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: 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: 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.

Draught Diversions: Favorite Beers of 2021

Somehow, I’ve rolled into a fifth annual roundup of my favorite beers. Like my previous Favorite of the Year 12-pack posts, while I’ll still have beers with very high untappd ratings, this post features “Favorite” beers of the 336 unique beers I checked into untappd in 2021, from 104 different breweries. What does that mean? Well, there were beers I consumed in 2021 which I awarded a high 4.75 rating, but I may be including a 4.25 beer that I enjoyed more in this twelve-pack (or half case). Put it another way, there were some highly rated (4.5) beers I enjoyed in 2021 that one beer was enough was enough, while some beers I may have rated at a 4.25 I would have multiple times. Or still another way – some movies are incredibly well-made masterpieces, but one viewing is enough whereas some movies you love and want to watch over and over or will leave on the TV no matter where in the running time you catch it.

As always, for the purposes of this post New means “New to Me” because a some beers on this list have been around for a few years, but I had the beer for the first time in 2021.

TTT_2021_Favorites

Before we go further down the beer road, a little plug for my old blog, which is where I write, rant, and rave about Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction books. Well, I can’t say “write” because I haven’t posted there too much over the last few years, but was posting multiple times per week for quite a few years. Over there, I mostly write about the books I’ve read, some of the movies and TV shows I’ve watched, and other assorted random stuff. That blog has largely been collecting virtual dust, but I decided to post about the books I enjoyed reading the most in 2021. So have a look and maybe you’ll find a good book or four to read. 

RobsFavoriteReads2021

Back to our regularly scheduled beer programming…

The standard NJ bias shines through on this list as 8 of the beers are from NJ breweries. I’d say 75% of the beer I bought & consumed in 2021 was made in a from NJ breweries, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. This list 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 2021.

Here’s a Breakdown:

  • 8 from NJ breweries
  • 2 from PA breweries
  • 4 Lagers
    • 2 Pilsners
    • 1 Dark Lager
    • 1 Helles Lager
  • 2 Stouts
    • 1 Milk / Sweet
    • 1 Imperial / Double
  • 1 Porter
  • 1 Sour
  • 1 Barleywine
  • 1 Extra Special Bitter
  • 1 Kölsch
  • 1 English Dark Mild

On to my 12 Favorite “New to Me” Beers of 2021

12. Grand Cacao | Tröegs Independent Brewing | Stout – Milk / Sweet | 4.25 bottle caps


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When the brothers behind Pennsylvania’s Tröegs Independent Brewing release a new year round beer, it is worthy of note. When the beer is as good as Grand Cacao is, it is even more noteworthy. This beer is an outstanding Milk Stout with heavy chocolate overtones making for a nearly perfect dessert beer. This is similar to the Chocolate Stout I thoroughly enjoyed which was released in the Most Wonderful Beer of the Year variety pack in 2018, but maybe amped up more. I even commented on when I enjoyed that beer here and on Instagram/twitter that the Chocolate Stout should be in regular rotation, it is almost as if the Trogner Brothers listed to me. :D. Grand Cacao has immediately become a top Milk Stout for me.

11. La Di Da Di: Banana, Peanut Butter & Vanilla | Twin Elephant Brewing Company I Porter – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps

This is a perfectly balanced dessert beer. The peanut butter is great and blends with the vanilla and banana very nicely. Too may beers with peanut butter in them use powder or the peanut butter tastes like a stale Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. Not this beer, oh no. This is delicious and worth savoring. I’m not sure if this beer is still available on tap at Twin Elephant, but I’d love to try other variants on the beer.

 

10. Extra Stockton Bitter | Odd Bird Brewing | Extra Special / Strong Bitter | 4.5 bottle Caps

OddBird_ESB

This is beer in a quintessential British style as it is meant to be. Top notch flavors from fresh ingredients crafted with care and attention. I get mild bitterness on the initial sips of Extra Stockton Bitter, which is on point. The cask delivery gives the beer an added quaff and body that enhances the flavors of the maltiness. There’s an extremely balanced and welcome sweetness on the finish of the beer. This beer, for me, exemplifies why I like craft/independent beer so much. It isn’t a style you’ll find everywhere, but it is a passion project of a beer (one might say) that delivers something really special, no pun intended. This beer alone makes it worth the trip to the brewery, in my humble opinion.

9. Polyphonic | Ashton Brewing Company | Pilsner – German | 4.5 bottle caps

Ashton_Poly

Ashton Brewing is growing into one of the best Lager brewers in the State of New Jersey. Their first Pilsner, Jersey Dreamin’ was great, so early on Ashton showed a deft hand at brewing. Polyphonic is just as good, maybe even a little bit better. Such a clean, crisp pilsner is an example of why Pilsner became such a beloved style and another winner from Ashton Brewing.

