Beer Review: Chilton Mill Brewing’s Schwarzbier – Black Lager

Name: Schwarzbier – Dark Lager
Brewing Company: Chilton Mill Brewing Company
Location: Long Valley, NJ
Style: Lager – Dark | Schwarzbier
ABV: 5.6%

A delicious, elegant, dynamite Dark Lager from one of NJ’s smaller, yet more robust breweries.

ChiltonMill_Schwarzbier

From the untappd page for the beer:

This German style dark lager exudes smooth roasty characteristics, balanced by traditional Noble hops. Dark in color, while remaining exceptionally drinkable!

Chilton Mill Brewing is a “Pandemic” Brewery, having the unfortunate timing to open during the early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Their ability to pivot to crowlers for offsite consumption, coupled with the great beer they brew, allowed them to survive the pandemic and grow as the world recovered (and still is recovering) from the Pandemic. I visited once earlier in the year and made my way back because I wanted to try this beer in particular.

So…this beer, a Germanic Dark Lager. Three words describing a beer I very much enjoy. German Dark Lagers come in a few varieties, Munich Dunkel, Dopplebock, and this, the Schwarzbier which literally translates to “Black Beer” from the German language. The style has more roast/smokiness than most lagers and in some ways, could be considered the lager-cousin to the Porter of the ale family. There are also similarities between the German Schwarzbier and Czech Dark Lager, or Tmavé Pivo.

Mini-style lesson over, on to Chilton Mill Brewing’s Schwarzbier.

The beer I’m given is black, as black as any beer I’ve had. A nice, light khaki head about the thickness of my pinky sits atop the beer. Picture perfect, I would say.

I skip breathing in the aroma of the beer and take a sip. I am very pleased with my first taste of this beer. There’s a very nice roast character, which is a hallmark of the style. It isn’t overpowering to the point that it is a smoked beer, but just enough to make that element of flavor’s presence known. On my second quaff of the beer, I get something unexpected, yet pleasant – some kind of sweet fruit element. Not sure what specifically, but that element likely comes from the Noble hops. But that sweetness is a great level of complexity in this beer.

This beer, Schwarzbier – Dark Lager is one of Chilton Mill’s most popular beers, it has more check-ins on untappd than any other they have brewed. I was speaking to owner/head-brewer Mike about the beer and he said it was the first (or one of their first) beer he made available and it proved extremely popular. What I like about the beer is how elegant, well-crafted, and balanced the beer is. I have a very strong appreciation for the level of complexity especially considering the beer is only 5.6% ABV. This isn’t a very common/popular style and what I also appreciate about Chilton Mill is the dedication to these kinds of classic, flavorful styles, keeping them in rotation (the other beer I had on my visit was an excellent English Brown Ale).

This is one of the best Dark Lagers I’ve had all year and maybe even since I’ve been on untappd..

Recommended, link to 4.50 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Schilling Beer Company’s Modernism

Name: Modernism
Brewing Company: Schilling Beer Company
Location: Littleton, NH
Style: Lager – Dark /Czech-Style Dark Lager
ABV: 4.8%

A delicious dark lager from the Granite State brewery that hits the style notes elegantly.

Schilling_Modernism

From Schilling Beer’s landing page for the beer:

Modernism is inspired by the Czech black lager tradition. It features a deep complexity from the decoction process and a hop schedule typical of Bohemian beers. Notes of dark malts, bittersweet chocolate and caramel dominate. The finish is dry.

Prior to this review, no beer from the Granite State (New Hampshire) has been reviewed here at The Tap Takeover. When Schilling Beer Company began distributing their Lagers and European-inspired ales to New Jersey, I had an inkling that would change. I knew of the brewery and their well-regarded lagers so I was eager to try one.  I made an impulse decision to stop in a liquor store on my way home from work, that decision paid off when I saw a four pack of this Czech Dark Lager in the beer cooler, especially as the style (as pointed out when I reviewed the Icarus/Hackensack Brewing collaboration) has become a favorite lager.

