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: Tonewood Brewing’s Double Dry-Hopped Fuego

Name: Double Dry-Hopped Fuego
Brewing Company: Tonewood Brewing Company
Location: Barrington & Oaklyn, NJ
Style: IPA – American
ABV: 6.2%

A hoppy, dank, double dry-hopped IPA from one of New Jersey’s best breweries – a top notch IPA

Tonewood_DDHFuego

From the untappd page for the beer:

Double Dry-Hopped Fuego – This variant of Fuego uses twice the amount of hops during the dry-hop portion of the brewing cycle. DDH Fuego is full of juicy citrus aromas that softens an already crushable IPA into an exceptionally special drinking experience.

Tonewood has become one of my favorite NJ breweries over the last couple of years, their lagers are some of the best in the State and their IPAs are solid. Early in 2022, they opened a second location, their output increased, and they went through a rebranding with their labels/logo. With the second location, their output has increased and it seems they are distributing more of their beer throughout NJ and PA. A very exciting time for the Camden County brewery. Fuego is their flagship IPA and perfectly balances the East Coast/New England style with the West Coast style. For this variant on Fuego, the hops have increased, so let’s take a look.

Tonwood_DDHF_Info

Since Tonewood Brewing went through their rebranding/label update, they’ve included information on the label that EVERY SINGLE BREWER should include, especially as beer drinkers are becoming more knowledgeable about the beer they are drinking. Style, Hops, Malt, and ABV clearly indicated.

That first look…hazy, orange juice appearance with a substantial, white head. Very opaque, so I’m surprised this one isn’t considered a New England IPA. Aroma is dank and hoppy with pleasant tropical hints like pineapple and orange juice, just like I’d expect from a beer with this amount of hopping.

The abundant hops from the nose transfer to that first sip. There’s quite a bit of that tropical taste that carries over from the aroma. Potent hops follow, giving a slightly carbonated feel in the body of the beer. I keep thinking tropical fruit for much of the flavor, maybe some peachiness or apricot, with some hints that remind me of mango.

The increase of hops, especially the double-dry hopping method, gives this beer a more dank flavor profile than the standard Fuego, or most IPAs in general. I’m sure most of my readers know this, but Double Dry hopping means that the beer is hopped twice during fermentation, which accentuates the hop flavor and aromatics with more fresh hop elements. You’re getting the hop flavor in a more pure form. As such, the dankness (or citrusy and pine elements which are the hallmark flavors of modern IPAs) factor is quite high.

Back to Double Dry-Hopped Fuego specifically…this beer is a juicy, potent, very hop-forward IPA that thanks to the dry-hopping is a fairly smooth beer. Despite my oft-mentioned dislike of the Mosaic hop, the issues I typically have with the hop presence in IPAs I don’t have that issue with this beer. The three other hops (Chinook, Citra, and Simcoe) blend will together. This is a great example of a Dry-Hopped IPA and an IPA worth seeking.

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

Draught Diversions: October 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…

Oktoberfest takes up a good portion of the month and cooler temperatures are more prevalent. Dark beer season is beginning to settle in, though there is still plenty of room for the lighter ales and lagers. This month’s six pack is a mix of different styles, three of which are in the stout family. Three NJ breweries, 2 NY breweries, and 1 VT brewery. One new to me brewery and returns from a couple of breweries who haven’t appeared at the Triple T in years.

SixPack_2022_Oct

Let’s crack open the October 2022 Six Pack …

Scrag Mountain Pils (Lawson’s Finest Liquids) | Pilsner – Czech | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Lawsons_Scrag

I had the Salt & Lime variant last year and finally got around to trying the original Scrag Mountain Pils recently. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Crisp, clean, flavorful, this beer boasts everything you could want in a pilsner. Delicious and world-class.

IPA (Finback Brewery) | IPA – American | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

FinbackIPA

My wife and I happened to be in Brooklyn to catch a live recording of our favorite podcast, Hello from the Magic Tavern and as was pleased to see a pretty decent offering from local/Brooklyn breweries. I landed on this IPA from Finback because it was the only one that didn’t have Mosaic hops in it. Although it has a hazy west coast look, it’s got Chinook and Columbus that gives more of a West Coast hop profile, but there was a nice balance to the beer.

