Draught Diversions: February 2019 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…

Like January, I tried a solid batch of new to me beers in February and some I’d been wanting to try for years. Three New Jersey beers, three non-NJ beers this month for a fairly balanced selection of styles. One of these beers happened to be perfectly timed for #FlagshipFebruary, a nice initiative meant to shift focus from Hot! Special! releases to those iconic beers that helped lay the foundation for the American Craft/Independent beer market.

Arabicadabra (Bell’s Brewery)  Stout – Milk / Sweet – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

The very first new beer of February makes the list, setting a good tone for the month. Since Bell’s hit NJ last year, I’ve been making my way through their portfolio and this was part of a mixed six pack my wife picked up for me. I guessed correctly that it was a stout when she presented it to me just in the glass. There’s a nice sweet hit to the coffee in this milk stout that hits all the right notes for a coffee milk stout.

Black Butte Porter (Deschutes Brewery Company) Porter – American – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

A dark restaurant at a table with 7 people is not conducive to good beer photography.

Visiting Vegas on a work trip makes for good possibilities, including the opportunity to finally try one of the flagship beers (timely enough for #FlagshipFebruary) from one of the largest independent/craft breweries of the American West. This is an excellent porter. Even though the beer was about a year old according to the date stamping, the flavor held up quite nicely. I’d really like to have this closer to the “best by” date for comparison sake and to try the beer in its best possible sitiuation. As it stands, I can taste why this porter is held in such high regard.

Bluffing Isn’t Weisse (Bad Beat Brewing) Hefeweizen 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

I’m always on the lookout for a good Hefeweizen so I was pleased to see one of the bars near the hotel carrying this beer. Maybe because of the glut of IPAs and darker beers I’ve been having, this Hefeweizen hit the spot really nicely as I was reminiscing with a former colleague. It was a clean, tasty beer that had a nice clove/banana profile. Plus, this was a local beer from Nevada.

Milk Chocolate Stout (Lone Eagle Brewing) Stout – Imperial Milk / Sweet – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

Good ol’ Lone Eagle, one of the two closest breweries to my house. For the first time in a few months (travel and weather cancellations) I was able to attend Board Game night at Lone Eagle. I had this beer at the Great Beer Expo at the Meadowlands earlier in the month and liked it enough that I was hoping Lone Eagle would have some cans for sale at the brewery. Sure enough, the fridge had some relatively fresh four packs canned at the end of January. The beer has a really nice chocolate flavor, but doesn’t lose any of the traditional stout flavors. It represents nicely in both cans and draft.

Social Mosaic (Dark City Brewing Company) Sour – Berliner Weisse 3.75 bottle Caps on untappd

This might be the most surprising beer of the month for me, for two main reasons. I’ve had a small handful of beers from Dark City and they’ve honestly been hit (their 1st anniversary brown ale is outstanding) or miss. Mosaic is a hop I usually don’t like. Part of another mixed six my wife got me, she poured a bit into the glass and I was thrown off. I smelled the hops foremost, but tasting the beer, the sour elements prevail. The mosaic and lactose mix really nicely in this beer for a extremely well balanced sour that doesn’t overpower form any of the elements in the beer.

Exit 9 – Hoppy Scarlet Ale (Flying Fish Brewing Company) Red Ale – Imperial / Double 4 bottle caps on untappd

Outside of a Flying Fish glass, what’s more appropriate than a Rutgers pint glass for this beer?

One of my favorite brewing projects in New Jersey is Flying Fish’s Exit Series of beers. There were 18 beers in total in this series, each signifying a NJ Turnpike Exit. This beer is for Exit 9, New Brunswick, NJ and home of my alma mater Rutgers University whose mascot is the Scarlet Knight. Red Ales typically aren’t in my sweet spot, but the blend of hops in this one makes for a very tasty beer. Centennial is one of the hops and it really stands out. The beer is a nice sweet maltiness to the beer and a tasty hop finish. This beer is like an amped up version Flying Fish’s year-round red ale Red Fish. However, Exit 9 should still be available in Flying Fish’s current Exit Variety Pack but probably not after that.

