Draught Diversions: A 6-Pack to Bring Back

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…

When I learned recently that my go-to Summer beer was being discontinued (Yeungling Summer Wheat, a solid mass produced Hefeweizen), it got me thinking, and thinking rather forlornly. Sometimes a brewery releases a beer you really enjoy, maybe it was a seasonal, maybe it was a beer in regular rotation. Then the season comes for the beer to hit the shelves and you find out the brewery ceased production on those beers or the beer just goes out of rotation. Or, even sadder, the brewery is no longer in business. I’ve come up with a 6 pack of beers I wish would return. One of these I’ve had since joining untappd so it hasn’t been too too long since a couple disappeared, while others have been absent from taps and liquor stores for many years.

Dogfish Head Raison D’Être

Image courtesy of Dogfish Head

I know Samuel Adams was the brewery that drew many people, including me, to craft beer 20-ish years ago, but Dogfish is one that showed all the interesting things that could be done in beer. This beer is a classic and at the time I first had it and continued to buy it, I didn’t know the difference between a stout and Belgian Strong Ale, which is what this beer is considered. I just knew that the peculiar ingredients for a beer (at the time) which include Beet sugar and raisons (coupled with the Belgian yeast) made for a rich beer that I thoroughly enjoyed. As the link above describes the beer: “A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beet sugars and green raisins.” This one appears on beermenus occasionally and may show up at Dogfish tap takeovers, but damn would I love to see a six pack of this in my local bottle shop. I think the last time I had it was probably at least five years ago.

Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat

Original label with iconic Long Trail bear mascot

For years for this slightly fruited wheat ale from Vermont was a perennial summer favorite; it was very refreshing, perfect for enjoying pool-side, or in the yard after a hard day’s yardwork. There was a big uproar as this great All About Beer article points out when the beer was pulled from production/circulation in 2014 after being the brewery’s #2 seller at one point in time. I know technically this beer returned in cans a year or two ago, but I don’t think the beer made it to NJ. At least no stores around me seemed to carry it.

Can redesign. Still haven’t seen this in NJ

There was a time I’d see Long Trails tasty beers all over the place (this along with Double Bag and Triple Bag are favorites) but not quite as much in recent years. I would always keep Blackberry Wheat and Sam’s Summer Ale in constant rotation from Memorial Day to Labor Day and found their Survival Pack (which included BBW) to be a great variety pack to pick up at a moment’s notice when people came over in the summer.

 

Pete’s Wicked Summer Brew

Ah, Pete’s Wicked, one of the sadder stories in American Craft Beer. They were 1 and 2 with Samuel Adams, as I recall, in the mid to late 90s craft beer movement. I even remember the radio commercial for “Pete’s Wicked Summer Breeewww” and thanks to YouTube, the humorous folksy TV ads featuring brewer/owner Pete Slosberg. The lineup of Pete’s Wicked included the flagship Brown Ale, a delicious Summer Wheat and a Strawberry Ale. As the link to All About Beer indicates, the name was sold to Gambrinus a number of years ago so it is doubtful the brand or the beers will return. For many people my age (and older) Pete’s Wicked Ale will conjure up pleasant memories of when the American Craft Beer scene when it was in its youth, maybe less confusing, and with an unknowable level of growth potential.

Samuel Adams Honey Porter

This was one of the first dark beers I remember enjoying and for the years it was available, my favorite year-round offering form the Boston Beer company. It was brought back a couple of times after it was discontinued in 2000, once and in six packs in 2007 and again as part of a “Brewmasters collection” in 2010. I know my tastes have slightly changed since I last had the beer (I wouldn’t go near an IPA back then) but Porters are still a preferred style, so I would hope the suck fairy wouldn’t strike if this beer were to be available again.

Basically, the suck fairy is what happens when you revisit an old favorite and it turns out not to live up to the high regard in which you hold it in your memory.

Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale

I’m not sure the last time I saw this one or had it, but it had to be about 10 years ago, at the most recent, but I recall that Weird eye-catching bottle art from Hieronymus Bosch drew me to the beer, initially. There was a very good bottle shop on my way home from work that allowed you to make mixed six packs, and this was before I was aware of Wegman’s. I remember grabbing one for the mix and after enjoying it getting it regularly on its own. Even before I realized how much I enjoyed Belgian beers, I was enjoying a brown Belgian ale. As it so happens, I now work within walking distance to that same liquor store.

