Draught Diversions: Oktoberfest 2022 Six Pack

September means Oktoberfest is truly upon us, despite breweries and liquor stores trying to sell us the dark, malty lagers (Festbiers and Märzens) in July! I’ve gone one about seasonal creep in the past, but it seems earlier and earlier that beers appear outside of their designated season. My standard preamble on the differences between Festbiers and Märzens: Märzens typically have an ABV starting at around 6% ABV and are a little “heavier” while Festbiers are generally lower in alcohol and more “sessionable” in the 5% to 6% ABV range. I like them both. Most of the beers you’d find in Germany during the festival would actually be Festbiers, while those with the “Oktoberfest” moniker are mostly the American-ized versions.

SixPack_2022_Oktoberfest

I’ve tried to highlight a variety of Oktoberfest offerings this year, three Festbiers and three Märzens. I’ve also highlighted local (NJ), regional micro (PA & NY), a more widely distributed regional (VT), and a German brewery. What I’m saying is some thought went into the Oktoberfest beers I featured in 2022.

On to the Six Pack!

Festus Haggen (Festbier) | Ashton Brewing Company | Middlesex, NJ | 5.9% ABV

Ashton_Festus

Ashton has been making great Lagers since they opened in March 2020 so it shouldn’t be a surprise they brewed a great Festbier. I had a taste of this a couple of years ago and was very impressed. Although they call it a Festbier, it had a bit more malt and felt more like a Märzen. Either way, it was quite tasty, so I may have to get a six pack of it this year.

What Ashton Brewing says about the beer:

Festus Haggen is a traditional Festbier like what would be served at Oktoberfest. It is a golden lager with notes of bready malt and herbal hops. A mild sweetness and a hint of bitter balance to make this one to drink by the liter. Prost!

Märzen/Eiszäpfle (Märzen) | Badische Staatsbrauerie Rothaus | Baden-Württemberg, Germany | 5.6% ABV

RothausMarzen

Rothaus makes one of the absolute best German Pilsners in the world so of course they make an excellent Märzen. I remember being extremely pleased to find this one on tap at a great beer bar a couple of years ago and this is the first year I can remember seeing bottles of this one on shelves. It is well worth seeking out. Just look at the bottle, it screams Germen Authenticity!

What Rothaus says about the beer:
Here we introduce you to the Rothaus Eiszäpfle. The best barley malt from southern Germany, spring-fresh brewing water and the famous aromatic hops from Tettnang and the Hallertau characterize the full-bodied taste of this beer. A higher original wort and a rather mild hopping ensure the distinctive, malty note.

The term “March” should also be mentioned. Beers of this type of brewing are traditionally brewed more heavily, since brewing was only allowed in the months from September to April. A longer-lasting beer was thus produced in March, which also survived the five months without a brewing process.

Bierstiefel (Festbier) | Three 3’s Brewing | Hammonton, NJ | 5.7% ABV

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Three 3’s is based in Hammonton, NJ, which is a hub for quite a few NJ breweries. I’ve had and enjoyed the handful of beers from them, so I imagine their take on the classic Festbier is quite tasty.

What Three 3’s says about the beer:

The literal translation of Das Boot! Premium German malt and hops combine with our house lager yeast for this harmonious expression of all that is festive. Medium bodied, subtly sweet and crushable, a beer to be enjoyed amongst friends. Prost!

High Brau (Festbier) | Torch & Crown Brewing Company | New York, NY | 4.8% ABV

TorchCrown_HighBrau

I’ve been hearing good things Torch & Crown, especially from Al Gattullo on his craft beer cast. Their beer is starting to creep over the Hudson River into NJ stores so I will definitely have to sample some in the near future. Maybe it will be this one?

Torch & Crown says this about the beer:

Highbrow and lowbrow…that’s our game. Like us, these two beers aren’t fussy, exclusive, complicated, or unapproachable. High Brau is our tribute to a traditional bavarian festbier, with a nutty, lightly sweet aroma and smooth, malty finish. The perfect beer to usher in the end of summer.

Oktoberfest (Märzen) | Workhorse Brewing Company | King of Prussia, PA | 5.4% ABV

Workhorse_Oktoberfest

Workhorse Brewing entered the NJ market last year through a distribution agreement with Cape Beverage and I immediately tried their delicious Helles Lager. I’m hoping this Märzen makes it to shelves around me.

What Workhorse says about the beer:

This Oktoberfest offering is inspired by the traditional ingredients and methods associated with a German Märzen. Flavorful Vienna and Munich malts are blended together in a decoction mash to produce a beer rich in toasted bread notes. An extended lagering phase and a touch of spicy German hops round the beer into form.

Oktoberfest (Märzen) | Zero Gravity Craft Brewery | Stowe, VT | 5.4% ABV

ZeroGravity_Oktoberfest

Zero Gravity makes and outstanding Pilsner – Green State Lager, as well as many other beers. I’ve only had a couple, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. Their Oktoberfest looks quite tasty and the can art evokes the classic German bierhall. .

What Zero Gravity says about the beer:

German malts and hops along with a long lagering give this beer impeccable drinkability. The superb malt flavor is balanced by just a hint of hop bitterness.

