Beer Review: Lone Eagle Brewing’s Belgian Dark Strong

Name: Belgian Dark Strong
Brewing Company: Lone Eagle Brewing Company
Location: Flemington, NJ
Style: Belgian Dark Strong
ABV: 8.2%

The beer came out of the tap at the brewery, but the four packs of cans are sold there, too. And most liquor stores in NJ.

From Lone Eagle’s beers page (which changes regularly):

This Belgian Ale has notes of dark fruits such as figs and plums as well as some slight oak aroma and flavors. It has a nice malty taste with a slightly dry finish. After this beer was done fermenting we aged if on rum soaked oak chips from our friends at Skunktown Distillery.

Lone Eagle was one of the first breweries I featured in a brewery spotlight here at the Tap Takeover, so it is about time I got around to reviewing one of their beers. Especially since I’ve been there quite frequently. Be that as it may, here’s a relatively new beer from them, first brewed in Late October, I think.

One thing I’ve appreciated about Lone Eagle is the variety of styles they have on tap. You’re not going to be drowned in 10 out of the 14 taps being IPAs. This is a very classic style, and one that is really suited for cold weather / Winter months. The beer isn’t exactly black like a stout, but you could say it is almost a Belgian approximation of a stout (as they typically don’t brew stouts). Rather the beer is almost black with hints of deep crimson. I couldn’t get the best picture of the beer since the brewery was very crowded, the upstairs loft had a band playing Christmas Songs and Santa was in attendance, too.

I couldn’t get much of a nose on the beer, but could smell a bit of sweetness and some of the hints of the typical flavors evoked by Belgian yeast.

First sip gave me a little bit of a wow – more flavorful than I would have expected. Sweetness and some spice mix up nicely in the glass and in the mouth. The 8.2%ABV is fairly typical of the style, so the little bit of booziness shouldn’t be a surprise. I suspect that may also come from the rum chips that were soaking in the beer because there is a little sweetness on the finish atypical from other Belgian Darks I’ve had in the past.

As I continue to make my way through the beer, the full flavor profile really comes together. You’ve got the characteristic spice & esters from the yeast adding stone fruity flavors to the mix. You’ve got a hint of booziness from the inherit presence of the alcohol and enhancement of the rum-soaked oak chips. All told for me, a pleasing beer.

Like many of Lone Eagle’s beers, this one is out in distribution throughout much of New Jersey and maybe Pennsylvania and New York…or wherever their footprint reaches. As I said, I’m impressed with the variety of styles Lone Eagle attempts and while not all are out of the park hits, just about all of them have been enjoyable interpretations of the style. Which is the case for this beer.

I also appreciate the local/community collaboration with Skunktown Distillery, which is also in Flemington. I haven’t visited the distillery yet myself. But that collaborative and community spirit is a great strength of Lone Eagle and has been since day one.

Recommended link to Untappd 3.75-Bottle Cap rating.

Draught Diversions: Lone Eagle Brewing Company (Flemington, NJ)

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 or the third person referencing…

Last Thursday, June 15, I spent a couple of hours at Lone Eagle Brewing in Flemington, NJ. Located in the Liberty Village Outlets, Lone Eagle has been open about a year and after starting with eight beers, they now feature a dozen taps. Their head brewer Alex Franko, formerly of Dogfish Head, joined the brewery shortly before launch and he has helped owners Todd and Bob brew some tasty beers and the brewery become a welcoming presence in the community and area.

I visited Lone Eagle a couple of times over the past year for a flight and for a couple of growler fills. During those visits, I was very pleased with what they were brewing, particularly the Oatmeal Stout which impressed my family when I brought a growler to Christmas Eve. I also liked the Cranberry Saison and as well as their Dopplebock which was a nice surprise as not too many breweries, let alone smaller breweries, are brewing Dopplebocks. I know I said that about Jughandle a couple of weeks ago, but of the small craft breweries I go to fairly regularly, I don’t recall seeing a Dopplebock on tap outside of here at Lone Eagle or at Jughandle. In addition to their rotating 12 beers on tap, Lone Eagle sometimes puts one of their beers on Nitro. In the case of my most recent visit, it was their Baltic Porter.  The nitro addition cushioned the bitterness usually associated with Baltic Porters and made for a really pleasant beer.

