Beer Review: Better Maize Ahead by Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company

Name: Better Maize Ahead
Brewing Company: Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company
Location: Croydon & New Hope, PA
Style: Cream Ale
ABV: 4.4%

Happy Anniversary to Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company and cheers to a fantastic Cream Ale!

NCBC_BetterMaize_Can

From Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company’s landing page for the beer:

The classic American Cream Ale is dear to our hearts and quite frankly, we miss having one around but we’re moving forward! Better Maize Ahead fills that void as a crisp and refreshing relative of the American Light Lager. Brewed with flaked maize and gently hopped with Hallertau for a delicate floral finish. You’ll find this to have a soft mouthfeel with a subtle, sweet cereal character and notes of corn pops. You’ll be feeling equally optimistic when you pour yourself one of these.

This year (2022), Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company celebrated 10 years of brewing and selling tasty beer. To honor the milestone, the brewery did a minor rebranding, slightly modifying the name stamp and upping their can art game.

NCBC_BMA

I knew I wanted to highlight one of their beers here at the Tap Takeover, but with such an interesting and diverse portfolio, I wasn’t sure which beer it would be. As of this post, I’ve had 20 of their beers and I’ve enjoyed just about all of them. I visited the main brewery in Croydon a couple of times, too. I’d been pondering which of their beers to feature for a while especially since they hit the 10-year mark, actually, so when my wife and I took a quick drive down to New Hope, PA, where Neshaminy Creek has a tap room, I figured I’d give Better Maize Ahead a try. I’d been wanting to drink and feature an unfettered* Cream Ale for a while now, and the two thoughts converged with this beer and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

*unfettered in that there are no adjuncts, additional flavor elements, or barrel aging like the other Cream Ales I’ve reviewed

Cream Ales are one the few truly American styles of beer. Originating in the 1840s, the Cream Ale is an Ale that is very similar to a lager, it has the same kind of crispness, refreshing nature, mild sweetness and look. Although some Cream Ales may have lager yeast for cold conditioning, most Cream Ales are just that, Ales. Where this makes a Cream Ale perhaps more appealing to a brewer is the reduced fermentation time for an Ale (two to four weeks compared to the 6-8 weeks for a Lager). As the beer is an American style, Corn (specifically flaked corn) is often used as the grain to lighten the beer, which is where Neshaminy Creek drew inspiration for the name of this beer.

Enough of the history lesson on Cream Ales, let’s get on to Better Maize Ahead.

The day we visited the NCBC New Hope taproom, it was quite warm (as it has been for most of August this past summer) and my wife and I had walked up and down Main Street in New Hope so we both worked up a bit of a sweat. I follow the brewery on social media and I was intrigued about this beer and I wanted something light, refreshing and beer flavored and was hoping this beer would be on tap. Also, John Holl (of all the beer podcasts and one of the people behind Defend Pilsner) always extolls the virtues of the Cream Ale. Hell, his likeness adorns a can cream ale from his co-conspirator’s brewery.

I ordered a full pint of this beer (only $5!) and took my first sip and dammit if this beer wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered, as the saying goes. Pure refreshment. It was all I could do not to chug the beer in two gulps, but I wanted to enjoy the beer in all its glory and get a sense of the full flavor profile.

There’s a sweet malt element that is extremely appealing with a very mild, barely noticeable hop element – that minimal, soft hoppiness is a feature, not a bug. There’s a hint of corn or sweet cereal on the finish that makes for a very well-rounded, balanced flavor profile on the beer.

NCBC_BetterMaize_Draught

Better Maize Ahead is elegant, simple, straight-forward and quite flavorful for a beer this low in ABV and under 5%. I was so impressed with the beer I looped back around to the brewery after a short jaunt through the indoor market and grabbed a six pack to put in my poolside cooler. Quite simply, this is a fun beer that will please most beer drinkers.

Recommended, link to 4/4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Cream of the Crop (Level 7)

A relative of the American light lager style, cream ales are crisp, golden brews, often finished with the addition of lager yeast for a lighter body. That’s 35 different beers with the style of Cream Ale.

