and the Summer Beers have been in stories for the better part of the last month, with upcoming Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial kick off of Summer. I mixed it up a little bit with NJ and PA beers compared to last year, and each beer is a different style, at least according to how they are categorized on untappd. As I preface this Summer Beer post every year, because a post about Summer Beers was the very first Draught Diversion I posted/published, I am continuing the “tradition.”

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As in past Summer Six Packs, not all of these are official “summer” beers, but they are styles for me that seem to fit right into the summer and have been organized alphabetically by brewery.

The Keg Stand | Lager – American | 5.5% ABV | Four City Brewing | Orange, NJ

FourCityKegstand

This beer is the only one I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy and it is everything you’d want in an “American Lager.” Clean, refreshing, and crisp. The can art practically screams summer beer

What Four City Brewing says about the beer:

Our American Style Lager is brewed with the best Heidelberg malt, flaked rice & corn. This combination meshes nicely with New Zealand Hallertauer hops & our house lager yeast.


Trimmin’ | Pilsner – Other | 6% ABV | Last Wave Brewing Company | Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

LastWave_Trimmin

For me, Pilsner is one of the ideal styles of beer for summer. Then again, Pilsner is one of my favorite styles, so that shouldn’t be a surprise to long time readers of the Tap Takerover. I figured a brewery based in one of New Jersey’s most popular shore towns would be a good one to highlight for this style.

What Last Wave Brewing says about the beer:

When you’re cruising on your longboard and set your line, it’s all about the glide, which is also known as “Trimming.” Our dry-hopped pilsner takes this classic style to heart with a simple pilsner base that gets its flavor from a slow, lagering process that brings out crisp notes of grainy goodness and a pale yellow body. A light dry hopping provides a touch of citrus and floral notes in the aroma to create a highly crushable lager with a little extra flavor to get you locked in.


Beach Fuzz | Wheat Beer – Witbier | 5.5% ABV | Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company | Croydon, PA

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This beer looks like it would be great for the cooler in the summer, with refreshing sweetness from peach puree doesn’t it? Victory has a similar beer (Twisted Monkey), but I think Beach Fuzz may be slightly lower in ABV and the base beer is a little lighter, too.

What Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company says about the beer:

Brewed with: coriander, orange peel

We brewed up a classic, Belgian Style Wheat Ale with White Wheat & Flaked Oats, hopped in the kettle with Saaz hops, and then we conditioned it on peach puree. The result? A bright and zesty Belgian Wheat Ale, with a soft malt character, hints of spice, and loaded with stone fruit flavors. We taste juicy, ripe peach notes, a dry finish, and rays of sunshine on our faces.


Meet Me at the Snack Shack | IPA – Session / India Session Ale | 4.7% ABV | Ross Brewing Company | Port Monmouth, NJ

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IPAs are still the most popular style, but with lower ABV beers becoming more popular, the Session IPA (sub 5% ABV) has grown in popularity. When you go to the beach, you either bring food or you go to the snack shack. Even if you bring food, you still likely go to the snack shack, so this beer is really appropriate for the Summer.

What Ross Brewing Company says about the beer:

Meet Me at the Snack Shack will be dropping at all your usual spots starting this week and rolling out throughout New Jersey and New York during the two weeks after that! Our 4.7% abv Session IPA somehow fits all the flavor and aroma of a full strength IPA into a crushable low-alcohol package. Citra, Motueka, Azacca, and El Dorado hops, flaked wheat, and a perfectly pleasing malt bill combine to give you 2021’s beer of the summer, even if its only March. Get in early, you’ll be thankful you did. Not to mention it’s the first-ever Ross can to feature the amazing original art of the one and only Tommy Lombardozzi!


16oz of Freedom | Pale Ale – American | 5.2% ABV | Twin Lights Brewing Company | Monmouth County, NJ

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Twin Lights officially launched last year and in the summer, they canned up this celebratory Pale Ale. I hope they offer it up again this year.

What Twin Lights Brewing says about the beer:

In honor of Fourth of July, we introduce to you another limited release, 16oz To Freedom. Our first American Pale Ale! For the malt bill we incorporated a blend of Pale malt, Maris Otter, and a touch of light crystal. For our hop selection we chose to kick it a little old school. We added Chinook for some bittering and also in the whirlpool combined with Centennial. We dry hopped this beer with Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe for a crushable, medium-bodied, malty and hopped up American Pale Ale


Summer Hazy Love | IPA – American | 5.5 % ABV | Victory Brewing Company | Downington, PA

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One of Victory’s most popular beers is their Summer Love golden ale so this is something of a brand extension, if you will. Upping the hop level, making it an IPA and throwing Hazy in the title is a sure way to get some attention. I haven’t had this yet, but I’d be surprised if I get through the Summer without trying this beer

What Victory Brewing says about the beer:

Let’s keep sharing the love. Summer Love goes Hazy in this IPA that sparkles with juicy hop notes for those days that feel like the sun never sets. Time for another..