I hope to try a couple of these beers this year. Are there any other Märzen or Festbiers I should try?

SixPack_2022_Oktoberfest

Draught Diversions: August 2022 Six Pack

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

SixPack_2022_August

This past August was one of the hottest and driest months in my memory. I think it rained for a collective 20 hours for the entirety of the month. Thankfully, the pool was cool and the beers were cold. Lots of older favorites were in the cooler this summer (Tonewood’s Lawn Boy was a constant), but there were plenty of new beers in August 2022. This month, all the beers were from New Jersey breweries, which hasn’t happened in a while.

Let’s crack open the August 2022 Six Pack …

NeuHaus (Untied Brewing Company) | Belgian Quadrupel | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Untied_Neuhaus

I was pretty close to Untied so of course I stopped in for a beer, why not, right? I was very happy with this tasty Belgian Quadrupel which did not feel like the high ABV it was. I had a version of this beer aged in Bourbon Barrels and I have to say that I enjoyed the unbarreled version more. I write this each time I feature a beer from Untied, but I am continually impressed with the quality of their beer across all styles.

Neon Limes (Kane Brewing Company) | Lager – American | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_NeonLime

All the breweries are brewing a take on the lime infused lager and with good reason – when made well, the beer can be extremely refreshing and tasty. Kane’s “Neon Lime” is their standard “Neon Glow” lager with lime added and is a great summer beer. Very tasty with just enough lime.

Tropicology (Lone Eagle Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

LoneEagle_Tropicology (2)

My wife and I (and our friends around the block) went to Lone Eagle for a comedy night. Four comedians were featured and were very funny. The beer was pretty good, too. I had three and this beer was the standout. Lone Eagle has been making quite a lot of sour beers over the last couple of years and this one is very tasty, Pineapple, Banana and Apricot stood out to me, although Passionfruit, Orange, and Tangerine were also in the beer. Good stuff..

Vienna Lager (Triumph Brewery | Lager – Vienna | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Triumph_Vienna

Triumph is one of the first brewpubs in the State of New Jersey, going back to 1995. They’ve got locations three locations in the region. When our neighbors came over for a day of grilling and swimming, they brough over a growler of this Vienna Lager. It has been many, many, many years since I had any beer from Triumph so I was very delighted with this beer. A bit malty, a bit sweet, but altogether a solid, tasty lager..

Lights out Tonight (Carton Brewing Company) | IPA –- American| 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

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Carton calls this a “NJ IPA,” which means it includes NJ grown malt and a bit of “snark.” What does that actually mean for the beer in the glass? A very tasty, balanced, IPA. It drinks a little bit more New England than West Coast, but I really like the hop blend of Ella, Nelson, and especially the Galaxy. For me, Galaxy hops are often a standout and help to balance out some of the bitterness other hops may bring.

Heady Jams (Brix City Brewing) | IPA – Imperial / Double New England / Hazy | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

BrixCity_HeadyJams

Brix City is best know for Hazy IPAs, like this one which is part of their “Jams” series of beers. Each one seems to have a slightly different hop blend or is a collaboration with another brewery. Most of the “Jams” beers have at least Citra & Mosaic, this one has Galaxy, which as I noted in the previous beer, balances out the bitterness I usually get from Mosaic. Wheat and oats are added for a smooth, juicy beer. A top notch Hazy.

Only one beer stood out as completely undrinkable and it is one of the worst beers I’ve had over the last couple of years ago. I won’t say the name of the brewery because I’ve liked most other beers I’ve had from them – reviewed two of them, in fact! This was a “Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake IPA with other ‘natural flavors’” and was bad in every way possible.

SixPack_2022_August

Draught Diversions: July 2022 Six Pack

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

SixPack_2022_July

As readers of this blog know, July is a big beer month thanks to the annual family party on the Fourth of July. That will often bring even more new beers to me and July 2022 was no different. I also happened to visit a few different breweries in NJ this past month, and one in Massachusetts as I documented a couple of weeks ago. Just one non-NJ beer this month, but it was a milestone beer for me, at least on untappd. No IPAs this time around, just one lager, but a fruitful assortment of beers, if you well.

Let’s have at it, shall we?

Mad Love (Twin Elephant Brewing) | Farmhouse Ale – Saison | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

TwinElephant_MadLove

I was in the area of Twin Elephant so I made a long overdue stop at the brewery in Chatham. I wasn’t sure what I wanted because the taplist had quite a few appealing beers. I settled on this hefty (7.2%) Saison which was very earthy with a nice fruity balance. Although the Herd is more known for hop-bombs and stouts, this beer shows their skill at the art of the Saison quite well.

Cranberry Wheat (Hidden Sands Brewing Company) | Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

HiddenSands_CranWheat

This is the first beer from Hidden Sands I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying and it was a dandy. Cranberries are a great fruit to add into beer, particularly a wheat beer. There’s a really nice balance to the tartness of the fruit from the “heaps of NJ honey” added to the beer. I could drink this beer all day in the summer.

