Draught Diversions: The Tap Takeover Takes a Break

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

This post has been brewing for a few months, probably at least as far back as May 2022, when The Tap Takeover celebrated its Fifth Anniversary. I’m referring to The Tap Takeover going on an indefinite hiatus. I don’t know how long that hiatus will be because life gets in the way of the plans we make for ourselves.

TemporarilyClosed_cropped

When I started the Tap Takeover back in 2017, I wasn’t sure what the long term goal was, other than a hobby with a professional mindset, if that makes sense. I started it with the thought that since I wrote about the books I enjoyed for so many years (SFFWorld, Tor.com, SFSignal, as well as my personal blog) I figured I’d take a stab at writing about the beers I enjoy. On the one hand, writing this blog turned into an educational exercise as I learned more about beer in general, more about why I like certain beers and not others. On the other hand I met a lot of really cool people and feel as if I’ve become more connected in the independent beer scene, especially in New Jersey.

I’ve briefly considered monetizing the site somehow, but usually dismissed those thoughts very quickly. At times, I thought maybe I’d parlay this blog into some kind of paid writing assignments about beer, but that hasn’t quite formed despite some attempts.

I won’t say maintaining the blog has become a chore, but there is time and effort that goes into writing, formatting, and generating the content. I’ve maintained a pretty consistent schedule, I haven’t missed publishing at least one post per week (226 reviews and 178 Draught Diversions) since launching in 2017, and often two posts per week. I’ve been reading blogs for long enough to know for my own personal enjoyment, if there’s not consistent, timely content, then I stop giving attention to that blog/outlet.

I’ll admit that I put pressure on myself with this blog. I’m the owner, lead editor, whatever you call it and I’m not affiliated with any other media outlet or brewery. Building out those monthly six packs of new beers every month, sure it was fun consuming those beers, but it wasn’t always easy to come up with six “new to me beers” beers or new beers for the Summer / Oktoberfest / Christmas seasonally themed six packs. I found myself going out of my way to find something new I hadn’t ever drank just to ensure I was able to have a review or fill a monthly six pack and that the content I was posting was new to this blog. I’d pass up a 4-pack or 6-pack beer I enjoyed in the past in favor of a new beer when determining what to buy in order to have content for this blog based on my personal budget. Again, that’s pressure only from myself to keep to the standards I set early on with this blog. This post is by no means a plea for sympathy, just a rationalization of the state of things.

Have my priorities changed since launching the Triple T? A little bit, sure. I’ve moved up in my career, have been focusing once again (although not as diligently) on fictional writing as well as renewed attention to the book reviewing I’ve been doing for the better part of the last 20 years. If I’m writing a piece for the Tap Takeover, then that’s time I’m not doing something else like attempting to spin my own stories.

empty-mug-of-beer

Also, unlike the book reviews I write where the majority of the books I review are provided to me by publishers, 95% of the beers I’ve reviewed or featured were beers I purchased. The other 5% were gifts or beer exchanges. Sure, I’d be buying and drinking beer regardless, but like I said previously, I’d go out of my way to get something new to me rather than grabbing an old favorite to buy. That’s good in many ways because trying new things is fun, right? I’m just adding another layer to what goes into publishing a beer blog that maintains a weekly schedule of new content.

Plus, sometimes and more often lately, I just want to drink a beer, enjoy it, and not overanalyze what’s in the can or my glass and write a review about it. There’s only so much one can say about one stout vs. another and I’ve felt myself getting repetitive in my reviews more frequently so I just need a break from this little monster I’ve created. I also sometimes feel like I’m shouting into a vacuum with this blog.

I’ve enjoyed keeping this active for the last 5 and a half years, I really have. I’ll still be filling my fridge with beer, visiting breweries, spending time thinking about beer, but more relaxed and less formally, if you will.

In the end, I’m not sure what’s next for The Tap Takeover. When or if I’ll return from hiatus, but maybe I’ll run into some of you at a brewery or some other beer event in the future.

I’ll still be checking into untappd (RobHB), posting on Instagram (robhbed) (usually one’s beer per week as well as some bookish posts), taking part in the dumpster fire that is currently twitter as RobHBedford, as well as facebook. Connect with me there if you haven’t already and say hi.

I’ll close this post by  saying thank you to everybody who has been reading my barely coherent ramblings about beer for the past five and half years and  chatting up with me online or in meatspace.

Cheers and enjoy your beer responsibly!

Draught Diversions: Favorite Beers of 2022

As has been tradition in January here at the Tap Takeover for the previous five years, I present the annual roundup of my favorite new to me beers of the previous calendar year. Why a “12-pack?” Well, everybody does a top 10 list and beer is generally sold in quantities of 6 and 12 packs. This Favorite of the Year 12-pack will feature the highest rated beers I’ve had the previous year. Of the twelve beers, there was only one beer I rated below 4.5 bottle caps on untappd, which is to say that I had some high-quality beers in 2022. This 12-pack is what I deemed  as “Best” beers of the 349 unique beers I checked into untappd in 2022, from 126 different breweries.  I think in previous years, a few beers I rated at 4.25 bottle caps made the list. According to untappd, I tried 105 different styles of beer, but what probably shouldn’t be a surprise at this point is the style I checked in the most: Pilsner – Czech.