BA Coconut & Desist 2022 Weller Bourbon (Icarus Brewing Company) | Stout – Pastry | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_CeaseBBAWeller

I visited Icarus for their annual “Build me Up Butternut” celebration for the third time and had a few beers including this is barrel-aged version of an Icarus beer that almost never was. You see, there’s a certain candy company that makes a candy bar with coconut and chocolate and Icarus wanted to evoke those flavors in a stout, many breweries make beers with this idea. However, the candy company “suggested” Icarus change the beer name, so they did. This beer is luxurious and everything a pastry stout should be, the coconut, bourbon, and chocolate are in sweet harmony.

Night Night (Bradley Brew Project) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

BBP_NightNight

Night Night is the first non-lager beer I’ve had from Bradley Brew Project and it sure is a thicc beer, as I’d expect an 11% stout to be. If you like bittersweet chocolate, then you’ll like this beer. I do, but what I like even more is how the vanilla cuts the bitterness just a little bit. The more beer I have from Bradley Brew Project, the more impressed I am with their output.

Ravendark (Ghost Hawk Brewing Company) | Stout – Foreign/Export | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

GhostHawk_RavenDark

A night at a Barcade makes for some good beers, including this Stout from Ghost Hawk Brewing, my second beer from the North Jersey brewery. One way to think of this style of stout is a “Guinness, but more.” This beer is very prominent on roasted malts, which imparts a very flavorful amalgamation of coffee and dark chocolate. I was very impressed with this beer and it doesn’t really feel like 7.3% ABV.

Kim Hibiscus Sour Lager (SingleCut Beer Smiths) | Sour – Berliner Weisse | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

SingleCut_KimHibiscus

A sour Lager, sure, why not. Berliner Weisses can often be lagers and this one is quite unique. The beer has the slight funk I’d expect, and a bit of fruitiness, too. What really stands out to me is right there in the name, Hibiscus. A flower that imparts a great element of sweetness that may have balance with the currants in the beer. A really nice beer to finish off the night.

All told, a great October for beers.

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.

Draught Diversions: September 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_Sep

Summer still tries to cling in September, but fall beers have been appearing on shelves for a couple of months. For me, September is when I start enjoying those amber, German-inspired lagers. I like to try a few new Oktoberfest-style beers every year, but will return to annual favorites. Dark beers are also on the horizon, too. Only two NJ beers this time around, three Märzens, two Barleywines and a Stout.

Let’s crack open the September 2022 Six Pack …

Oktoberfest (Conclave Brewing Company) | Märzen | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Conclave_Oktober

The few lagers Conclave has brewed have been very good, so I wanted to give their Märzen a try. I missed Conclave’s Oktoberfest-bier last year and I wasn’t going to let that happen again in 2022. I stopped in for a growler fill and was very pleased with the beer. A really spot on Märzen, there’s a very nice malty element to the beer with the related sweetness. The beer had an unfiltered look to it, which isn’t a problem.

DragonsMilk_Stroop

Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Stroopwafel (New Holland Brewing Company) | Stout – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Dragon’s Milk is one of the most popular, well-made, and recognizable bourbon barrel-aged stouts on the market. It has become a brand within New Holland Brewing and has produced several variants over the years, this one evokes the delicious caramel/waffle/cinnamon cookie. For some reason, those cookies are always offered on United Airlines, but they are very tasty nonetheless. This beer is delicious with the caramel and cinnamon flavors perfectly blended together.

Sibling Maker (Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers) | Barleywine – Other | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

JacksAbby_Sibling

This is a “Lager wine” and not the first I’ve had from Jack’s Abby. Although made with Lager yeast unlike most barleywines which are made with Ale yeast, the flavor profile is relatively similar, and that’s a good thing. This one was aged in brandy and bourbon barrels and was probably bottled in early 2020. I get the date/fig flavors I enjoy from most barleywines, plus the hints of vanilla and oak from the barrels. As good as this beer was, I think it may have aged a little too long.

October with a K (Sunken Silo Brew Works) | Märzen | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

SunkenSilo_OctK

When I saw Sunken Silo had their Märzen on draft, I figured I’d take a quick drive to the brewery and I’m glad I did. The atmosphere is pretty chill there and this was a very nice take on the Autumnal German-inspired lager. There was more of a crisp element to this than I’m accustomed to from most Märzens, but still good flavor profile nonentheless..