Bay Daze (Cape May Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

CapeMay_BayDaze_Tbl

I sometimes overlook Cape May because they are so large and their beers are ubiquitous throughout the State of New Jersey, but then bam! They brew a beer like Bay Daze to raise the bar for a sour ale. This isn’t the sourest of beers I’ve ever had, but it might be one of the more refreshing sour ales I’ve had. The classic pairing of cherry and lime is perfectly balanced and the sea salt just brings everything together. On top of that, the can art has a puppers on it.

Delirium Black Barrel Aged (Delirium – Huyghe Brewery | Belgian Strong Dark Ale | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Delirium_Black2500

I knew I was coming up on 2500 unique check-ins to untappd for a while and wanted to have a special beer for it, but didn’t know what it would be. When a co-worker gifted this to me, I knew and this is certainly a very interesting beer. The yeast of a Belgian ale is often the signature element and it plays some interesting notes with the barrel character. As it warms, the vanilla, oak, and bourbon elements emerge more potently.

The Juice is Worth the Squeeze: Blueberry, Raspberry, Lemon (Icarus Brewing) | Sour –- Fruited Berliner Weisse | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_JuiceSqueeze

Very shocking to see an Icarus beer here, I know. I did visit the brewery for their Canniversary in the middle of the month, so I had a few to choose from in July and went with this small batch Sour ale. Icarus does the Berliner Weisse style very well and this might be the best one I’ve had. I wonder if it will be a new “series” of the style. Either way, the blueberry is the star here, while the lemon is really nice on the finish. It was quite warm during the event at the brewery and this beer was a perfect cure for that heat.

Great Dane (Readington Brewery & Hop Farm) | Lager – Dortmunder/Export | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Readington_GreatDane

My dog Dusty is part Great Dane, so how do I not get a beer called “Great Dane” from my most local of local breweries? Fortunately, the beer was really tasty. Dortmunder Lagers are usually a little sweeter than say, a Helles Lager or Pilsner, but in the same family. Readington’s take on the style was very clean, dialed-in, and hit the spot. It is really nice to see this brewery making beer that continues to get better each time I visit.

All great beers and I could have made an additional 4-pack of new-to-me beers that were just about as equally excellent.

Draught Diversions: Reverse the “Special Ruling” by NJABC

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

I’ve written very often about the Beer Scene here in New Jersey, about what a great community it is, how the breweries are almost like an extended family. Well, legislation put forth on July 1 initiated sweeping changes for the craft beer community in New Jersey.

A special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control dictates that brewery licensees will be limited in the number of events they can host and attend every year.

Under the ruling, microbreweries are allowed to hold 25 on-site activities, like music, trivia, yoga, etc. annual in addition to 52 private parties. Breweries can also attend only 12 off-premises events, such as town and holiday celebrations. Before the unjust ruling, breweries could weren’t limited to the number of events they could hold. The definition of “Events” is fairly broad, and includes anytime they have television on, host a DJ regardless of the brewery advertising it.

Further, breweries cannot have food trucks on premise. For example, I’d guess Readington Brewery near me which is a purpose built brewery on a plot of land can’t have a food truck, but say, Jersey Cyclone whose brewery is in an industrial park and where Cyclone doesn’t own the property can have a food truck.

The restaurant lobbyists are the ones helping to push through this legislation, and have been seen as one roadblock to the growth of breweries in NJ for years, partially because liquor licenses in NJ are so expensive.

There’s a great article on tje Breweries in PA site, something of a “cousin” site to NJ Craft Beer: New Jersey Continues To Be The Armpit of America; Strips Breweries Down To Bare Bones.

More details can be found in this NorthJersey.com article.

StealThisBeerSqure

Steal this Beer from this past Monday (07/04/22) featured Scott Wells of Bolero Snort (Carlstadt, NJ) as their guest. Hosts Augie Carton (of Carton Brewing) and John Holl spoke with Scott about this ridiculous legislature.

xNhhrXTrCecKbIC-800x450-noPadOne way YOU can potentiall affect change is to sign the petition on Change.org, Reverse the “Special Ruling” by the NJABC. As of this post going live, the petition is nearing 2500 signatures.

The form letter below was posted on thr NJ Craft Beer site, please feel free to use when you write to your elected officials (Assemblypersons and Senators), who you can find here: NJ Legislature: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/district-map.

Dear ELECTED OFFICIAL

I am a resident and voter in (YOUR TOWN NAME), NJ. I spend a lot of my free time and hard-earned money patronizing the state’s local breweries with my friends and family because I am a big fan of locally-produced craft beer and the small businesses that brew it.

On Friday, July 1st, all of my local breweries were arbitrarily hit with a long list of anticompetitive restrictions on their license by the NJ Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (NJABC) which has drastically changed my ability to enjoy the atmosphere and offerings of my local breweries. These restrictions are anti-consumer and artificially tip the scales against brewers and the small businesses they’ve created.

Did you know: A brewery can get fined or lose their license if an international soccer tournament happens to come on the TV and nobody changes the channel immediately. Breweries have to choose between hosting my birthday party or someone’s wedding because they have a cap on private parties. Breweries can’t support the local Independence Day celebration or the Memorial Day parade because it counts as an extra “off-site event” that they might not have planned for. A brewery advertising the fact that their local coal fired pizza truck is slinging pies in the street can get the brewery shut down.