Tap list @ Lone Eagle on 06-15-16. A nice mix of styles highlighted by the DILLIGAF Hefeweizen, in my opinion, as well as the Award Winning West Coast IPA.

Lone Eagle is currently canning four beers, their West Coast IPA (which won best IPA in April 2017’s Atlantic City Beer Fest), their Turkey Trot Porter (named in honor of the 20+ year old Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Flemington), their American Pale Ale, and their Craison, a saison with cranberries. More on the Turkey Trot Porter in a bit.

The beer that impressed me the most; however, was their Hefeweizen, which also goes by the name of Dillagaf Hefeweizen so named for one of the regular customers. I’ve been wanting to try this beer for a while since it was one of the “launch beers” and finally did on Thursday. Other times I visited, they didn’t have any of the beer tap ready as the previous visits were during cooler months.

As I’ve said in the past, wheat based beers – especially Hefeweizens – are at the top of my list of favorite styles and this one did not disappoint. In fact, I was surprised with how great it tasted. I would compare Lone Eagle’s Hefeweizing very favorably with some of the better German Hefeweizens. I would even say Lone Eagle’s was better than some of the German Hefeweizens I’ve had. With how well Hefeweizens pair with warm weather, I’d love to see this beer as the brewery’s next canned release for convenience in a poolside cooler, for easy transport to summer BBQs, or just to stock up and have a can always on the ready.

Just what a Hefeweizen should look like

With regard to the facility itself, Lone Eagle has a nice first floor bar and seating area, with an even larger seating area on a second floor. They rent it out and have a second tap upstairs, too. For my most recent visit, I was going for the monthly Brews and Board Games meeting, this was the group’s third such meeting and my first. I know a couple of people in the group, one a former coworker who I recently discovered is a craft beer geek like me, and another friend I knew from the online Science Fiction Community/twitterverse.

Exterior of Lone Eagle @ 44 Stangl Rd in Flemington, NJ. The photo doesn’t do justice the building footprint and spacious interior

One of the games was actually beer based, Brewcrafters Travel Card Game, and is slightly reminiscent of the game Munchkin. The point of the game is to get 21 points by brewing beer based on the cards you draw. I enjoyed it so much I’m going to have to get this game for myself . There were a lot of games, a lot of people engaged in those games and it seemed like everyone was having a great time. Considering most were enjoying some delicious beer, this should be no surprise. Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to the next gathering of the Brews and Board Games group on July 20.

One of the great things about craft beer and these smaller breweries is the sense of community they inspire or at which they are are often the center. Demented in Middlesex has a great taproom and will often have food trucks in the parking lot. Lone Eagle has this sense of community at its heart, too. The brewery was founded by two friends and home brewers from neighboring Raritan Township. Lone Eagle hold regular events that bring people in the community together with local restaurants or food trucks selling food, local musicians and bands playing music for patrons to enjoy, or folks looking to play some interesting games while sharing some beer.

That sense of community was strong even before the brewery had a name. In November 2015 Owners Todd Becker and Bob King, asked people to submit names for the brewery. After some back and forth to ensure a winning name wasn’t already taken by an existing brewery, Lone Eagle became the name in honor of Charles Lindbergh as it was the nickname he received after successfully completing a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Lindbergh spent a great deal of time in Flemington during the Trial of the Century, which at its center was the kidnapping and murder of Lindbergh’s son.  Flemington is also where an annual Thanksgiving 5K race is held, the 2017 version of the Turkey Trot will be the 25th Annual race. My wife and I have run in it for the past 7 or 8 years. The race is the name Lone Eagle uses for their tasty porter, Turkey Trot Porter. I said earlier I’d come back to that beer and so I did.

Lone Eagle is coming up on their one year anniversary so Todd and Bob are having a two-day celebration. I’m hoping I can make it to one of those days, but I know for sure I’ll be returning to the Brews and Board Games meet up and stopping in for a flight or growler fill in the future. (And hopefully for some canned Hefeweizen!)