Brewed by Koningshoeven brewery (A.K.A. La Trappe, one of the great Trappest breweries) in the Netherlands, this beer was just a Belgian Brown. But it was so much more unique than the Brown Ales I knew of at the time (Smuttynose’s Old Brown Dog and Newcastle) and made me feel fancy whenever I drank it.

Wolaver’s Organic Wildflower Wheat

I’ve made it pretty clear here at the Tap Takeover how much I enjoy wheat ales and for a few years, so multiple wheat ales on a post like this shouldn’t surprise anybody. I’ve only had a few from the venerable Vermont brewery and this was far and above my favorite. It was a great warm weather ale and had an extra hit of honey to balance out the whole flavor profile. Otter Creek discontinued the Wolaver’s Organic line of beers (including a very tasty Pumpkin Ale as well as a Coffee Porter called “Alta Gracia Coffee Porter”) a few years ago and seems to be focusing more on beers with strong hop profiles in recent years, so I doubt this beer will be coming back, but it was fantastic. I had it three times while on untappd, each time on draft, and it was perfect on those warm August nights.

The beer was described as: Wildflower wheat is a delicious unfiltered wheat ale brewed with organic chamomile flowers and a hint of pure organic Vermont honey.

So to close out with a final thought, here’s my ranking, from most likely to least likely, of the chances of these beers returning:

  1. Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat
  2. Dogfish Head Raison D’Être
  3. Samuel Adams Honey Porter
  4. Tilburg Dutch Brown Ale
  5. Wolaver Organic Wildflower Wheat
  6. Pete’s Wicked Summer Ale

So there you have it, 6 beers out of circulation/production I would drink right now. Any favorites you, my fine readers, wish would return?

Beer Review: Evil Twin Brewing’s B is for BLUEBERRY

Name: B is for Blueberry
Brewing Company: Evil Twin Brewing
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Style: Sour – Gose
ABV: 4.5%

From the beer can’s label:

Let’s face it, we all like to put labels on things. It just makes us feel more comfortable. What assumptions have people made about you based on your race, gender, the way you dress, or even the beer you drink. We did in fact label this beer for your convenience. It has a fresh tartness, a twist of salt and balanced blueberry fruitiness – apparently a complete reflection of your personality. We hope you like what this label says about you?

Evil Twin Brewing has made a name for itself without having a brewery. Odd, right? Well, like Bolero Snort, whose BOVB I reviewed recently, Evil Twin is a gypsy brewery. In other words, they contract brew at brewing facilities around the nation. Although Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø’s brewery is based out of Denmark, since 2010 Jeppe has earned a great reputation for sought-after beers. This one is fairly new and part of a series of Gose ales featuring a fruit infusion. The first was “A is for Apricot.”

On to B is for Blueberry

I didn’t know what beer this was at first. Meaning, my wife occasionally gets me a mixed six pack from Wegman’s, pours the beer for me and has me guess what the beer is. The first, most noticeable element of the beer is that purplish-blueish color. Admittedly, the picture above is not the best beer picture I’ve taken.

After a whiff, I thought it might be a fruit beer, a Gose, or a Berliner Weisse as the aroma gave off hints of fruit and tart. First sip is the tartness of blueberry and a bit of saltiness. My wife picked a good one, I thought. I liked what was in the glass quite a bit.

“Is this a Gose?” I asked my wife. “Gozer the Gozerian?” she joked. She then showed me the can and confirmed my guess. As I continued enjoying the beer, the tartness of the blueberries coupled with their underlying sweetness and the salt all Gose beers have made for quite a drinkable beer. Drinkable, right? Well, by that I mean everything in the flavor profile made me want to keep drinking because of how thirst quenching the beer is.

The evening I was enjoying the beer was one of the rare warm spring days we’ve had this year. As such, the beer hit the spot perfectly. I think Goses make for great warm weather brews (a favorite is Victory’s Kirsch Gose) and B is for Blueberry most amply fits that bill. I can see enjoying this on a warm summer day; after mowing the lawn, doing some yard work, just relaxing in the hammock reading a good book, or poolside (my favorite spot to enjoy beer).

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.

Jeppe is the “Evil Twin” of Mikkel, who started Mikkeller Brewing in 2016, this feature at NY Times on the brothers in March 2018 is quite fascinating.