NCBC_BetterMaize_Can

Beer Review: Heavy Reel Brewing’s SKELLINATOR

Name: SKELLINATOR
Brewing Company: Heavy Reel Brewing Company
Location: Seaside Heights, NJ
Style: Bock – Dopplebock
ABV: 7.2%

The Jersey Shore brewery known for sours churns out a tasty classic German Lager.

HeavyReel_Skellinator

I’ve reviewed a couple of beers that were a collaboration between Heavy Reel Brewing and another brewery, but this is the first all Heavy Reel beer getting the review feature here at the Tap Takeover. My wife, myself and a few others made our annual trip down to Chegg’s in Long Beach Island, NJ and as has been custom, we stopped at a brewery on the way home. This year, we stopped at Heavy Reel Brewing in Seaside Heights since it was just off the Garden State Parkway about 20 miles north of the LBI exit.

Heavy Real has been around for a few years (since 2018), they are best known for their hop-forward beers and sour beers. That said, I will often spotlight a beer slightly askew from a brewery’s core or flagship beer. Thus, I’m reviewing Heavy Reel’s take on the classic, malty, German lager.

The beer I’m given is murky brown in the classic Germanic, dimpled mug. A thick light khaki head sat atop the brownish-caramel colored beer. Although it isn’t as translucent as I’d expect from a doppelbock, it looks the part. Maybe this is an unfiltered beer?

The beer has a very sweet, almost chocolatey taste at the outset. A very appealing first impression that makes me glad I ordered a full pour of the beer. Skellinator also has a very pleasant caramel element, also from the malt. There’s a slight bite on the end that reminds of perhaps the most well-known American doppelbock, Tröegs Troegenator.

Most doppelbocks have the -ator as a “calling card” to the style and an homage to the first Dopplebock brewed, Paulaner’s Salvator. With a skeleton being Heavy Reel’s mascot, thus we have the name “SKELLINATOR.”

I had a couple of other beers while I was at the brewery, two sours which were tasty, but the Dopplebock stood out to me. It is an extremely well-made lager and when I complemented the beertender on the beer, he noted that it was his favorite beer, or at least one of his favorites from the brewery.

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

Beer Review: Sixpoint Brewing’s Super Raspy

Name: Super Raspy
Brewing Company: Six Point Brewing Company
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Style: Sour – Fruited Gose
ABV: 8.3%

The Brooklyn-based brewery known for hop-forward beers crafts a tasty, tart, fruited German-inspired ale.

SixPoint_SuperRaspy

From Sixpoint Brewing’s landing page for the beer:

A lush, juicy burst of tart raspberry blitzes the tastebuds –like an ELECTRIC BLAST OF BERRY FLAVOR and aroma! In Super Raspy, loads of raspberries and a touch of milk sugar have their powers combined for a mouthwatering, super tasty brew.

Sixpoint is one of the great, historical northeast craft breweries. They were one of the foundational Brooklyn craft breweries. Founded 2004, they’ve been crafting hop aggressive beers which were immediately recognizable for their thinner cans. In other words, the potent hop nature, strong branding, and unique cans helped the brewery to stand out from other beers on the shelves. Fast forward to 2018 and Sixpoint was acquired by Artisanal Brewing Ventures, the family office-backed holding company formed in early 2016 via the merger of Victory Brewing and Southern Tier. Sixpoint has mostly stuck to their core beers from what I’ve seen, but the last year or two more experimental, or rather beers outside their core brews, seemed to emerge. Super Raspy is one of those beers,

Outisde of their Core beers, Sixpoint has been brewing and distributing beers in what they call the “Infinite Loop” series, which is where this beer sits in their portfolio, which is where this beer sits in Sixpoint’s line-up. What we have here is a beer that amounts to an imperial Gose. What makes it imperial? The ABV at 8.3%, whereas a Gose will typically be floating under 5%. Like many modern Goses, or interpretation of the Gose style, Sixpoint made this beer with fruit, specifically Raspberry.

