Beer Review: Bradley Brew Project’s Jersey

Name: Jersey
Brewing Company: Bradley Brew Project
Location: Bradley Beach, NJ
Style: Lager – American
ABV: 5%

Bradley Brew Project’s fantastic Lager program produced a tasty beer named for the great Garden State – Jersey.

BradleyBP_Jersey

Beer description:

Session Lager brewed with Saaz and Motueka hops. Bright | Crispy | Easy Drinking

Since having my first beer from Bradley Brew Project about a year ago, I’ve been sampling more of their beer and each one has impressed me equally. When I saw their American Lager named simply “Jersey,” I figured I’d give it the full-feature treatment here at the Triple T. Because how could I say no to a beer that proudly proclaims the name of the state right on the label?

From the can, the beer pours into the glass a translucent golden yellow. Essentially, when you say “beer” to most people, something like this beer is the image that would likely come to mind for them.

The aroma…nothing crazy, it smells like beer. First sip and I think, “That’s a nice Lager.” Upon subsequent sips and gulps, Jersey delivers a thirst quenching, beer-flavored-beer to my palate.

Saaz hops are a very traditional hop, a Noble Hop, if you will, utilized largely in lagers and a primary hop utilized for many pilsners and pale lagers. Motueka, on the other hand, is a more tropically leaning hop that is often used in IPAs and I’ve really enjoyed IPAs that feature Motueka. What the Motueka hop brings to this beer is that aforementioned slightly citrusy element and an overall sweetness that balances out the classic, earthy and spicy element the Saaz hops imbues into the beer. They complement each other quite nicely and I’d be interested in sampling more lagers, and specifically Pilsners, that feature Motueka hops.

Sometimes you just want a straight-forward, no-nonsense, yet flavorful beer to quench your palate. A beer that hits the senses the way a beer should, with the malt and hop elements in harmony. Jersey does that for me. The label is simple, straight-forward, like the beer itself, which I appreciate all the more. It is an excellent lager and more evidence that Bradley Brew Project brews some of the best Lagers in New Jersey. The four beers I’ve had from them have all been lagers, all four have been of high quality, including this latest one in my fridge, the wonderfully named Jersey.

Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Czig Meister’s 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout

Name: 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout
Brewing Company: Czig Meister Brewing Company
Location: Hackettstown, NJ
Style: Stout – Double / Imperial Oatmeal
ABV: 11%

The best beer Czig Meister has brewed, the best Oatmeal Stout I’ve ever had, and a damned fine beer to represent their 6th Anniversary in business.

CzigMeister_6thAnniv

From the untappd page for the beer:

This year’s blend comprises of 5 Elijah Craig barrels ranging from 8-12 years in age. Each barrel held imperial stout for anywhere from 9-18 months. After barrel aging, the blend was furthered conditioned on nearly 1lb per bbl of Vanuatu Vanilla. Expect marshmallow, coconut, intense vanilla ice cream, bourbon, and brownie batter. Enjoyed best at 50°F.

Czig Meister is one of the breweries who makes fairly frequent appearances here at the Tap Takeover. With their 6th Anniversary a couple of weeks ago (June 11), I made the trip to the brewery since I’ve attended most of their Anniversary bashes or at least had their anniversary beer (like their 4th Anniversary when COVID cancelled the party). As it so happened, beer also put me beyond the “50 beers from the brewery” territory, which has been happening fairly frequently with my favorite breweries as of late. I’ve enjoyed just about all the beers I’ve had from the great Hackettstown brewery, but even the nearly 50 beers before this one didn’t prepare me for the beer I had that day.

The beer I’m handed is fairly thick and black as night, just what I want from a barrel-aged, blended Imperial stout. The aroma wafting into my nose is a mix of bourbon and roasted malts. Maybe there’s vanilla hiding in the aroma, too. Or maybe I was thinking that because I knew it was in the beer.

The first sip from the cup…is simply divine. A little heat, but a strong stout with barrel notes. There’s quite a bit in that sip and I’m very much looking forward to having more to explore the nuances of barrel character and addition of vanilla .