Image courtesy of MyBeerBuzz

Styles in Focus: Bock Beers

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…

Bock, it sounds cool. Also, “Bock” rhymes with the Rock and he’s cool. However, not many people gravitate to the style, in today’s IPA-centric beer world. Could it be the goat? You’ll often see a goat on the bottle, label, or associated with some bocks. The goat is associated with the style because the brewers who came up with the style in Einbeck, Bavaria had a thick accent. As such, citizens of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (“a billy goat”), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. To this day, as a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels. (Wikipedia)  But what *is* a bock beer?

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

The simple answer is: A lager, but more so. Like stouts or IPAs, styles of Ales which themselves have several varieties, a Bock is a style of Lager which has several varieties (general from lowest in alcohol to highest in alcohol): Bock, Helles Bock/Maibock, Dopplebock, Weizenbock, and Eisbock. I’ll give a little highlight/overview of each variation and some example beers, including some I’ve had as well as some I hope to have some day.

Bock (List Bocks on Beer Advocate)

Image courtesy of Shiner

Bocks are a lagered style of beer that are heavier on malt than a standard Lager. A straightforward Bock will generally be sweeter than the standard lager, too. That malt and sweet profile often present in a caramel-like flavor that can also evoke nutty flavors. Perhaps the most widely known straight-up Bock is Shiner Bock the flagship lager from Spoetzl Brewery, one of the largest Texas breweries [distributed to 49 states] and the Lone Star State’s oldest. I’ve had it a few times and thought it was OK. Of the beers considered a standard Bock the one I’ve enjoyed the most is Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, which for me is always a highlight beer in their Winter/Holiday pack. The sweetness level is increased by aging the beer on cocoa nibs to produce a sweet, tasty beer that makes for a nice dessert beer. They also brewed a Cherry Chocolate Bock in the past, which I hope returns. Typical ABV for Bocks is in the 5% range

Maibock / Helles Bock (List of Maibocks / Helles Bocks on Beer Advocate)

From my most recent untappd check in of Dead Guy

From the beers I’ve enjoyed, I don’t notice too much of a difference between a Bock and a Helles/Maibock, except for an increase in maltiness. Traditionally, a Maibock is a spring lager, but usually what differentiates the Helles or Maibock from the Bock is a slightly stronger hop presence. I called out the classic German Hofbräu Maibock in my Spring beer post, but perhaps the most widely know Maibock/Helles Bock from an American brewer is the iconic Dead Guy from Rogue Ales. Abita, Louisiana’s biggest craft brewery, celebrates Mardi Gras by producing Mardi Gras Bock every year. Summit Brewing, one of the larger breweries in Minnesota, produces a MaiBock, too. With a slightly stronger hop presence, the ABV can be a little higher. For example, Rogue’s Dead Guy ABV clocks in at 6.8%.

Dopplebock (List of Dopplebocks on Beer Advocate)

Image courtesy of Ayinger

As the sound of the name may lead you to believe, is an amped up, or doubled, version of a standard Bock. Even maltier and sweeter than a Bock, the beer evokes more of a bready taste and flavor with the ABV up to 12% range. Of the varieties of Bocks being brewed, Dopplebocks seem to be the most prevalent/popular.

Some of the darker Dopplebocks may have hints of fruit or chocolate in the flavor profile or even use chocolate and/or fruit in the brewing process.  Like the traditional association of goats with bocks, there is a tradition of adding the suffix “-ator” to Dopplebocks. This is because one of the first Dopplebocks was called “Salvator” (or Savior) and most breweries who brew a Dopplebock as part of their brewing portfolio use “-ator” in the name. One of the best in the world is Ayinger’s Celebrator, which I had once and need to have again. Unsurprisingly, Wehenstephaner’s Korbinian is an outstanding example of the style and New Jersey’s own Ramstein Winter Wheat is one of the most coveted American interpretations of the style (and probably one of the 10 best beers I ever had). I reviewed one of the more widely available (at least along the East Coast of America) Dopplebocks, Troegantor Doublebock.

Weizenbock (List of Weizenbocks on Beer Advocate)

Perhaps my favorite of the bock styles is the weizenbock, or as translated, “wheat bock.” The description, as untappd suggests, can be considered a “bigger and beefier version of a dunkelweizen.” When crafted well, a Weizenbock can evoke the best of two beers – the malt and stone fruits evoked by Dopplebocks coupled with the clove and banana evocations of a Dunkelweizen or Hefeweizen. Some say (actually, All About Beer, specifically) that a Weizenbock is a “perfect marriage of styles.”