Breweries can’t donate a keg to a fundraiser in support of a children’s charity any more, or offer discounts to military veterans or volunteer firefighters who serve their community. Breweries can’t help arrange an outside caterer for a local high school reunion to have food to help their customers consume responsibly and dance the night away. Breweries can’t sell (or even give for free!) the designated driver a cup of coffee to enjoy while their friends responsibly partake in handcrafted ales and lagers. Isn’t that ridiculous?

In many towns, the local brewery as an anchor business is now limited in the events it can host that draw not only local consumers, but also out of town customers who spend their money in a myriad of ways that help the town. Towns that were dying have seen a revitalization driven by these local economic engines creating space, patronizing local artists, advertising not just their product but the experience of being in that town.

This creates fewer spaces for young artists looking to start or build their musical career. It not only disincentivizes local business collaboration, it actually penalizes it. One tenet of the regulations requires each employee to be Safe Serve certified, then strictly prohibits the two most critical components to ensuring the safe consumption of alcohol: food availability.

My local brewery brings people to my town, gives me a comfortable place to spend time with my family and friends, supports my community, and has increased our town’s ratables. It’s important to me that they are able to survive, and have the opportunity to thrive.

Big money interests from outside our community have their thumb on the scale but it’s important that you understand that the voters in your district like me, my family, and my neighbors value these brewers. These interests’ motives to protect their liquor license value should not stand in the way of your constituents like me from being able to enjoy my local brewery without these current restrictions.

I am asking that you support legislation codifying breweries’ ability to host events, donate beer, provide discounts to those who give back to their communities, and show whatever live television programming they (and their customers) wish. Permanent legislation will prevent attempts in the future to take away these valuable consumer-first protections and imposing unfair, anticompetitive edicts on small businesses.

I appreciate your consideration and support of our grassroots, consumer-first campaign to roll back these unfair rules and enact permanent legislative remedies.

Thank you

(FULL NAME)
(TOWNSHIP), NJ
YOUR PHONE/EMAIL

Draught Diversions: June 2022 Six Pack

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

SixPack_2022-June

June is in the books, which means 2022 is halfway over. How did that happen? Time waits for no person, as the saying goes, but sometimes we’ll wait for good beer. Fortunately, there’s plenty of good beer waiting for us to drink or specifically me to drink! June also marks one full year since Dusty joined our household/family and she is just a delight and joy to have in our lives. June also means summer and reliable summer crushers, but there’s always room for some big beers here and there. The six pack for June 2022 was 5 New Jersey beers and one New York beer, each of the six a different style

Unleashing the Six Pack for June 2022…

Blackpool (Conclave Brewing) | Mild – Other| 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

ConlaveBlackpool

I had some time on my hands so I stopped at Conclave to kick off the month. I’ve only had a few Mild Ales so I wanted to give this one a try and I was not disappointed in the least. While I haven’t had any “proper” British-made Mild Ales, this one has hints of coffee and caramel and made for an outstanding, simple, yet delicious beer

Quad Rainbow (Destination Unknown Brewing Company) | Belgian Quadrupel | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

DUBCO_QuadRainbow

This big beer comes courtesy of Tavour. While I haven’t had any beers made just by Destination Unknown, I’ve had a collaboration they brewed with Icarus. This beer; however, hits the quad elements of stone fruit like dates, but the whisky overpowers other yeast elements just a bit. Still, a very tasty beer.

Bourbon Barrel Driftwood – 2022 (Kane Brewing Company) | Brown Ale – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_Driftwood

A visit to Kane in May means I was able to stock up on a few brewery-only barrel aged beers like this outstanding Brown Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels. In addition, this beer was aged with Maple Syrup and Molasses lending a little more body to a style that is typically not a thick beer as well as some nice sweetness. To say this is one of the best Brown Ales I’ve ever had would probably be obvious, if you’ve been reading the Triple T for a while and know how I feel about Kane’s beers.

Thresh (Untied Brewing Company) | Belgian Tripel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Untied_Thresh

Every time I stop in at Untied, I’m impressed with the beer I have and this Belgian Tripel is no different. Thresh is a nice interpretation of the style and it was nice to share an early Father’s Day beer or two with my dad at the brewery. Untied is flying under the radar in the NJ beer scene and they really shouldn’t, their beers are well made across all styles.

Soft Focus (Tonewood Brewing) | Wheat Beer – Hefewizen | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Tonewood_SoftFocus

Tonewood recently expanded with a second location and increased production, this is one of the new beers they’ve recently brewed and canned. A fantastic interpretation of the original Hazy beer, this Hefeweizen leans more towards clove than banana. Something about a Hefeweizen in summer feels right to me and this beer hits that note really well.

Hoippu (Carton Brewing Company) | Pilsner – Other | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

CartonHoippu

Carton Brewing’s Global Pilsner game lands in Japan, with a Rice Pilsner and the Japanese Hops, Sorachi Ace. I had a pint of this while enjoying a dinner with my parents celebrating my wife and my anniversary on a perfect Summer evening. The beer is great, flavorful, and goes down the gullet very easily. Slight tang and spice from the hops make for a tasty and unique beer that exhibits the qualities of a pilsner.

