Beer Review: Kane Brewing’s Pumpkin Spice Morning Bell

Name: Pumpkin Spice Morning Bell
Brewing Company: Kane Brewing Company
Location: Ocean, NJ
Style: Porter – Imperial/Double | “Imperial Milk Porter”
ABV: 9.2%

Kane’s fall spice addition to their popular Milk Porter is a delicious treat.

Kane_PSMB

From Kane’s Instagram post for the beer:

Pumpkin Spice Morning Bell, brewed in collaboration with Rook Coffee, is our 9.2% Imperial Milk Porter conditioned on Rook’s dark roast coffee and their aromatic blend of fall spices. Last year was the first year releasing Pumpkin Spice Morning Bell, and we’re excited to have it back since it was such a crowd favorite.

Kane has made many appearances here at the Tap Takeover, but this is only the second full-out review I’ve posted of one of their beers.

Morning Bell is one of Kane’s most popular beers – a top 5 beer on untappd for them, and their top dark beer. The base beer is a “Milk Porter” meaning a porter made with lactose and as this is a coffee-infused beer, coffee is also part of the ingredient list. In this case, Kane uses coffee beans from Rook Coffee, one of the more respected independent coffee roasters in New Jersey. Over the years, Kane has brewed and released several variants (the Morning Mocha variant was one of my top beers last year). With the overwhelming popularity of the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) and pumpkin flavor, Kane all but had to do this variant.

The beer pours a little thicker than I would expect a porter to pour, which is not a bad thing. I get some of those pumpkin spice aromas, particularly cinnamon.

The first sip…wow. Impressive and gives me the autumnal vibes. As I said, I’ve had the base version of this beer (Morning Bell) in the past and one of the elements that carries over to this variant is the smooth creaminess of the beer. Michael Kane and his brewing magicians have such a great hand with many things and with the Morning Bell family of beers that deft hand comes through in adding the perfect amount of lactose. That creaminess also balances out the coffee portion of the beer, too.

The more I drink this beer, the more I enjoy it. The “pumpkin spice” flavors come through even more deliciously. I’ve come to realize I’m not a big fan of nutmeg and even that spice works in the beer for me. This all points to the balance on the overall flavor profile of Pumpkin Spice Morning Bell. By the time I’ve finished the last drop of the beer, I’ve come to realize this might be the best “Pumpkin Spice” or Pumpkin adjacent beer I’ve ever had.

Like many of Kane’s beers, this one is available only at the brewery.

Kane_PumpkinSpiceMB

Highly Recommended, link to 4.5 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Draught Diversions: Odd Bird Brewing (Stockton, NJ)

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…

OddBird_Sign_01

As the beer landscape in New Jersey has grown over the last decade or so, a natural element of this growth is how some of these breweries are located rather closely together. Case in point, Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton, New Jersey, which happens to be in Hunterdon County. Recently, the breweries in Hunterdon County have come together in a promotional effort as the Hunterdon Beer Trail. Patrons can get little “Passport” booklets at breweries located in Hunterdon County to be stamped and once all the breweries have been visited, patrons get a free pint glass. But on to Odd Bird Brewing…

OddBird_Sign_02

Adam Juncosa was a homebrewer, having as many as 13 beers on tap at his home for gatherings. He’s won awards at homebrewing competitions and spent some time brewing at Conclave Brewing. When he realized the town in which he lived, Stockton, didn’t have the best beer options, he and his wife Karen Malzone, a teacher in Hunterdon County, decided to open a brewery of their own. Thus Odd Bird Brewing was born.

One of the first things I asked Adam was how he came up with the name. His mom always called him an Odd Bird and it stuck. Running with that theme, Adam and Karen eventually enlisted local artist Catherine Lent to come up with the logo and branding for the brewery. This all fits in with Karen’s passion for conservation efforts.

Opening in January 2020, Adam and Karen had only a few months before the pandemic struck the world, but they were able to pivot after a brief shut down to crowler sales and eventually on-site consumption after the world adjusted to the pandemic and what social distancing meant as they were able to offer seating in an outdoor biergarten during warmer weather.

A peek inside the brewery revealed a welcoming taproom with a row of ornately designed, artistic custom blown glass taphandles created by Dan McStocker. Much of the furniture, chairs, tables, etc. were built by Karen and Adam, lending an even more personal touch to the brewery.

OddBird_Taps

I knew of Odd Bird Brewing when the brewery opened, but not too much beyond the fact that another NJ brewery opened. Over the past year, I saw a great deal of good chatter on the Beer Advocate forums about the quality of their beer and Adam’s focus on the lower-ABV classic styles like Pilsners (he won a homebrew competition for his pilsner), clean lagers, Kölsch, straight-forward English-style stout, and more traditional IPAs (as opposed to the hazy / New England / Milkshake varieties). That “chatter” had me even more inclined and interested in visiting the brewery.