Beer Review: Flying Fish Brewing’s Onshore Lager

Name: Onshore Lager
Brewing Company: Flying Fish Brewing Company
Location: Somerdale, NJ
Style: Lager – American Light
Style: 4.9%

From the beer’s description on Flying Fish Brewing’s Special Page dedicated to the beer:

Our home is surrounded by a breathtaking stretch of ocean and beautiful waterways, and ONSHORE LAGER is our tribute to that environment. Brewed without adjuncts, this beer pours a pure, golden color, and German-style hops provide a crisp, clean finish. The employees of Flying Fish are just like you. They enjoy the great outdoors with family and friends, and they want to ensure the beauty endures for generations to come. That’s why Flying Fish is not only committed to brewing high quality beers, but we also practice sustainability and care for the environment throughout the process. 463 solar panels help with our electricity needs, 19 solar tubes in our warehouse reduce the need for artificial lighting, recaptured steam in the brewing process minimizes water waste, and rain gardens on site prevent erosion. And spent grains? They go to local farms with happy cows.

Light Lager is perhaps the most popular style of beer in America. Conversely, it is probably the most maligned style in the craft beer world. The brewery once out of Saint Louis and the brewery out of Colorado whose Light Lagers are the two most popular beers in the world. Though popular, those two beers are absent of flavor, or at least *good* flavor. But like almost any style of beer, when done well, the beer can taste very good.

This brings me to Onshore Lager from one of New Jersey’s oldest independent breweries and the largest in the state, Flying Fish Brewing Company. This beer is a new (first available in June 2018) year-round offering from Flying Fish.

After popping the can, the beer pours a bright golden yellow into the glass with a nice fluffy head. This is a much brighter beer than some of the macro-produced light beers people are accustomed to seeing, it is quite inviting. The first sip was more than I expected, the malts and crispness of the lager come through really nicely. Even though this is a light lager with an ABV of 4.9%, the beer still as ample flavor and a decent body. Light Lagers are a style I almost never get, go out of my way to try, and I’ll even avoid them if possible. This beer, on the other hand, this is a good beer to always keep in the cooler, whether poolside, to enjoy after yardwork, or tailgating. I’ll be honest two days after I had the first one from the six pack, I had another and enjoyed it even more.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a movement in the craft beer world back to low ABV lagers: pilsners, light lagers, Helles Lagers. Firestone Walker’s simply named Lager is a great example, as a I mentioned recently and Founders Solid Gold seems to be doing well. Far be it from NJ’s elder states-brewer to stray from this trend, as this beer was first announced back in February and I was thinking back in May it might be a good crushable summer beer. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the full flavor of this beer. I’ll admit that I hoped it might lean more towards a Helles Lager style, and there’s a bit of that bready/grainy/toasty element to the beer, but much more subtle than a straight-up Helles Lager like Firestone’s Lager or Carton’s This Town. Suffice it to say, Onshore Lager is an excellent beer and like Bell’s Amber Ale, which I featured a few weeks back, is a perfect beer to ease folks wary of craft beer over to the craft beer/Independent Beer world.

It is really great to see a brewery that has been such a mainstay in New Jersey continue to push new beers regularly not even including the recently concluded Exit Series. Onshore Lager is about the sixth new beer Flying Fish has introduced in the last six months alone. What I think would be great is for them to offer a can mixed pack like many breweries are doing – throw a few of these, a few of their summer staple Farmhouse Summer Ale and Daylight Savings IPA together and you’d have a really solid mix of beers for a Summer variety pack.

As reported in a few online beer sites, including Brewbound: “a portion of the sales of Onshore Lager will go to New Jersey-based Clean Ocean Action, an organization that’s dedicated to the quality of the marine waters off the New Jersey coast.” So, two great combinations – a great beer and a great cause. If you see some Onshore Lager, pick up a six pack to share, or keep in the fridge for yourself.

Recommended, link to Untappd 3.75-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer: Lager Jack (Level 12)

Lager Jack (Level 12)

After a long day, what better way to kick back than with a crisp and refreshing lager? You’re already feeling more relaxed, aren’t you?. That’s 60 different Lagers!.

