Beer Review: Bradley Brew Project’s Jersey

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

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

BradleyBP_Jersey

Beer description:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beer Review: Tmavy Lezak by Icarus Brewing & Hackensack Brewing

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

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

Icaus-Hack_TmavyLezak

From Icarus Brewing’s facebook post for the beer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beer Review: Muckraker Beermaker’s Maple Black & Blue

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

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

Muckraker_MBBB

From Muckraker’s landing page for the beer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muckraker_MBB_Bottle

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

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

Beer Review: Man Skirt Brewing’s Quadrupel Take

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

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

ManSkirt_QuadrupelTake

From the untappd entry for the beer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beer Review: Four City Brewing’s La Baie Noir

Name: La Baie Noir
Brewing Company: Four City Brewing Company
Location: Orange, NJ
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 6%

A superb fruited sour from a NJ brewery who has shown ample talent across nuanced styles.

4City_LaBaieNoire

From the untappd page for the beer:

Sour fans can rejoice! La Baie Noir (French for “the black berry”) is our dark sour brewed with blackberry puree. Tart with a sweet finish, this beer will be a springtime favorite!.

I’ve been eager to try more of Four City’s beers since I visited the brewery during my 2020 Birthday Brewery tour. The people were really chill and the beer impressed me. I was very pleased when a liquor store I frequent started carrying their beer (per my untappd notifications), so I visited and landed on this beer to try, I wanted something a little different. Since I like blackberries this one called out to me quite loudly.

A rather fancy looking can, the beer name in script with a vine of hops on one side of the name, with blackberries on the other. Yup. That tells you what you’ll get.

The beer I pour into the can is quite dark, slightly translucent. From a distance, it looks black, but under the light there’s a purple tint. As dark as this beer is, there’s no mistaking it for a stout or porter. Aroma is potent blackberries, but there’s an underlying funk I’d expect from a sour ale.

My first sip follows the nose. An initial funkiness, which is what I expect from a sour beer. The blackberries come in and take over as the primary flavor element. A balanced amount of blackberries, though. While a this beer probably has ample amounts of blackberry puree, there’s still the underlying sour/tart and funky elements to keep the “backbone” of this adult beverage in the beer category.

The few beers I’ve had from Four City include beers that aren’t the easiest to make and styles that illustrate a brewery’s/brewer’s skill: Belgian Dubbel, Belgian Quadrupel, and this one. Many breweries are making Sour Ales, but many of them are throwing lactose (or cream cheese!) into the beer and overloading the beer with extremely large amounts of fruit or other “non-traditional” adjuncts…smoothie sours that barely resemble beers when poured in the glass. This beer, La Baie Noir, is showcasing great flavors with fewer components and it shows – there’s not much room to hide mistakes and the sour elements and blackberries shine.

I haven’t had too many dark sour beers, especially recently since I’ve come to enjoy sour beers more. I recall one from Carton Brewing and one from New Belgium, but bothe beers were consumed a good handful of years ago so comparing La Baie Noir to those beers isn’t exactly apt. What I can say is that Four City’s Blackberry Sour is an outstanding beer that should please many craft beer drinkers. It isn’t face-puckering sour, but sour enough to establish itself as a sour beer. The blackberry flavor is wonderful. A nice dessert beer, for sure.

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

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Fruits of Your Labor (Level 19)

It’s been a long day and now it’s time for a reward. Crisp, tasty and refreshing, enjoy that delicious fruit beer! That’s 5 different beers with the style of Fruit Beer, Sour – Smoothie / Pastry, or Sour – Fruited (Gose or Berliner Weisse).

FourCity_LaBaieNoire

Beer Review: Carton Brewing’s Cafe Revolver

Name: Cafe Revolver
Brewing Company: Carton Brewing Company
Location: Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Style: Cream Ale | Imperial Cream Ale
ABV: 12%

Another outstanding entry in Carton Brewing’s “Regular Coffee Game” – A Must Try

Carton_CafeRevolver

From Carton Brewing’s landing page for the beer:

Imperial Cream Ale Aged In Bourbon Barrels w/ Orange Bitters: 12% | IBU: 20 | SRM: 5

Café Revolver is a continuation of the Regular Coffee game. Our golden imperial coffee cream ale has been finished on Bourbon barrels with orange bitters. Much like Regular Coffee looks to evoke an amusing version of the acidic bitter coffee curbed by milk and sugar that starts a day in a paper cup, Cafe Revolver addresses it on the other end of the day. A beer rendition of a modern Revolver cocktail, sweet coffee and bourbon’s richness defined by a dash of aromatic orange bitters, lending a subtle brightness to the darker tones. Drink Cafe Revolver and take your best shot.