What new lagers or ales are you hoping to try this summer? What has been a trusty beer for you in past summers?

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Draught Diversions: The Tap Takeover’s 4th Beerthday

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Well, four years have passed since I decided to write about beer and launched the Tap Takeover. I skipped writing about my “Third Anniversary” because there were far more important things going on in the world of beer, and the world in general. The Pandemic was a colossal shift in life, but it seems the light at the end of the tunnel might be something resembling the normalcy of the Before Times rather than the oncoming train. I figured I could publish a self-reflective post, right?

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A collage of NJ Belgian Quadrupels for The Tap Takeover’s 4th Anniversary

The brewery landscape in New Jersey has evolved and grown, with more canned beer being made available as a result of the COVID restrictions affecting on-site consumption in brewery taprooms. However, some breweries did actually launch/open over the last couple of years and during the pandemic, bringing the number of breweries to 130 and 21 Brewpubs as of this writing, according to New Jersey Craft Beer, as of this posting in May 2021.  I’ve found myself gravitating even more to NJ beer over the last year during the Pandemic, as some of the breweries are more widely available via distribution as well. I would guess that close to 80% of the beer I purchase is from New Jersey breweries. In addition, I tend to also gravitate to Pennsylvania breweries since a couple of the breweries in the Keystone State are actually closer to me than some breweries here in the Great Garden State.

I published another 76 reviews since the May 2019 2nd anniversary post!

Over the past two years (since I published the self-aggrandizing 2nd anniversary post), I visited 24 breweries (some of these were mentioned in my year end posts for 2019 & 2020):

As in past years, I would like to thank the readers of the blog and folks who have supported my little hobby by spreading the word over the years via social media and simply chatting up with me (virtually or in meatspace) about beer. I’d especially like to thank Mike K. of NJ Craft Beer who I’ve run into a few times at breweries and who was kind enough to invite me to a livestream chat; in March with other NJCB Members. Mike is always one of the first to spread the word/retweet my beer posts. Additionally, I’d also like to thank some of the other people who’ve spread the word on social media about my beer ramblings: the folks behind Breweries in PA ; John Couchoud and the the Crew of South Jersey Beer Scene; Al Gatullo of Al Gatullo’s Craft Beer Cast, my old college pal Chuck of NJ Beer and Wine; the great beer writer John Holl; Rob Callaghan and everybody in the great Brewery Strong organization; Matt Ross/MattyBlayze and the crew over at reddit/njbeer; the folks at the Beer Advocate Northeast subforum, among many others.

I’m still over at Instagram as @robhbed where I’ve gotten into the habit of posting one beer photo (very amateurishly taken) per week.

Cheers to another great year!

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Beer Review: Ramstein’s Maibock Lager

Name: Ramstein Maibock Lager
Brewing Company: Ramstein / High Point Brewing Company
Location: Butler, NJ
Style: Bock – Hell / Maibock / Lentebock
ABV: 7.5%

The legendary NJ Brewery’s world-class take on the classic Spring Lager is one of the best Maibocks I’ve ever had!

Ramstein_Maibock

From the Ramstein’s Seasonal Beers page:

Rich Amber bock beer brewed with imported Munich and Pilsner Malts and fermented with a rare lager yeast.

This beer has a deep malt character and body with a hint of toffee in the aroma. The noble hops balance the richness of the malts and provide a complex profile that hides the 7% ABV.

Two weeks in a row with Maibocks! What do I think this is, May? Well, yes, it is May and I figured I’ll make up for not having reviewed a Maibock prior to last week with back to back Maibock reviews. As it so happens, they are both delicious beers. This time around, I’m reviewing one of the more highly sought after Maibocks in the country (at least by beer drinkers who enjoy the style), a beer that ranks very highly on Beer Advocate’s overall Maibock list (#7 out of 100). I’m referring, of course, to Ramstein’s Maibock Lager, from High Point Brewing, arguably one of the best German-inspired breweries in the country. This beer, for years, has been a brewery only release available for growler fills and on-site consumption. However, Ramstein/High Point started canning some of these releases over the last year, rather than having them be growler-fill only. My parents visited the brewery a few weeks ago and my dad saved a can of the beer for me, so I figured I’d give it a review since I haven’t had any Ramstein beer in a while.