The location is rather unique, especially compared to the other breweries I’ve visited in NJ. It isn’t on a main street, nor is Odd Bird Brewing located in an industrial park. Risler Avenue/NJ State Route 29 parallels the Delaware River at the southwestern end of County Road 523 – a lovely drive to be had on a late summer/early fall day. Odd Bird is located in an old auto body shop, which is in the same building/location as the Stockton Eagle gas station, and that building is next to a restaurant, Cravings. That set up/location does sort of fit in with the name of the brewery. Stockton is one of, if not the smallest, municipality in NJ with a population under 600 and just over a half-mile square in area, lending even more intimacy to the brewery.

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Odd Bird Brewing’s Beer Menu, September 11, 2021

The day of my visit, the outdoor biergarten was at just about full capacity, which was no surprise because it was a gorgeous day. See my previous comment regarding what a lovely drive along NJ/Hunterdon County Road 523 the path to the brewery was. As I pointed out in my review on Tuesday, the beer that drew my immediate attention was the Extra Stockton Bitter. Prior to visiting the brewery, I’d seen that Adam brewed an Amber Lager and tapped that day, OddsBodkins. An “Amber” lager isn’t the hottest Lager style (that would be Pilsner in the craft world), which is part of what drew me to ordering the beer. Also, almost any time I see a Lager on draft in a smaller brewery, I’m going to order it. I was very pleased with this one; smooth, clean and flavorful (I realize “flavorful” is perhaps becoming the most overused word by the proprietor of The Tap Takeover).

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OddsBodkins Amber Lager, plus Crowler

When I was ordering the Lager, another patron, a young woman who seemed to be friends with Karen, was telling me how much she loves sour beers and how great Adam’s Berliner Weisse Sommer was. If I wasn’t making the drive to another brewery to continue my path towards completion of my Hunterdon Beer Trail passport, I likely would have ordered that beer. Given the quality of the two beers I enjoyed, I’ve no doubt this sour beer was on point. Another patron was strolling up to the ordering window and I recommended the ESB and the gentleman told me that was the purpose of his visit to Odd Bird, to enjoy a cask pint of the ESB. In the future, because chances are pretty good I’ll visit again, I’ll make my way through some of they other beers. In particular, I’d like to try their British-style stout Mumbletypeg Tavern Stout. Adam mentioned that he’ll be brewing a Schwarzbier, a style I came to thoroughly enjoy over the last year. Other beers typically on draft at Odd Bird would be a mix of IPAs, saisons, and other “classic” styles.

Odd Bird Brewing is, in my mind, what a quintessential local brewery should be. Great people who own it, who make delicious beer, with a unique taplist of beers that will attract more than just the immediate locals. The brewery has such a wonderful character and ambiance that is more than complimented by the classic styles brewed to near perfection.

Go visit and enjoy their delicious beer.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Odd Bird Brewing Co. Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Odd Bird Brewing Co on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

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Beer Review: Odd Bird Brewing’s ESB (Extra Stockton Bitter)

Name: Extra Stockton Bitter
Brewing Company: Odd Bird Brewing
Location: Stockton, NJ
Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter
ABV: 4.3%

One of NJ’s smallest breweries has crafted an outstanding take on a classic, English pub ale.

OddBird_ESB

From the ordering page for the beer:

A malt forward amber English Ale.

Hops: Whole Leaf East Kent Goldings and Fuggles

Malt: Floor Malted Maris Otter, English Crystal Malt

ESB is perhaps the most classic of British Pub style ales. Here in America it isn’t exactly the most high profile style, so not many breweries feature the style in their rotation or on draft. But those that do brew in this style, seem to have a passion for it. Enter Odd Bird Brewing’s Extra Stockton Bitter an homage to the style with the name of the town in which the brewery resides.

I’ve only had a very small handful of ESBs and only one served in the traditional manner, via cask. Odd Bird’s take on the style is only the second I’ve enjoyed served via Cask…so when I saw this style available in this delivery method, I had to try it.

The mug I’m given is a beautiful sight. It looks exactly like I’d expect such a beer to be served were I to order it in a pub in London.

I dive right into the beer after I snap the above photo and take a seat at Odd Bird’s outdoor Biergarten. This is beer. Simple statement, but that’s what first comes to mind. Let’s unpack that…this is beer in a quintessential British style as it is meant to be. Top notch flavors from fresh ingredients crafted with care and attention. I get mild bitterness on the initial sips of Extra Stockton Bitter, which is on point. The cask delivery gives the beer an added quaff and body that enhances the flavors of the maltiness. There’s an extremely balanced and welcome sweetness on the finish of the beer.

I spent some time speaking to owner/brewer Adam about this beer and he told me the cask they have in the brewery is the same one that was in his living room prior to opening the brewery. He wasn’t able to get this style on cask so he started making it himself and wanted it in the traditional fashion so he procured a cask, specifically the Hand Pulled Beer Engine was originally from a 1970s John Smith Pub in the UK and reconditioned for use over the last few years.