2022_ Favorites

As always, for the purposes of this post New means “New to Me” because a some beers on this list have been around for many, many years, but I had the beer for the first time in 2023.

Before diving into the list, here’s another plug for my old Blog o’ Stuff, which is where I write, rant, and rave about Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction books. I brought it back to life this year with a few reviews and a monthly reading wrap up, not too dissimilar to the monthly six packs here at the Triple T.

Back to our regularly scheduled beer programming…

While I had more beers from NJ breweries this year than probably any other year, only 5 of them make the top 12, which still comprises the dominant State. Again, as in past years, the annual 12-pack could have easily been comprised of 3 or 4 breweries, but the one rule I’ll stick to from past years is allowing only one beer per brewery to appear. That rule made it difficult to whittle down some breweries from whom I’ve had upwards of 10 beers in 2022.

If I’ve done a full review of the beer here at The Tap Takeover, the beer name links to that review, otherwise the beer name links to my untappd check-in for the beer. For the beers that I’ve reviewed, I’ve provided a truncated blurb of my beer review.

Here’s the style breakdown for the 12 beers below:

  • 4 Lagers
    • 2 Pilsners
    • 1 Baltic Porter
    • 1 Dark Lager / Schwarzbier
  • 2 Stouts
    • 1 Imperial / Double Oatmeal
    • 1 Imperial / Double
  • 2 Barleywines
  • 1 Old Ale
  • 1 IPA
  • 1 Pumpkin Beer
  • 1 Farmhouse Ale (Grisette)

Without further adieu, here are the 12 best beers I drank in 2022:

12. John | Bradley Brew Project | Pilsner – German | 4.25 bottle caps

BradleyBeach_John

This is the third beer (at the time) I 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 slight lemon/lime presence on the finish, but overall, an excellent beer.

11. Wolfe’s Neck | Maine Beer Company | IPA –American | 4.5 bottle caps

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 and overall, perfectly balanced and elegant profile. This is one of the cleanest IPAs I’ve ever had. Despite Mosaic being one of the main hops in this beer, I still enjoyed this beer quite a lot. The El Dorado and Sabro hops balance out what is normally an unpleasant aftertaste in beers with Mosaic hops for me.

10. Scythe | The Drowned Lands Brewery I Pumpkin / Yam Beer | 4.50 Bottle Caps

DrownedLands_ScythePump

Pumpkin beers dominate the shelves from August through October/November to a very overwhelming level. This has; unfortunately, set something of a mark against the style… With Scythe, The Drowned Lands may have crafted an ideal Pumpkin Beer. It has near perfect balance of all the elements, lives up to the “pumpkin pie in a glass” moniker, but is still most certainly a beer. If I’m making a Mount Rushmore of Pumpkin Beers, Scythe would very likely find itself on that mount.

9. Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov’s Double Envelopment | Cigar City Brewing | Stout – Imperial / Double | 4.5 bottle caps

CigarCity_ MarshalZ_DoubleE

Marshal Zhukov’s is Cigar City’s flagship Stout …and blend two versions, the rum barrel-aged and sherry barrel-aged to create something unique… Since this is an 11.8% stout, I take my time with the beer. Being in a cool bar with a good friend and good food on the way, I was real happy to just relax and enjoy this complex beer…The barrel elements blend into one, dynamic flavor adjunct that is extremely pleasing, the sweetness from the rum barrel is complemented by some of the dried fruit elements in the sherry character. This beer is one of the more unique barrel-aged stouts I’ve ever had…well-worth seeking out.

8. Dew Drop | Oakflower Brewing Company | Farmhouse Ale – Grisette | 4.50 bottle caps

Oakflower_DewDrop

Not many breweries are making Grisettes, let alone making it as one of their first beers available to the public…For a beer to have so much flavor at such a low ABV is very impressive. Even more impressive is that Oakflower was open for just a week when I visited and this beer was on draught. Head brewer/owner Colin McDonough was brewing in small batches for a few years under the Lamington River Brewing banner so he’s got some experience. That said, it often can take time for a brewer to adjust to newer, larger scale equipment and the learning curve here seems non-existent. Dew Drop is the kind of beer I’d expect from a brewery that’s been open a few years, not a couple of weeks.

7. Scotch Double Barrel-Aged Picture in Reverse | Kane Brewing Company | Old Ale | 4.5 Bottle Caps

20220708_201103

Old Ales aren’t the most common style   of beers, they sit somewhere between Barleywine and an aged Imperial Stout. Beers in this style typically undergo an aging process, sometimes for years, lending a very rich character similar to wine. This particular version from Kane is a blend of Barleywines aged in Willett Bourbon barrels then aged again in Scotch barrels. This is the second release of “Picture in Reverse” I’ve had and it was stunning. There’s a sweetness and boozy element with some heat in the back with the scotch presence pleasantly noticeable on the finish. A complex and delicious ale, one of many beers that proves to me nobody does barrel aging better than Kane.