 

Draught Diversions: Summer 2018 6 Pack

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Summer beer (especially Lienenkugel’s Summer Shandy and Sam’s Summer Ale) has been on the shelves and taps since April and I blame it all on Samuel Adams. But, since we’re a couple weeks away from Memorial Day, the unofficial kick-off of Summer so in anticipation of warmer weather, here are 6 summery brews I’m hoping to try when the warm weather settles in and I can enjoy a refreshing beer or three sitting in or by my pool.

Not all of these are official “summer” beers, but they are styles for me that seem to fit right into the summer. Naturally, the beers I highlight here will be those available in the NJ/Northeast so while a brewery like Ninkasi may have an interesting looking beer, since Ninkasi doesn’t distribute to NJ (making the beer unavailable to me), I won’t be mentioning the beer.

The Bog Cranberry Shandy Cape May Brewing Company (Cape May, NJ)

Image courtesy of MyBeerBuzz

Say what you will about the Shandy / Radler style of beer popularized in recent years by Leinenkugel, but the style is very refreshing. There’s a reason German cyclists (or Radlers in German) were given pints of this in the summer. Cranberries are one of my favorite fruits and fruit juices, and I’ve begun to see more beers made with cranberries in recent years. NJ also happens to be one of the major producers of cranberries in the US, so a cranberry infused beer from NJ’s second largest brewery seems natural. I really hope this one reaches distribution near me.

“What happens when you make a Cranberry Wheat and accidentally add too much cranberry? Embrace it and turn it into a Shandy! A tart cranberry wheat beer blended with lemonade, The Bog is light and refreshing while still packing tons of flavor.”

Holy Moses Raspberry White Ale® – Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH)

Image courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing’s Web site

Great Lakes doesn’t make bad beer, at least for my palate. Holy Moses is Great Lakes’s take on the traditional Belgian Witbier and this new iteration adds Raspberry to the beer for what should be a nice sweet, tart refreshing ale. I’ve still yet to try the original Holy Moses, so I hope to give that one a try, too. I’ve seen quite a few of Great Lakes’s core brews as well as their always popular Christmas Ale in my area, but haven’t seen Holy Moses too often. Hopefully that changes.

“In the spirit of Moses Cleaveland’s thirst for discovery, our classic White Ale meets fresh, juicy raspberries to forge a pint worth planting a flag in (or an orange slice!)

FLAVOR
Refreshment or bust! Tart raspberry flavors mark our White Ale’s spicy, aromatic terrain.”

Limey Gose – Victory Brewing (Downington, PA)

Image courtesy of Victory Brewing’s Web site

I’ve professed my enjoyment of almost all things Victory Brewing here before, with their Kirsch Gose one of my favorites. I’m hoping this new-ish Gose they are releasing is of the same quality because a sweet-tart Gose is a perfect beer antidote for a sweltering day. This was originally a brewery only-beer a few years ago and looks to get wide distribution this summer. I’m guessing if you like Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale (also made with limes) or Westbrook’s Key Lime Gose, you’ll enjoy this one, too.

“This lively GOSE brings the TART FLAVOR of KEY LIME PIE sprinkled with SEA SALT into a zesty SOUR LIME BIER.”

Onshore Lager – Flying Fish Brewing Company (Somerdale, NJ)

Image courtesy of Flying Fish Brewing Co.’s Facebook page

Flying Fish is the stalwart of NJ Brewing and they have a pretty solid line up of brews, in addition to their fantastic Exit Series. Over the past couple of years as the Exit Series drew to a close, Flying Fish started adding new, more permanent brews to their lineup. One of them is called Onshore Lager which has a great can design and sounds almost like a Pilsner. I don’t often go for Lagers, but when the Lager is Pilsner or a Bock, then I’m more inclined to give the beer a try. I’m guessing the sub-5% ABV on this one might lend Pilsner-like quality to the beer, too. Sign me up for a six pack.

“Our home is surrounded by a breathtaking stretch of ocean and beautiful waterways, and ONSHORE LAGER is our tribute to that environment.

Brewed without adjuncts, this beer pours a pure, golden color, and German-style hops provide a crisp, clean finish.”