Creekfestbier Lager (Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company) | Märzen | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

NCBC_Creekfest

I called out this Märzen as one to try back in my Oktoberfest 2020 Six Pack and I finally got around to trying the beer. Neshaminy Creek brews a nice lager and this is no exception. The first can I poured had some carbonation issues, which didn’t change the flavor, but something just felt off. The subsequent cans didn’t have the carbonation problems and was improved because of it. This is an Oktoberfest you can’t go wrong with as an option for your Fall Fridge.

Wooden Cleat (Kane Brewing Company) | Barleywine – Other | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_BBAWoodenCleat

I’ve probably had more barleywines from Kane than any other brewery, they brew the style very well and almost always age the beer is some kind of barrel. In this case, the 2022 version of this beer was aged in Weller bourbon barrels. A “wooden cleat” is a piece of wood that strengthens the surface to which it attaches, which I suppose the barrel can be seen as the strengthening element of this barleywine. This is one of the boozier barleywines I’ve had from Kane, I’m surprised it is “only” 10.7% ABV. A very good barleywine, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had some better from Kane

Another good month of beers in the book. I’ll also add that I had my first “Smoothie Sour Seltzer” and that combination of words is only slightly more off-putting than the beverage itself. I don’t particularly gravitate towards seltzer, especially seltzer with alcohol. This one had banana, marshmallow, and coconut and had pieces of those things floating in the liquid. People seem to like these things, I’m certainly not one of them.

SixPack_2022_Sep

Beer Review: Fort Nonsense Brewing’s Jaffa the Cake

Name: Jaffa the Cake
Brewing Company: Fort Nonsense Brewing Company
Location: Randolph, NJ
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 8.3%

A delightful, well-balanced sour ale that showcases ingenuity and whimsy.

FortNonsense_Jaffa

Fort Nonsense was the subject of one of my early Brewery Spotlights and at the time, I found some things to enjoy, but I was perhaps more critical of the brewery than any other brewery I’d featured before or since. Fast forward four years, the brewery moved to a much larger (and lovely) facility, and their reputation has grown considerably, their sours in particular. So, as has become tradition the past couple of years, my friend and I decided to visit a brewery before enjoying an AEW Pay Per View.

I wasn’t too sure what I was going to have when I arrived at the brewery, there’s no taplist on their website or untappd page, but this one stood out to me on the big board behind the bar. It was different enough and I enjoy the combination of chocolate and orange. The beer is named in one part for a Jaffa Cake (a chocolate and orange confection made with Jaffa oranges) and the other part for Jabba the Hut. The flavor combination as well as the  play on words helped to make the beer stand out.

Given the beer is 8.3% ABV, Fort Nonsense only offers the beer in 10oz pours, which is what the beertender handed me. It doesn’t look out of the ordinary, there’s an aroma of orange in the beer. That’s to be expected, but still inviting nonetheless.

That first sip is extremely pleasant. The orange and chocolate are perfectly blended and in harmony with each other. The orange is the initial flavor that comes to the fore, it is pleasant and refreshing. Then comes the chocolate, like a nicely frosted cake or cookie it doesn’t dominate, but accentuates the other flavors. What I appreciate the most is that the beer element is still present, slight hops, some malts.

You may think chocolate is a peculiar ingredient for any beer outside of a stout, but it works so well in Jaffa the Cake. After this second visit to Fort Nonsense and first at their new facility, I’d have to recommend visiting for a nice variety of beer styles. I plan on visiting again in the future.

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

Draught Diversions: August 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_August

This past August was one of the hottest and driest months in my memory. I think it rained for a collective 20 hours for the entirety of the month. Thankfully, the pool was cool and the beers were cold. Lots of older favorites were in the cooler this summer (Tonewood’s Lawn Boy was a constant), but there were plenty of new beers in August 2022. This month, all the beers were from New Jersey breweries, which hasn’t happened in a while.

Let’s crack open the August 2022 Six Pack …

NeuHaus (Untied Brewing Company) | Belgian Quadrupel | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Untied_Neuhaus

I was pretty close to Untied so of course I stopped in for a beer, why not, right? I was very happy with this tasty Belgian Quadrupel which did not feel like the high ABV it was. I had a version of this beer aged in Bourbon Barrels and I have to say that I enjoyed the unbarreled version more. I write this each time I feature a beer from Untied, but I am continually impressed with the quality of their beer across all styles.

Neon Limes (Kane Brewing Company) | Lager – American | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_NeonLime

All the breweries are brewing a take on the lime infused lager and with good reason – when made well, the beer can be extremely refreshing and tasty. Kane’s “Neon Lime” is their standard “Neon Glow” lager with lime added and is a great summer beer. Very tasty with just enough lime.