With that preface out of the way, let’s get into Ramstein’s Maibock Lager, shall we?

ramstein-maibock

The beer pours a beautiful slightly translucent amber with maybe a pinky finger thick white/tannish head. Mild aroma of malt, but mostly this Maibock smells like beer. That’s not a knock by any means. Essentially, this beer looks and smells the part of what I expect from a Maibock.

Ramstein’s Maibock Lager passes the taste/first sip with flying colors. The beer delivers everything I expect and hope from the beer. This beer is extremely malt forward and the hops are minimal. I would say the overall flavor of the beer just about makes this beer a chugger. Knowing the beer has an 7.5% ABV; however, is what prevents this beer from that achieving chugger status.

What I like best; however, is the clean, sweet finish. I intimated in my review of last week’s Maibock, May Day that some Maibocks can exhibit a slightly bitter, almost earthy finish that is off-putting. Like May Day, Ramstein’s Maibock Lager crescendos with a sweet caramel finish that brings everything about the beer together harmoniously. The beer has such a full, balanced flavor that quenches the thirst but also makes you want to go back for more.

I visited Ramstein/High Point once, a few years ago around my birthday for one of their other world class releases. This Maibock Lager is a beer worth seeking, especially if your tastes lean towards Lagers and Bocks

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-bottle cap rating.

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Beer Review: Jersey Cyclone’s May Day Maibock Style Lager

Name: May Day (Maibock Style Lager)
Brewing Company: Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company
Location: Somerset, NJ
Style: Bock – Hell / Maibock / Lentebock
ABV: 7.3%

Happy Anniversary to Jersey Cyclone, this delicious Maibock is a great celebration of the quality beer they’ve been brewing for two years!

JerseyCyclone_Mayday

From the untappd page for the beers.

May Day was brewed to capture the crisp floral aromas of a beautiful spring day. The subtle golden hue of this traditional Maibock gives you flavors of freshly baked biscuits, slightly browned toast followed by a delicate floral aroma leave your tastebuds dreaming about another sip. Aroma/Taste: Floral, Biscuit, Toasty.

I’ve written about bocks and reviewed several bocks, but this is the first Maibock I’m reviewing here at the Tap Takeover. Maibocks are the traditional German spring beer (Mai translates from German as May, after all), and are slightly maltier, slightly hoppier, and usually more amber in color than most lagers. Not many American breweries are crafting Maibocks, if anything, the doppelbock is (I’m guessing here), the most popular of the bock styles. When Jersey Cyclone announced they were canning May Day as both a celebration of their second anniversary and spring, I had to give the beer a try. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to their Anniversary celebration, so let’s look at the beer.

Let the celebration begin as we dance around the maypole and I crack open Jersey Cyclone’s May Day!

The can pops nicely and pours a golden/amber into the Jersey Cyclone Willi Becher glass. It certainly looks the part of a traditional Maibock, at least compared to the baker’s dozen of Maibocks I’ve enjoyed including the one that started it all, Hofbräu’s Maibock. There’s a mild aroma of toasted malt, but nothing too pronounced.

How about the taste/first sip? I get what I expect from May Day, the beer exhibits sweet malt flavors (not unlike a Märzen), with some floral hints throughout the overall flavor of the beer. The mild hop presence associated with the style comes in at the finish for a very slight bitterness and a bit of spice. I also get something I can only call nuttiness? Maybe that’s toasted bread or crackers? It works and is mostly on point for the style. The ultimate finish I get is a smooth, very pleasant caramel-esque sweetness. On the whole, May Day resonates with other Maibocks/Helles Bocks I’ve had over the years. In other words, May Day is a very solid interpretation of the style.

I had a second can the following night. Something I’ve been learning and which I’ve mentioned here at the Tap Takeover is that I feel like I’m able to enjoy my “second experience” or pint/can/pour even more because I have a better idea of what to expect. That is very true with Mayday, I wasn’t trying to figure out the tasting notes, I was expecting them and they delivered quite nicely.

I also want to point out the can art of this beer. The label really captures the spirit of the beer. The image depicted is the traditional Maypole, a central motif in spring celebrations in Germanic nations. One of the first posts I wrote here at The Tap Takeover was about “Seasonally Appropriate” beers, between quality of the beer, style of the beer, release of the beer (May 1st, which is when Maypoles are generally erected), and the label, Jersey Cyclone completely nailed this Maibock.