Smooth Sail Summer Ale (Pale Wheat Ale) Heavy Seas Brewing Company (Halethorpe, MD)

Image courtesy of CraftBeer.com

The Pale Wheat Ale, popularized in the summer by Bell’s Oberon Ale and Samuel Adams Summer Ale. Not quite a Hefeweizen, not quite a pale ale, but very refreshing. This one from Heavy Seas seems to have a similar profile to the aforementioned two ales, with a hint of citrus which tells me I’d probably like this beer. From my very limited sampling of beers from heavy Seas, I think I’ll enjoy this one quite a bit. I’d seen it in stores the last year or two, but passed on it. I’ll be rectifying that this year.

“This is not your average summer ale. We’ve created the most refreshingly delicious American wheat ale. Brewed with lemon and orange peel, Smooth Sail finishes with a citrus kick. At 4.5% ABV you’ll have your new pool beer. Available on draft and cans only, it’s the perfect beer for trips to the park, hiking, or just sitting on the beach with your friends. A summer day. Kick back, relax, enjoy – a light breeze will take you to your happy place.”

When in Doubt Helles Lager – Tröegs Independent Brewing (Hershey, PA)

Image courtesy of MyBeerBuzz

While Tröegs already has a summer seasonal beer in their tasty Sunshine Pils, When in Doubt could perhaps be considered a “cousin” beer in that Helles Lagers and Pilsners are similar in style. This beer was part of Tröegs popular “Scratch series” a couple of years ago, then draft exclusive and now (according to the fine MyBeerBuzz beer blog), available in 12oz bottles. I’m hoping to try this one as soon as it is available (maybe June?) since I’ve really come to enjoy the Helles Lager style. At 4.3% ABV, this is a very crushable lager.

When in Doubt is all harmony. It begins with a single note, a clean and delicate pilsner malt reminiscent of freshly baked bread. Tradition hops add hints of wildflower and subtle bitterness, and our crisp lager yeast pulls it all together. In the end, this refreshing Munich-style Helles is greater than the sum of its parts and – when in doubt – always a good call.”

What new brews are you hoping to try this summer?

Special thanks to the great MyBeerBuzz blog for images in this post specifically, and for tireless efforts to keep the craft beer community abreast of new beers and beer news.

Draught Diversions: March 2018 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…

March has concluded, so it is time here at The Tap Takeover for me to post my March Six Pack. As always, I’ll assemble the six pack chronologically starting with the beer I had earliest in the month up to (in this case) a beer I had on the last day of the month. March was a bit darker, with a dip into some stouts/porters that are typically in my sweet spot breaking the IPA dominant trend from the previous two months.

Yeti (Great Divide Brewing Company) Stout – American Imperial / Double – 3.25 bottle Caps on untappd

I like stouts and imperial stouts, but not all are created equal and not all palates are created equal as this beer demonstrates. I realize the higher ABV stouts, like Yeti which clocks in at 9.5%, will have a high hop component (75 IBU) but for me, the hop presence was far too dominant. There’s also a strong licorice taste and I don’t like licorice. At all.

200th Anniversary Export Stout (Guinness) Stout – Foreign / Export– 4 bottle Caps on untappd

I mentioned this one in my St. Patrick’s Day post and I was very pleased with the beer. This is sweeter than the standard Guinness with a really nice chocolate and toffee thread of flavor in the beer. Like the majority of stouts, this beer became more flavorful as it warmed and the toffee/chocolate sweetness became really balanced. My wife also made outstanding Stout Chocolate cupcakes with this beer.

Wobbly Cow Coffee Milk Stout (Flying Fish Brewing Company) Stout – Milk / Sweet – 4.25 bottle Caps on untappd

Flying Fish seems to be a regular on these posts. I follow Flying Fish on all their social media platforms and read about this beer which I initially thought was a brewery-only release, but I am very happy that I was proven wrong. This is perhaps the most subtle of any barrel-aged stout I’ve had, but it is wonderfully balanced. None of the many flavor components (coffee, chocolate, sweetness and rye whiskey) over power another and at 8% the beer won’t totally knock you out. The finish on this one is very clean.