Well after that, what do we have in Modernism?

From the can, the beer pours a deep brown, although the photo above the beer looks closer to black than brown. I suspect if the color were lighter, the beer would be translucent so there’s a nice clarity to the beer. The aroma gives off a little bit of breadiness and dark chocolate, maybe? But nothing out of the ordinary.

I like what I’m tasting in that first sip. The expected breadiness comes through thanks to the malt, but I’m also getting notes of bittersweet chocolate, very pleasant bittersweet chocolate at that which also gives a hint of caramel. A nice element that comes across from the malt is a toasted bread flavor, obviously I’m leaning towards pumpernickel, or maybe even rye-pumpernickel marble because of the color. In other words, lots of pleasant flavors coming together.

Other flavors come up in the profile as well. There’s a sharp taste that likely comes from the hops, which is a welcome element of the beer. That sharpness reminds me of coffee and maybe even menthol? Not that the beer has a menthol flavor, but it has the same feel, if only slightly. The body on this one is fairly light, which lends to my earlier statement that if this beer were lighter colored, It would likely be translucent.

The stamp on the bottom indicates the beer was canned 05/12/22, which lands this beer still in a fairly fresh status at five months old. That said, I’d love to give this beer a try from a batch and/or can closer to the canning date.

While Modernism is the first beer I’ve had from Schilling, I hope it won’t be the last beer I drink from the New Hampshire brewery and I hope to see more of their beers appearing on the shelves of liquor stores in my area. In the end, Modernism is a damned good example of the Czech-Style Dark Lager.

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

Beer Review: Bonesaw Brewing Company’s Crimson Skull

Name: Crimson Skull
Brewing Company: Bonesaw Brewing Company
Location: Glassboro, NJ
Style: Lager – Vienna
ABV: 5.8%

A well-crafted, clean, Lager that hits all the right notes.

Bonesaw_CrimsonSkull

From the untappd page for the beer:

Crimson Skull is a Vienna lager, a red-amber lager style focusing on toasty, biscuity malt notes without being sweet. Aromas of baking brown bread, toffee and barley fields.

Bonesaw opened up in 2018 with some sizeable fanfare, the brewery is very large and they managed to recruit a well-respected brewer to be their brewmaster. I’ve had a few beers from Bonesaw Brewing and I’ve enjoyed them to varying degrees and with their beer showing on shelves in my area with more frequency, I decided to finally give one of their beers a full review treatment here at the Triple T. Yeah, of course it is a Lager.

This is the second Vienna Lager I’ve reviewed and as I pointed out in that review, it is a misunderstood style, Sam Adams Boston Lager is a Vienna Lager so it is rather ubiquitous without many likely realizing that Boston Lager is a Vienna Lager. Maybe the closest better-known cousins to a Vienna Lager would either be an Amber Lager or a Märzen. The Vienna Lager is typically a bit lighter than a Märzen, but has a nice amount of bready malt to the beer.

Enough of the style primer, on to the beer under review. .

Pop of the can top, the beer pours into the glass a translucent amber with a nice thick head. Crimson Skull certainly looks the part. Nothing too distinct on the aroma, although I do get some of the breadiness. As I’ve come to say, it smells like beer.

First sip…is quite tasty! Big malt flavor, as I would expect. Despite the beer looking a little on the thin side, from a body perspective, it has a full flavor and feel to it. As I have more of the beer, I get some of the caramel essence, more than the toffee called out in the beer description. The two flavors are fairly similar, so maybe I’m just splitting hairs but that sweet element isn’t overpowering The hop presence is mild but noticeable, which is just how I’d want it to be in a lager such as this.

Bonesaw has crafted a very balanced, clean lager in Crimson Skull. It hits all the notes one would expect from the style, and it does so with a nice level of clarity. The beer went down very easily for me and was very enjoyable

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

Beer Review: Steve Austin’s Broken Skull American Lager from El Segundo Brewing Co

Name: Steve Austin’s Broken Skull American Lager
Brewing Company: El Segundo Brewing Company | Broken Skull Beer
Location: El Segundo, CA
Style: Lager – American
ABV: 4.8%

A Lager with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Name on it is…a Stunning Lager, that’s the Bottom Line because I Said So!