6. Life Unravaled | Icarus Brewing Company | Barleywine – American | 4.5 Bottle Caps

Icarus_Unraveled

One of the kinds of beer Icarus is best known for are dark beers/stouts, particularly their barrel-aged beers. This is their first bottled Barleywine and it was fantastic. Aged in bourbon barrels, the sweetness from the barrel plays wonderfully with the Maris Otter Barley and balances out the hops very nicely. I would love to see more Barleywines from Icarus in the future if this is any indication of what they can do with the style.

5. Schwarzbier Black Lager | Chilton Mill Brewing Company | Lager – Dark / Schwarzbier | 4.5 bottle caps

ChiltonMill_Schwarzbier

I am very pleased with my first taste of this beer. There’s a very nice roast character, which is a hallmark of the style. It isn’t overpowering to the point that it is a smoked beer, but just enough to make that element of flavor’s presence known. On my second quaff of the beer, I get something unexpected, yet pleasant – some kind of sweet fruit element. Not sure what specifically, but that element likely comes from the Noble hops. But that sweetness is a great level of complexity in this beer… What I like about the beer is how elegant, well-crafted, and balanced the beer is. I have a very strong appreciation for the level of complexity especially considering the beer is only 5.6% ABV.

4. Lagerness Monster | Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers | Porter – Imperial Double Baltic | 4.75 bottle caps

JacksAbby_LagernessMonster
A sleeping Dusty makes a cameo in the background

I like the beer quite a bit from that first taste and I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy this 500ml bottle over the next hour or so. Moments later, I have a second sip and it is stellar. I start to get a pleasant tingly feeling in my belly when the beer hits, a familiar feeling I associate with good beer… What impresses me the most is the balance in this beer… the more I thought about it, the more I realized the beer had almost no flaws.

3.Straight Jacket | Revolution Brewing Company | Barleywine – English | 4.75 bottle caps

Revolution_StraightJacket

The first word that comes to mind for this beer is smooth…everything about it is delightfully, sinfully, sumptuous, and smooth… 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 only wish that Revolution distributed this beer (and their other barrel-aged beers) into New Jersey.

2. 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout | Czig Meister | Stout – Imperial / Double Oatmeal | 4.75 bottle caps

CzigMeister_6thAnniv

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…. I was totally blown away by this beer.

1. Tenner | Notch Brewing Company | Pilsner – Czech | 5 bottle caps

Notch_TennerDraft

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… 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… 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.

Some other notes:

While I visited several breweries in 2022, the list of new-to-me breweries I visited wasn’t quite as lengthy as past years. While many new breweries opened in NJ in 2022, some aren’t exactly close. Additionally, for example, I visited the localest brewery a half dozen times (Readington Brewery), I made 5 trips to Icarus Brewing, I visited the seven breweries on the Hunterdon County Beer Trail and the six breweries on the Skylands Ale Trail. For both of those Beer Trails, I’d visited most of the breweries for the first time in years past and multiple times at that. My favorite brewery that I visited for the first time in 2022 was Notch Brewing’s Brighton, MA taproom. A complete focus on German and Czech Lagers and Ales…right up my alley. That said, here are the breweries I visited for the first time in 2022:

Breweries whose beer I checked in/enjoyed the most according to untappd, which should be a shock to nobody reading this blog. This is not new beers exclusively, but overall:

  • Icarus Brewing: 34 different
  • Kane Brewing Company: 14 different beers
  • Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company: 13 different beers
  • Readington Brewery & Hop Farm: 12 different beers
  • Czig Meister: 12 different beers

So there it is, the 12 “New to Me” beers I enjoyed the most in 2022.

2022_ Favorites

Draught Diversions: December 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_Dec

December means Christmas and some annual seasonal returns (I’m looking at you Mad Elf), big stouts, darker lagers, and barrel-aged beauties to warm the cold nights. Speaking of cold nights, New Jersey saw the coldest Christmas in twenty years, with temperatures below freezing after the wind chill was factored. I made two trips to Icarus this month, once for their Yuleapolooza and the second (two days later) for a beer and doughnuts pairing with Purple Glaze Donuts out of Asbury Park. This month’s six pack, will again, feature some expected favorite breweries, plus a few new ones.

Let’s dive into the November 2022 Six Pack …

Red Tape (Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers) | Lager – Amber | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

JacksAbby_RedTape

Red Tape is another crispy, malty lager from the Framingham brewery. This is Jack’s Abby’s early winter seasonal, meaning it hits shelves in November and is a perfect everyday lager with great flavor at the sweet spot of 5% ABV. This was one of Jack’s Abby’s launch beers and I can understand why it has been in rotation since. I grabbed a four pack for $8.99 and for my money, that’s a damned bargain.