Ship Wreck Porter (Carton Brewing Company) Porter – Imperial/Double – 4.25 bottle Caps on untappd

 

Carton just might be my favorite NJ brewery and porters just might be one of my favorite styles, so I’m basically programmed to like this beer. I haven’t had many beers aged in rum barrel so this was a bit of a twist on the barrel aging theme for me. Of course it was delicious because those are the only kinds of beers Carton knows how to make. The porter likely would have been good on its own, but the sweetness from the rum cut any of the smokiness that some porters can exhibit.

Centennial IPA (Founders Brewing Co.) – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

Founders is one of my favorite breweries, I’ve written about them quite often here and I’d avoided the IPA section of their portfolio for a while. That won’t be happening any longer. I’ve come to realize Centennial Hops are some of my favorite hops and that’s the hop that gives this one it’s flavor. I can see many of these in my future.

Westmalle Trappist Tripel (Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle) Belgian Tripel – 4.5 bottle Caps on untappd

This beer is quite simply, a world class ale. There are only 12 officially designated Trappist Breweries in the world and I’ve had two of the three ales from Westmalle. The Dubbel is really tasty, but this one is obviously more recent in my memory so it really stands out as something complex, delicious, and perhaps the epitome of what a Belgian Tripel should be. Most Trappist ales are sold in single bottles, but the approximate $4 to $6 price tag is oh so worth it. The Belgian yeast works wonders, the beer has some fruity elements as well as some spice elements that altogether make a fantastic, must-try beer.

Six beers, two from outside of the US, two from New Jersey, three stouts, one porter, one IPA, and one Belgian Tripel. Not a bad variety if I do say so myself.

Draught Diversions: February 2018 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…

Since today is March 1st, let’s take a look back at the February 6-pack. Again these are beers that stood out over the past month. Most are really good beers, but I’ll try to keep it somewhat balanced and include one beer that didn’t quite work for me.

As this six pack (and last month’s) are showing, I’m more strongly leaning into the whole IPA/hopped up beer side of the bottle shop. There might be another rant/post about that specifically, but I’ll go through this six pack chronologically.

Victory Mighty Things Imperial IPA – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

On the very first day of the month, I had a new Double/Imperial IPA from my favorite brewery, Victory Brewing. There’s a near perfect balance between the hops and malt in this beer with a nice citrusy undertone. I’ll admit, I was a little unsure if I should get a full six pack of the beer, but I am very glad I did. I’ve seen some chatter on beer boards that this is just a repackaged version of Hop Ranch. I can’t say, never had that one. Mighty Things, though? I’d have this again and again.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Pale Ale – American – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

I had to travel in February for my job and at one of the cocktail hours/receptions, the beer choices were Stella Artois (which I don’t like at all), Bud Light, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I of course went with the famous green labeled bottle. I haven’t had one of these in many years (at least since before I was on untappd) and never really enjoyed the beer. In fact, it was the beer from Sierra I liked the least. But since it was free, I figured I’d revisit. I’m glad I did because with my shift to enjoying IPAs and my changing (evolving?) palate, I now enjoy this beer very much and grabbed a bottle at the following night’s cocktail hour.

Weyerbacher Sunday Molé Stout Stout – American Imperial / Double – 2.75 bottle Caps on untappd

Here, we reach the drain pour. I like stouts quite a bit, spiced up stouts very much, and I enjoy much of Weyerbacher’s output, so I was expecting to enjoy this one a great deal. Especially since it is a variant on their wonderful Sunday Morning Stout. This beer didn’t work for me at all. I’m not sure why, maybe the smokiness? I couldn’t put my finger on it and couldn’t finish the beer, it just wasn’t for me.

Flying Fish Jersey Juice IPA – New England – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

Number four for the month (and the second IPA) is from New Jersey’s largest craft brewery, Flying Fish. I’ve enjoyed many of the beers I’ve had from Flying Fish’s portfolio so how could I not at least try a beer with the state’s name in it? Well, Jersey Juice is quite tasty with a good hop / malt / juicy balance. Further playing on the New England IPA craze, this beer is distributed in 16oz cans. The beer isn’t quite what it I thought it might be, in that the name, packaging, and untappd classification made me think it would be a New England IPA. The beer doesn’t have quite the level of juiciness or cloudiness most NEIPAs have, but the beer is still quite good and is one of those versatile brews that fits any occasion.