Tropicology (Lone Eagle Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

LoneEagle_Tropicology (2)

My wife and I (and our friends around the block) went to Lone Eagle for a comedy night. Four comedians were featured and were very funny. The beer was pretty good, too. I had three and this beer was the standout. Lone Eagle has been making quite a lot of sour beers over the last couple of years and this one is very tasty, Pineapple, Banana and Apricot stood out to me, although Passionfruit, Orange, and Tangerine were also in the beer. Good stuff..

Vienna Lager (Triumph Brewery | Lager – Vienna | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Triumph_Vienna

Triumph is one of the first brewpubs in the State of New Jersey, going back to 1995. They’ve got locations three locations in the region. When our neighbors came over for a day of grilling and swimming, they brough over a growler of this Vienna Lager. It has been many, many, many years since I had any beer from Triumph so I was very delighted with this beer. A bit malty, a bit sweet, but altogether a solid, tasty lager..

Lights out Tonight (Carton Brewing Company) | IPA –- American| 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

imgly_8208701658424899709

Carton calls this a “NJ IPA,” which means it includes NJ grown malt and a bit of “snark.” What does that actually mean for the beer in the glass? A very tasty, balanced, IPA. It drinks a little bit more New England than West Coast, but I really like the hop blend of Ella, Nelson, and especially the Galaxy. For me, Galaxy hops are often a standout and help to balance out some of the bitterness other hops may bring.

Heady Jams (Brix City Brewing) | IPA – Imperial / Double New England / Hazy | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

BrixCity_HeadyJams

Brix City is best know for Hazy IPAs, like this one which is part of their “Jams” series of beers. Each one seems to have a slightly different hop blend or is a collaboration with another brewery. Most of the “Jams” beers have at least Citra & Mosaic, this one has Galaxy, which as I noted in the previous beer, balances out the bitterness I usually get from Mosaic. Wheat and oats are added for a smooth, juicy beer. A top notch Hazy.

Only one beer stood out as completely undrinkable and it is one of the worst beers I’ve had over the last couple of years ago. I won’t say the name of the brewery because I’ve liked most other beers I’ve had from them – reviewed two of them, in fact! This was a “Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake IPA with other ‘natural flavors’” and was bad in every way possible.

SixPack_2022_August

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.

Draught Diversions: July 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_July

As readers of this blog know, July is a big beer month thanks to the annual family party on the Fourth of July. That will often bring even more new beers to me and July 2022 was no different. I also happened to visit a few different breweries in NJ this past month, and one in Massachusetts as I documented a couple of weeks ago. Just one non-NJ beer this month, but it was a milestone beer for me, at least on untappd. No IPAs this time around, just one lager, but a fruitful assortment of beers, if you well.

Let’s have at it, shall we?

Mad Love (Twin Elephant Brewing) | Farmhouse Ale – Saison | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

TwinElephant_MadLove

I was in the area of Twin Elephant so I made a long overdue stop at the brewery in Chatham. I wasn’t sure what I wanted because the taplist had quite a few appealing beers. I settled on this hefty (7.2%) Saison which was very earthy with a nice fruity balance. Although the Herd is more known for hop-bombs and stouts, this beer shows their skill at the art of the Saison quite well.

Cranberry Wheat (Hidden Sands Brewing Company) | Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

HiddenSands_CranWheat

This is the first beer from Hidden Sands I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying and it was a dandy. Cranberries are a great fruit to add into beer, particularly a wheat beer. There’s a really nice balance to the tartness of the fruit from the “heaps of NJ honey” added to the beer. I could drink this beer all day in the summer.

Bay Daze (Cape May Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

CapeMay_BayDaze_Tbl

I sometimes overlook Cape May because they are so large and their beers are ubiquitous throughout the State of New Jersey, but then bam! They brew a beer like Bay Daze to raise the bar for a sour ale. This isn’t the sourest of beers I’ve ever had, but it might be one of the more refreshing sour ales I’ve had. The classic pairing of cherry and lime is perfectly balanced and the sea salt just brings everything together. On top of that, the can art has a puppers on it.

Delirium Black Barrel Aged (Delirium – Huyghe Brewery | Belgian Strong Dark Ale | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Delirium_Black2500

I knew I was coming up on 2500 unique check-ins to untappd for a while and wanted to have a special beer for it, but didn’t know what it would be. When a co-worker gifted this to me, I knew and this is certainly a very interesting beer. The yeast of a Belgian ale is often the signature element and it plays some interesting notes with the barrel character. As it warms, the vanilla, oak, and bourbon elements emerge more potently.

