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.

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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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

What Three 3’s says about the beer:

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

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

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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

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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

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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?

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Beer Review: Better Maize Ahead by Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Cream of the Crop (Level 7)

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

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Draught Diversions: October 2020 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…

Shorter days, darker nights, and cooler temperatures arrive in October. Bigger beers begin to dominate the shelves in October although seasonal creep for Christmas Beers is also the norm now as favorites like Tröegs Mad Elf began appearing in the middle of the month. October 2020’s six pack includes beers from long time favorites, one new brewery, and a brewery I should be seeking out more often. A variety of styles this October; a couple of IPAs, a couple of dark beers, and a barleywine. Let’s dive in, shall we?

I Voted (Troon Brewing Company) | IPA – American | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Troon brews some of the most sought-after beers in the State of New Jersey, with a reputation for big stouts, kettle sours, and hazy hoppy ales. (They rarely call their beers “IPA”) So when I took my wife on a wonderful socially-distanced tour of Sourland Mountain Spirits (on the same large farm complex), I had a pour of this beer at the Brick Farm Tavern (also on the big farm complex). This beer is a delicious, hazy IPA with a magnificent blend of hops. Now that I know how close Brick Farm Tavern is (which is a person’s best shot at getting a Troon beer), I’ll have to stop there in the future.

HopCyclone Hazy DIPA (Tröegs Independent Brewing) | IPA – Imperial / Double New England | 4.25 bottle caps on untappd


It has been far too long since I had a new beer from Tröegs and I haven’t had a new IPA in my fridge for a while. HopCyclone ticked off both of those boxes and is an outstanding New England style IPA. There’s a blend of four hops in this beer, Citra, Sabro, Sultana, and Simcoe, which are a great combination. I like Simcoe quite a bit and that seems to shine through really nicely, overall the beer has pleasant hints of citrus, peach, and pineapple. Plain and simple, HopCyclone is a great beer.

Workingman’s Dublin Porter (Toms River Brewing) | Porter – Other | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Tom’s River Brewing keeps impressing me. This is an Irish-inspired Dublin porter, which isn’t a surprise considering the brewery’s roots. Madagascar Vanilla beans and local honey add another layer of flavor to the beer. What those adjuncts do in this beer is soften the bitterness of the coffee, for an overall tasty beer.

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

Sully photobombing this shot. Pilsners, especially great ones, are perfect for sitting on the porch relaxing while your dog keeps watch over the yard.

Carton has been brewing and canning a series of Pilsners over the past few months, this one they are calling an “American Pilsner.” I call it a delicious Lager/Pilsner. There’s a very clean flavor profile with the core four elements of beer working in harmony. This maybe the lightest yellow pilsner I can remember having, but damn if it isn’t a fine beer.

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Sharing Size (Free Will Brewing Co.) | Stout – Imperial / Double Oatmeal | 4.5 bottle caps on untappd

Free Will Brewing has a taproom in Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, PA and during the month of October, there was a socially distanced haunted walking ghost tour called Murder Mystery: Homicide and Hauntings from Without a Cue, which was a blast. Of course I grabbed a beer from Free Will, this is their Hallowe’en beer, four different stouts inspired by popular Hallowe’en candy. This one is inspired by the famous “right cookie” and “left cookie” brand and was an outstandingly balanced sweet stout, brewed in collaboration with Breweries in PA. Cool label art, too

Helldorado (2017) | Firestone Walker Brewing Company | Barleywine – American | 4.5 bottle caps on untappd

Firestone Walker calls this a “Blonde Barleywine,” I call it an outstanding barrel-aged big beer. Firestone Walker has such skill with barrel aging so when I noticed a local shop had a 3-year old barrel aged barleywine from these masters of blending and barrel aging, there was no way I was NOT getting myself a bottle, especially at a $9 price tag. This is one of the best barleywines I’ve ever had. The beer has a strong bourbon aroma and the flavors that emerge include vanilla, chewy hops, toffee, and caramel. Simply an outstanding beer.

Another solid month overall for new beers, I could have easily highlighted 8 to 10 beers this month. Only one real drainpour, a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Ale, which was disgustingly oversweet.