Tröeg’s First Cut IPA – American – 4 bottle Caps on untappd

I’ve always respected and liked the beers Tröegs produces, and now that I’m on-board with IPAs, I like them even more. First Cut is the first of Tröegs Hop Cycle series of seasonal IPAs. Not too highly hopped, the beer is extremely well balanced and sweet with honey and mangoes added to the brew process. This is a delicious, extremely refreshing IPA. I don’t know if I’d call it “crushable” because of the 6.2% ABV, but the beer goes down really nicely. As the first in the Hop Cycle, this is a spring seasonal, but damn would this be a perfect summer/poolside beer.

Now I’m looking forward to progressing through Tröegs Hop Cycle this year.

Samuel Adams Sam ‘76 Lager – American Light– 3.75 bottle Caps on untappd

There’s been a lot of hype for this beer and how the fine folks of Samuel Adams went through 60 different recipes before settling on the beer that is known as Sam 76. I may have to up my rating when I have a second can of the beer because this is a solidly made beer. Billed as an ale/lager hybrid, the beer is bright, crisp, and has a nice hop-pop. With a  4.7% ABV, the beer is really crushable. This is a year-round beer and I can imagine it will do very well in warm months and in people’s coolers in the summer. The beer is maybe a session lager? A hoppy Helles Lager? The flavor profile actually reminds me of Carton’s Boat Beer, if not quite as hoppy. I may have more to say about this beer at a later date, but I hope this does well for Jim Koch’s great company.

Honorable mention: Czig Meister brewery in Hackettstown had a 2-day Stoutfest (their second annual) and there were some fantastic stouts, 50 different stouts over two days! The best I had were the Caramel Macchiato Stout, Imperial Milk Stout and the Bananas Foster Stout. I’d love to see the Caramel Macchiato make it to season/full time status and put into distribution.

Draught Diversions: Book Review COOKING WITH BEER by Mark Dredge

Name: Cooking with Beer by Mark Dredge
Publisher’s Landing Page: Ryland, Peters, and Small
Mark Dredge’s landing page for the book

About the book:

75 delicious recipes using beer as a key ingredient.

A beer with your food is a great thing. But what about beer in your food? It’s an even better thing! The next step for any beer lover is to try using beer as an ingredient, and that’s where COOKING WITH BEER comes in. Self-confessed beer geek Mark Dredge has combined two of his passions—great brews and delicious food—to come up with over 65 awesome recipes using beer as a key component.

Every occasion is covered, from lazy hangover brunches featuring a beer-cured bacon sandwich and Hefeweizen French toast to tasty main meals like Tripel Pulled Pork and desserts including a must-try Carrot Cake made with a Double IPA. If you really want to go to town, the Ultimate section has meal ideas where every element involves beer in some way—beer pizza anyone? And of course there is a selection of beer snacks that you can enjoy with a well-earned pint in your hand.

As I may have mentioned, prior to starting The Tap Takeover, I wrote book reviews for many years at a few different outlets: SFFWorldSF Signal, and Tor.com. I still do review books for two of those sites (sadly SF Signal closed a couple of years ago) so I figured reviewing a book about beer a natural fit for The Tap Takeover. Hopefully, I’ll be writing about more beer-related books in the future.

I received this cookbook as a gift for Christmas in 2016 and through early 2017, my wife (with only limited assistance from me) made many of the recipes in the book. But more about some of those recipes in a bit.

The book begins with an introduction to pairing beer with food, the various styles of beer, and the best meals to incorporate each beer into as a cooking component. From there, the chapters are broken into “Breakfast,” “Snacks and Starters,” “Mains and More,” “Ultimate Meals,” “Baking,” and lastly, “Sweet Things.”

Each recipe is spread over two pages and includes the instructions (occasionally including a specific brand of beer to use), a picture of the finished meal along with a suggestion of a beer pairing to enjoy while eating the meal. The information presented and –how– the information is presented make this a superb cookbook in terms of the physical product; good fonts, clear writing, and lovely photos.