It would probably be expected that German brewers excel in this style. The aforementioned Weihenstephaner brews a great one in Vitus (pictured above, borrowed from their website is probably my favorite) and Schneider Weisse (who brew mostly wheat beers) have a few excellent Weizenbocks in their portfolio, including Mein Aventinus (TAP 6), Marie’s Rendezvous (TAP X), and a collaboration with Brooklyn Brewery called Meine Hopfenweisse. Of the US breweries, Victory’s Moonglow Weizenbock is one of my annual fall favorites and Neshaminy Creek’s Neshaminator is also quite good.

Eisbock (List of Eisbocks on Beer Advocate)

From my untappd check-in, September 2015

Lastly, we have the mistake beer, if beer lore and legend are to be believed and perhaps the rarest style of beer. According to the legend, a young brewery work fell asleep during a brew and part of the water froze leaving a much stronger Bock than the young brewer or his boss could ever imagine. The resulting Eisbock is one of the richest, most sumptuous beers brewed.

Image courtesy of Founders

The “Eis” in the name is from partially freezing a dopple and extracting the H2O ice, which allows the alcohol to have a much more noticeable presence and a deeper brownish/reddish hue and an overall thicker beer. You could also say a Belgian Quadrupel is similar to an Eisbock, in some ways. Like a Quadrupel, an Eisbock possesses a much stronger stone fruit/plum and sugary taste. Some may potentially find it cloying if they aren’t expecting it, but the sole Eisbock I had from the great aforementioned Schneider Weisse, Aventinus, is also one of the 10 or so best beers I ever had. Ramstein brews one (as recently as January 2018 at 16.5%), they call Eis Storm Eisbock while Tank Bender is the occasional Eisbock (aged in bourbon barrels!) produced by Founders which I would absolutely love to try, but I think the most recent brewing of it was a brewery-only release. Another well regarded Eisbock from Germany is Kulmbacher Eisbock which I want yesterday. The style is also supposedly illegal in some ways…

freezing a beer and removing more than 0.5% of its volume is illegal without a license. There’s an email exchange between someone at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and a brewer, posted in a Reddit r/homebrewing discussion that makes this pretty clear.

So, making Eisbock by removing more than 0.5% water volume is basically illegal. But, it is also openly brewed by several craft breweries, and it seems the TTB knows about this craft beer level production, but has chosen not to act on said knowledge.

So there you have it, 5 varieties of one style – the Bock Beer. More popular (I assume) in Europe, especially Germany and its neighbors, but a style with a wealth of flavor profiles that illustrates how much can be done even with a less popular (not-quite-obscure) brewing style.

Beer Review: Industrial Arts Brewing’s TOOLS of the TRADE

Name: Tools of the Trade
Brewing Company: Industrial Arts Brewing Company
Location: Garnerville, NY
Style: Pale Ale – American
ABV: 4.9%

From the beers page of Industrial Arts Web site:

Snappy pink grapefruit, fresh and bright. Very highly drinkable.

While Industrial Arts Brewing may be fairly new, they opened about two years ago, brewmaster / owner Jeff O’Neill is far from new to the craft beer / brewing industry. The Flower Power IPA he created for Ithaca Brewing Company is renowned (listed  on VinePair as one of the 25 most important beers in American Craft beer history) and stints at Peekskill Brewing have given Industrial Arts an immediate cache within the craft beer community. After having two of their beers, it seems those expectations are well-founded. I enjoyed Metric, Industrial Art’s interpretation of a Pilsner last year, but this review focuses on Industrial Art’s delicious American Pale Ale – Tools of the Trade, also their flagship beer.

Crack of the can, pour of the beer and my glass is filled with a yellow-orange beer that looks slightly lighter (or even clearer) than I’d expect a Pale Ale to look, especially one labeled as an XPA. Inhaling the beer, I sensed hops with a piney and slightly bitter citrus profile. I was reminded a bit of the Sierra Nevada’s iconic Pale Ale (the #1 beer on that list I linked in the previous paragraph).

First sip is a really nice blast of hops and a good balance of citrus notes that match the aroma with a enough of malt  backbone to hold it all together. Again, similar to Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. That’s a compliment for those keeping track at home of the tasting notes. What makes this beer stand above Sierra; however, is the more prominent citrus characteristics. Some sweetness of grapefruit, maybe? A little bit of lemon, too, maybe. Whatever citrus fruits were evoked by the hops, they were very pleasing to my palate.