The Juice is Worth the Squeeze: Blueberry, Raspberry, Lemon (Icarus Brewing) | Sour –- Fruited Berliner Weisse | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_JuiceSqueeze

Very shocking to see an Icarus beer here, I know. I did visit the brewery for their Canniversary in the middle of the month, so I had a few to choose from in July and went with this small batch Sour ale. Icarus does the Berliner Weisse style very well and this might be the best one I’ve had. I wonder if it will be a new “series” of the style. Either way, the blueberry is the star here, while the lemon is really nice on the finish. It was quite warm during the event at the brewery and this beer was a perfect cure for that heat.

Great Dane (Readington Brewery & Hop Farm) | Lager – Dortmunder/Export | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Readington_GreatDane

My dog Dusty is part Great Dane, so how do I not get a beer called “Great Dane” from my most local of local breweries? Fortunately, the beer was really tasty. Dortmunder Lagers are usually a little sweeter than say, a Helles Lager or Pilsner, but in the same family. Readington’s take on the style was very clean, dialed-in, and hit the spot. It is really nice to see this brewery making beer that continues to get better each time I visit.

All great beers and I could have made an additional 4-pack of new-to-me beers that were just about as equally excellent.

Beer Review: Last Wave Brewing’s Surfer’s Blood

Name: Surfer’s Blood
Brewing Company: Last Wave Brewing Company & Heavy Reel Brewing Company
Location: Point Pleasant, NJ
Style: Sour – Berliner Weisse
ABV: 5.1%

An outstanding sour ale, whose name, flavor, and the breweries who made it scream summer.

LastWave_Surfer'sBlood

Last Wave says this about the beer:

Raspberry Lemonade Berliner Weisse

This kettle-soured weiss bier is tart, fruity, and red with the help of some raspberry and lemon puree (none of our actual blood), making this a refreshing adult beverage ripe for enjoyment at the Jersey Shore. Brewed in collaboration with our friends at Heavy Reel Brewing Co.

Last Wave recently celebrated their fifth anniversary and did a slight rebranding of their logo / can art aesthetic and released a couple of collaboration beers. Although I missed those beers, I’d been keeping an eye on Last Wave’s releases and saw an intriguing Instagram post announcing the re-release of this beer, Surfer’s Blood. With the summer in full swing, I wanted something sweet, tart, and with some fruit element to the beer; Surfer’s Blood fit that criteria perfectly.

The beer that pours into my glass from the can is pinkish in color and could easily pass as pink lemonade. That makes sense given the Last Wave labels this as a “Raspberry Lemonade Sour.” Aroma is a little bit of that raspberry lemonade, too.

I take a sip and I’m delighted. This is damned tasty beer. There’s a lot of tart and tanginess from the raspberries and lemons/lemonade, but enough carbonation and maltiness to keep this in the beer category. The tartness / sour elements also come from the yeast that gives a Berliner Weisse (even without adjuncts) its characteristic funky profile.

You’ve got two shore breweries collaborating on this beer, you’ve got “surfer” in the title, a surfing skeleton on the label, and delicious refreshing fruity flavor (specifically lemonade, maybe the most iconic summer beverage) in the beer. Yeah, this is a great summer beer. It has been a popular seasonal for Last Wave and I can taste why. I had a second can on a warm Sunday afternoon lounging in my pool after some yard work and the beer tasted even better and went down much more quickly in gulps, rather than sips. Maybe the only better place/way to enjoy this beer is on the beach.

I love the can art, it speaks to the horror junkie in me with the bloody skeleton, which is kind of the mascot of Heavy Reel brewing. the new “branding” Last Wave kicked off in May, which put a nice “frame” around the art topped off with Last Wave’s surf board logo brings the eye-popping design together. Surfer’s Blood is very appealing both from the taste and packaging,  if you saw this beer on the shelf and wanted a sweet summer crusher, you’d have to pick up at least a four-pack.

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

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Ich Bin Ein Berliner (Level 6)

The classic Berliner Weisse is crisp, cloudy, and sour. Once the most popular beer style in Berlin, it’s gained notoriety and popularity around the globe making us all proud to be Berliners. That’s 30 different beers with the style of Berliner Weisse.

LW_SurfersBlood