Carton Brewing becomes the first brewery with a 4th feature review here at the Tap Takeover with a version of one of their more highly sought after offerings. Every New Year’s Day (or thereabouts) Augie Carton and his crew release cans of an “Irregular Coffee,” a variant of their flagship cream ale, Regular Coffee. Regular Coffee is their interpretation of morning coffee in the form of a Cream Ale – milk sugar and coffee are added to the base beer of a cream ale. One of the 2021 versions of Irregular Coffee is Café Revolver, the beer interpretation of the Revolver cocktail, which is Bourbon, orange bitters, and coffee liqueur. For this beer, Carton aged Regular coffee in bourbon barrels along with orange bitters with the goal of evoking that evening, sipping cocktail. Or a “coffee on the other end of the day.”

I like bourbon quite a lot (my favorite spirit), I like the flavor of coffee, and I’ve enjoyed 7 versions of “Regular Coffee” including the original prior to Café Revolver, but this one is the first I’ve had that has a barrel aging element.

IrregularCoffe
The only variant not pictured is Irish Coffee, I had a few tasters of it years ago at the 2015 Garden State Brewfest, but haven’t been fortunate enough to have it since then.

Pouring the beer into my Carton glass, I get some aromas of bourbon. The beer is a little murkier looking than other Irregular Coffee variants I’ve enjoyed, which is neither negative or positive. Just the way I see it. There are more flavor elements so the beer’s murkiness makes sense.

The first sip gives me the sweetness from the lactose, but the bourbon soon envelopes everything. The orange bitters are an assertive flavor component, but that element plays extremely well with the bourbon. As it should considering bitters are part of many, many bourbon-based cocktails. The coffee elements are the underlying flavor holding all the elements together. Halfway through the 12oz can, I’m thoroughly enjoying this fun and tasty beer, all those elements come together in a very cohesive, elegant fashion.

I’ve always been impressed by how many of Carton’s beers are inspired by food or other non-beer things like cocktails. What’s even more impressive is how despite this beer emulating a bourbon cocktail (or a doppelbock brewed with coffee beans substituting the hops, for another example) yet the beer remains undeniably, well, a beer.

Café Revolver does just that. It is undeniably a beer, but the elements of the cocktail play the base beer extremely well. Specifically, the elements of Regular Coffee are distinct and give the beer its dominant character. The cocktail elements are damned fine complement to what fans of Regular Coffee like myself, have come to expect. I can’t rank this one against the original, but my favorite variant is Café Y’ Churro. In speaking to Augie during our visit, he said a lot of people consider that their favorite, because people love cinnamon. He isn’t wrong. I’d say Cafe Revolver is in the top half of the Irregular Coffee beers I’ve had, but again, they are all spectacular beers.

To paraphrase the Carton motto that closes out the beer description on the cans of most of their beers, drink Cafe Revolver because it is a delicious, fun, and playful beer.

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

Carton_CafeRevolver

Drink Review: Cranberry Sauced from Sourland Mountains Spirits

Name: Cranberry Sauced
Brewing Company: Sourland Mountain Spirits
Location: Hopewell, NJ
Style: Craft Cocktail (Gin & Cranberries)
ABV: 8%

A delicious, refreshing, cocktail that is a perfect balance of flavors.

Sourland_CranberrySauced

From the Sourland Mountain Spirits’slanding page for the droml:

Just in time for the holidays, our debut canned cocktail features a refreshing blend of our 12 botanical flagship gin, farm-fresh New Jersey cranberries, rosemary, honey, and lemon. Just chill, shake, and pour over ice. Each pack includes 4x 12 oz cans.

Tasting Notes: fresh cranberries, rosemary, honey, lemon

Let’s try something a little bit different, shall we? As much as I enjoy beer, I do enjoy spirits, too. Last year for my wife’s birthday, I took her on a tour and tasting at Sourland Mountain Spirits in Hopewell, NJ*. We had a fantastic time, our tour was lead by owner Ray Disch who also happens to be a co-founder of Triumph Brewing. We had a fantastic time, due in large part to Ray himself, who was entertaining, knowledgeable, and gregarious. Essentially, everything a small business owner should be as the public face. Sourland also makes some tasty spirits and cocktails.

*The distillery happens to be on the same farm Troon Brewing, which I didn’t initially realize.

Cranberry happens to be one of, if not, my favorite fruit (as I noted in recent beer review). NJ happens to be one of the largest producers of the fruit in the State of New Jersey. When my wife and I learned they released their first canned cocktail, which highlights the tart fruit, we wanted to give it a try in the spirit (pun somewhat intended) of supporting small business and a business we like a lot (despite Gin not being a spirit I typically seek out). Also, this is a perfect holiday drink!