This beer, for me, exemplifies why I like craft/independent beer so much. It isn’t a style you’ll find everywhere, but it is a passion project of a beer (one might say) that delivers something really special, no pun intended. If I wanted a West Coast IPA, I could walk to my local liquor store. If I wanted an American Lager, I’d head to the local bar. Nothing wrong with either style! My point is this – Odd Bird may be one of the smallest breweries in New Jersey, but the quality is outstanding, at least judging by this ESB. This beer alone makes it worth the trip to the brewery, in my humble opinion.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.5 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Draught Diversions: Buttzville Brewing (Washington Township, NJ)

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…

It is becoming a familiar story here on a couple of levels at the Tap Takeover with my brewery spotlight features… (1) home brewer turned brewery owner and (2) COVID-19 impacting a brewery’s opening. Take those elements (among others) and here I am spotlighting Buttzville Brewing Company in Washington Township (Warren County), NJ. Although owner/brewer Dave Anderson and his wife were homebrewing since 2014 (when Erin bought Dave a Homebrew kit), the name was established in 2020, and the Andersons finally opened the doors to the brewery for the public to enjoy the beers of Buttzville Brewing on July 31, 2021.

Buttzville_Door (2)
Image courtesy of Buttzville Brewing’s Web site

It is very rare for a brewery, or any business to open on their scheduled opening date. Permits, loans, construction schedules all bring wild cards into the equation that can impede any schedule. Add to that a global pandemic and Buttzville Brewing opened a little over a year after their initially scheduled opening date. Dave and Erin didn’t give up on their dream and the result: an inviting, eye-pleasing taproom where patrons can find good conversation, good people behind the business, and excellent beer.

Dave dove into homebrewing headfirst after receiving that homebrew kit and The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian as gifts from Erin. Papazian is looked upon as something like the godfather of homebrewing and is the founder of the American Homebrewers Association. Dave joined the Lehigh Valley Homebrewers club, which has spawned a couple of breweries from its members: Lost Tavern Brewing and Taylor House to name two. Dave’s passion, and Erin’s belief in Dave, helped them weather the storm of delays and a Pandemic to open the fourth brewery in Warren County, NJ (Czig Meister, Man Skirt, and Invertase being the other three), forming a nice group of breweries to visit on a day trip.

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Buttzville Brewing’s Taplist 09-05-2021

I’m not going to get through a piece about this brewery without remarking on the name of the brewery. Buttzville…it just makes you giggle when you say it, at least the part of me that is still an eleven-year old boy. Dave and Erin are clever enough to run with the joke as the brewery’s motto is “The Great Beer with the Cheeky Name.” They’ve carried that theme through to some of their beers, too. Frankly, if they didn’t what would have been the point of the whole endeavor? They’ve got a Milkshake IPA called “Turn the Other Cheek,” a Brown Ale (pause for laughter) called “Buttz Not to Like” so far. Dave and Erin have only registered 13 beers on untappd (having been open only over a month), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more cheekily named brews in their future. Currently, Buttzville Brewing has 9 beers on tap, plus a seltzer.

As has become tradition (the second time something happens, I suppose allows a thing to become “tradition”), my good friend and I decided before enjoying an All Elite Wrestling Pay-Per-View event (All Out 2021, one of the best wrestling PPVs I’ve ever watched), we’d partake in some local brews. With Buttzville Brewing having opened in July 2021, we figured we’d hit up one of the newest breweries in the State, which is fairly close to where he lives.

I happened to be wearing my New Jersey Craft Beer hat (which I almost always wear when I visit breweries) and Dave commented on it, and we shared some words about how great the organization is, what a great guy Mike Kivowitz is, and the general camaraderie of the New Jersey craft beer scene.

On to the beers…..

I started the day with the Norwegian Sprinter, a blonde ale with the magical Norwegian Kviek yeast. The beer reminded me a bit of a Belgian Golden Ale, but that Kviek yeast added a nice citrusy dimension to the beer beyond what I’ve had before. At 4.7%, this is the kind of beer I could enjoy all day.

Buttzville_NorweiganSprinter

The second beer I enjoyed was the Milk Stout with the ingenious name, Just Butt I Needed. I was impressed with this beer, too. Roast elements with hints of coffee and a sweet finish.

Buttzville_JustButtINeeded

My friend had the Pale Ale and the Saison. As I posted this past Tuesday, I also had the Saison and was extremely impressed with the beer. As I said in my review of the beer, we enjoyed the Saison so much, we brought back a growler of it to enjoy while watching All Out 2021.