As I take further sips, that silky smooth character envelopes my palate like a luxurious blanket. The barrel character emerges more prominently, but *perfectly* accentuates the roasted malts of the beer rather than overpowers the flavor profile. Those elements by themselves would make this a world-class Imperial Stout, but then the Vanuatu Vanilla emerges. The only other beer I’ve had with Vanilla from that particular part of the world is Conclave’s Sable, I liked it in that beer and it is deployed flawlessly in this beer, too. It isn’t overpowering and like the barrel and blending portion of the show, is outstanding. What Matt Czigler has done with the gestalt of the base beer, barrel aging, blending, and Vanilla is surreal and sublime. I shouldn’t be surprised since Matt (as I noted in my spotlight on Czig Meister way back in 2018) spent time at Kane helping to develop a couple of their most highly regarded dark beers – A Night to End All Dawns and Morning Bell.

I was totally blown away by this beer, it was more than I expected to be and everything I hope to taste in a barrel-aged, blended stout. The beer is available in limited distribution in New Jersey in cans.

Congratulations to Matt Czigler, his family, and his crew on 6 years of brewing delicious beer. I haven’t had a bad beer from the brewery and this beer is a wonderful statement of their quality. If you’re within driving distance of Hackettstown, the brewery is more than worth the visit.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Tmavy Lezak by Icarus Brewing & Hackensack Brewing

Name: Tmavy Lezak
Brewing Companies: Icarus Brewing Company & Hackensack Brewing Company
Location: Lakewood, NJ & Hackensack, NJ
Style: Lager – Dark / Czech Dark Lager
ABV: 5.3%

Two NJ Breweries come together to brew an outstanding Czech Dark Lager.

Icaus-Hack_TmavyLezak

From Icarus Brewing’s facebook post for the beer:

We decided to brew a traditional Czech-style Dark Lager with our freinds from Hackensack Brewing in anticipation of Icarus Brewing Lagerfest 2022. Tmavy Lezak was brewed with floor malted German Pilsner Malt, debittered Black Malts, and German Crystal Munich Malts. It was then hopped with German Saaz and lagered for an extended period of time. Meaning “Dark Lager”, Tmavy Lezak swirls Dark Malt notes full of Caramel and Subtle Roast through its easy-drinking yet brooding body. This one is a wonderful Dark Lager to welcome the summer and enjoy with freinds!

My Lager Leanings (over Ales) have been well-documented here at the Triple T and one Lager in particular has caught my fancy over the last year or so – Czech Dark Lager. One of my favorite beers last year was the one-off “Czech Dark Lager” Weyerbacher and I’ve had a few since. When Icarus Brewing announced their annual Lagerfest (last year the Czech Pils with Conclave was great), I was hoping a Czech Dark Lager would be one of the beers. Fortunately, they canned Tmavy Lezak, a collaboration with Hackensack Brewing and put into distribution ahead of Lagerfest. Tmavy Lezak translates from Czech as “Dark Lager.”

From the can, the beer pours a deep/dark brown but not quite black. Nothing special on the aroma – it smells like beer. That’s not a bad thing.

First sip is a pleasing mouthful of malts. There’s a nice breadiness to the beer and maybe because of the color pumpernickel bread comes to mind. There’s a thickness to the beer I don’t typically associate with lagers but find a very welcome characteristic of Tmavy Levak nonetheless.

There’s an underlying crispness to the beer, too. That’s a more common lager trait, to be sure. That crispness is most noticeable on the finish, with a snap and even a slight spiciness from the Saaz hops. It is a nice contrast to the initial malty breadiness.

I want to call out the can art on this beer, too. Frankly, the can art on Icarus’s beers are some of the best in the State of New Jersey and this one is no exception. I find the font for the beer name very appealing and the colors and overall design evoke the flag of the Czech Republic with the historic center of Prague silhouetted in the background of the center of the can. Everything, design-wise, comes together quite nicely.

I’m a fan of Hackensack Brewing’s beers (particularly their outstanding pilsner, Parking Lot Pilz) so I thought the collaboration would be really good. I was right, these two breweries know how to make lagers separately and they’ve collaborated on a relatively obscure (at least here in the us) lager style with excellent result.

This beer was released ahead of Icarus Brewing’s annual Lagerfest, which happens June 18thLagerfest, which happens June 18th of this year. Many of the beers they are pouring will be collaboration brews like Propriety Pils brewed with Conclave Brewing, I LIFE (with Lime) brewed in collaboration with Destination Unknown Brewing. Icarus recently installed a slow pour tap, for their lagers. It is worth the trip any time for a visit to Icarus Brewing, but this weekend especially if you enjoy the Lager Life.

Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Muckraker Beermaker’s Maple Black & Blue

Name: Maple Black & Blue
Brewing Company: Muckraker Beermaker
Location: Franklin, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Other
ABV: 7%

A fruity, funky, tasty, and interesting beer that demonstrates flair and inventiveness.

Muckraker_MBBB

From Muckraker’s landing page for the beer:

Farmhouse ale with Pilsner and Wheat malts from our good friends at Rabbit Hill Farms and referemented it on 6lb per gallon of Atlantic County blueberries and blackberries from the amazing people at Pastore Orchards in Hammonton.

While the beer was undergoing an extended refermentation, we drove up to Brattleboro, Vermont, where by happenstance we ran into a just-emptied barrel from the spirit-masters at Saxtons River Distillery.

The American Oak barrel had been first used to age their Sapling maple bourbon, and then to finish a special reserve of their maple liquor of the same name.

We filled a single barrel with the beer and let it age for about nine months in the oak before we keg conditioned it.

Muckraker is one of the more interesting breweries in the State of New Jersey. Owner Tom Troncone (a former journalist, thus the name Muckraker) eschews the standard styles. Sure he has an IPA on draft, but just one of those. Most of his beers are Wild Ales / Spontaneously Fermented Ales. Some of the beers Tom brews blur the lines that typically divide and categorize beer, cider, seltzer, slushie and wine. I’ve been wanting to try some of these beers for a while, especially after hearing Tom on an episode of John Holl’s Drink Beer, Think Beer podcast. Well, I finally stopped in the brewery with some friends since we were in the area on the Sunday before Memorial Day. When I saw a beer made with blueberries and blackberries, I had to give it a try.

The beer I’m given is a blueish purple, which given the quantity of blueberries and blackberries in the beer, is not the least bit surprising. A fruity, funky aroma drifts into my nose and graces my sense of smell. I think I might like this beer.

First sip is all the fruit. Fortunately, I liked the fruits in this one a lot so I like what I’m tasting. I have probably pointed out in the past that blueberry might be my favorite fruit and the blueberries (and blackberries) in this beer are from Hammonton, NJ, the blueberry capital of the world. There’s a slight funk to the beer, more than I’d expect from most Farmhouse ales, but the sweetness and tartness from the blueberries and blackberries balances out the funk nicely. The yeast element is an underlying element that keeps this true to being a beer, particularly a farmhouse ale.

The finish of the beer, for me, is akin to an intriguing journey that began pleasantly and comes to a delightful conclusion. The maple and vanilla come into play in a most welcome fashion. That’s something really nice and unexpected given the fruits, but going back to the description is on point. Hints of maple increase the sweetness and the oak character comes through very nicely. There’s a little bit of vanilla from the barrel which plays extremely well with the copious amounts of berries in the beer. Blueberry and vanilla are a natural combination and while vanilla isn’t in the beer, the way in which oak can evoke hints of vanilla is present and pleasant.

My friend bought me a bottle and the beer from the bottle I drank about a week later seemed quite different. The funk/sour/tart level is amped up considerably and even the color is darker. I don’t get the maple and oak elements quite as much from the bottle, either. One could be forgiven for thinking the beer from the bottle and the beer served on draught are even different beers. The quality is still high, but the flavor profile is different.

Muckraker_MBB_Bottle

Maple Black & Blue is a fascinating, complex, experimental beer that eschews the norm when it comes to beer in general and farmhouse ales in particular. If you are interested in trying really well-made beer outside the normal/standard styles, this one fits the bill as do most of the beers from Muckraker Beermaker. If funky with some fruit is a beer style you like, give this one a try.

Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Jughandle Brewing’s Bee Sting

Name: Bee Sting
Brewing Company: Jughandle Brewing Company
Location: Tinton Falls, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
ABV: 6%

A sweet, refreshing Saison perfect for spring/summer warm weather.

Jughandle_BeeSting

From the untappd page for the beer:

A seasonal classic of Jughandles, Bee Sting is a farmhouse style Saison brewed with Honey, lemon zest and dry hopped with Lavender. The result is a bone dry Saison body with a hint of unfermented honey with a delicate bouquet of lavender and lemon on the nose.