A cookbook can look great, but the most important aspect of any cookbook is that the recipes must produce good food when executed properly. As I said, my wife and I made many of the recipes in this book and with the exception of one (largely because I realized an ingredient in it just isn’t to my liking), the meals were terrific.

Image courtesy of Mark Dredge’s Web site

Standouts include the chicken wings pictured above. Simply outstanding wings that have been the hit of wherever we’ve brought them. Although they are quite spicy, they are not buffalo spiced wings and are brined overnight using an IPA. The last time we made them we used Victory’s Mighty Things Imperial IPA. Prior to that, we used Spellbound Brewing’s IPA. I think next time I want to try it with Founders Centennial IPA or Flying Fish Jersey Juice. The only thing about this “Snack and Starter” is the sauce on the side which while tasty, wasn’t used too much any of the times we made the wings.

Another standout, and perhaps my favorite dinner from the cookbook is the Triple Tripel Pork. There are three courses to this meal and each one utilizes some of the beer. The one time we made it we used Valar Dohaeris, one of the Game of Thrones beers from Brewery Ommegang. I really need to have this meal again as it was probably the best pork chop meal I ever had. Plus it will give me an “excuse” to try another Tripel.

The dessert standout, thus far, has been the Framboise Lemon Cake, which is a very straightforward raspberry-lemon cake but oh so delicious. The beer for this one was a classic Belgian Lambic, Framboise from Brouwerij Lindemans.

Great food/meals, a great look and design, and the opportunity to explore new and different beers. In other words, this book has just about everything you would want from a cookbook with recipes featuring beer. Except maybe a coupon for a free six pack of beer.

Highly recommended.

Draught Diversions: A Chocolate 6 Pack

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, today (February 13) seems the perfect time to assemble a six-pack of Chocolate beers. Without even planning it, the beer I reviewed last week had some chocolate flavorings. In addition to the beers I mention below, the beer being reviewed in Thursday’s post is a chocolate beer, too. One of my favorites, in fact.

As it turns out, there are a plethora of options when it comes to beers with chocolate, but many of those options feature other flavoring elements such as peanut butter, cherry, coffee or mint among other flavors. For this post, I’ll keep the taps pouring beers with only chocolate as the main flavor enhancement. As I have in the past, I’ll go alphabetical by brewery name.

Chocolate Stout Rogue Brewery, Newport, Oregon, 5.8% ABV

This is the second appearance from the fine Oregon brewery in one of my “Six-Pack” posts. It has been quite a while since I had this beer (back in 2014) but I remember loving it. There’s a great balance of chocolate in this beer, I don’t recall the chocolate being an overpowering presence and the overall beer being very smooth. As of this writing, Rogue only distributes this beer in 22oz bottles and on draught, but hopefully they will begin distributing into 12oz bottles. Rogue also brews a Double Chocolate stout I’ve yet to try.

Per the Web site: Ebony in color with a rich creamy head. An earthy flavor of oats and hops that gives way to a rich chocolate truffle finish.

Organic Chocolate Stout Samuel Smith Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, UK 5% ABV

Yorkshire’s oldest brewery (1758) produces one of the best chocolate stouts in the world. I’ve had this one a few times and each time I’m surprised that I’ve forgotten how perfectly brewed this beer is. There exists in this beer just about the perfect balance between the flavor profile of an English stout and the sweetness of chocolate. Again, the last time I had a bottle of this was a little over a year ago. Originally this beer was available only in 500ml bottles, but it was recently made available in 12oz bottles in 4-packs and as part of a variety pack from Samuel Smith.

Per the Web site: Brewed with well water (the original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use with the hard water is drawn from 85 feet underground), the gently roasted organic chocolate malt and organic cocoa impart a delicious, smooth and creamy character, with inviting deep flavours and a delightful finish – this is the perfect marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate.