As I continued to enjoy the beer, that citrus/hop profile grew stronger and more pronounced. The (there’s the dreaded word again) mouthfeel was a little creamy at first. Tools of the Trade is a beer that you want to enjoy quickly, from the first sip to the sadness that the bottom of a beer glass / can / bottle once filled with delicious liquid always symbolizes.

Tools of the Trade is an immensely refreshing beer, a pleasant, yet subtle bite from the hops, a citrus flavor that encourages you to not let the beer sit undrunk for too long. I’ve mentioned my dislike for grapefruit in the past, so I’m slightly surprised at how pleasing the citrusy/hop profile of this beer is for my palate given that grapefruit is called out in the brewery’s description of the beer.

If I’m being even more honest, a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this beer. Only over say, the last six months, have I come to enjoy and appreciate hop-forward beers like Pale Ales and IPAs. What makes Tools of the Trade stand out so strongly is the pure elegance of the beer – standard ingredients with a focus on a honed, high-quality process to produce a remarkably well-balanced and delicious beer you’d like to have in your refrigerator in constant rotation.

Last week, I wasn’t sure what beer I would be picking up at the store, there wasn’t a new major release that was grabbing my attention. Then I listened to the third anniversary episode of the great Steal This Beer podcast and Jeff O’Neil (dubbed Chief by hosts Augie Carton and John Holl) was a guest. Luckily, my local beer stop had some of this beer in their fridge and here we are.

Strong Recommendation, link to Untappd 4-star rating.

Draught Diversions: Jersey Girl Brewing Co.

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…

The final brewery of “Hackettstown Trio” of NJ Craft breweries gets the Draught Diversion treatment today. Of course, I am referring to Jersey Gril Brewing Company who just celebrated two years of being in business and selling beer in their taproom this past weekend (April 7). Unfortunately, I was not able to attend their anniversary party, but I did visit Jersey Girl back in November 2017 when I visited Manskirt and Czig Meister.

Like many breweries, owners and friends Chuck Aaron and Mike Bigger started were homebrewers, after they met in the community of Mount Olive and found they shared a passion for good-tasting beer. They wanted to provide a beer destination locals could enjoy and their involvement in the community can be seen on their Facebook page.

Jersey Girl began brewing beer and distributing in 2014, but the build-out of the tap-room took another two years. When Jersey Girl opened its doors to the public in April 2016, the brewery started fairly strongly, I think I recall seeing their great, eye-catching logo at least one (probably more) Garden State Brewfests, maybe in 2015 and definitely in 2016 when I had their well-made Amber Ale. Their brewing capabilities have expanded since the initial opening, with overall volume increasing, as well as can production, which jumped from about 2,000 for a run/month to 20,000 cans per month. Additionally, the number of employees has more than doubled, from 5 to 12.

Sun Kissed Citra and Rake Breaker (Photo courtesy of Jersey Girl Facebook)

The brewery started out fairly aggressively with canning their beers, I recall seeing cans of their two flagship IPAs, Rake Breaker and Sun Kissed Citra in stores. Those two beers are also available in cans and on tap at the Prudential Center, home of my hockey team, The New Jersey Devils. In fact, Jersey Girl is currently the top-selling craft beer at the Prudential Center, according to the Brew Jersey article linked below. Let’s face it, Jersey Girl really should be available there, considering the name of he brewery. Even before the brewery officially opened, it was being recognized as the beer was highlighted online at NJ Monthly.

This awesome diagram/map of beer styles adorned one of the taproom walls.

The view from outside is very deceiving, especially from the road where the brewery is located. Whereas Czig Meister and Manskirt are quite visible, Jersey Girl is an office park environment. Like Kane and Conclave, you have to know to look for the brewery. That outer view of the brewery is in complete contrast to the taproom inside, which is inviting and very well-constructed. It feels almost like a neighborhood bar. There’s plenty of seating at the bar, at tables, and side tables where you can view the brewing equipment.

The evening of my visit, the brewery was quite busy. Admittedly, Jersey Girl was the last of five breweries I visited that day, so my perception may be slightly skewed. But the impression that sticks in my memory is of a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere where many people were chatting and getting along quite nicely.