Jughandle was the very first brewery to receive a spotlight here at the Tap Takeover (and you all can see how very rough around the edges that is), but this is the first beer review appearance for them here. When I did that early review, Jughandle was about to celebrate their first anniversary. Here we are five years later and they’ve moved to a larger space with more production capacity. This beer has been in regular rotation for the brewery for a few years as their spring/summer seasonal. When I stopped in the brewery with a good friend of mine, I was hoping this one was available on draught because I was in the mood for a saison.

Image courtesy of Jughandle Brewing

The aroma of the freshly poured beer hits my nose. The lemon and lavender are present. The picture above isn’t as representative of the beer I had, it was towards early evening and the shadows playing in the brewery make the beer look darker than it appears. It was actually more of a bright yellow golden as opposed to an orangey/yellow golden.

The first sip is very, very pleasant. It was relatively warm that day and the refreshment level on that fist sip encourages me to take a second sip very quickly. I’m not typically a big fan of lavender, it can be very overpowering to my sense of smell. But the lemon and honey drew me to the beer and I’m glad I got the full pour. The lavender is present, but provides a really nice floral finish to the beer. The honey is present throughout the beer as it traverses my palate, but more so as a sweetening and balancing element than the flavor of honey itself. The Belgian-inspired yeast that is such a defining characteristic of saisons is prominent, too.

I’ve had close to 70 different saisons, or so untappd tells me. Many of those saisons have had something added, be it a fruit (like blackberry), an herb, or a flower (like hibiscus). I can’t say I’ve had any saisons with lavender in it, but the balance here between the honey, lemon, and lavender is very impressive and I like what the lavender element brings to the beer despite my aforementioned aversion to plant.

Bee Sting is a great warm weather beer, extremely refreshing with some sweet and citrusy elements, and a clean, dry, earthy finish. This beer is a good indicator of why Jughandle has been making beer for 6 years and had to move to a larger facility. .

Highly Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Jughandle_BeeSting

Beer Review: Drake’s Brewing’s Amburana Death of the Sun (2022)

Name: Amburana Death of the Sun (2022 Vintage)
Brewing Company: Drake’s Brewing Company
Location: San Leandro, CA
Style: Stout – Double / Imperial
ABV: 12.7%

A Delicious Barrel-Aged Stout with a unique kick that sets it apart from the crowd of Barrel-Aged Stouts.

Drakes_DotS_Amburana

From the Drake’s landing page for the beer:

Death of the Sun came the day the world went black. A beast of an Imperial Stout aged for over a year in the cosmic dark of St. George Single Malt Barrels. Notes of layered malt, dark fruit, and chocolate tame its heat. A beer so good you will rejoice its perpetual darkness. Bourbon barrel aged Stout made with Amburana. Notes of chocolate and vanilla

It has been about 3 months since I posted a review of a Stout on the blog and it happened to be a barrel aged stout. Considering I’ve had more stouts than any style (according to untappd), I seem overdue for a stout review. Death of the Sun is another beer courtesy of Tavour and it is more than just a barrel-aged stout. The beer is aged with Aburana wood, which drew me to the beer. The wood, as I learned upon reading about it, lends a spicy character to whatever it touches. I was intrigued.

Drakes_DotS_Back

The first thing that impressed me was the label, very eye-catching and cosmically fantastical. That’s right in my wheelhouse in terms of imagery as longtime readers of this particular web locale will be aware. Let’s get to the actual beer inside the bottle, or rather, the beer poured from the bottle into my glass.

Pitch black liquid pours into my glass with a slight khaki-colored head. The aroma is strong of bourbon and maybe even oak. What I’m smelling reminds me of some of the better barrel-aged stouts I had, which has me hopeful.

I take the first sip and I get smooth sweet malt along with notes of bourbon. I also get some spice from the Amburana.

As I drink this beer and the level in my glass lowers, I’m really enjoying the experience. The strongest element is the barrel character, without a doubt. It isn’t subtle, and it is about a step away from being over the line and taking over the entire beer itself but doesn’t cross that line. I appreciate that kind of restraint, because I’ve had bourbon barrel aged beers from some nationally distributed breweries where all I could taste was bourbon. Knowing when and how to keep the stout/beer present without the barrel drowning out the beer elements, is the true mark of a brewer’s skill.