BrokenSkullAmericanLager

From the Broken Skull Website:

This beer is our take on the classic American Lager. Made for the working man and woman, this beer is brewed with the finest American-grown barley and hops and is the ultimate reward for a hard days work. Coming in at 4.8%, this beer goes down easier than a 3-day weekend. Cheers!

As loyal readers of the Tap Takeover may have surmised, I’m a fan of Professional Wrestling. I’ve also made it pretty clear that I’m a Lager-head. When one of the biggest professional wrestling draws of all time, most popular wrestlers of all time, and one of the best ever – Stone Cold Steve Austin – works with a craft brewery, I’m very inclined to give the beer a try. Their first collaboration was an IPA, which was very good, so I was even more excited when Steve Austin announced an American Lager would be next.

So what do we have in the Broken Skull American Lager? Like the best lagers, the beer pours a really nice translucent golden-yellow with about two-to-three finger-thickness of a foamy head – it looks great. The aroma…well, Hell, son, it smells like beer? And that is mighty fine. More specifically, there are hints of grains and hops, just what I’d expect from a well-crafted lager.

First sip…damn that’s a nice lager. That’s my first thought. I keep drinking and that’s the thought that pervades. There’s a bit of citrusy-lemon element in the flavor profile, which is quite nice. Steve Austin and El Segundo have crafted a well-balanced, flavorful Lager. This beer does everything a good beer should do, it is very refreshing, slightly malty and sweet like I’d expect from an American Lager.

Image courtesy of Rob Schamberger

A beer like this can be deceptive in its simplicity. There aren’t a ton of hops to hide flavors, there aren’t any adjuncts to enhance/add to the flavor of the beer. A straight-forward American Lager takes nuance and a lot of skill to get the limited ingredients to play nicely together, and especially as nicely as they do in this beer. Dare I say that a beer with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s name on it is elegant? Oh hell yeah!

I’ve been following Steve Austin on social media for years and this beer was announced maybe a year ago at this point in time. As such, I was given the impression that this beer was made with the utmost quality assurance (meaning Steve probably tried a few versions of this beer before the final product was released). Can’t say I’m surprised because being a fan of Steve Austin, he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who will slap his name on anything. His wrestling career, his TV career, and his podcast and interview show on Peacock/WWE, “Broken Skull Sessions” shows he puts a lot of thought into his work and values his name greatly, as he should. The bottom line: Stone Cold Steve Austin is a name with a great deal of cache. This beer is a prime example of the quality I’d expect from something bearing the Stone Cold Steve Austin name.

Stomp mudhole on your way to the liquor store and grab a four-pack of this certified Whoop Ass! Steve Austin’s Broken Skull American Lager is a (WHAT?) awesome (WHAT?) beer, and that’s the bottom line, because Rob Bedford said so!

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

BrokenSkullAmericanLager

Beer Review: Tröegs’s Oktoberfest Lager

Name: Oktoberfest Lager
Brewing Company: Tröegs Independent Brewing
Location: Hershey, PA
Style: Festbier
ABV: 6.1%

The iconic Pennsylvania brewery adds their fantastic interpretation of the iconic Autumnal German Lager to its seasonal rotation.

Troegs_Oktoberfest_01

From Tröegs Brewing’s blog post for the beer:

New from Tröegs! Introducing Oktoberfest Lager, a toasty, crisp, and festive beer for the fall season.

Our recipe for this beer dates all the way back to the fourth beer ever brewed – Bavarian Lager. “It’s one of our simplest recipes and only uses two types of malt,” says our brewmaster and co-founding brother, John Trogner. “It starts with a base of pilsner malt, then we add a touch of Munich to impart a bready flavor.”