Buttzville Brewing is located in what is a “Main Street” downtown on E. Washington Avenue in Washington Township and like NJ breweries before it (Wet Ticket in Rahway, Czig Meister and Man Skirt in Hackettstown), could be a key player in the growing downtown area. Dave is an extremely welcoming and knowledgeable guy and he makes excellent beer. Whether visiting and spending time at the brewery, or taking in the other breweries in the area, Buttzville Brewing is worth visiting. I have a feeling I will visit again.

ButtzvilleLogo

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Buttzville Brewing Co. Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Buttzvile Brewing Co. on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Beer Review: Buttzville Brewing’s Mountain View Saison

Name: Mountain View
Brewing Company: Buttzville Brewing Company
Location: Washington/Buttzville, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
ABV: 6.2%

A brand new brewery knocks it out of the park with their first Saison.

Buttzville_MountainViewSaison

From the untappd page for the beer:

This light, crisp Belgian saison is dedicated to the street Dave grew up on – Mountain View Rd., just outside of Washington, NJ. The classic, easy-drinking flavors of pepper, fruits, and floral notes are the perfect homage to the farming community in Warren County. The dry finish makes this a refreshing brew to enjoy on an evening spent in the outdoors.

Buttzville Brewing Company is one of the newer breweries in New Jersey. (Get the laughs out), having on July 31, 2021 amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic as the fourth brewery in Warren County, NJ. A good friend and I have made a tradition of visiting a brewery before watching a wrestling Pay-Per-View (in this case AEW All Out 2021), so when I realized how close he was to Buttzville Brewing, we decided to visit them.

He went with the Saison first, I decided on it last and I’m glad I did because it was the best of the three beers I enjoyed. The beer comes to me with a fairly thick, fluffy head that is exactly what I expect from a saison. A little fruitiness in the aroma, lots of earthiness. Aroma and look are spot on for the style.

A big, smack of flavors hits my palate in the best possible way. I am very impressed, but how does it work beyond that first sip? Very well indeed.

Mountain View is a bounty of flavors one should expect from a saison – a little peppery, a little fruity, a slightly dry finish. Each successive sip of the beer impresses me even more with the flavors…all fully derived from the yeast. No pepper added, no fruit elements added. That’s what wows me so much here, is that owner/brewer Dave was able coax so much wonderful flavor from the yeast in his brew process. In talking to Dave, he said he wanted to brew a saison because he wasn’t seeing enough of them and Mountain View saison is a beer he should proud to call his own.

Perhaps the thing that speaks the most to how much I (and my friend) enjoyed the beer. I had a growler filled for us to enjoy while watching the pay per view. Later that evening, we both remarked on how impressed we were with the beer. Quite simply, a clean, well-made beer in a classic style that required no crazy adjuncts.

A beer like this proves out the quality of the brewer who made the beer. Extremely refreshing and flavorful, Mountain View is a fantastic interpretation of Farmhouse Ale/Saison.

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

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Trip to the Farm (Level 13)

You have a keen taste for this Belgian masterpiece. Did you know the Saison style beer was invented by Belgian farms, brewed in the Winter and served the Spring/Summer to all their workers? Well now you do! That’s 55 different Saisons.

Buttzville_MountainViewSaison

Draught Diversions: Octoberfest 2021 Six Pack

This is the fourth annual Oktoberfest Six Pack (and fifth Oktoberfest feature overall), but clearly, Oktoberfest 2020 is unlike any we’ve experienced. For starters, the second year in a row, the annual celebration of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese’s marriage was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Like last year, that hasn’t stopped the Festbiers and Märzens from being brewed and packaged. Four years into “constructing” these six-packs and I’m still able to find new malty, amber lagers to highlight every year. Of the beers featured here, I’ve had two, but only a taster of one and small portion from a crowler from another.

From last year: A note on the difference between Festbiers and Märzens. Festbiers are generally lower in alcohol and more close to a light copper color as opposed the the amber coloring of a Märzens. The story goes that the beers served at Oktoberfest in Bavaria were dropped in ABV slightly to sell more beer without making the attendees too inebriated. For me, whatever style a particular brewery calls their amber/brown lager they sell as “Oktoberfest” or some variant of the name, is a highlight of the beer year for yours truly. Most of the beers you’d find in Germany during the festival would actually be Festbiers, while those with the “Oktoberfest” moniker are mostly the American-ized versions.

On to the Six Pack!

Festbier (Festbier) | Bitburger Brauerei | Bitburg, Germany | 6.2% ABV

Bitburger is one of the larger German breweries and back in 2019, they collaborated with Sierra Nevada on a Märzen and I thoroughly enjoyed that version. I figured since I’ve been enjoying Sierra Nevada’s solo Oktoberfest beers the last couple of years, I should give Bitburger’s a try.