 

8. Scrag Mountain Pils Salt & Lime | Lawson’s Finest Liquids | Pilsner – Czech | 4.50 bottle caps

This the kind of beer I want cold and in my hands as soon as I’m finished yard work or sitting by the pool. In fact, the second time I had the beer I did exactly that, finished mowing the lawn and cooled off in the pool with this beer. As it turns out, the opening sentence of this paragraph was written shortly after my first experience tasting the beer. There’s something to be said for taste and timing in general. In specific for Scrag Mountain Pils Salt and Lime, this beer was *perfect* for that post lawnmower refreshment while relaxing in the pool (as in the picture above). I’d say that Scrag Mountain Pils with Salt and Lime is a must have for the summer 

7. Vanilla Maris | Barleywine – English | 4.5 Bottle Caps

What a fantastic Barleywine this beer is. The English Barleywines are more malty and sweet compared to their hoppy cousins from America and often exhibit hints of toffee in the flavor profile. This beer does indeed have that element to it, which plays wonderfully with the vanilla beans on which the beer was aged. Another standout from Timber Ales.

 

6. Boat Ramp Champ | Cape May Brewing Company | Lager – Helles | 4.5 Bottle Caps

Being on Social Media can be a good thing. You get to see beers months ahead of their release to the public, like this Helles Lager from Cape May Brewing Company. They don’t brew/can/distribute many lagers, but when they do, they do them well (Cape May Lager from a couple of years ago; my new summer go-to, Tan Limes; and their annual Oktoberfest), so I was really looking forward to trying this one and I was absolutely not disappointed. This is one of the best Helles Lagers I’ve ever had, a fantastic American interpretation of the classic German style, and it might be my favorite beer from Cape May Brewing Company.

 

5. Uncharted Waters Blueberry and Cinnamon | Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company | Sour – Fruited | 4.5 bottle caps


I’ve been a fan of Jersey Cyclone Brewing since they opened a couple of years ago, their lagers and stouts are superb and they make tasty IPAs. However, this Blueberry/Cinnamon sour ale, Uncharted Waters, might be the best I’ve had from them. Lactose is added to balance out the tartness and sour elements for an outstanding beer. The beer reminds me of a blueberry crumble or blueberry cinnamon pie in beer form. Simply a delicious beer. I’ve since had a few of the Uncharted Waters variants from Jersey Cyclone and while they’ve all been very good, this one stands a half-head taller.

 

4. Yonder | Icarus Brewing Company | Mild – Dark | 4.25 bottle caps

IcarusYonder

Icarus again was a top brewery for 2021, which made the process of determining which beer would make it to this list even more difficult. I may have had other beers over the year that were technically better than this beer, but Yonder was quite simply my favorite. The style – English Dark Mild – isn’t what I’d consider a go-to style for me. Or it wasn’t before this beer. I tried the beer and fell in love with it, and it is a beer that has become one of the few beers upon which my dad, my brother-in-law, and I agree upon since we typically lean to different styles. But this beer…there is so much flavor in a beer that has such a low ABV (4%). I buy it whenever it has become available this year and is just a damned fine beer.

 

3. Paddy’s House Kölsch | Source Brewing | Kölsch | 4.75 bottle caps

The is beer is the winner of a homebrew contest, and there’s no question of the quality. Of the 30 beers on untappd I’ve had categorized as “Kölsch,” this is at least the best American version and maybe the best period. This was slow-poured to allow the flavors to express themselves even more potently, some malt/breadiness with a crisp finish that has some hops and a wonderful mouthfeel. This is everything I want in a beer.

 

2. Czech Dark Lager | Weyerbacher Brewing Company| Lager – Dark | 4.75 bottle caps

Weyerbacher_CzechDark

Weyerbacher is one of the great Northeast breweries so I was very happy to visit on my birthday as I’d never made it across the Route 78 bridge to Easton to visit them. I saw a Czech Dark Lager on draft and knew I had to have it, despite the fact that Weyerbacher typically isn’t known for low ABV lagers. This beer was outstanding, maybe my favorite of the style and likely will be my favorite new-to-me beer of the year and maybe even the beer I’ve enjoyed the most from Weyerbacher. Yes, I’ve had Sunday Morning Stout a few times. I brought a crowler home and when I cracked it open 10 days after the canning date, it held up very nicely. Simply put, a superb beer I wish they’d bring into more of a regular rotation than a test batch. Over the last year or two, the Czech Dark Lager has emerged as a top “new to me” style and this one is simply an outstanding take on the style.