There’s a tangy funky aroma to the beer, which I’ve come to expect from the Gose style. Raspberry is the most potent element of this beer on the first sip, including the tartness associated with the fruit. The funk that typically crosses my palate in a Gose is present in Super Raspy.

Where this differs from many other Goses I’ve had, especially the more traditional take on the style, is the addition of lactose, or milk sugar, which seems to be one of the most popular adjuncts in brewing. Thankfully, lagers are about the only style where I haven’t seen Lactose added. As for Super Raspy, the “touch of” lactose is a nice sweet counterbalance to the tartness of the Gose style as well as the tartness of the raspberries.

As the picture might suggest, I enjoyed this beer on a hot day next to my pool which was an ideal way to enjoy this refreshing ale.

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

Beer Review: Bull ‘N Bear’s Alternative Investments

Name: Alternative Investment
Brewing Company: Bull N Bear Brewery
Location: Summit, NJ
Style: Altbier
ABV: 5.5%

Bull n Bear crafted a nice, malty easy drinking and flavorful German Ale.

BullnBear_AltInv

I was in Summit, NJ recently for a few things and knowing I was going to be in Summit, one of those things was visiting Bull ‘n Bear Brewery. I was quite happy with the beer I had when the brewery first opened and a subsequent visit, so I was happy to give their beer another try. Altbier (literally, “Old Beer” in German) is not exactly a popular style in today’s “craft” beer landscape. Northeast brewery Long Trail’s “Long Trail Ale” is one of the few more widely available interpretations of the style so I was excited to see “Alternate Investment” on draft.

Altbiers are predominant in the Düsseldorf region of Germany and are one of the few German styles not a lager (Hefeweizen and Dunkelweizen being the others). Often characterized by a maltiness, some sweetness, and maybe some hop character, the color is often reddish brown or even copper. An English Brown Ale is a somewhat close equivalent, but the malts in the Altbier will stand out as a major differentiator from my experience.

On to the beer under review, Alternative Investments from Bull N Bear Brewery…

I’m given a brownish-reddish beer that is cold to the touch. Slight aroma, but nothing that would set it apart from other beers I’ve had. First sip is smooth and malty.

There’s a slight sweetness from the malt, the kind of tastiness that makes you want to drink the beer very quickly. I get notes of caramel and hints of vanilla, two flavors that complement each other very well. As such, those flavors work well in this beer. Maybe a hint of chocolate, as well as slight fruitiness. It isn’t over carbonated and at a nice ABV of 5.5% make for a beer that delivers on flavor, but won’t knock you over the head with booziness All in all, a really tasty, flavorful profile of the beer.

Recommended, link to 3.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Originating from Germany, the Altbier, or old beer, uses the old school brewing style of top fermentation and is left to condition for longer than normal. That’s 10 different beers with the style of Altbier. .

BullnBear_Badge

Beer Review: Last Wave Brewing’s Surfer’s Blood

Name: Surfer’s Blood
Brewing Company: Last Wave Brewing Company & Heavy Reel Brewing Company
Location: Point Pleasant, NJ
Style: Sour – Berliner Weisse
ABV: 5.1%

An outstanding sour ale, whose name, flavor, and the breweries who made it scream summer.

LastWave_Surfer'sBlood

Last Wave says this about the beer:

Raspberry Lemonade Berliner Weisse

This kettle-soured weiss bier is tart, fruity, and red with the help of some raspberry and lemon puree (none of our actual blood), making this a refreshing adult beverage ripe for enjoyment at the Jersey Shore. Brewed in collaboration with our friends at Heavy Reel Brewing Co.

Last Wave recently celebrated their fifth anniversary and did a slight rebranding of their logo / can art aesthetic and released a couple of collaboration beers. Although I missed those beers, I’d been keeping an eye on Last Wave’s releases and saw an intriguing Instagram post announcing the re-release of this beer, Surfer’s Blood. With the summer in full swing, I wanted something sweet, tart, and with some fruit element to the beer; Surfer’s Blood fit that criteria perfectly.