I’ve proclaimed my loyalty and love of Tröegs Independent Brewing quite often on the Triple T, and even beyond the beers I’ve mentioned here, their Sunshine Pils and Mad Elf are regular go-to beers for me. They have a great core of beers, an iconic seasonal beer, and a fantastic “development” program with their Scratch Series of beers. Today’s beer, their Oktoberfest worked its way through the Scratch Series (the “developmental” brewery-only release program at Tröegs), moved into exclusive availability as Fest Lager in their fall mix pack in 2020 and now makes its entry to the seasonal portfolio.

In terms of the German-inspired fall lager spectrum, Tröegs’s Oktoberfest Lager is a Festbier so the beer is a little lighter in body, with a slightly crisp profile, and lightly colored. I was very excited to try this beer and if anything, rather surprised that in their 25 years of business, a fall seasonal Oktoberfest was not part of their portfolio. That changes now.

So, with the Oktoberfest celebration officially starting this coming Saturday (October 17, 2022) for the first time in Germany since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, let’s dive into this beer.

Into the mug the beer pours and it is spot on for what I’d expect a Festbier to be: copper translucency with a slight fluffy head. The aroma is sweet bread, malty with a hint of caramel. So far, so good.

I get a very clean initial taste with the aforementioned notes caramel. The breadiness at the outset morphs a bit into a crackery malt as I drink more of the beer. The sweet profile isn’t cloying at all, it is quite pleasant. There’s a slight note on the finish of spice and sweet herbs likely from the hops. The impression I get is very pleasant and very drinkable. Right, all good beer is drinkable, but the flavors make you not want to put the beer down.

I love the Bavarian inspired label of the beer, too!

Image courtesy of Tröegs’s Facebook

The beer should be available throughout Tröegs’s distribution footprint in the Northeast and is available in 12-packs of cans and 6-packs of bottles.

All told, this is a damned fine example of a German Festbier, although the ABV of 6.1% is a tad higher than what I’ve come to expect from the Festbier side of the German-inspired Autumnal Lager. That just means I’ll take my time and savor the elegant flavors of this traditional lager. In taste and every facet of appearance, Oktoberfest Lager from Tröegs sits comfortably alongside the traditional German Lagers which serve as the beer’s inspiration. A most welcome addition to Tröegs’s seasonal lineup.

Zum wohl! Ein Prosit!

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

Troegs_Oktoberfest_02

Beer Review: Heavy Reel Brewing’s SKELLINATOR

Name: SKELLINATOR
Brewing Company: Heavy Reel Brewing Company
Location: Seaside Heights, NJ
Style: Bock – Dopplebock
ABV: 7.2%

The Jersey Shore brewery known for sours churns out a tasty classic German Lager.

HeavyReel_Skellinator

I’ve reviewed a couple of beers that were a collaboration between Heavy Reel Brewing and another brewery, but this is the first all Heavy Reel beer getting the review feature here at the Tap Takeover. My wife, myself and a few others made our annual trip down to Chegg’s in Long Beach Island, NJ and as has been custom, we stopped at a brewery on the way home. This year, we stopped at Heavy Reel Brewing in Seaside Heights since it was just off the Garden State Parkway about 20 miles north of the LBI exit.

Heavy Real has been around for a few years (since 2018), they are best known for their hop-forward beers and sour beers. That said, I will often spotlight a beer slightly askew from a brewery’s core or flagship beer. Thus, I’m reviewing Heavy Reel’s take on the classic, malty, German lager.

The beer I’m given is murky brown in the classic Germanic, dimpled mug. A thick light khaki head sat atop the brownish-caramel colored beer. Although it isn’t as translucent as I’d expect from a doppelbock, it looks the part. Maybe this is an unfiltered beer?

The beer has a very sweet, almost chocolatey taste at the outset. A very appealing first impression that makes me glad I ordered a full pour of the beer. Skellinator also has a very pleasant caramel element, also from the malt. There’s a slight bite on the end that reminds of perhaps the most well-known American doppelbock, Tröegs Troegenator.