 

1. Tenth | Kane Brewing Company | Stout – Imperial / Double | 5 bottle caps

Kane_Tenth

It really shouldn’t be a surprise at this point, every year my top beer is a barrel-aged beer, and only one year was that beer not a barrel-aged stout (it was Bourbon Barrel Aged Troegenator, a doppolebock). I’ve had more beers from Kane this year than any previous year and second only to Icarus in terms of quantity of new beers in 20201. Tenth is the best beer I’ve yet to enjoy from the great NJ brewery. I’ve said it the last three years about my favorite beer of the year, but Kane Tenth has risen to be my favorite barrel-aged beer. It is absolutely perfect and with out flaw. The bourbon elements are present, but don’t overpower the malt elements from the stout. I wish I bought more than one bottle, now.

Some other notes:

Although the pandemic made visiting breweries a little more challenging for much of 2020, I was able to visit the following breweries for the first time in 2020:

Alternate Ending Beer Co (Aberdeen, NJ)
Böser Geist Brewing Co (Easton, PA)
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
Bull N Bear Brewery (Summit, NJ)
Buttzville Brewing Company (Washington Township, NJ)
The Drowned Lands (Warwick, NY)
Invertase Brewing Company (Phillipsburg, NJ)
Log Tavern Brewing (Milford, PA)
Last Wave Brewing Company (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ)
Odd Bird Brewing (Stockton, NJ)
Source Breiwng (Colts Neck, NJ)
Two Rivers Brewing (Easton, PA)
Weyerbacher Brewing Company (Easton, PA)

Breweries whose beer I checked in/enjoyed the most according to untappd, which should be a shock to nobody reading this blog:

Untappd_TopBreweries_2021_RB

 

Thanks to my readers for reading and to the breweries here (and everywhere) for continuing to make delicious beer! Here’s to another good year of beer in 2022!

TTT_2021_Favorites

Draught Diversions: December 2021 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-2021-dec

The final Six Pack of 2021 is upon us. Well, I use “us” since it is actually incumbent upon me for sharing this six pack with my millions (insert Rock voice) and millions of readers. No IPA this month and fir the first time in a while, this six pack does not feature a beer from Icarus. What this six pack does feature: two Barleywines, a Porter, a Brown Ale, Belgian Quadrupel, and an Imperial Stout. Some familiar breweries, and a couple of breweries make a return appearance after a rather lengthy absence. I’ll likely be posting my favorite beers of the year later in the week

Without further adieu, here is the December 2021 Six Pack…

Parent Trap (Ashton Brewing Company) | Porter – Other | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

ashtonparenttrap

Ashton keeps churning out good beers and this one surprised me the most. I’ve become very cautious/hesitant when it comes to beers with Peanut Butter/PB flavoring, it can often come across like bad/stale peanut butter. Not this one, a great blend of chocolate and peanut butter which makes for nice post-dinner beer. I understand now why cans of this beer sold out so quickly at the brewery.

Third Coast Ale (Bell’s Brewery) | Barleywine – American | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

bellsthirdcoast

It’s been a while since Bell’s made an appearance here at the Tap Takeover, but I’ve been enjoying some of their core beers the last year or two. I hadn’t had their Barleywine prior to this, but that may change. I liked it quite a bit. It isn’t as hop forward, as say the iconic Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada, but the toffee element is more prominent. I’d love to try a barrel-aged version of this beer.

Outen the Light (Bonesaw Brewing Co) | Barleywine – American | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

bonesawouten

I’ve had a few beers from Bonesaw and enjoyed them so I figured I’d try this big Barleywine. This might be the booziest barleywine I’ve ever had. Hell, at 15.3%, it is one of the highest ABV beers I’ve had period. There’s a ton of barrel on the beer, almost too much for me, in fact. Almost. I enjoyed it, there’s a nice hit of sweet caramel as well as dried figgy/cherry/stone fruits. Even though it was only a 500ml bottle and I was drinking it rather slowly, I still felt a little woozy about halfway through finishing the beer. Again, 15.3%.

Tenth (Kane Brewing Company) | Stout – Imperial/Double | 5 Bottle Caps on untappd

kane_tenth-1

I’ve had just over 50 beers from Kane. I’ve had over 150 Imperial Stouts (including “Coffee,” “Milk,” “Russian,” and “Oatmeal” varieties) and I’d guess at least half to two thirds of those were barrel aged. Tenth is both the best beer I’ve had from Kane and my favorite Barrel-Aged Stout I’ve ever had. This is an absolutely flawless beer.