The finish of the beer with the Amburana wood lends an interesting layer of flavor. Hints of cinnamon elements are present, with vanilla coming through more strongly thanks to the complements of the bourbon barrel. There’s a gingerbread thing going on, too, but more of a nutmeg kick. I’m not a fan of nutmeg, those hints aren’t too overpowering. I’m left pleased with the complexity of this beer from nose to final taste and everything in between.

This is the only beer I’ve had from Drakes’ Brewing at this point, but they started small distribution into New Jersey. Largely their IPAs, but based on this beer, I’d be drawn to more beers from them.

Highly Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Drakes_DotS-Collage

Beer Review #200!: Jersey Cyclone’s Eye of the Storm Category 3

Name: Eye of the Storm Category 3
Brewing Company: Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company
Location: Somerset, NJ
Style: IPA – Triple New England
ABV: 12% / 100 IBU

JerseyCyclone_EyeoftheStormCat3

from the untappd page for the beer:

As Jersey Cyclone Brewing’s intensity increases each year, a legendary storm surrounds our brew house allowing the eye to create the perfect conditions for this massive and epic IPA. Each sip is explosion of citrus and sweet fruit notes across your palate. Dry Hopped with Citra, Galaxy, Idaho 7 and Columbus.

As I was approaching Beer Review #200 here at the Tap Takeover, I wanted make it a special beer, like I did for Beer Review #100 (Saison Dupont). One of my favorite breweries just celebrated three years, so the confluence of events brings me to Eye of the Storm Category 3, a Triple New England IPA brewed by Jersey Cyclone to celebrate three years in business.

I was able to attend the celebration, despite the awful weather. Jan and his crew were planning on doing an outdoor party, but pouring rain forced festivities inside. Although I arrived early, the brewery filled up pretty quickly. With 16 taps in the main taproom, they were pouring variants, like their Hefeweizen, “Life in the Clouds” with Raspberry added. I stuck to some more of the main non-variant offerings like this new beer.

I’ve highlighted Jersey Cyclone fairly often here on the Triple T, in reviews, monthly six packs, as well as the brewery feature. I grab four packs frequently as regular rotation beers (Touchdown, the Munich Dunkel; Rewal, their Polish Pilsner; and Beach Blonde Helles Lager to name a few) So clearly, I enjoy their beer. It doesn’t hurt that they are literally around the block from where I work and not too far from home. I’m a big fan of their lagers because of their incredibly consistent flavors and quality, but their flagship beer is Eye of the Storm Citra, a classic American IPA. For the third anniversary, Jan and his crew added Galaxy, Idaho 7, and Columbus hops into the fold to complement the ever-popular Citra Hop.

The beer I’m given is super-hazy. It appears more orange in the picture, but that’s down to the lighting because it is more of a yellow-orange, not dissimilar to orange juice. The head looks like frothy orange juice, as if just shaken before poured into the glass.

Hops waft off the beer and into my nose, giving me a hint of things to come. The first sip is a blast of hops, but not palate-wrecking. I’ve had enough palate-wrecking IPAs in my life and this beer is incredibly smooth and balanced. The Citra stands out, but I get some additional tropical hints, possibly from the Galaxy. At least some elements of Eye of the Storm Category 3 resonates with the Galaxy Hopped beers I’ve had in the past. The Columbus hops are a classic hop that brings some piney elements, balancing out the tropical elements from the Citra and Galaxy.

The overall flavor is of juicy, tropical hops, and maybe a little peachiness? One of the most impressive characteristics of this beer is how well masked the high ABV of 12% is. Like the hop profile, the alcohol element isn’t overpowering and even barely noticeable. Like I said of Jersey Cyclone’s Black Forest Cake in last month’s six pack, I can definitely understand why this beer is not served in large/pint sized glasses (even though it is sold in pint cans!)

I also want to call out the new can label designs Jersey Cyclone has implemented with this beer and their renamed Maibock. It really stands out and there’s a very strong sense of branding on the beer, with an outline of a large cyclone and the beer logo top center.

JerseyCyclone_3rdAnniversaryCans

Congratulations to Jan, Brian, Charles, Taylor, and the whole crew at Jersey Cyclone on 3 years of brewing delicious beers! You all should be proud of the beers you’ve been making, including this flavorful, balanced, hoppy delight. I can only, highly recommend fellow craft beer enthusiasts like myself visit the brewery.