Most doppelbocks have the -ator as a “calling card” to the style and an homage to the first Dopplebock brewed, Paulaner’s Salvator. With a skeleton being Heavy Reel’s mascot, thus we have the name “SKELLINATOR.”

I had a couple of other beers while I was at the brewery, two sours which were tasty, but the Dopplebock stood out to me. It is an extremely well-made lager and when I complemented the beertender on the beer, he noted that it was his favorite beer, or at least one of his favorites from the brewery.

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

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.

Draught Diversions: February 2022 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…

Sixpack_2022_Feb

Another Six Pack that was somewhat difficult to construct. For one reason, I had multiple beers from a couple different breweries so deciding which beer from those breweries would be represented made the list of “new to me” beers I had this month somewhat long. I also had a vast range of styles this month, with multiple Belgian styles part of the overall group. I settled on a very tasty six pack with a pretty decent variety of styles even if at least one of the breweries in the pack will NOT be a shock.

Without further adieu, here is the February 2022 Six Pack…

Barrel Aged Bullhala (Bolero Snort Brewery) | Porter – Baltic | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Bolero_BA_Bullhalla

It has been quite a while since I had a new-to-me Bolero beer, but this one called out to me. I’ve been seeking out Baltic porters and this beer, aged in Bourbon barrels, hit the spot. Good flavor profile, the bourbon was more potent than I’d expect from a beer with a 9.5% ABV. On the other hand, it was a little thinner than I’d expect. Despite those two slights, the beer was still quite tasty.

Evermore (Readington Brewery & Hop Farm) | Wheat Beer – Dunkelweizen | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Readington_Evermore

Here’s a first for the lineage of the Six Pack posts at The Tap Takeover…back-to-back months featuring Dunkelweizens! I made a second visit to Readington Brewery and Hop Farm, the newest brewery in my area (less than 2 miles away) and was very pleased to see an improvement in the beers. Not that they were undrinkable that first visit, but needed some work. I was very impressed with this Dunkelweizen, Evermore, which was dialed in quite nicely to the style. I wouldn’t be surprised if Reading Brewery will be appearing in the six packs in the future.

Wolfe’s Neck (Maine Beer Company Brewery) | IPA – American | 4.50 Bottle Caps on untappd

MainBeerCo_WolfCreek

Maine Beer Company makes outstanding IPAs and Wolfe’s Neck is another delicious example. A fantastic blend of hops with a dialed-in hop flavor, great malt character, and overall, perfectly balanced. This is one of the cleanest IPAs I’ve ever had, completely dialed-in and elegant.

Decimate (Icarus Brewing Company) | Lager – Japanese Rice | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_Decimate

A visit to Icarus means I had a few new Icarus beers from which to choose for this six pack. I went with the new Lager they canned (although I thoroughly enjoyed their Altbier, Thee Points). Decimate is a Japanese Rice Lager, where the Rice makes up a significant portion of the grain bill. Into that, Jason and his crew of brewers added Lemongrass for a nice refreshing finish. Another example how awesome Icarus Brewing’s low ABV lagers are.

Jovial (Tröegs Independent Brewing) | Belgian Dubbel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Troegs_Jovial

I’ve said it before (or at least hinted at it), but Tröegs might be my favorite Pennsylvania brewery. They brew across every style and do so with impressive quality. This Dubbel, originally brewed for co-owner Chris Trogner’s wedding, is a year-round release and a damned fine interpretation of the classic Belgian dark ale. Wonderful sweetness, hints of raisin and bananas makes this as good a Dubbel as you’ll find from even a brewery from Belgium.

La Trappe Tripel (Bierbrouwerij De Konigshoeven) | Belgian Tripel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

LaTrappe_Tripel

One of my favorite meals (Pork Chops marinated/brined in Tripel) is from this cookbook, Cooking with Beer. Not a lot of the Tripel is required so I was delighted when I saw a 750ml bottle of this in one of my local bottle shops since I love La Trappe Quadrupel. Their Tripel, this beer, is almost as good which is to say that it is a world class, outstanding beer. Perfect elements from the yeast imparting sweetness and fruitiness, just a perfectly rounded beer.