Double Barrel Evening Bell Old Rip Van Winkle (Kane Brewing Company) | Porter – Imperial / Double | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_RVWEvening

Another month, another Kane beer appears. Considering I picked up 5 different bottles when I visited the brewery on Black Friday, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Evening Bell is Kane’s base Milk Porter and this version underwent an extensive aging process through three different barrels including the holy grail of bourbon, Rip Van Winkle barrels. Smooth, sexy, with hints of vanilla and a strong barrel element, this beer is sublime and delicious.

Samichlaus Classic 2020 (Schloss Eggenberg) | Bock – Dopplebock | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Samichlaus

Samichlaus is a special beer from Austria. Brewed only on St. Nicholas Day December 6 (which lends the beer its Austrian name), the beer is aged for 10 months before being put into bottles for sale. At one point in time, this was the strongest beer in the world at 14.1% ABV. The beer was sweet, very boozy, a little syrupy with stone fruit elements. Very reminiscent of a barleywine in all the right ways.

Visions of Snickerdoodles (Buttzville Brewing Company) | Cream Ale | 3.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

Buttzville_Snickerdoodle

A colleague was kind enough to give me a four-pack of this as a thank you Christmas gift. There’s a lot of cinnamon in this beer which is one of the things I (and many people) like about the Snickerdoodle Cookie. The lactose brings a nice sweetness to the beer and makes for a tasty Christmas beer

Life Unraveled (Icarus Brewing) | Barleywine – American | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_Unraveled

I picked up Icarus’s first bottled barleywine during my July visit to the brewery and I knew I wanted to save it for a special occasion. Tradition in recent years has my father and I sharing a special beer, so here it is. The Marris Otter Barley, a hallmark of the style, shines with a great malt bill. Icarus says there’s a “touch of rye” in the beer and that spiciness comes through slightly on the end with the barrel character balancing out the strong hop profile. A great barleywine that just has me hoping Icarus will brew/bottle more of the style.

Downdraft (Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company) | Rauchbier | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

JerseyCyclone_Downdraft

Rauchbier is probably one of my least checked-in styles on untapped, it is generally a style towards which I don’t gravitate. But the friend I was with at Jersey Cyclone spoke highly of the beer, so I tired it and liked it! There’s of course a smoky element, but I also get a bit of sweetness, maybe from the malt, maybe from the smoked beechwood? Either way, this was a very tasty beer.

A couple of beers were stinkers this past month, (I was not a fan of this year’s Anchor Christmas Ale, seemed to be brewed with juniper) but mostly really good stuff. I mentioned Mad Elf at the top of the post, but it is worth mentioning again because I had a can I let age for four years and it was absolutely delightful. The cherry element was even more enjoyable.

SixPack_2022_Dec

Draught Diversions: Mini Brewery Overviews: Chilton Mill, Oakflower, Wild Air

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

Over the last few months, I’ve visited two new breweries that opened in 2022 and a newer one that opened in 2019. By the time this goes live, I’ll have posted a review from each brewery (Oakflower’s Dew Drop, Wild Air Beerworks’s Outer Dark, and Chilton Mill’s Schwarzbier – Black Lager). I wanted to give a brief overview of these three breweries. I’ll go alphabetically starting with Chilton Mill Brewing in Long Valley, NJ; then Oakflower Brewing Company in Millington / Long Hill, NJ, and  close it out with Wild Air Beerworks in Asbury Park, NJ.

Chilton Mill Brewing

Image Courtesy of Chilton Mill Brewing’s Facebook

Mike Peachy is the owner and head brewer at Chilton Mill Brewing with a similar story to many breweries – he liked beer, got into home brewing, and decided to open up a brewery. Mike is from New Jersey, spent time in New Hampshire where the New England craft beer scene provided Mike with more knowledge and push to open a brewery. In May 2019, Mike opened Chilton Mill in one of the two most popular kinds of locations for independent breweries in New Jersey – a Strip Mall. (The other being an industrial park).

Papa Don Brown Ale

As soon as I entered the brewery each time I visited, I felt welcome in the cozy little brewery. The first visit was during the spring and all the outdoor chairs/tables were occupied, so I enjoyed the Fruited Sour ale inside. The second visit was a cold evening in November and I felt almost like I was walking into Cheers. Not that I was Norm, but plenty of friendly conversation amongst patrons and staff.

What I appreciate the most about Chilton Mill is that despite being one of the smaller breweries with just eight taps, they have a very nice variety. In that way, I’m reminded of Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton. Mike always seems to have an IPA, a fruited/sour beer, a lager, a brown ale. He proudly doesn’t add lactose to any of his beers, which this lactose-intolerant beer enthusiast appreciates! Most of the beers are on the lower-ABV side of things, allowing Mike to showcase his skills in coaxing such robust flavors out of the ingredients he uses.

I’ve only visited twice, but that will be changing.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Chilton Mill Brewing Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Chilton Mill Brewing on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Oakflower Brewing

Oakflower Brewing is the newest of these three breweries having opened late November 2022, but as often as breweries are opening in New Jersey a couple more breweries opened since then. Anyway, Oakflower Brewing Company in Millington, NJ joins a growing group of breweries in Morris County, NJ (Twin Elephant, Highpoint/Ramstein, Fort Nonsense, Glenbrook, Double Tap and the aforementioned Chilton Mill).