The tap list for the night of my visit

The most important element of any brewery; as always, is the product/liquid/beer itself. As Chuck Araron says in the Daily Record article below, “It’s all about the beer. We’re in the beer business.” During my visit I had a flight of four beers on the lovely paddle in the shape of New Jersey pictured below. The first beer of the flight was King Gambrinus, an extremely well-made Belgian Tripel. Second was a big Coffee Stout, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee which was tasty bit slightly bitter and packed quite a punch at 10% ABV. The third beer in my flight was another Belgian offering, Abbey Dubbel Trouble, also well-made. Last was a very well-rounded porter, Madagascar. As the name implies, this beer is brewed with Madagascar Vanilla and the balance is spot-on. I’ve lamented vanilla beers that have way too much vanilla and this one doesn’t commit that sin.

Flight addles come in various shapes, this one in the shape of the State of NJ is one the cleverer paddles I’ve seen.

The brewery has been receiving accolades and awards over the past two years:

Photo courtesy of Jersey Girl Brewing’s Facebook page

Having just celebrated two years in business and open to the public, Jersey Girl is proving to be a strong presence in the growing New Jersey Craft Beer landscape. Beers that seem to be well received, averaging about 3.7 on untappd for their flagship IPAs Sun Kissed Citra and Rake Breaker, 3.99 for their Coffee Stout, and 3.87 for King Gambrinus. They brew two Hefeweizens in the summer, a standard Hef and one with Elderberry and Lemon, both of  which I can’t wait to try, a Pilsner (MO Pils, the MO for Mount Olive), and many more. Overall, I hope to see this brewery grow and expand their footprint in and outside of the State.

Jersey Girl regulary hosts events at their brewery, like the current trend of yoga and beer and of course, trivia nights.

Some other links of interest follow:

Beer Review: Unibroue’s A TOUT le MONDE

Name: À Tout le Monde
Brewing Company: Unibroue
Location: Chambly, QC Canada
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 4.5%

From Unibroue’s Landing Page for the beer:

À TOUT LE MONDE Ale honors the mutual passions and friendship of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Unibroue’s Brewmaster Jerry Vietz.

It is brewed as a tribute to all the friends of hard rock music and Belgian style ales in Quebec and throughout the world. Heavy metal has played a very influential role in the history of Quebec’s musical development and Quebec city has the reputation of being one of the metal music capitals of the world. It is a closely-knit culture characterised by very passionate and devoted fans, much like that of Unibroue’s refermented ales.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Dave and Jerry’s paths recently crossed, their mutual passions for both arts would spark a desire for a Megadeth beer brewed by Unibroue.

And so À TOUT LE MONDE Ale was born, inspired by the most popular hard rock song to feature a chorus sung entirely in French, and whose video is in the Music Hall of Fame of Quebec’s most popular TV music show. The beer is a refreshing and artisanal Belgian Style Dry Hopped Saison and the label appropriately and prominently features a symbol that is synonymous to Megadeth, their well-known mascot Vic Rattlehead.

With my piece a couple of weeks ago on Saisons, I thought it was about time I reviewed a beer in that classic style. Sure, I reviewed a “Sour – Famhouse IPA” but I wanted to focus on a straight-up Saison. As often is the case when I want to try a single beer, my local Wegman’s came through for me in their make your own six pack deal.

As a fan of both 1980s heavy metal and quality beer I’d been wanting to try this beer for a while, though when I first learned Megadeth was going to be brewing a beer in partnership with Unibroue, I wouldn’t have expected it to be a saison. I love when my expectations are shattered for the good.

Fact: Megadeth’s Rust in Peace is an absolutely perfect album and one of the 5 or 10 greatest metal albums all time. If you don’t agree you are wrong.

Unibroue is out of Canada, I’ve had a few of their beers and enjoyed them, so I was hoping this would deliver the goods and it certainly did. As you can see in the picture above, the beer pours a light, bright bubbly yellow out of the glass.

The first taste is a nice “wow” of refreshment. I can imagine if I was toiling out in my yard on a warm spring day and had a sip of this I would be even more pleased. After all, the Farmhouse Ale was crafted specifically as refreshment for field/farm workers.

There are some fruity, citrusy notes that complement the characteristic Belgian yeast so well. I got a little bit of banana in there, too. This isn’t an overpowering fruit like a lambic or even a banana-heavy Hefeweizen, but rather a beer that is a harmonious and a very well-crafted . There’s a subtle pop of hops at the end, but it makes for a very well balanced finish with an IBU rating of 22.