As for Eye of the Storm Category Three: Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.

JerseyCyclone_EyeCat3

Beer Review: Revolution Brewing’s Straight Jacket Barleywine

Name: Straight Jacket
Brewing Company: Revolution Brewing Company
Location: Chicago, IL
Style: Barleywine – English
ABV: 15% (2021 canning date)

A world class Barleywine, comfortably on the  proverbial Barleywine “Mount Rushmore.”

Revolution_StraightJacket

From Revolution Brewing’s landing page for the beer:

Our Barleywine Ale features American and Belgian malts which provide the base of this extraordinary ale. After 12 months in bourbon barrels the award-winning Straight Jacket® emerges with notes of stone fruit, toasted coconut, molasses, and vanilla coming in waves as you swirl the glass. Enjoy now or store cold.

Barleywines have become one of my favorite styles over the past couple of year. #BarleywineIsLife or #BiL after all. Unfortunately there aren’t that many being brewed, packaged, and made available in my market. Occasionally, some of the local breweries will brew a barleywine in small a batch, but I don’t think I need to get beyond one hand in counting how many breweries in NJ brew barleywines in batches intended for distribution or beyond small batches.

Enter Revolution Brewing out of Chicago. Unfortunately, I’ve only really seen their IPAs in stores around me here in Central Jersey. Enter the online beer reseller Tavour. Tavour is where my wife purchased all those awesome out-of-region beers for my 20th Anniversary. Revolution has supplanted Goose Island over the last few years as the local/craft brewery of Chicago and their big booze bombs are highly regarded, including Straight Jacket, a Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine which is part of Revolution’s “Deep Woods” series. When I saw this pop up on Tavour, I had to have it.

The beer pours from the 12oz can into the glass smoothly. The color is murky brown, what I’d imagine liquified caramelized sugar or toffee might resemble and as I pass the snifter in front of my nose, the bourbon elements make me smile.

The first sip brings strong burnt sugar to mind, hints of toffee, and aggressive malts. The first word that comes to mind for this beer is smooth…everything about it is delightfully, sinfully, sumptuous, and smooth.

As the beer warms, the sweet elements become more prominent as does the barrel character. The bourbon elements could easily overpower the entire beer and drown out the malt and hops, but here in Straight Jacket the name of the game is accentuation. Each flavor element (hops, malt, barrel) enhances the other elements to a wonderful and delightful degree.

I haven’t had as many Barleywines as I’ve had stouts or lagers. I’m just shy of 40 Barleywines according to untappd. That said, without hesitation I can say that the 2021 canning of Revolution Brewing’s Straight Jacket is one of the best Barleywine Ales I’ve ever had.

Highest recommended possible, link to 4.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Man Skirt Brewing’s Quadrupel Take

Name: Quadrupel Take
Brewing Company: Man Skirt Brewing
Location: Hackettstown, NJ
Style: Belgian Quadrupel
ABV: 13%

An extremely tasty and impressive interpretation of the monstrous Belgian Ale.

ManSkirt_QuadrupelTake

From the untappd entry for the beer:

Clocking in a whopping 13% ABV, our Belgian Quad is deceptively easy drinking. Golden in color, it’s rich and malty but without the cloying sweetness that can overpower a beer this strong.

Man Skirt Brewing is one of the “Hackettstown Trio” of breweries and a central brewery along the Skylands Ale Trail. Like Angry Erik Brewing, I visited Man Skirt for the first time during the 2017 Birthday Brewery tour. On the first leg of the journey through the Ale Trail with my friends, Man Skirt was the second brewery we visited. I’d visited a few times in the past and, by and large, I’ve enjoyed their beer and always found the folks at the brewery to be very friendly and welcoming. I don’t see too many Belgian Quadrupels on draft at the smaller/local breweries so I knew I had to try this one. Plus a friend on untappd gave the beer a very high rating.

The beer I’m handed is slightly more translucent and not quite a dark brown as I’d expect from a Quadrupel. The aroma is there, though.