Three Philosophers Double Chocolate (Brewery Ommegang) | Belgian Quadrupel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

ommegang3phildoubchoc

Brewery Ommegang has all but made their “Three Philosophers” Belgian Quadrupel-Kriek blend a brand with multiple variants over the years. I’ve had the original and thoroughly enjoyed it and now I’ve had this version of the beer. While it is indeed heavy on the chocolate (the “Double” in the name gives it away), for me, it wasn’t overpowering. I let the beer warm up a bit and the potent chocolate elements took a slight step-back to the main flavors of the beer.

Grandma Cookie (Lone Eagle Brewing) | Brown Ale – Belgian | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

loneeaglegrandma

When Lone Eagle makes a good beer, it turns out to be a great beer. This is the third time I’ve brought a growler of their beer to Christmas Eve and it was a hit as it was in past years. This beer is one of the better “new to me” Christmas themed beers I’ve had. Brewed with raisins, oatmeal, and cinnamon, the beer (as the name implies) evokes a delicious baked cookie you’d leave for Santa Claus. I had a feeling I’d like it, but I was surprised at just how much I did like it. I’ve had over 50 beers from Lone Eagle over the years and this one is one of their best, I hope they brew it again for the Christmas 2022 season or even can it, because I will be sure to grab some of it.

Good beers, indeed. Only one real dud this past month, Frosted Sugar Cookie from Southern Tier Brewing Company. I’ve enjoyed many of their beers over the years, but not this one. It tasted full of artificial sweetener.

Draught Diversions: November 2021 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…

2021_Nov_sixpack

November often brings darker beers and beers sampled and enjoyed during the annual birthday brewery tour on which my wife takes me. Of course, not all the beers in this month’s Six Pack were enjoyed on the day of that tour (I reviewed one of them recently, actually). There were plenty of new beers throughout the month outside of that birthday weekend. In fact, November 2021 proved to be one of the more difficult six packs to construct in recent memory, 38 different new to me beers. I could have maybe made it a 10 pack. A mix of styles for four of the beers and 2 Czech Dark Lagers.

Fields (Odd Bird Brewing Company) | Farmhouse Ale – Saison | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

OddBird_FieldsSason

Little did my wife know I’d visited Odd Bird Brewing when she made this the first stop on the tour, but I was very pleased because they make really tasty beer. Especially after enjoying this fluffy and spicy saison. The aroma and flavors from the yeast shined through in a delicious way. Brewer/owner Adam is so dialed in with classic styles and few Belgian styles are as classic as the Saison. A superb beer.

Czech Dark Lager (Weyerbacher Brewing Company) | Lager – Dark | 4.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Weyerbacher_CzechDark

Weyerbacher is one of the great Northeast breweries so I was very happy to visit on my birthday as I’d never made it across the Route 78 bridge to Easton to visit them. I saw a Czech Dark Lager on draft and knew I had to have it, despite the fact that Weyerbacher typically isn’t known for low ABV lagers. This beer was outstanding, maybe my favorite of the style and likely will be my favorite new-to-me beer of the year and maybe even the beer I’ve enjoyed the most from Weyerbacher. Yes, I’ve had Sunday Morning Stout a few times. I brought a crowler home and when I cracked it open 10 days after the canning date, it held up very nicely. Simply put, a superb beer I wish they’d bring into more of a regular rotation than a test batch

Utopias Barrel-Aged World Wide Stout (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) | Stout – Imperial/Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

DFH_UtopiasWWS

This beer is the love child of two of the most extreme beers from the Samuel Adams-Dogfish Head partnership. World Wide Stout is a boozy enough stout on its own, throw it in barrels from Samuel Adams Utopias (a 28% ABV beer), then you have something almost otherworldly. I’ve had Utopias a couple of times and that flavor is definitely prominent on the nose and all over the beer in a delicious way. This is definitely a beer worth experiencing.

Czech Mate (Bradley Brew Project) | Lager – Dark | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

BradleyBrew_CzechMate

Another Czech Dark Lager? Hell yeah! This is only the 2nd beer I’ve had from Bradley Brew, but damn am I impressed. This beer, cleverly named “Czech Mate” hits all the style notes really well, bready/toffee and a slightly crisp finish. Extremely flavorful at 5%, I could drink this all day in the warmer months. As much as I enjoyed the Weyerbacher Czech Dark, this one is nearly aas good so I’m very pleased to see that it was available in 4 packs at one of my local spots.