Oakflower Taproom, photo courtesy of Oakflower Brewing’s Facebook

Owned by Colin McDonough and his wife Leann, Oakflower opened with 8 beers on draught. Colin brought his brewing experience to the table, he spent quite a few years doing small batches under the Lamington River Brewing banner. They were sort of a “If you know, you know” kind of brewery, more of a home-brewer with a Instagram page if I’m not mistaken.

Oakflower Ember Oatmeal Stout

Be that as it may, the brewery itself has a bright and inviting interior, beertenders AJ and Dani are super friendly. In addition to their Grisette, Dew Drop the review of which I posted earlier in the week, I had their smooth, roasty, and delicious Oatmeal Stout called Ember

Located next to the Millington Post Office and across the street from the Millington Train Station, the brewery is in a great spot and fairly easy to find. That also makes for prime potential customer location with NJ Transit commuters on a Thursday or Friday night. The taproom is bright, inviting, and very clean in appearance. If those first two beers I had from Oakflower are any indication of the quality that will be pouring out of their draught lines, then I suspect the taproom will be quite busy.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Oakflower Brewing Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Oakflower Brewing on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Wild Air Beerworks

Logo courtesy of Wild Air Beerworks’s Facebook

Wild Air Beerworks is a fairly unique brewery for a couple of reasons. For starters, they are in a building previously occupied by another brewery, Dark City Brewing which went out of business. The people behind the scenes, owners, etc, of Wild Air Beerworks are owners of Last Wave Brewing in Point Pleasant (Nick Jiorle, Bert Roling and his wife Dani Roling.) as well as a former brewer from Carton (Doug Phillips).

One of the cool things about Wild Air, at least to this English major and reader of many books, is that names of most beers are some kind of literary reference. Their delicious American Lager, Inherent Vice is a book by Thomas Pynchon, the Baltic Porter I reviewed recently, Outer Dark is a book by Cormac McCarthy, their Cold IPA Unhallowed Rites is a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook.”

Image courtesy of Wild Air Beerworks’s Facebook

That naming convention and theme carries over to the brewery itself. The aesthetic is somewhere at the intersection of speakeasy, library, and lounge and the vibe is really chill and relaxed. I don’t recall what the look was exactly when it was Dark City, only that the look is an improvement. Quite frankly, everything about Wild Air is an improvement over its predecessor from the quality of the beer to the people working at the brewery giving off a welcoming vibe.

Wild Air Beerworks Inherent Vice

Something that drew me to Wild Air is their focus on Lagers and Wild Ales, especially the Lagers. They have one or two IPAs on draught, but most of the 16 beers they have available are either Lagers or Wild Ales. When I visited, I had the aforementioned Baltic Porter as well as the Italian Pilsner, Fortuna, which was delicious. There were nice bready elements to it and like all Italian Pilsners, this one was dry-hopped, but that element wasn’t overpowering.

Almost as soon as they opened their doors, their beers were distributed out in stores, which is not something all breweries can say. Granted, the fact that they are an offshoot of an established brewery who has been distributing cans of their beers for a couple of years might help.

The brewery is worth visiting and the beer is well-worth getting into your fridge.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Wild Air Beerworks Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Wild Air Beerworks on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Draught Diversions: Christmas 2022 Six Pack

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

Here I come a wassailing a wassailing with another six pack holiday feature, this time on Christmas/Winter Holiday beers.

Christmas and the Yuletide season is a time for celebration and family gatherings. It is a time for a specific kind of beer, often with some kind of spice, maybe a big stout, or maybe something with fruits or nuts in the mix. I’ll tell you, having put together a Christmas Six Pack every year since 2017, it is becoming a little more challenging each year to craft a diverse six pack of beers that hasn’t been covered in some form here at the Tap Takeover in the past.

Of course, I haven’t helped myself with whittling the field by doing 12 Beers of Christmas a couple of times (2018 part 1, 2018 part 2, 2017 Christmas Beers of Past, 2017 Christmas Beers of Future), thus removing two posts from the future. Be that as it may, there tends to be a good mix of holiday mainstays each year along with new holiday beers, which is how this pack came into being. As usual, I tried to balance NJ beers with beers that are nationally distributed or at least with large regional distribution footprints.

On to the Six Pack!

Alpha Klaus (Porter – American) | 3 Floyds Brewing | Munster, IN | 7.3% ABV

Image courtesy of 3 Floyds Brewing’s Twitter

3 Floyds is one of the great midwestern breweries, they brew largely hop-forward/hop-aggressive beers. Like many breweries, they offer a seasonal spate of beers, including this Christmas Porter.

What 3 Floyds Brewing says about the beer:

Alpha King’s festive cousin. A big American Xmas Porter brewed with English chocolate malt, Mexican sugar and, of course, tons of strange American hops…

Blue Christmas (Sour – Fruited Gose) | Brix City Brewing | Little Ferry, NJ | 5.5% ABV

Image courtesy of Brix City Brewing’s Facebook

I’ve included lighter ABV beers in my Christmas posts previously and this one can work, too. Blue Christmas is a very popular Christmas song and the fine folks at Brix City have played off of that with this holiday-inspired Gose!.