What Bitburger says about the beer:

A seasonal edition, available from August each year for a limited time: our Bitburger Festbier – tasty, full-bodied and delicately malty-mild. Created by our brewmasters to enjoy the traditional German beer festival atmosphere. A very special malt composition, including Pilsner Malt, Münchner Malt and light Caramel Malt, accounts for its fine color and smooth body. Additionally, the beer is refined with Bitburger’s proprietary and unique hop blend called ‘Siegelhopfen’ (seal hops), which is sourced from a farm just a few minutes from the brewery. This drinkable 6.2% ABV full-bodied beer is the perfect marriage of hops and malt with a slightly sweet backbone, while finishing dry.

OxtoberFest (Märzen) | Bolero Snort Brewery | Carlstadt, NJ | 5.3% ABV

Bolero_Oxtoberfest

It has been a while since Bolero Snort was featured here at the Tap Takeover, but with their increased production thanks to their awesome facility they are finally brewing and canning an Oktoberfest. Their Raging Bull Amber Lager is quite tasty so I’m hoping this one will be of equal quality.

What Bolero Snort says about the beer:

Who’s ready for OxtoberFest🍺!!!! We are happy to announce our latest release, right in time for the end of summer. This Marzen style lager was made as a Pro-Am Collab with our long time friend C3 Brewing😎. So grab your alpine hat and lederhosen’s and get on down to your local store to try out OxtoberFest👍!!!

Festooning (Märzen) | Grimm Artisanal Ales | Brooklyn, NY | 5.7% ABV

I’ve had a couple of Grimm’s lagers over the past few months (including a fantastic Vienna Lager), so I’m hoping their take on this most traditional of German lagers reaches NJ.

What Grimm says about the beer:

We are so excited to release Festooning, our first Oktoberfest Märzen-style lager. Like our pilsners, this amber lager was brewed with a traditional step mash process. The grist is a rich combination of German Vienna and Munich II malts that give warm notes of honey, caramel, and a fresh-baked loaf of seeded bread. Malty-sweet flavor with a crisp body and a subtle balancing bitterness make this an über satisfying Oktoberfest.

Mr. Oktoberfest (Märzen) | Icarus Brewing Company | Lakewood, NJ | 5.4% ABV

I shared a crowler of this one a couple of years ago, so I’m hoping cans of this one make it out to distribution again. As a NY Yankees fan, how do I not like a beer with this name and great can art?

What Icarus says about the beer:

Our 5.4% traditional German Lager was brewed with German Vienna and Dark Munich malts, then delicately hopped with Hallertauer Mittlefrueh. After Lagering for over a month in our tanks this enticingly malty yet easy drinking beer brings notes of Freshly Baked Bread, Caramel and just enough noble hops to mellow out the experience. Just in time to enjoy in your Beer Tent, this amber medium bodied beauty demands we say Prost and enjoy!

Drachenstadt – Festbier (Märzen) | Levante Brewing Company | West Chester, PA | 4.8% ABV

Levante gets some distribution here into New Jersey so I’m hoping I’ll see this beer. With a dragon theme in the beer and the label, I feel extremely compelled to try it.

Levante says this about the beer:

To go toe-to-claw with a dragon it helps to possess courage, even if it’s in liquid form. With a selection of five specialty malts, cold fermented and lagered to perfection, our Marzen style beer brings forth a depth and drinkable character not usually found in today’s festbiers. You’ll have courage to spare!

Ramstein Oktoberfest Lager (Märzen) | Ramstein/High Point Brewing Company | Hackettstown, NJ | 6% ABV

ramstein_Oktoberfest2021

Perhaps the most traditional and iconic Oktoberfest brewed in NJ. Like many of the beers brewed out of High Point Brewing in Butler, NJ, this was only available at the brewery. Last year, Ramstein canned the beer for the first time and sent the cans out to some stores in the State. I’m hoping that happens again this year, because I only had this beer once, many years ago at a beer festival but it left a strong impression.

What Ramstein says about the beer:

Inspired by the authentic German Oktoberfest beer from the early 1900s. This amber lager has a rich malty aroma, a smooth toasty palate, and subtle noble hop finish.

The richness and spiciness of this beer makes it the perfect accompaniment to robust meats and grilled fare. Ramstein Oktoberfest is a great beer for any festive occasion.

Beer Review: Two Ton’s Wrought Gold W/ Blood Orange

Name: Wrought Gold w/ Blood Orange
Brewing Company: Two Ton Brewing
Location: Kenilworth, NJ
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 5.5%

“A flavorful, low ABV beer perfect for summer and poolside beer from the Union County brewery.”

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The commemorative/souvenir beer glass is from the 2015 Garden State Brewfest, where I first sampled beer from Two Ton Brewing.

From Two Ton’s facebook post promoting the beer:

We took Wrought Gold, our American blonde ale brewed with fresh blood orange purée to deliver the ultimate refreshment. This summer sipper is sure to satisfy with smooth sensations of sweetness. The base beer boasts smooth, round flavors of malt and slightly juicy Liberty hops, fermented with an English ale yeast.