One thing I learned on that tour about a year ago is that gin is the base, or starting spirit, for many other spirits, so it makes sense that Ray and his cocktail sorcerers would utilize gin in their first canned cocktail. Gin is also quite popular.

I don’t typically go for craft/canned cocktails, but “Cranberry Sauced” from Sourland Spirits might change that. Along with delicious and copious cranberries, this drink has honey, lemon, and rosemary mixed with their tasty gin. Per the directions on the can, I gave it a shake and filled up my glass with the cocktail.

That was a nice little kick! Again, gin isn’t a go to for me, but I do get that as a prominent element of the drink. My wife caught more of the cranberry, but she’s not into cranberry quite as much as I am. I gave the drink a splash of Cran-Mango juice and boy-howdy does that bring some nice balance to an already tasty adult beverage. If gin is your thing, then maybe a shot of gin could be added for an extra kick. Regardless, Sourland has crafted something really special with this drink.

Cranberry Sauced is a delicious, FUN, and refreshing drink and a nice change up from what I normally enjoy. This is a perfect holiday drink, given that cranberries are often associated with fall/winter holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. I can’t recommend this tasty treat enough.

Highly Recommended. If this beverage were on untappd, I’d probably rate it at 4.25/4.5 out 5 bottle caps

Beer Review: Tart & Thankful – A Collaboration between Highrail Brewing & NJ Craft Beer

Name: Tart & Thankful
Brewing Company: Highrail Brewing in collaboration with New Jersey Craft Beer
Location: High Bridge, NJ
Style: Fruit Beer | Fruited Sour
ABV: 4.9%

A delicious, balanced fruited sour perfect for the autumn/winter seasonal holidays.

Highrail_TartThankful

From the Facebook post announcing the beer:

Tart & Thankful (4.9%), a bright and cheerful seasonal sour brewed with cranberry. Now available for taproom pours and crowler and growler fills. *A limited supply of 4-packs are also available.*

We collaborated with the team at New Jersey Craft Beer (@NJCraftBeer) to create this Thanksgiving-inspired sour ale. Dosed with Cranberry puree and lightly hopped with Vic Secret, this sour ale hits every mark for a sour and is perfect for sharing at the Thanksgiving feast. Contains lactose. 8 IBU.

I visited High Rail Brewing about two years ago, which was not long after they first opened and enjoyed the beers I had during that visit. When the Hunterdon Beer Trail came to be, I knew I’d be visiting again and that visit was pushed up when the good folks at High Rail collaborated with Mike and the fine people behind New Jersey Craft Beer on this cranberry (one of my favorite fruits) fruited sour.

The beer I’m handed from the draught pour is slightly pinkish. I don’t get too much of an aroma outside of maybe a slight funk as well as the cranberries.

The first sip is really nice, with a noticeably pleasant hit of cranberry.

Halfway through the beer, I’m struck by how well balanced and approachable this beer is. Let me unpack that statement. Some sour beers are very potent, which can potentially be off-putting. Tart & Thankful is far from off-putting, sure it is sour, but damn is it inviting. The sour is a slight tap to the cheek to assert itself. The cranberry element is fairly abundant and the addition of milk sugar/lactose balances out how highly tart cranberry can be. My only issue here is that I wish there was more cranberry. But as I noted above, cranberry is one of my favorite fruits (I drink cranberry juice everyday and love a cranberry smoothie for breakfast) so I may be an outlier.

HighRailNJCB_TartThankful

Tart & Thankful is an outstanding beer, probably the best beer I’ve had categorized as “Fruit Beer” on untappd. As a fruited sour, I love it. It is refreshing, light, clean and overall just about everything I’d want in a beer that has sour elements and cranberries in it. Well done Highrail and New Jersey Craft Beer.

This beer is available only (I think) at the brewery on draft and in cans. Perfect for Thanksgiving, or anytime. It is a beer that is well worth visiting the brewery to enjoy. And while you’re there, enjoy more from Highrail because they make tasty, approachable brews.

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

A delicious, balanced fruited sour perfect for the autumn/winter season.

Highrail_TartThankful

Beer Review: The Alementary’s Laniakea (2020)

Name: Laniakea
Brewing Company: The Alementary
Location: Hackensack, NJ
Style: Stout – Russian Imperial
Location Consumed: Paragon Tap & Table, Clark, NJ
ABV: 9.5%

The Alementary’s take on the Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout is a delicious blend of flavors

Alementary_Laniakea

Description of the beer:

Laniakea is our famous bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout… made just once a year, and every year is in different barrels. This year we got some amazing Woodford Reserve barrels to perfectly complement this 10% ABV monster. Notes of dark fruits, vanilla, caramel, toffee, chocolate, and roasty coffee abound—all contributed solely by the use of premium British malts and these gorgeous bourbon barrels. It’s the perfect thing for helping you face the first winter storm of the year.