Yet again, it wasn’t easy narrowing down the new beers to just six for the month of June 2022.

Here’s a snapshot of the last year with Dusty.

Draught Diversions: May 2022 Six Pack

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

SixPack_2022-May

May is really when the warm weather begins to settle into New Jersey and the lighter beers are filling up shelves and store displays. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t room for a big, boozy stout on occasion, as t b is month’s six pack proves! This month’s six pack is predominantly NJ Beer with one out of state beer influenced by something NJ Beer related. Although there are two IPAs, they are very different takes on the style so you could say six different styles comprise this month’s six pack.

On with the show…

The Patriot (Readington Brewery and Hop Farm) | IPA – American | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Readington_ThePatriot

The first new beer of the month was at the new local brewery, Readington Brewery and Hop Farm. I figured I would try their flagship IPA, which is 100% Centennial Hops (much like Bell’s Two Hearted) and it was pretty good! Drinking a freshly made beer where the hops are grown is a great way to enjoy your beer. In the background are the hop bines where their hops are grown. Glad this place is so close to home

Battle Hymn (Twin Elephant Brewing Company) | Pale Ale – American | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

TwinElephant_BattleHymn

My wife and I enjoyed a nice dinner at a local spot (The Landing in Hillsborough) with some good friends. The food is always good at this place and there are always some good NJ beers available, like this superb hoppy pale ale from the good folks of Twin Elephant out of Chatham, NJ. The hop blend here is the ever popular Citra, along with one of my favorites, Galaxy, as well as Callista. A smooth, fruity/tropical beer.

We Sink Together (Icarus Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited Gose | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_WeSinkTogether

With the warmer weather upon us, I was really in the mode for a Gose and as fate would have it, cans of this tart beer from Icarus happened to be on the shelf at my local Wegman’s. We Sink Together has Mangoes, as well as vanilla and toasted coconut to give the beer a pleasant tropical flavor. Pink Himalayan sea salt is added to give the beer the salinity which is a prime characteristic of a gose. A very tasty and refreshing beer.

Urgency of Now (Kane Brewing Company) | Stout – Imperial/Double | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_UrgencyNow

Urgency Now is another outstanding barrel-aged stout from Kane Brewing, but what sets apart is that all proceeds from the beer go to The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. The organization seeks to drive reform for social and racial justice in New Jersey. As always from Kane, a great beer but this one is for a great cause.

Pils (Heater Allen Brewing) | Pilsner – Germany | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

HeaterAllen_Pils recall hearing owner Lisa Allen being interviewed on the Steal this Beer podcast and the praise being heaped upon their Pilsner. When it became available through tavour, I wanted to try and I was immensely pleased. This beer is just about everything you’d want from a German-style pilsner.

Fjord Crosser (Angry Erik Brewing) | IPA – Belgian | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

AngryErik_FjordCrosser

Another trip up to Angry Erik to retrieve the sweatshirts for the Skylands Ale Trail means another new beer for me to try. I was in the mood for an IPA and a different one at that and Fjord Crosser hit the spot. This is a “Belgian” IPA meaning the yeast plays more of a role in the flavor profile. A great balance of flavors with mildly pleasant tropical and citrus elements from the hops

May was another month with a great variety of beers, I could have easily added another 3 beers to the best of the month, but we like to stick to some kind of structure here at the Tap Takeover.

Draught Diversions: April 2022 Six Pack

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

SixPack_2022-Apr

April was a fun month for beer as a few friends and I (with my ever-awesome wife taking cat-wrangling/driving duties) tackled the Skylands Ale Trail, which consists of 6 breweries in Warren and Sussex County. Alphabetically those breweries are Angry Erik Brewing, Buttzville Brewing Company, Czig Meister Brewing, Invertase Brewing Company, Jersey Girl Brewing, and Man Skirt Brewing Company. This past month, I’ve reviewed two beers I had during that journey across the breweries (Angry Erik and Man Skirt) and will feature a couple of beers from other breweries on the Skylands Ale Trail below.

One of the breweries (the last brewery we visited during the journey and a brewery I first visited back in 2017); however, shall not be named in this blog henceforth. This is despite the fact that I had a good beer during the visit. They shall not be named because the individual overseeing the taproom was extremely surly and rude to my wife and I. The overall vibe at this brewery was not too welcoming, at least from the folks working at this establishment. Let’s just say the brewery who shall not be named was a major guilty party in my post about Date Coding in Craft Beer since this brewery has the ability to stamp their beer with something, but instead of a date, they put a dumb phrase or song lyric. Bottom line, I won’t be visiting or purchasing their beer in the future.

Enough of my rambling, here’s the Six Pack for April 2022, where all but one of the beers is from a NJ Brewery…

Abyss Series – Dark Pulse (Czig Meister Brewing) | IPA – Imperial / Double New England| 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Czig_Abyss-DarkPulse

Czig Meister is always a highlight for me and they are one of my overall favorite breweries in the State of New Jersey. I had a few beers during the visit and brought some home, but this IPA is the standout for me. Czig’s “Abyss” Series of New England IPAs are always excellent and this one is no exception. I especially appreciated the lack of aftertaste because this beer had a lovely, smooth finish that complemented the great blend of tropical hops.