The beer that pours into my glass from the can is pinkish in color and could easily pass as pink lemonade. That makes sense given the Last Wave labels this as a “Raspberry Lemonade Sour.” Aroma is a little bit of that raspberry lemonade, too.

I take a sip and I’m delighted. This is damned tasty beer. There’s a lot of tart and tanginess from the raspberries and lemons/lemonade, but enough carbonation and maltiness to keep this in the beer category. The tartness / sour elements also come from the yeast that gives a Berliner Weisse (even without adjuncts) its characteristic funky profile.

You’ve got two shore breweries collaborating on this beer, you’ve got “surfer” in the title, a surfing skeleton on the label, and delicious refreshing fruity flavor (specifically lemonade, maybe the most iconic summer beverage) in the beer. Yeah, this is a great summer beer. It has been a popular seasonal for Last Wave and I can taste why. I had a second can on a warm Sunday afternoon lounging in my pool after some yard work and the beer tasted even better and went down much more quickly in gulps, rather than sips. Maybe the only better place/way to enjoy this beer is on the beach.

I love the can art, it speaks to the horror junkie in me with the bloody skeleton, which is kind of the mascot of Heavy Reel brewing. the new “branding” Last Wave kicked off in May, which put a nice “frame” around the art topped off with Last Wave’s surf board logo brings the eye-popping design together. Surfer’s Blood is very appealing both from the taste and packaging,  if you saw this beer on the shelf and wanted a sweet summer crusher, you’d have to pick up at least a four-pack.

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

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Ich Bin Ein Berliner (Level 6)

The classic Berliner Weisse is crisp, cloudy, and sour. Once the most popular beer style in Berlin, it’s gained notoriety and popularity around the globe making us all proud to be Berliners. That’s 30 different beers with the style of Berliner Weisse.

LW_SurfersBlood

Beer Review: Notch Brewing’s Tenner

Name: Tenner
Brewing Company: Notch Brewing
Location: Brighton, Boston, MA | Salem, MA
Style: Pilsner – Czech / Czech Pale Lager
ABV: 4%

The best Pilsner I’ve ever had, the best Lager I’ve ever had. Perfect.

Notch_TennerDraft

Notch Brewing says this about Tenner Pilsner:

Why Desítka (or “Tenner”)? It is the density of the beer previous to fermentation (10 degrees Plato), and that yields a 4% ABV beer. Too much info, I know. But it is session beer. A SESSION PILSNER. They really do exist, in spite of what the beer expert tells you.

Also, this humble beer challenges notions that a lower ABV lager is simple in character or easy to produce. It is quite the opposite. A triple decoction of Czech floor malted barley takes 11 hours in the brewhouse, and a long cold fermentation and lagering time takes another 7 weeks (while it also naturally carbonates). This yields a delicate beer with a depth of character that begs you for one more, but it never fatigues the palate and always excites it.

Notch Brewing is widely regarded as one of the best brewers of Czech and German Lagers in the country. In fact, Notch Brewing was just awarded Best Brewery Award (2022) by Boston Magazine. When I had a little bit of time after a long conference and day from NJ to Boston, I thought to myself, “Hey, why not visit Notch?” So I did.

Strolling into the bierhall, I had some tough choices to make because I wanted to try just about every beer on their taplist. I settled on this beer, Tenner as my first beer. I later had Tmavy (Czech Dark Lager) and Notch’s Altbier, both of which were superb. But this review post is about Tenner.

The pour….is perfection in a mug. Look at that picture above, just a beautiful beer with a thick head atop a bright yellow-gold beer. Tenner was poured just as you’d expect in Plzeň (Pilsen to us Americans) in the Czech Republic, the country that consumes the most beer per capita and where Pilsner was born. Tenner more than looks the part

The aroma is inviting, but honestly, it smells like beer. Perhaps the most fresh and vibrant beer that passed under my nose…as if every other Pilsner or Pale Lager seeks to evoke this aroma.