JerseyCyclone_MayDayLabel

Happy Anniversary to Jersey Cyclone! Their quality started out strong and each beer continues to show their expertise at brewing and brewing/crafting some of the more unique and “advanced” styles of lagers. I’ve come to consider Jersey Cyclone one of my constant go-to breweries. When I stopped in a couple of months and chatted with owner Jan, he mentioned how impressed and happy he was with the lagers their brewer Charles was making and hinted that this Maibock would hopefully be ready for their anniversary party. Cheers also to Charles for crafting another excellent lager.

Prost and again, Happy Anniversary to Jersey Cyclone!

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.

JerseyCyclone_Mayday

Draught Diversions: April 2021 Six Pack

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…

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April means Easter (most years) and hints of warmer weather. The darker beers (traditionally) start to fade and the lighter fare begins to emerge; Golden Ales, Pale Lagers/Pilsners, etc. Well, Pilsners are always at the forefront here at the Tap Takeover (two this month), and 5 out of 6 beers this month were crafted at New Jersey breweries. A couple of the usual suspects, a returning guest, and two breweries making their first appearances in a monthly six pack (even if they’ve both been mentioned a few times over the years).

Santa Lucia (Angry Erik Brewing) | Belgian Strong Golden Ale | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

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It has been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed a beer from Angry Erik Brewing. Since my visit to them back in 2017, they moved into a facility they built and increased their production. When I was in the area, I figured I’d grab some beer to share on Easter and this delicious Belgian-Style Golden Ale was perfect for the spring day. This beer is extremely flavorful, the sweetness from the honey works very nicely with the Belgian-style yeast. The 9.7% ABV is very well hidden.

Rewal (Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company) | Pilsner – Other / Polish Pilsner | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd
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Since they opened, Jersey Cyclone has been brewing fantastic lagers and this “Polish Pilsner” is hands down my favorite Pilsner from the Somerset brewery. What makes it a “Polish” Pilsner? The hops – Lubelski – are from Poland. This beer is light but very tasty and hits all the notes a Pilsner should hit (a little crackery/bready, a bit of hops, and refreshing) and is worth the wait for a slow pour at the tap or out of your can.

Slugger (Sly Fox Brewing Company) | Pilsner – Other | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

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Sly Fox is one of the great Pennsylvania breweries, unfortunately not much of their output makes it to my area/region of NJ. So when I saw this Pilsner (a maroon/baby blue/white can for Phillies), brewed largely for on site consumption at Citizen’s Bank Park (and a black/gold can for the Pittsburgh Pirates), I immediately ordered it. I was very pleased with the balance of hops and malt and overall finely crafted flavor of the beer.

Object Permanence (Aramagnac Barrel-Aged 2020) (Kane Brewing Company) | Barleywine – English | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

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Barleywines aren’t on the shelves very often, so when I placed an order with Kane, I had to add this and another variant of the same beer. I’ve never heard of Aramagnac before getting this bottle, but essentially it is a brandy-like liquor which is a byproduct of wine. The beer is smooth and sweet, the barrel imparts some fruitiness which works really nicely with the toffee character of an English Barleywine. Do I really need to state again how great Kane’s barrel program is?

Boat Ramp Champ (Cape May Brewing Company) | Lager – Helles | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

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Being on Social Media can be a good thing. You get to see beers months ahead of their release to the public, like this Helles Lager from Cape May Brewing Company. They don’t brew/can/distribute many lagers, but when they do, they do them well (Cape May Lager from a couple of years ago; my new summer go-to, Tan Limes; and their annual Oktoberfest), so I was really looking forward to trying this one and I was absolutely not disappointed. This is one of the best Helles Lagers I’ve ever had, a fantastic American interpretation of the classic German style, and it might be my favorite beer from Cape May Brewing Company.

Morning Meeting (Untied Brewing Company) | Porter– Imperial / Double | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

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This is one of the beers from Untied Brewing I’ve wanted to try since they opened and I learned about it. Essentially, with the maple syrup, coffee, and cinnamon, this is a breakfast beer. Very flavorful, the vanilla brings all of the elements together quite nicely. My only real issue is that the body of this beer is somewhat thin. The second can of the 4-pack I had a week later sat with me a little better. I may have noted that I tend to enjoy beers even more the second time I have them since I kind of know what to expect and that theory proved true with Morning Meeting.

Another month in the books! Nothing really lousy like past months so I’ll end it here.