B’Ville Jam Session (Buttzville Brewing Company) | Fruit Beer | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Buttzville_BvilleJam

This was my second visit to Buttzville, I really enjoyed my first experience there so I was looking forward to sampling their beer again. I decided on a Hefeweizen and this beer, a “fruited session ale” with raspberry, passion fruit, guava, and citrus puree. The beer element was still very present, meaning the fruit elements were not overpowering and were introduced into the brewing process very smartly. This would be a great beer to enjoy in the summer or warmer months.

No Limit (Magnify Brewing Company) | Lager – Dark / Schwarzbier | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Magnify_NoLimit

Magnify is known more for their IPAs and Pastry Stouts, but when I saw they brewed what they call a Schwarzbier (and is listed on untappd as a Lager – Dark) I wanted to try the beer. I was pleased, the beer has a little more roasty bitterness than I like in Schwarzbiers, but it is a very solid effort from the North Jersey brewery.

Dortmunder (Lupulin Brewing Company) | Lager – Dortmunder / Export | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Lupulin_Dortmunder

When I saw this beer pop up on Tavor, I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a try. I’ve enjoyed the Dortmunder Lagers I’ve had, including Bull N’ Bear’s great take on the style. Lupulin Brewing (out of Minnesota) is known, from what I’ve gathered, primarily for IPAs. If this beer is an indication of the overall quality of their portfolio, then they are a damned fine brewery. Smooth tasting, with elements of toasted crackers and a sweet finish, I could drink this all day

Black Forest Cake (Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company) | IPA – New England / Hazy | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

JerseyCyclone_GermanChocolate

Although I’ve been enjoying some of the regular rotation beers from Jersey Cyclone I’ve picked up at local stores, it had been too long since I stopped in Jersey Cyclone brewing for some freshly poured beer. This beer had all the things I’d like in a dessert stout, Black Forest Cake is a favorite dessert and this beer does a great job emulating the cake. Sweet, rich thickness, and a wonderful gestalt of Cherry, Chocolate, and Vanilla. In no way, shape, or form does this beer drink like an 11.5% beer. Because it is 11.5% ABV, it was only offered in tasters and half pours, no full pints on this one.

Blueberry-Fuzz (Chilton Mill Brewing) | Sour – Fruited | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Chilton_BlueberryFizz

I’ve been hearing good things about Chilton Mill Brewing for quite a while now and I’ve wanted to visit them to sample their wares. I finally did this past month and was extremely impressed with this beer. Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits and this beer has blueberries in spades, but the “Fuzz” in the name is from the peaches which come across on the finish of the beer. The beer is a seamless transition from blueberry to peach and simply delightful. If Chilton Mill can pull off a beer with these flavor elements so successfully, I’m eager to try more of their beer.

While the above clearly indicates I had some really good beer, as do the beer reviews I posted this month, it was unfortunate that I had to add another NJ brewery to the “never patronize again” list, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph. On the other hand, there are well over 100 breweries in NJ and plenty within close proximity to me so it isn’t like I’m wont for a good place to get good beer.

Draught Diversions: March 2022 Six Pack

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

March did not go out like a mouse, the weather here in New Jersey the last couple of days of the month skirted all four seasons, in terms of temperature and precipitation. But I digress, you all visit for my “hot takes” (as the kids say) on beer, specifically, 6 beers I enjoyed or wanted to highlight from the previous month. For March 2022, the pack contains two IPAs and 4 lagers; 4 from New Jersey breweries, one New York brewery, and one brewery based in the Czech Republic.

Enough of my rambling, here’s the Six Pack for March 2022…

John (Bradley Brew Project) | Pilsner – German | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

This is the third beer I’ve had from Bradley Brew Project and it might be the best one. A clean, crisp, extremely well-crafted interpretation of a German Pilsner. This beer does just about everything correct for the style. There’s a slightly lemon/lime presence on the finish, but overall, an excellent beer

Lake Shore Fog (Southern Tier Brewing Company) | IPA – New England/Hazy | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Over the last handful of years, Southern Tier seems to be focusing more on their IPAs than their stouts. I was a big fan of the stouts they had in regular rotation about 5 years ago or so and haven’t had too many of their beers in more recent years. This beer is their take on the New England IPA. It is a perfectly acceptable take on the beer, not the best I’ve ever had, but one I’d be happy to enjoy again.

Kozel Černý / Dark (Pivovar Velké Popovice) | Lager – Dark | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

While this is not the original Czech Dark Lager, it is a Dark Lager from a brewery in the Czech Republic. I’ve come to enjoy the style a great deal over the last year as I’ve discovered it. Kozel is a is different, unique, and quite tasty, especially at 3.8%ABV and a beer that shows how complex lager beer can be.

BIČ (Carton Brewing Company) | Pilsner – Czech | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

While Carton Brewing may be known for Boat, the O-DUB series of IPAs and the Coffee Cream Ales, what I enjoy most is their Pilsner game. Their base American Pilsner (Whip) is modified to fit the profile of several region’s/country’s Pilsner. BIČ is the Czech-inspired Pilsner and is absolutely delicious.