What Brix City Brewing says about the beer:

We hope your white Christmas brings you cheer, but if you’re like us you don’t mind a little Blue Christmas… Blue Christmas is our holiday Gose brewed with both Lactose & Fleur De Sel and conditioned on a ton of fresh Spruce Tips & Blueberry Purée.

Notes of blueberry pie filling and jelly donuts with a touch of fresh spruce in the finish.

Brudolph (Stout – Imperial Double / Milk) | Ludlam Island Brewing | Ocean View, NJ | 10% ABV

Image courtesy of Ludlam Island Brewing’s Facebook

Ludlam Island brews a “Brudolph” every year, or has for the last few years at least. The recipe and beer changes slightly with each incarnation, this year’s (2022) seems to evoke oatmeal raisin cookies. I’ve only had one beer from the South Jersey brewery (their Helles Lager) since they increased their distribution footprint, so perhaps this one will show up near me before Rudolph makes his annual journey leading Santa’s sleigh.

What Ludlam Island Brewery s says about the beer:

This year’s holiday offering is our thick milk stout loaded with heaps of oats, raisins, and just the right amount of cinnamon reminding us of baking with our grandmoms right around the holidays!

Santa’s Little Helper (Stout – Imperial/Double) | Port Brewing Co. | Philadelphia, PA | 10% ABV

Image courtesy of Port Brewing’s Instagram

For a few years, I was getting this stout around Christmastime, the years before I was on untappd, and just after I joined. I haven’t seen it lately, but I remember loving this big, boozy stout. Port Brewing also brews and distributes a barrel-aged version, which I had about a decade ago and that one is even more elusive these days since I’m not sure if Port Brewing is still distributing into New Jersey. Regardless, if you see either the standard or barrel-aged version, grab it.

What Port Brewing says about the beer:

Santa knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. This is one seriously naughty but nice beer.

Santa’s Little Helper, our Imperial Stout, starts with an emphasis on dark cocoa and roasted coffee aromatics. The finish lends hints of sweet crystal malt, warming tones of alcohol and a touch of hops, making a perfect accompaniment to leftover fruit cake and sugar cookies.

Cherished Festive Brown Ale (Spiced / Herbed Beer) | Spellbound Brewing | Mount Laurel, NJ | 7.1% ABV

Image courtesy of Spellbound Brewing’s Facebook

Spellbound brewed an “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie” Brown ale for years. They’ve recently undergone a slight rebranding and I suspect this is the replacement beer. Regardless, I’d wanted to try their Oatmeal Raisin Cookie for a few years and this one looks quite tasty, too.

Spellbound Brewing says this about the beer:

A fall/winter spiced ale with notes of cinnamon, raisin, oats, clove and malt.

We call it Cherished because it is released for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays. Some of our most cherished days of the year.

Shiner Holiday Cheer (Wheat Beer – Dunkelweizen) | Shiner / Spoetzl Brewery | Shiner, TX | 5.4% ABV

Image courtesy of Shiner Beer’s Facebook

Shiner is one of the more widely distributed beer brands in the country. I’ve been seeing this beer in the stores for years, but never pulled the trigger on it. Although pecans are quite popular (part of why I’m including the beer here), I’m a little hit or miss with them. Nonetheless, I would like to try this beer at some point

What Spoetzl/Shiner says about the beer:

A Bavarian-style Dark Wheat Ale, Dunkelweizen, brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all more satisfying.

That’s another Christmas Six Pack in the proverbial Yuletide fridge. Any particular beers you’re looking forward to trying or enjoy during the Yuletide season?

Draught Diversions: November 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…

November still has some lingering Oktoberfest beers on shelves and in refrigerators, pumpkin beers are still acceptable, but Stout season is in full effect. November 2022 happened to be another month of beers that proved challenging to bring down to just six. Of course the fact that my wife brought me to the “Pittsburgh invades Philly” beerfest as a birthday complicated matters in the best of ways. Lots of good beers from that beerfest, one of which makes this month’s six pack, but beers from Dancing Gnome, Stick City, and Gristhouse all stood out. I happened to visit a couple of breweries this past month, too. Mostly locals and usual haunts like Conclave Brewing, Jersey Cyclone, Readington Brewery, as well as Chilton Mill, Kane Brewing, Bar Hygge, and Wild Air Beerworks. More on Wild Air in a post in the future, though.

SixPack_2022-Nov

Let’s dive into the November 2022 Six Pack …

Boos (Untied Brewing Company) | Pumpkin / Yam Beer | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Untied_Boos

I don’t go for the Pumpkin beers as much as I once did, although I still enjoy them. I was interested in Untied’s take on the style because I’ve enjoyed most of their beers. This was a pretty good take, good spice blend even if I found the nutmeg to be overpowering. Untied also makes an “Imperial” version of this beer as well as a Barrel-Aged version. I may have to try the Barrel-Aged version in the future.