A relatively short amount of time for another Blonde Ale considering I don’t drink many of them. But the frequency of these two Blonde Ale reviews should speak to their quality. That said, this definitely different than the previous Blonde Ale featured here at the Tap Takeover. Two Ton has been around the NJ Craft Beer scene for a few years, I first sampled their fine brews during the 2015 Garden State Brewfest. I remember their beer being tasty and the owners, brothers Matt and Jim Barbiere and their father Mario, being extremely nice guys.  At the time, Two Ton was contract brewing with their HQ based out of Linden, NJ, my hometown. More recently (in 2018), they opened in Kenilworth, NJ. This past year, they began distributing cans of their beer which leads to this beer specifically.

Blonde Ales are typically easy drinking, approachable beers. I’ve had the original Wrought Gold and remembered enjoying the beer so I was pleased to see this variant appear in the refrigerated shelves of my local Wegmans. I had a feeling it might be a good poolside / summer beer and I had a few people coming over that day, one of whom loves Blood Orange.

Pop of the can and the strong, pleasant, inviting aroma of the Blood Orange asserts itself. The beer pours a reddish gold and the potent aroma of citrus/oranges is even more noticeable. Although the fruit is “Blood Orange,” the look of the beer, is more of a “strawberry blonde.” Regardless, the beer looks as I would expect it to look.

The pronounced Blood Orange flavor dominates. That is a feature, not a bug, by the way. Blonde Ales are often not too assertive, they are beer flavored beer for the most part. The American versions at least, tend to not lean too much on the malt, not too much on the hops so the beer style is good for its approachability and its ability to take on a flavor adjunct. I mentioned the citrus element from the Blood Orange…that is quite different than the citrus element some hops impart. There’s a very distinct citrus sweetness that I can only compare to the most potent orange juice I’ve had blended with beer. It makes for a good combination, at least for my taste buds.

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Wrought Gold w/Blood Orange is an excellent ale that works perfectly as a fun, summer refresher and well worth seeking out.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4 bottle cap rating.

Draught Diversions: July 2021 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…

2021_July_SixPack

July has come and gone and with it, the annual family Fourth of July party, which was a contributor to this month’s six pack. It is often hit or miss with the beers my family and friends bring, but this year, there were more hits than misses. This is the first six pack in months with no lager and outside of one beer, all are hop forward (Pale Ales or IPAs).

Forever Forward (Icarus Brewing) | IPA – Imperial/Double New England | 4.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

As it so happens, this was the 50th beer I had from Icarus Brewing. As it also happens, it is the best IPA I’ve had from them and maybe one of my top IPAs of all time. I like the hop selection (Citra and Motueka) and what I appreciate is that they used wheat and oats to soften the body of the beer rather than lactose. Plus, how do you not like that Back to the Future inspired can art?

Your Lips are Bloody! (Ashton Brewing) | IPA – Sour | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

One of Ashton’s flagship beers is their IPA, “Your Lips are Juicy,” which I featured about a year ago. That was a very good beer. This is a version of the beer with Blood Oranges and is even better. This beer was originally produced for Halloween 2020, but proved so popular it was brewed and canned again. The blood oranges both accentuate the citrus element inherent in the hops and since blood oranges are even sweeter than regular oranges, that sweetness counters the hop bitterness. A delicious IPA

Blueberry Lemon Crushin’ It (Cape May Brewing Co.) | IPA – American| 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Cue the Whitesnake song because here we go with a variant of a beer I’ve previously featured at the Tap Takeover. Blueberry is one of my favorite fruits and when balanced with lemon makes for a very refreshing flavor profile. This beer is stronger on the blueberry element than the hops element, but is very tasty. Maybe not quite as good as the original “Orange Crushin’ It,” but still a beer I enjoyed thoroughly and would enjoy poolside all summer.

Patriot (Battle River Brewing) | IPA – American | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

When you have an annual Fourth of July party and your party-goers know you like beer, they tend to bring beer. Fortunately, there’s a gem of a beer I haven’t had like this IPA from Battle River Brewing. This is a very well-made, straight-forward, no-frills CLEAR IPA. Sometimes, the relatively simple beers are just what hits the spot, and this IPA delivers in spades. Good stuff

Subtle Symphony (Conclave Brewing Company) | Pale Ale – American | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd


I met up with a good friend to visit the two closest breweries to me, Conclave being one of them. This is a delicious, flavorful, low ABV (4.5%) pale ale that I could drink all day. Slightly hop-forward, fully refreshing. This would be a good beer for them to can.

Uncharted Waters Raspberry Gose (Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited Gose | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Jersey Cyclone continues to impress me with everything the brew. They’ve been making great sour ales over the better part of the last year. Fruited sours in particular have been impressing me so I was very happy to see them finally put one of their sour ales in a four-pack of cans. Goses are maybe the sour beers I like most, the salinity on the finish works for me and it plays really nicely with the sweet and tart nature of the raspberries. A very well-crafted beer.