Choklat Imperial StoutSouthern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY 10% ABV

At this point, Southern Tier appearing in one of these posts shouldn’t be a surprise. I like many of their beers and this, in my humble opinion, is one of their best beers. Whereas the previous beers I mentioned in this post are lighter bodied stouts, low in alcohol and fairly well balanced from a chocolate perspective, this one is decadent on all levels. Clocking in at 10% ABV, this beer packs quite a punch. It is a thick, rich beer where the chocolate dominates the beer and that is no problem at all. As the label indicates, this is a wonderful dessert beer. Originally available only in 22oz bottles, Southern Tier has softly re-branded their Blackwater Series (i.e. “high-gravity dessert beers”) with new labels/packaging and made those beers available in 12oz 4-packs. I really need to have one of these again, it has been far too long.

From the Web site: The Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya, unfolds a complex web of mystery around a beverage known as Xocoatl. We’re not surprised that ancient hieroglyphs depict chocolate being poured for rulers & gods. Cacao is a mystical bean.

Choklat is, without a doubt, a dessert beer. It encompasses the complexity of the darkest, bittersweet candy together with that of the original frothy beverage of the Mayans. We combine the finest ingredients to tempt your senses &pay homage to history in every glass.

Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout Terrapin Beer Company, Athens, GA 6% ABV

One of my favorite seasonal stouts, I try to get at least a six-pack of this one every season, since Terrapin considers this a seasonal beer (Winter). One of the more cleverly named beers, it immediately (and intentionally) brings to mind the classic chocolate milk drink Yoo-Hoo. Terrapin’s beverage; however, is far more flavorful. I had this on tap once and it was a delight, but more recently (as of 2015) the beer has become available in 12oz cans in six packs, where it was previously a 12oz bottle 4-pack. I know I’ve gone on record as holding Firestone Walker’s Nitro Milk Stout as a standard-bearer for Milk Stouts, but Moo-Hoo is on that same level for me: an annual must-buy.

From the Web site: Dark brown to black in color. Aromas of dark chocolate. Dark roasted malt flavor with hints of caramel and chocolate, rounded out by a sweet, creamy finish. The Terrapin “Moo-Hoo” Chocolate Milk Stout proudly uses cocoa nibs and shells from Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company to give this beer its great taste.

Chocolate Love Stout Yard’s Brewing Company, Philadelphia, PA 6% ABV

Yards is one of the standard bearers of Craft Brewing in the US and a craft beer institution of Philadelphia, PA (some would say the best beer city in America). How could a list like this *not* include a beer called Chocolate Love Stout? Yards also brews a Love Stout that has some chocolate hints, but Chocolate Love Stout is the full chocolate beer experience brewed with Belgian Dark Chocolate and Chocolate Liquor for a rich chocolatey beer. I’ve had this a couple of times and really enjoyed it.

From the Web site: IRRESISTIBLY SMOOTH

Passionately brewed with over 200 pounds of pure, 100% cacao Belgian dark chocolate, this irresistibly smooth stout explodes with the taste and aroma of rich, dark chocolate goodness. This deep black beauty will seduce you with her roasty maltiness and hints of vanilla and caramel.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout Charles Wells Brewing Company, Bedford, Bedfordshire England 5.2% ABV

This is one of the earliest and most widely available chocolate beers in the world and it holds up quite well, all things considered. Again, like a couple of these beers, it has been quite a while since I had this beer (back in September 2015), but I remember liking it quite a bit, giving it 4 bottle caps out of 5 on untappd. The beer is available in bottles and in cans, as well as on draught and is probably the easiest to find of all the beers on this post.

From the bottle (since there doesn’t seem to be a website with a page for the beer): Young’s Double Chocolate Stout has an intriguing twist. Chocolate malt and real dark chocolate are combined with Young’s award-winning rich, full flavored dark ale to craft a satisfyingly indulgent, but never overly sweet experience.

…and one for the road (if you aren’t driving)…

New Jersey craft beer institution, Flying Fish, brewed a beer with chocolate as part of their now-concluded Exit series: Exit 13 – Chocolate Stout. Unfortunately this is a “retired” beer of the Exit series, but hopefully the fine folks at Flying Fish will bring this beer back into circulation as they’ve done for a couple of the beers in the series. I may have more to say about this brew in the future.