Two weeks in a row with Russian Imperial Stouts, I know. I wasn’t expecting to review this beer, but it is a beer from The Alementary I’ve been wanting to try for a couple of years. This is a more traditional Russian Imperial Stout in the sense that nothing is added, but it is aged in bourbon barrels. Russian Imperial Stouts lend themselves quite nicely to barrel aging, which is why so many breweries throw this big black beers in oak barrels.

So what do we have here from The Alementary?

I’m handed a beer that is very black, maybe not as quite as black as the last RIS I reviewed last week, but still very much looks the part of a big Russian Imperial Stout. Bourbon is strong on the nose, which is quite inviting.

The first sip is extremely tasty. I get all of the stout/malty elements of the beer including the hallmark “bite” of a Russian Imperial Stout. The bourbon barrel adds a nice shot of heat at the end. The more I sip from the glass, the more the complexity of the beer emerges.

Alementary_LaniakeaBottle
Image courtesy of The Alementary’s Facebook

This is a delicious beer, first and foremost. Like a lot of beers aged in some kind of wood, hints of vanilla emerge. Those hints complements the inherit coffee elements that come from the malts in a Russian Imperial Stout. There might be some other hint of flavor present, maybe chocolate? I say that because I get hints of chocolate from may big stouts and I think that’s what I’m tasting here. Whatever it is, the balance of flavor elements from the roasted malt – chocolate and coffee – play extremely nicely with the barrel characteristics of bourbon and vanilla. I took my time with this beer and was rewarded.

I enjoyed this during a birthday dinner with my parents, they each had a sip and liked it quite a bit, too. Hands down, this is the best beer I’ve had from The Alementary.

How does this compare to other Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stouts? Quite nicely, maybe a little shy of the best of the best. That’s not to say Laniakea is a bad beer, it is very good. This is a beer I’d seek out again and recommend seeking out. I had it on draft at Paragon Tap & Table in Clark, NJ, but bottles of this should be available in relatively limited quantities in The Alementary’s NJ distribution footprint.

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

Alementary_Laniakea

Beer Review: Untied Brewing’s Raspberry Decadent Darkness

Name: Decadent Darkness (2021 Raspberry)
Brewing Company: Untied Brewing Company
Location: New Providence, NJ
Style: Stout – Pastry
ABV: 12.2%

An outstanding pastry/dessert stout that elegantly balances adjuncts with the beer elements.

Untied-DD-Rasp-F

From the untapped page for the beer:

Imperial Pastry Stout conditioned with raspberries, vanilla, and cacao nibs.

I’ve been visiting Untied Brewing every couple of months, and most recently, I decided to pick up one of their pastry stouts. A few months prior, I met my dad there for Father’s Day and he got a small pour of this beer. I tasted and I enjoyed it so I wanted to have a full sampling/bottle for myself. I was impressed with their Russian Imperial Stout both times I had it, so between the sip I had previously and my experience with, hell, most of their beers, I thought I’d enjoy this one in its full glory. Those speculations were well-founded.

The beer pours thick black, or so it would seem. When I gave the beer a closer examination under the light, there was a deep red tint to the dark liquid, obviously from the raspberries.

Those raspberries take center stage in this beer, they are strong in the aroma and a first sip gives me more of that raspberry flavor. With the 12.2% ABV, sipping this beer is the way to go, so you can allow the flavors to wake up as the beer warms up. Anyway, why would you want to chug a beer with that big of an ABV.

I get chocolate hints as I enjoy more of the beer, almost like chocolate covered raspberries. Owner Matt and company really got the name correct with this beer, it is enormously decadent. What impresses me the most about this beer is that the beer elements, particularly the roasted malt that gives stouts their flavor, are not overtaken (too much) by the potent raspberry and chocolate elements.

The only flavor that doesn’t come through, to me, is the vanilla. I suppose the vanilla is more of a balancing element for the strong raspberry and chocolate flavors making this beee an ideal dessert stout.

Untied has brewed/bottled other variants of this “Decadent Darkness” line of pastry stouts – Chocolate & Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Coconut, Vanilla), Mocha, and Raspberry & Coconut, which all seem as if they are as decadent as their name would imply. Bottom line, I’ve been enjoying every beer I had from Untied Brewing and this one is no exception.

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

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

 

Dessert Time! (Level 2)

Marshmallow, chocolate, apple pie! Cakes and cookies catch my eye. Churn that butter, twist and shout. Put it in a pastry stout! That’s 10 different beers with the style of Stout – Pastry, Stout – Imperial / Double Pastry. Check-in to 5 more to get to Level 3.

Untied_DD-Raspb-Backl