DDH Power Juicer [Julius] (Icarus Brewing Company) | IPA – New England / Hazy | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

ommegang3phildoubchoc

Another month, another Icarus beer. Power Juice is one of the many “series” of beer Icarus brews in the IPA realm. I love the main/original version, but this one is very tasty too. As the name implies, this beer is double-dry hopped with Julius hops. Icarus really knows how to blend hops together harmoniously.

Black Orpheus (Sunken Silo Brew Works) | Schwarzbier | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

When I visited Sunken Silo in February, the friendly beertender informed me this beer would be ready in about a month. I knew I had to visit again for this beer (and to make may way through season 2 of the Hunterdon County Beer Trail). This beer is a collaboration with Ashton Brewing and is just as good as the version brewed and canned at Ashton’s facility in Middlesex, NJ. A slight roast, wonderful malty elements with a great lager finish.

Another month with a plethora of new beers, mostly good. There was one experience; however, I’d be remiss for not noting. I’m not one to throw a brewery under the bus, so I won’t mention by name the brewery I’m about to discuss. Said brewery recently moved into a beautiful new facility, only a couple of miles away from their small, original facility in an office park. I hadn’t had beers from this brewery in over four and half years for various reasons including the beer being just “OK.” After all, other breweries as close (or closer) to me were making much better beer. But I figured I’d give them a try because I’ve heard the beer has improved and the new facility is supposedly quite inviting. Well, the new facility is really nice, I’ll give them that.

Well, I stroll up to the bar on a Friday evening and ask if they are serving flights. After an uncomfortable pause and an inaudible exchange with the manager(?), the beertender said not tonight and removed a sign that I can only guess mentioned flights. While there were a good amount of people at the brewery, there were empty tables throughout, so Strike 1.

My next question, “Oh, are you filling growlers or crowlers?” Response, “Sorry, only members of our ‘Special Club’ can get growler fills.” Call me crazy if I find that to be a thoughtless policy. You don’t want patrons to bring your beer home to enjoy? Better yet, you don’t want people yo share the beer with friends who may potentially be new patrons? To not offer growler/crowler fills as a blanket policy is one thing. But to offer them only to a special club that has a limited membership is short-sighted and an ill-advised business move. I’ll just say I’m not too surprised. I’ve had my fair share of beers from NJ breweries (75 NJ breweries), so I might be a decent judge of good NJ beer. While some of the beers I’ve had from this brewery have been good, on the whole, the beer from this brewery is by no means anywhere near good enough to warrant an exclusive club with privileges. There are maybe 3 or 4 breweries in the State that *might* be able to pull of something like an exclusive members only club. This brewery isn’t nearly established enough with the quality of their beer to do so, in my humble opinion. It is a barrier of exclusivity that works more as a turn off. I had one beer that Friday night and it wasn’t great, thus I will not be visiting this brewery or sampling their beer again in the future.

This has been my TED Talk.

Draught Diversions: February 2022 Six Pack

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

Sixpack_2022_Feb

Another Six Pack that was somewhat difficult to construct. For one reason, I had multiple beers from a couple different breweries so deciding which beer from those breweries would be represented made the list of “new to me” beers I had this month somewhat long. I also had a vast range of styles this month, with multiple Belgian styles part of the overall group. I settled on a very tasty six pack with a pretty decent variety of styles even if at least one of the breweries in the pack will NOT be a shock.

Without further adieu, here is the February 2022 Six Pack…

Barrel Aged Bullhala (Bolero Snort Brewery) | Porter – Baltic | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Bolero_BA_Bullhalla

It has been quite a while since I had a new-to-me Bolero beer, but this one called out to me. I’ve been seeking out Baltic porters and this beer, aged in Bourbon barrels, hit the spot. Good flavor profile, the bourbon was more potent than I’d expect from a beer with a 9.5% ABV. On the other hand, it was a little thinner than I’d expect. Despite those two slights, the beer was still quite tasty.

Evermore (Readington Brewery & Hop Farm) | Wheat Beer – Dunkelweizen | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Readington_Evermore

Here’s a first for the lineage of the Six Pack posts at The Tap Takeover…back-to-back months featuring Dunkelweizens! I made a second visit to Readington Brewery and Hop Farm, the newest brewery in my area (less than 2 miles away) and was very pleased to see an improvement in the beers. Not that they were undrinkable that first visit, but needed some work. I was very impressed with this Dunkelweizen, Evermore, which was dialed in quite nicely to the style. I wouldn’t be surprised if Reading Brewery will be appearing in the six packs in the future.

Wolfe’s Neck (Maine Beer Company Brewery) | IPA – American | 4.50 Bottle Caps on untappd

MainBeerCo_WolfCreek

Maine Beer Company makes outstanding IPAs and Wolfe’s Neck is another delicious example. A fantastic blend of hops with a dialed-in hop flavor, great malt character, and overall, perfectly balanced. This is one of the cleanest IPAs I’ve ever had, completely dialed-in and elegant.