As I’ve said in talking about Pilsners, Saisons are similarly one of the world-classic styles of ales. They don’t get quite the attention as say, IPAs or barrel-aged stouts, but damn when you have one made exceptionally well from the style’s standard ingredients and brewing methods, you can have an elegantly crafted ale that is sure to please. With À Tout le Monde, Unibroue’s brewmaster Jerry Vietz has created a genuinely delicious ale in a traditional style. It isn’t something I would have expected to enjoy as much as I did, but there you have it, shattered expectations. Then again, with my growing leanings to the Belgian style of beers, coupled with how well this beer is crafted, hindsight would would easily point to my enjoyment of this beer.

I’m going to have to hunt this one down to get a four pack or two because my brother-in-law (the biggest Megadeth fan I know) is already fuming at me because I didn’t share this with him. You may be hearing a tiny violin playing as you read those words.

This beer was kind of a big deal when it was first released in 2016, with a website dedicated to the beer:  http://www.megadethbeer.com.

The name of the beer is a song title from Youthanaisa, Megadeth’s 1995 album but I prefer the 2007 re-recording with Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil slightly retitled as À Tout le Monde (Set Me Free) which appeared on the United Abominations album, also a very good album. I’ve embedded the YouTube Video embedded at the very end of the post for your listening/viewing pleasure.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Trip to the Farm (Level 6)

You have a keen taste for this Belgian masterpiece. Did you know the Saison style beer was invented by Belgian farms, brewed in the Winter and served the Spring/Summer to all their workers? Well now you do! That’s 30 different Saisons.

Beer Review: Cape May Brewing’s Coastal Evacuation

Name: Coastal Evacuation
Brewing Company: Cape May Brewing Company
Location: Cape May, NJ
Style: IPA – Imperial / Double
ABV: 8.0%

I usually try to go with on of my Garden State Brewfest glasses for NJ beers, but went with my alma mater this time.

From Cape May Brewing’s Web site:

“Coastal Evacuation:” a phrase common at the Jersey Shore. Hurricane season hits hard, and we’re hitting back with a Double IPA with copious amounts of centennial hops, able to withstand the storm. It’s time to evacuate – are you prepared?

Cape May Brewing has been brewing and selling beer since the brewer officially opened 2011. Cape May Brewing is (I think) the second largest craft brewery in New Jersey (Flying Fish being the largest) and offers the largest varieties of beers in New Jersey in its tasting room. Their beers are highly respected in the State of New Jersey, some  sought after, and some have won awards – Topsail, (a barrel-aged sour) was named best beer of 2017 by Beer Connoisseur Magazine.

I had their Honey Porter last year, which was pretty good and I’d been eager to try more of their portfolio especially as I’ve come to appreciate hoppier beers/IPAs and the majority of what they brews lean heavily towards the IPA side of the shelf. One of their flagship / most well-received brews is Coastal Evacuation. Unfortunately, Cape May Brewing doesn’t distribute up to Somerset County, but fortunately, my dad and I recently did a bottle share and one Coastal Evacuation was one of the beers I received.

The first thing I noticed when pouring the beer was the color. It wasn’t as bright or golden as I expected from a Double IPA and the bubbles floating in the beer looked almost like particulates. I was a little nervous, but I shouldn’t have been.

My first impression/first sip of the beer was an assertive yet pleasing hop presence. Knowing the beer is a double IPA (80 IBU) set my expectations for a big hop bit and I got it, but I wasn’t bludgeoned with the hop bitterness. The second prominent flavor component is the citrus profile imparted by the generous centennial hops in the beer. The two flavor components blend quite nicely for a beer with a great taste.

Coastal Evacuation is a very drinkable IPA, the hop/sweet/citrus flavor profile is remarkably well-balanced given the  alcohol level and the high IBU. In other words, this beer is a fine example of a Double IPA and I can definitely understand why so many people enjoy the beer.

Overall, this was an enjoyable beer that went down with the complex hop/citrus flavors one should expect from a Double IPA. Coastal Evacuation is another beer helping to put the Garden State on the Craft Beer map of America.

The label looks great here, but it looks even better on the beer with some foil/shiny highlights

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

I Believe in IPA (Level 18)

We believe in IPA and you should too. You certainly have a taste for the hops! That’s 90 different IPAs.