Oktoberfest (Birdsmouth Beer) | Märzen | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Birdsmouth_Oktoberfest

Birdsmouth Beer is one of the newest breweries in New Jersey, started by a former brewer from Kane. That’s a pretty good pedigree. What I like is that they only brew lagers so I’m going to have to make my way down there at some point. My dad visited and brought back some of this excellent Oktoberfest, which considering it is one of the first beers brewed by Birdsmouth is impressive. Hell, it is impressive regardless of the “age” of the brewery.

Cherry Bomb (Bar Hygge/Brewery Techne) | Sour – Fruited | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

TechneCherryBomb

Brewery Techne is the latest brewery venture from vaunted NJ Brewing legend Tom Baker. The brewery is inside Bar Hygge, in Philadelphia. My wife took me there for my birthday, the food was excellent, the space had a great vibe, and this cherry sour was quite tasty. There was a good balance between sweet and tart and it was a nice beer to accompany my meal.

Deep Island (Brew Gentlemen) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

BG_DeepIsland

This beer was part of a birthday celebration, too. As part of my gift, my wife took me to Broken Goblet Brewing who was hosting the aforementioned “Pittsburgh invades Philly” beer fest. I had quite a few good beers that day, but this was the standout and the only beer I wound up getting two pours. Not small pours, the fine folks of Brew Gentlemen filled up the taster glass both times. This imperial stout was very decadent and had the perfect amount of coconut in the mix. I was told they bottle a barrel-aged version for their anniversary beer. I wish I could get some of that.

Stingo Ate My Baby – Barrel Aged (Conclave Brewing Company) | Strong Ale – English | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

20221123_190110

Since Conclave expanded a couple of years ago, I’ve enjoyed their experimental styles and beers off the hop-forward path. This one is a perfect example. A “Stingo” beer is a English Strong Ale aged in Oak of some kind, originated by Samuel Smith’s Stingo. For a local twist, this beer was aged in Applejack Brandy Barrels from Laird’s (out of NJ and the first distillery in the US). This was a very unique beer, I can’t say I’ve had many that tasted quite like it – strong malt giving off toffee and caramel vibs, decent hop presence, and a nice finish from the Applejack brandy.

4018 (Kane Brewing Company) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane4018

I say it a lot here at the Triple T, but for my money, Kane makes the best barrel-aged beers in NJ and I’d put their mastery at this art/skill alongside national leaders like Firestone Walker. I had a few Kane Beers in November since I visited the brewery, but this one stood out. Their anniversary beers are always a treat, I’ve probably had about half of the anniversary beers they’ve brewed over the years. This one emulates an ice cream dessert, since it was conditioned on Madagascar Vanilla, Maple Syrup, Cacao Nibs and Waffle cones. Before that, the blend as aged in multiple bourbon bottles. This was a thiccc stout that was delicious and decadent. At 13.1% ABV, I wound up sipping this over the course of about an hour.

A couple of beers were stinkers this past month, but mostly really good stuff.

Draught Diversions: October 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…

Oktoberfest takes up a good portion of the month and cooler temperatures are more prevalent. Dark beer season is beginning to settle in, though there is still plenty of room for the lighter ales and lagers. This month’s six pack is a mix of different styles, three of which are in the stout family. Three NJ breweries, 2 NY breweries, and 1 VT brewery. One new to me brewery and returns from a couple of breweries who haven’t appeared at the Triple T in years.

SixPack_2022_Oct

Let’s crack open the October 2022 Six Pack …

Scrag Mountain Pils (Lawson’s Finest Liquids) | Pilsner – Czech | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Lawsons_Scrag

I had the Salt & Lime variant last year and finally got around to trying the original Scrag Mountain Pils recently. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Crisp, clean, flavorful, this beer boasts everything you could want in a pilsner. Delicious and world-class.

IPA (Finback Brewery) | IPA – American | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

FinbackIPA

My wife and I happened to be in Brooklyn to catch a live recording of our favorite podcast, Hello from the Magic Tavern and as was pleased to see a pretty decent offering from local/Brooklyn breweries. I landed on this IPA from Finback because it was the only one that didn’t have Mosaic hops in it. Although it has a hazy west coast look, it’s got Chinook and Columbus that gives more of a West Coast hop profile, but there was a nice balance to the beer.

BA Coconut & Desist 2022 Weller Bourbon (Icarus Brewing Company) | Stout – Pastry | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_CeaseBBAWeller

I visited Icarus for their annual “Build me Up Butternut” celebration for the third time and had a few beers including this is barrel-aged version of an Icarus beer that almost never was. You see, there’s a certain candy company that makes a candy bar with coconut and chocolate and Icarus wanted to evoke those flavors in a stout, many breweries make beers with this idea. However, the candy company “suggested” Icarus change the beer name, so they did. This beer is luxurious and everything a pastry stout should be, the coconut, bourbon, and chocolate are in sweet harmony.

