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…
December means Christmas and some annual seasonal returns (I’m looking at you Mad Elf), big stouts, darker lagers, and barrel-aged beauties to warm the cold nights. Speaking of cold nights, New Jersey saw the coldest Christmas in twenty years, with temperatures below freezing after the wind chill was factored. I made two trips to Icarus this month, once for their Yuleapolooza and the second (two days later) for a beer and doughnuts pairing with Purple Glaze Donuts out of Asbury Park. This month’s six pack, will again, feature some expected favorite breweries, plus a few new ones.
Let’s dive into the November 2022 Six Pack …
Red Tape (Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers) | Lager – Amber | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd
Red Tape is another crispy, malty lager from the Framingham brewery. This is Jack’s Abby’s early winter seasonal, meaning it hits shelves in November and is a perfect everyday lager with great flavor at the sweet spot of 5% ABV. This was one of Jack’s Abby’s launch beers and I can understand why it has been in rotation since. I grabbed a four pack for $8.99 and for my money, that’s a damned bargain.
Double Barrel Evening Bell Old Rip Van Winkle (Kane Brewing Company) | Porter – Imperial / Double | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd
Another month, another Kane beer appears. Considering I picked up 5 different bottles when I visited the brewery on Black Friday, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Evening Bell is Kane’s base Milk Porter and this version underwent an extensive aging process through three different barrels including the holy grail of bourbon, Rip Van Winkle barrels. Smooth, sexy, with hints of vanilla and a strong barrel element, this beer is sublime and delicious.
Samichlaus Classic 2020 (Schloss Eggenberg) | Bock – Dopplebock | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd
Samichlaus is a special beer from Austria. Brewed only on St. Nicholas Day December 6 (which lends the beer its Austrian name), the beer is aged for 10 months before being put into bottles for sale. At one point in time, this was the strongest beer in the world at 14.1% ABV. The beer was sweet, very boozy, a little syrupy with stone fruit elements. Very reminiscent of a barleywine in all the right ways.
Visions of Snickerdoodles (Buttzville Brewing Company) | Cream Ale | 3.5 Bottle Caps on untappd
A colleague was kind enough to give me a four-pack of this as a thank you Christmas gift. There’s a lot of cinnamon in this beer which is one of the things I (and many people) like about the Snickerdoodle Cookie. The lactose brings a nice sweetness to the beer and makes for a tasty Christmas beer
Life Unraveled (Icarus Brewing) | Barleywine – American | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd
I picked up Icarus’s first bottled barleywine during my July visit to the brewery and I knew I wanted to save it for a special occasion. Tradition in recent years has my father and I sharing a special beer, so here it is. The Marris Otter Barley, a hallmark of the style, shines with a great malt bill. Icarus says there’s a “touch of rye” in the beer and that spiciness comes through slightly on the end with the barrel character balancing out the strong hop profile. A great barleywine that just has me hoping Icarus will brew/bottle more of the style.
Downdraft (Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company) | Rauchbier | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd
Rauchbier is probably one of my least checked-in styles on untapped, it is generally a style towards which I don’t gravitate. But the friend I was with at Jersey Cyclone spoke highly of the beer, so I tired it and liked it! There’s of course a smoky element, but I also get a bit of sweetness, maybe from the malt, maybe from the smoked beechwood? Either way, this was a very tasty beer.
A couple of beers were stinkers this past month, (I was not a fan of this year’s Anchor Christmas Ale, seemed to be brewed with juniper) but mostly really good stuff. I mentioned Mad Elf at the top of the post, but it is worth mentioning again because I had a can I let age for four years and it was absolutely delightful. The cherry element was even more enjoyable.