First sip is pure heaven. I get a little bit of foam in that first sip, but the beer itself is everything I could hope to have in a Pilsner beer. The beer is quite soft and pillowy, pure delight. The malts of the beer are evoking sweet bread and sweet grains. There’s a slight fruity sweetness from the malt, too, which is very welcome. Many Pilsners have a sweet element, but here in Tenner that sweetness is perfectly dialed in and balances with the slight bitterness from the hops. The finish on this beer is maybe the best finish of any lager I’ve ever had.

Notch_TennerCan

I decided to bring a four pack of Tenner home with me. There was no real noticeable difference in quality between the beer poured on draft and the beer out of my can into my Defend Pilsner mug. Well, the feel of the beer might have been slightly different because of the Czech faucet Notch employs at the brewery for their pours, but the flavor and taste – are of the same exemplary quality.

While this beer style is considered a Pilsner by many, the Czechs call it simply a “Pale Lager.” Frankly, whatever the label, the quality is delicious perfection. As of this post, I’ve had a meager 128 different pilsners since joining untappd in 2014. Not as many as some, but quite a lot more Pilsners than the most of my friends in my “beer circles.” In other words, I’ve had my fair share of Pilsners and feel comfortable to judge the quality of the style. Which all leads to my final statement on Tenner: without hesitation, I can say this is the best Pilsner (or Pale Lager as our friends in the Czech Republic and Notch might say), I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.

Recommended, link to 5 bottle cap untappd rating check in. | Can at home.

Notch_TennerDraft

Beer Review: Wet Ticket’s Tastes Like the Tropics Mango Wheat Ale

Name: Tastes Like the Tropics Mango Wheat Ale
Brewing Company: Wet Ticket Brewing
Location: Rahway, NJ
Style: Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat
ABV: 4.7%

Wet Ticket Brewing releases another delicious summer/warm weather wheat ale, with the perfect amount of mango.

WetTicket_TastesLIkeTropics

From the untappd page for the beer:

The name, “Tastes Like The Tropics,” really says it all. An enticing upfront Mango aroma leads to a very pleasantly balanced and refreshing beer. Kudos to all the people who provided their input as we went through three “Test Ticket,” versions in order to help us finalize the recipe. We think you nailed it.

Playing off their popular Tastes Like Summer – Watermelon Wheat beer, Wet Ticket introduced this beer, Tastes Like The Tropics – Mango Wheat Ale in the Spring of 2022. Well, more properly, Tim Pewitt and his crew released the final version to the public at that time. Wet Ticket does several test batches in their brewery known as Test Tickets, where they ask for feedback from their patrons. One of the final products of those “Test Tickets” is this sweet and well-balanced beer perfect for warm weather. Let’s unpack that a bit.

The base beer is a “Pale Wheat Ale” in other words, an Americanized Hefeweizen. I’ve had, and thoroughly enjoyed, Wet Ticket’s Hefweizen so the beer is off to a good start, at least in theory. For me, a Hefeweizen is an ideal summer beer, with the balance of clove and banana flavors from the yeast. The addition of Mangoes only amps up the summer feel of this brew.

Pouring the beer from the can into my Wet Ticket glass, I like what I see. I get some aroma of mango, a fruit I enjoy quite a lot. I drink a lot of juice and one I like is called “Mongo Mango” and this beer bears a strong resemblance to that juice with the bright, inviting orange-yellow color. The big difference is the beer is slightly translucent.

First sip is sweetness, a pleasant tropical sweetness from the mango maybe a little bit from the yeast. Mango is a little thicker than most fruits, or rather the juice from a mango has a thicker consistency, if my aforementioned “Mongo Mango” is an indication. That comes through slightly in the beer, but the flavor of the mango shines very nicely. I appreciate that it is strong and present, but not overpowering. That shows great care in crafting the beer and why Tim and his crew go through iterations of their “Test Tickets” before making the beer a more wide release.

Tastes Like The Tropics – Mango Wheat Ale is a quintessential summer beer and a nice companion to Wet Ticket’s hugely popular Watermelon Wheat. Tastes Like The Tropics – Mango Wheat Ale was one of the beers I had in my cooler for the annual summer family party and it didn’t last long, I had to squirrel away a can for myself so to ensure I tried it and I’m very glad I did.

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

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.