Night Night (Bradley Brew Project) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

BBP_NightNight

Night Night is the first non-lager beer I’ve had from Bradley Brew Project and it sure is a thicc beer, as I’d expect an 11% stout to be. If you like bittersweet chocolate, then you’ll like this beer. I do, but what I like even more is how the vanilla cuts the bitterness just a little bit. The more beer I have from Bradley Brew Project, the more impressed I am with their output.

Ravendark (Ghost Hawk Brewing Company) | Stout – Foreign/Export | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

GhostHawk_RavenDark

A night at a Barcade makes for some good beers, including this Stout from Ghost Hawk Brewing, my second beer from the North Jersey brewery. One way to think of this style of stout is a “Guinness, but more.” This beer is very prominent on roasted malts, which imparts a very flavorful amalgamation of coffee and dark chocolate. I was very impressed with this beer and it doesn’t really feel like 7.3% ABV.

Kim Hibiscus Sour Lager (SingleCut Beer Smiths) | Sour – Berliner Weisse | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

SingleCut_KimHibiscus

A sour Lager, sure, why not. Berliner Weisses can often be lagers and this one is quite unique. The beer has the slight funk I’d expect, and a bit of fruitiness, too. What really stands out to me is right there in the name, Hibiscus. A flower that imparts a great element of sweetness that may have balance with the currants in the beer. A really nice beer to finish off the night.

All told, a great October for beers.

Draught Diversions: September 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_Sep

Summer still tries to cling in September, but fall beers have been appearing on shelves for a couple of months. For me, September is when I start enjoying those amber, German-inspired lagers. I like to try a few new Oktoberfest-style beers every year, but will return to annual favorites. Dark beers are also on the horizon, too. Only two NJ beers this time around, three Märzens, two Barleywines and a Stout.

Let’s crack open the September 2022 Six Pack …

Oktoberfest (Conclave Brewing Company) | Märzen | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Conclave_Oktober

The few lagers Conclave has brewed have been very good, so I wanted to give their Märzen a try. I missed Conclave’s Oktoberfest-bier last year and I wasn’t going to let that happen again in 2022. I stopped in for a growler fill and was very pleased with the beer. A really spot on Märzen, there’s a very nice malty element to the beer with the related sweetness. The beer had an unfiltered look to it, which isn’t a problem.

DragonsMilk_Stroop

Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Stroopwafel (New Holland Brewing Company) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Dragon’s Milk is one of the most popular, well-made, and recognizable bourbon barrel-aged stouts on the market. It has become a brand within New Holland Brewing and has produced several variants over the years, this one evokes the delicious caramel/waffle/cinnamon cookie. For some reason, those cookies are always offered on United Airlines, but they are very tasty nonetheless. This beer is delicious with the caramel and cinnamon flavors perfectly blended together.

Sibling Maker (Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers) | Barleywine – Other | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

JacksAbby_Sibling

This is a “Lager wine” and not the first I’ve had from Jack’s Abby. Although made with Lager yeast unlike most barleywines which are made with Ale yeast, the flavor profile is relatively similar, and that’s a good thing. This one was aged in brandy and bourbon barrels and was probably bottled in early 2020. I get the date/fig flavors I enjoy from most barleywines, plus the hints of vanilla and oak from the barrels. As good as this beer was, I think it may have aged a little too long.

October with a K (Sunken Silo Brew Works) | Märzen | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

SunkenSilo_OctK

When I saw Sunken Silo had their Märzen on draft, I figured I’d take a quick drive to the brewery and I’m glad I did. The atmosphere is pretty chill there and this was a very nice take on the Autumnal German-inspired lager. There was more of a crisp element to this than I’m accustomed to from most Märzens, but still good flavor profile nonentheless..

Creekfestbier Lager (Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company) | Märzen | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

NCBC_Creekfest

I called out this Märzen as one to try back in my Oktoberfest 2020 Six Pack and I finally got around to trying the beer. Neshaminy Creek brews a nice lager and this is no exception. The first can I poured had some carbonation issues, which didn’t change the flavor, but something just felt off. The subsequent cans didn’t have the carbonation problems and was improved because of it. This is an Oktoberfest you can’t go wrong with as an option for your Fall Fridge.

Wooden Cleat (Kane Brewing Company) | Barleywine – Other | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_BBAWoodenCleat

I’ve probably had more barleywines from Kane than any other brewery, they brew the style very well and almost always age the beer is some kind of barrel. In this case, the 2022 version of this beer was aged in Weller bourbon barrels. A “wooden cleat” is a piece of wood that strengthens the surface to which it attaches, which I suppose the barrel can be seen as the strengthening element of this barleywine. This is one of the boozier barleywines I’ve had from Kane, I’m surprised it is “only” 10.7% ABV. A very good barleywine, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had some better from Kane

Another good month of beers in the book. I’ll also add that I had my first “Smoothie Sour Seltzer” and that combination of words is only slightly more off-putting than the beverage itself. I don’t particularly gravitate towards seltzer, especially seltzer with alcohol. This one had banana, marshmallow, and coconut and had pieces of those things floating in the liquid. People seem to like these things, I’m certainly not one of them.

SixPack_2022_Sep

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

FB_IMG_1662042365793

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

imgly_8208701658424899709

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