Pound of Idaho Feathers (Icarus Brewing Company) | Pilsner – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_PoundIdaho

A visit to Icarus means at least one of their beers makes an appearance. I had a few different beers, but this is the one I enjoyed the most and of the “Feathers” Pilsner variants, this one is probably my favorite. The dry hopping doesn’t over power here the way it does in some of the other dry hopped pilsners I’ve had

Cranito (Last Wave Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited Gose | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

LastWaveCranito

I had three beers from Last Wave this past month, one at the start when I was out for dinner and two at the brewery the same day I visited Icarus. This is the standout for me, but as I pointed out in a recent review, I love cranberries and this beer is clean, tart, and very refreshing. My only regret is that there were no cans of this available for purchase at the brewery.

Birthday Brewery Tour: Clockwise: Weyerbacher, Odd Bird, Invertase, Böser Geist, Two Rivers

Good beers, indeed. A few stinkers throughout the month, but since I want to be positive, I won’t mention those beers. Although I will say on the birthday beer tour, we visited Odd Bird Brewing (Stockton, NJ); Invertase Brewing (Phillipsburg, NJ), Weyerbacher Brewing (Easton, PA); Böser Geist (Easton, PA), and finished with a delicious dinner at Two Rivers Brew Pub (Easton, PA).

November 2021 Six Pack

Draught Diversions: October 2021 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…

2021_Oct_SixPack

Stout season is officially here! A couple of beers on this month’s edition of the Tap Takeover Six Pack are seasonally appropriate in that regard and one, a porter, fits the mold too. I made two visits to Kane Brewing this month and a visit to Icarus, so those breweries made up much of what I enjoyed in October 2021 even if only one from each appears. Four beers from New Jersey, on from New York and one from Germany. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

La Di Da Di: Banana, Peanut Butter & Vanilla (Twin Elephant Brewery) | Porter – Imperial / Double | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

TwinElephant_LaDiDaDi

Twin Elephant gets a lot of love for their IPAs (and rightfully so), but their dark beers have been my jam since they launched five years ago. This one is a perfectly balanced dessert beer. The peanut butter is great and blends with the vanilla and banana very nicely. Too may beers with peanut butter in them use powder or the peanut butter tastes like a stale Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. Not this beer, oh no. This is delicious.

Das Beste (Icarus Brewing Company) | Kölsch | 4.50 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_DasBeste

This is the first Kölsch / Kölsch style ale from Icarus and boy howdy is it delicious. I enjoy a good Kölsch and this is one of the better ones I’ve ever had. Very glad to see a style like this come out of a brewery largely known for IPAs and boozy stouts. But I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least about the quality of the beer because for my tastes, Icarus simply doesn’t make bad beers. That may be relatively clear since they make more appearances here, in both the Monthly Six Packs, and the Tap Takeover in general, than any other brewery.

Premium Verum / German Pilsener (Warsteiner) | Pilsner – German | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Warsteiner_Pilsner

Sometimes a good, classic German Pilsner hits the spot. That’s exactly what this beer did for me. It is always nice to get the beer in not just Proper Glassware, but glassware with the brewery’s logo on it made specifically for the specific beer. Maybe that helped with the enjoyment a little bit, but the beer itself is tasty enough. Regardless, this was good, but nothing mind blowing.

Brux Royale Belgian Chocolate Stout (Ross Brewing Company) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Ross_BruxRoyale

Ross Brewing has come out pretty strongly this year, producing interesting looking beers. This decadent stout is just the second beer I’ve had from them and it is an impressively crafted, boozy stout. Roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate are the signature flavors here.

Cinnamon Babka (Grimm Artisanal Ales) | Stout – Imperial / Double Milk | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Grimm_Babka

I’ve enjoyed some of Grimm’s lighter offerings so I wanted to sample this big, boozy (12%) Dessert Stout. When added appropriately, cinnamon is a nice adjunct and that’s the case with this beer. Hints of cinnamon and cocoa make for a delicious evening sipper. I was a little worried when I had the first sip of the beer, but once it warmed up a little bit, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this beer.

Grisaille | Blend N°1 (Field & Oak) | Saison – Grisette | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

FieldOak_Grisaille

Under the Field & Oak brand, Kane Brewing has been in the process of making some Belgian inspired beers on the lighter side – Saisons, Grisettes, Lambics. Beers that have funk and some kind of fruit. This Grisette was the first one of those beers I sampled and I could have enjoyed an unending glass of this beer all day. The oak aging lends a hint of vanilla. Slightly funky, effervescent, and delicious.

That’s all I have to say about that.