Beer Review: Lone Eagle Brewing’s Jubileum V (Bourbon-Barrel Aged Eisbock)

Name: Jubileum V
Brewing Company: Lone Eagle Brewing
Location: Lone Eagle Brewing
Style: Bock – Eisbock (Traditional)
ABV: 8.5%

“Lone Eagle Brewing has crafted and exceptional beer for their Fifth Anniversary, Congratulations!”

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What Lone Eagle says about the beer:

A strong, malty German-style bock with rich character, full of caramel, toffee, and toasted biscuit notes with almonds, further aged in a bourbon barrel for a warming effect full of vanilla and oak notes.

I’ve mentioned Lone Eagle Brewing often here at the Tap Takeover, afterall, they are one of the closest breweries to my house and prior to the Pandemic I was going there fairly regularly for the monthly board game night. Since they hit their Five-Year Anniversary this past weekend (July 24, 2021), I figured I’d visit again. For their previous anniversaries, Lone Eagle has brewed a different barrel-aged beer they’ve called Jubileum, which is a Dutch word for “Celebration” or “Anniversary.” This year’s anniversary beer is a style I like a lot, but is fairly rare: Eisbock. As it turns out (and something that’s a theme of sorts), this is the 50th beer I’ve had from Lone Eagle, so that, combined with their anniversary and the quality of the beer, compelled me to review it.

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Back in my Bock Beer post, I summarized what an Eisbock is: “The “Eis” in the name is from partially freezing a dopple and extracting the H2O ice, which allows the alcohol to have a much more noticeable presence and a deeper brownish/reddish hue and an overall thicker beer. You could also say a Belgian Quadrupel is similar to an Eisbock, in some ways.” In other words, the water is distilled, so an Eisbock is a strange beast. What about the beer Lone Eagle brewed for their fifth anniversary?

The beer is a dark, deep brown with hints of amber in the right light. The aroma is largely from the bourbon barrels, but there might be some additional sweetness from the malt of the beer. I found the aroma fairly restrained for a barrel-aged beer. Often enough, the barrel character can overtake the entirety of the aroma, but here it was more of an enticement.

The first sip is outstanding and complex. I’ve only had a couple of Eisbocks before this one and liked them a lot and this has some of those characteristics. The bready, caramel elements are on full display. There might be hints of marzipan as well, but the bourbon barrel is quite assertive, too. Not too assertive, thankfully but rather complementary to the heavy malt characterof the beer. Too much barrel character would ruin the flavor of the beer.

I found this beer to be slightly reminiscent of Tröegs’ “Bourbon Barrel-Aged Troegenator,” one of my favorite beers of all time. This one might be a bit thinner on the body and slightly stronger impression from the barrel, but this is definitely a beer Lone Eagle should be proud to call their Fifth Anniversary Beer

One of the better Lone Eagle Beers I’ve had when all is said and done. Congratulations to Lone Eagle Brewing on 5 years!.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-bottle cap rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

I’ll Be Bock (Level 12)

Once you’ve had just one, there’s no doubt you’ll be saying “I’ll be bock” for another.

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Draught Diversions: Alternate Ending Beer Co. (Aberdeen, NJ)

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…

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Breweries take a lot of time and money to plan before they are ready to open for business. There’s often a long tail from the time an idea forms to any site work begins until beer is poured at the opening. More often than not, there are delays for various reasons like permits or bad weather. Or “Acts of God” like a Pandemic. So here we are at the Tap Takeover featuring another brewery – brewpub – with the unfortunate timing to open during the COVD-19 Pandemic in 2020. Today’s featured brewery: Alternate Ending Beer Co. in Aberdeen, NJ.

Owner/Founder/CEO Scott Novick had built up his knowledge and experience in both the entertainment and brewing industries prior to planning out Alternate Ending Beer Co. He worked at VH1 (MTV’s sister channel) and then worked at Jughandle Brewing in nearby Tinton Falls then at Other Half in Brooklyn, one of the hottest breweries on the East Coast. Other Half’s beers, particularly their hop-forward beers and big stouts, have long been sought after in the beer trading community. Sustaining that job, driving from Monmouth County to Brooklyn was a challenge, so Scott figured he’d open a brewery much closer to home. When the BowTie cinemas on Route 34 in Aberdeen became available as a location, Scott has his spot. Going with the name of Alternate Ending plays on the movie theater theme as do many of the beer names.