There you have it, the February 2022 Six Pack.

Beer Review: Jack’s Abby’s Lagerness Monster

Name: Lagerness Monster 
Brewing Company: Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers
Location: Framingham, MA
Style: Porter – Imperial / Double Baltic
ABV: 14%

A complex, rich, delicious beer that marvelously upends the expectations of Lager beer.

JacksAbby_LagernessMonster
A sleeping Dusty makes a cameo appearance in the background

From the Jack Abby’s landing page for the beer:

Something monstrous has surfaced. Lagerness Monster is an Imperial Baltic Porter aged in bourbon barrels. Last spotted years ago, this strong dark lager features deep flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Grab one while you can, this one won’t lurk long.

Jack’s Abby is one of the premier lager breweries in the United States. Jack Hendler and his crew have pushed the boundaries of what a lager can be across the many styles that can be produced with bottom-fermented yeast. Lagers are traditionally thought to be yellow or yellowish-golden in color, though many people who enjoy beer know that Bocks (usually dark brown) are lagers, too. What many people may not realize (and I didn’t initially know years ago) is that Baltic Porters are actually lager beers. Some of the most highly rated beers from Jack’s Abby are their “Framinghammer” series of Baltic Porters, which are often barrel-aged. But the rarest Baltic Porter from Jack’s Abby is this one, Lagerness Monster. (what a great name!)

So is the beer as good as the name?

Pouring a deep black reminiscent of an 8-ball into the glass, there’s a slight head. With the high ABV (14%!), I’m not too surprised at the thin head, but the beer pours fairly thick, which is nice. The aroma is strong on the bourbon, but it doesn’t drown out the malty elements of the beer or the slight licorice elements associated with the style.

The first sip impresses me. I like the beer quite a bit from that first taste and I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy this 500ml bottle over the next hour or so. Moments later, I have a second sip and it is stellar. I start to get a pleasant tingly feeling in my belly when the beer hits, a familiar feeling I associate with good beer.

The more I acquaint myself with the beer, the more I enjoy it. I’m not a licorice fan and many Baltic Porters have that flavor element in them. The hints of licorice are here in Lagerness Monster, but mild and far more pleasant than any hints of licorice I’ve ever tasted. The barrel elements soften that strong element, balancing out the flavor with some oak and bourbon, along with very welcome hints of vanilla and maybe even toffee.

About halfway through the beer, as I’m sitting on my couch, I can feel my legs becoming slightly heavier. That’s when I know I’ve had a beer with a high ABV and it isn’t a bad feeling. It just reminds me that I’m glad I had no real plans that night other than maybe watching a movie or reading a book and enjoying this beer.

What impresses me the most is the balance in this beer. The Baltic Porter elements are omnipresent, the barrel character wraps itself around the malty core of the beer and gives Lagerness Monster one of the cleaner flavor profiles I’ve enjoyed in a barrel-aged beer. Jack’s Abby is pushing the boundaries of craft, pushing the boundaries of what to expect from Lager, and doing so marvelously and deliciously.

As I was finishing up this beer and thinking of how I’d rate it in the end, I came to a slight crossroads. I initially landed on a 4.5 bottle caps on the untappd rating meter but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the beer had almost no flaws. I upped my rating to a 4.75 because it was nearly perfect. The only minor slight: I wouldn’t mind if it was slightly lower in ABV, but that’s it. Even at that high ABV, the booziness isn’t the punch to the face you might expect. The beer is incredible.

Jack’s Abby distributes fairly widely along in the Northeast but I’m not sure how widely they’ve put Lagerness Monster into distribution. If you see it, grab a bottle. At the $11 I paid for it, it was practically a steal especially taking into account the quality of the beer and what I’ve paid (and prices I’ve seen) for other barrel-aged dark beers.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

To The Port (Level 16)

Dating back to the 18th century, porters remain an extremely popular style to this day. That is 130 different beers with the style of Porter.

JacksAbby_LagernessMonster