That first sip…is quite impressive and flavorful. The beer delivers what I hope an expect from a Belgian Quadrupel. My impression is that this is a flavor-filled beer and quite sweet. The yeast evokes tastiness like stone fruits, like plum? and caramelized banana. Like the best Quadrupels, this beer is quite complex. What I find most surprising is that, despite a 13% ABV, it wasn’t as boozy as I’d expect. Don’t get me wrong, I noticed the alcohol presence especially as less and less of the beer was in my glass, but it wasn’t an overpowering hit of alcohol.

This is the biggest beer I’ve had from Man Skirt, out of the dozen or so I’ve had and it was maybe the best I’ve had, too. While I liked their pilsner, Czechs and Balances for its clean, straight-forward flavor profile, I like the complexity here in Quadrupel Take. My point here is that Joe Fisher and his crew at Man Skirt can make quality beer across a range of styles, and high quality in two of the more complex styles to brew.

I don’t know how often Man Skirt brews this beer, but it is worth seeking out when they do brew it.

Highly recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Angry Erik Brewing’s Two-Shoe Brew

Name: Two-Shoe Brew
Brewing Company: Angry Erik Brewing
Location: Hampton Twp, NJ
Style: English Bitter
ABV: 6%

A classic English pub-style ale that has excellent flavor whose relatively low ABV encourages multiple pints.

AngryErik_TwoShoe_Draft

From the Beer Description on untappd:

This copper ale is named for our late dog Brewer who loved to carry a shoe or two around the house! A fruity aroma (sweet cereal malt & subtle citrus), typical of traditional English-style amber ales complement a crisp, refreshing body with nutty/biscuity flavors and a lightly bitter Australian hop finish.

Angry Erik Brewing has been part of the New Jersey Craft Beer scene for 8 years, they were a stop on one of the early Birthday Brewery Tours (2017), which is when I made my first visit. Since then, owners Heidi and Erik have moved to a purpose-built production facility a few miles down the road with a spacious taproom and greater capacity of beers on tap. I visited recently since they are part of the Skylands Ale Trail and knew I had to finally give one of their beers a full review, but what beer in particular? Well, I figured I’d go for a style I typically don’t have and since this beer is named in honor of an old family dog, Brewer (whose handsome picture greets visitors to Angry Erik’s web site and graces the can art below), I had my candidate. After tasting a pint on site, I knew I’d want to tak some home

Two-Shoe Brew is an English Bitter and directly aligned with Angry Erik’s focus on English and German style beers. The can calls this a “Copper Ale” or “English Style Amber Ale” which is essentially an English Bitter. As I said, I haven’t had too many English Bitters, a few Extra Special Bitters (including the fantastic ESB from Odd Bird Brewing), but it isn’t one of the more prevalent beer styles in these times.

The beer I’m handed looks exactly like a beer I’d expect to be served in an English pub or an American interpretation of an English pub. First sip is very pleasing, mostly sweet malts.

I was enjoying this beer with friends at the brewery and it was the perfect beer to start the day. It has a prominent flavor of malts, mild bitterness, and some welcome fruit evocation from the hops. All these elements hit every button on my palate extremely well. It wasn’t a knock your taste buds out of your mouth kind of beer, but one that fits the mold of “beer flavored beer.” I’d love to try this on cask for the full English/British effect.

We had the opportunity to speak with co-owner and head brewer Heide quite a bit during the visit, she was able to help us out with our Skylands Ale Trail passports and despite the growing crowd at the brewery spent time with us, talked about the beers amongst other things. While my friends were settling their tabs, I was chatting with her husband, Erik about the brewery’s new facility which has a spacious loft that I think was being used that day for a private event. The main floor of the brewery was very welcoming and reminiscent of a Viking or Danish beer hall you might see (though much more clean, less bloody, and less profane) on The Last Kingdom or Vikings. Outside, plenty of seats were available around the building with firepits to warm people in cooler weather.

I’ve visited over 50 of the 130+ breweries in New Jersey and Heide and Erik rank near the top of the list of the nicest, most welcoming people in the NJ Craft Beer Scene. A brewery worth visiting for the tasty beers and a brewery whose welcoming atmosphere makes you want to stick around for more than just one pour.

As for the beer under review – Two-Shoe Brew – I was extremely pleased with the beer, which I found to be elegant and straightforward. Not too fancy, just a tasty beer. I think what speaks to my enjoyment of the beer the most: I liked it so much I was compelled to bring home some for my fridge.

Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

AngryErik_TwoShoe_Can