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Image Courtesy of Alternate Ending’s Facebook

Scott also hired Brendon Arnold as his head brewery, a fellow New Jersey native who has a wealth of experience, largely in Kansas at Gella’s Diner + LB Brewing. I visited to Alternate Ending Beer Co. for their New Jersey Craft Beer night on July 13 and as part of the “event,” members of NJCB were offered a tour of the brew facility. (I should have taken pictures!) Brendan spent some time talking through his brew process and his more scientific/technical approach, given his education at the Siebel Institute of Technology, America’s premier brewing education institute. He mentioned that one of the beers on tap that day, a delicious Saison brewed in collaboration with Screamin’ Hill Brewery in Cream Ridge, NJ, was also being aged in wine barrels. That Saison, Decocted Saison (pictured below) was one of the beers I sampled during my time at the brewery and it was fantastic – earthy and true to style with the yeast elements, and even more pleasant thanks to the wildflower honey added during the brewing process.

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Brendan also mentioned the “partnership” Alternate Ending has with Asbury Park Distillery. Alternate Ending gets used barrels from Asbury Park to age their beers, they’ve got some stouts in oak barrels, and once those are emptied of the beer, Asbury Park takes the barrels back and ages their spirits in the double-used barrels. Another beer I sampled (before the tour) was Rye Imperial Stout – 1 Month Version (pictured below) which was aged for only a month in Penelope Rye barrels along with Tahitian Vanilla. The amount of barrel flavor imparted after just a month was quite impressive: a rich, decadent stout with hints of vanilla, the beer is simply delicious.

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The first beer I had; though, was the beer that is their best seller – Royal Rug (pictured below) a German-style pilsner, meaning it is slightly hoppier than its Czech cousin. I ordered the beer in the “Slow Pour” method, which typically takes 5-7 minutes to pour the full beer. The slow pour method allows the carbonation to be softer, a much fluffier head with the ultimate result of a beer a bit more flavorful than a standard pour thanks to warming a bit to room temperature, allowing the flavors to breathe and the flavors become more stable in general.

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A beautiful slow pour with a nice peak.

In talking to Brendan about the beer, he mentioned he expected to go through a couple of “beta” versions of the beer since the equipment was different than he’d long been accustomed to using and Pilsners typically are a style that requires extreme precision. As it turned out, Brendan’s years of experience paid off because he told me the version of Royal Rug on draft was the very first version of the recipe he brewed for Alternate Ending, it was unchanged. I can’t see why anything should change about that beer, it was fantastic. Brendan also mentioned the Rauchbier he brewed and hoped it would be a feature on “This Week in Rauchbier: The world’s most important, long running, and most awarded show dedicated to smoked beer.”

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An assortment of Alternate Ending labels on the door of their cooling room

With the location having roots as a popular movie theater, there are quite a few nods to that history. Movie posters, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show adorn the wall and images form movies as well. As I said, the names often call out to specific movies, like their recent Helles Lager, Willy’s Gold as an homage to The Goonies or the beer I reviewed earlier this week, Amity Beer a call out to Jaws; Chuckle Heads is a call out to one of my favorite film makers and geeky celebrities – Kevin Smith’s popular Jay and Silent Bob duo; Bad Mother Force User is an homage to Samuel L. Jackson and two of his most famous roles, Mace Windu and Jules from Pulp Fiction, Sloane Knew a shout out to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and son.. Movies will be shown, too! There are even seats from the old movie theater.

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The great Kevin Smith holding “Chuckle Heads,” the beer made in homage to him! Image courtesy of Alternate Ending’s Facebook

Since opening in late 2020, Alternate Ending has been releasing cans of their beers and many of them have been selling out via BeerBroadcast.com. As brew-pub, they’ve partnered with Talula’s Pizza in Asbury Park and as America wearily emerges from the Pandemic, more patrons have been able to get the full experience of the brewpub. During my visit, the dining area was largely filled with many patrons eating what looked to be tasty food and what I know to be well-crafted beers. The partnership is a natural one that speaks to the local/independent ethos of craft beer. Scott Novick was a fan of Talula’s Pizza so it was a perfect fit.

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One of the pieces of movie memorabilia that adorns the walls, this from Kevin Smith’s “Mallrats.”

I’ve attended a few of these “NJCB Member Event” nights in the past at Jersey Cyclone (Somerset, NJ), Icarus Brewing (Lakewood, NJ), and Wet Ticket (Rahway, NJ). Mike K., the man behind New Jersey Craft Beer does a fantastic job of rallying the NJ beer community and given this recent event was on a Monday night, the turnout was quite impressive. I also had the chance to chat with Al Gatullo and his friend (also named Rob), of the great Al Gatullo Craft Beer Cast for a bit since we have bumped into each other at these events in the past. The event at Alternate Ending was another awesome night, a good opportunity to connect face to face with people I’ve only seen on social media, and reconnect with a few people face to face I haven’t seen since the pandemic began.

Delicious beer, great atmosphere, awesome theme, and excellent people – that sounds like a great start for Alternate Ending to me! I know I’ll be visiting again and next time, I plan on enjoying some of that famous Talula’s Pizza and definitely another slow-pour of Royal Rug.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Alternate Ending Beer Co. Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Alternate Ending Beer Co on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

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