Decimate (Icarus Brewing Company) | Lager – Japanese Rice | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_Decimate

A visit to Icarus means I had a few new Icarus beers from which to choose for this six pack. I went with the new Lager they canned (although I thoroughly enjoyed their Altbier, Thee Points). Decimate is a Japanese Rice Lager, where the Rice makes up a significant portion of the grain bill. Into that, Jason and his crew of brewers added Lemongrass for a nice refreshing finish. Another example how awesome Icarus Brewing’s low ABV lagers are.

Jovial (Tröegs Independent Brewing) | Belgian Dubbel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Troegs_Jovial

I’ve said it before (or at least hinted at it), but Tröegs might be my favorite Pennsylvania brewery. They brew across every style and do so with impressive quality. This Dubbel, originally brewed for co-owner Chris Trogner’s wedding, is a year-round release and a damned fine interpretation of the classic Belgian dark ale. Wonderful sweetness, hints of raisin and bananas makes this as good a Dubbel as you’ll find from even a brewery from Belgium.

La Trappe Tripel (Bierbrouwerij De Konigshoeven) | Belgian Tripel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

LaTrappe_Tripel

One of my favorite meals (Pork Chops marinated/brined in Tripel) is from this cookbook, Cooking with Beer. Not a lot of the Tripel is required so I was delighted when I saw a 750ml bottle of this in one of my local bottle shops since I love La Trappe Quadrupel. Their Tripel, this beer, is almost as good which is to say that it is a world class, outstanding beer. Perfect elements from the yeast imparting sweetness and fruitiness, just a perfectly rounded beer.

There you have it, the February 2022 Six Pack.

Draught Diversions: January 2022 Six Pack

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

A new year brings some new beers, but that happens every month here at the Tap Takeover. For the first Six Pack of 2022, there’s the usual half NJ half non-NJ mix with a few styles I don’t have often enough. It was a little tough to whittle down the list to just 6 because I was enjoying a tasty variety of new beers throughout the entire month.

SixPack_2022-Jan

Enough preamble, here is the first Six Pack of 2022…

Grimm Weisse Dunkel (Grimm Artisanal Ales) | Wheat Beer – Dunkelweizen | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Grimm_WeisseDunkel

Many people have praised Grimm for their hop-forward Ales and rightfully so. But I’m here praising one of the most under-appreciated styles, the Dunkelweizen. Grimm’s take on this classic German wheat ale is as good as I’ve had, and better than most. Probably the only Dunkelweizen I think I’ve had that tops this one is the Erdinger’s Dunkelweizen.

Kentucky Christmas Morning (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery) | Stout – Imperial / Double Milk | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Hardywood_KentuckyMorning

I reviewed the barrel-aged Gingerbread Stout and had the un-barrel-aged version of Christmas Morning in 2020 (an instant favorite Christmas beer), so of course I had to try the barrel aged Christmas Morning. This is a beautiful, flavorful, and balanced stout. All the flavors I loved about Christmas Morning (Coffee, Gingerbread, Cinnamon, and Maple Syrup) are enhanced and supported by the bourbon barrel aging.

Triple Sunshine (Lawson’s Finest Liquids) | IPA – Triple | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Lawsons_TripleSunshine

When I was offered a can of this, I couldn’t refuse. I’ve had the standard Sip of Sunshine and liked it and was equally impressed with the Triple-amped up version. Smooth, slightly boozy, and hoppy, this beer is dynamite. I get some of the hop oil texture and flavor, which is something I really like in these hop bombs. I need to explore more of Lawson’s beers.

Translucent Dusk (Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company) | Schwarzbier | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

JerseyCyclone_TranslucentDusk

Schwarzbier is one of the oldest styles of German lager, dating back to the 1500s! Jersey Cyclone Brewing, who has been brewing great lagers from the start, recently brewed “Translucent Dusk,” their Schwarzbier for a second time. I missed the first batch, so I had to get a crowler of the beer since I’m a lager leaning lad and I’ve been drawn to dark lagers over the last few years. As expected, the beer is delicious and a fantastic interpretation of the style, slightly sweetness in the roasted malt character with hints of chocolate from that malt, pleasant hints of roasty smoke, and a pleasant, lingering aftertaste..

Lumberyard Lager (Tonewood Brewing Company) | Lager – Helles | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Tonewood_LumberyardLager

Tonewood recently opened their new facility in Barrington, NJ and this beer is a shout-out to their original location, which was formerly a lumberyard. The fine brewers of Tonewood used all German ingredients – specifically the malt an hops, to brew this tasty, crushable lager. Tonewood impresses me with each lager I have from them and this continues that trend.

Good King VIII (Icarus Brewing & Source Brewing) | Pilsner – Czech | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

IcarusSource_GoodKingVIII

Clean, crisp, and perfectly balanced, this collaboration between two of the higher profile NJ breweries is totally on point for the style. I’ve had excellent Pilsners from Icarus, an outstanding Kölsch and Maibock from Source, so I’m not surprised this collaboration is as good as it is. What surprises me the most is how immensely flavorful the beer is with a super-low ABV of 3.8%

No real stinkers this time around, just a couple of mediocre beers not worth mentioning.