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: Oktoberfest 2022 Six Pack

September means Oktoberfest is truly upon us, despite breweries and liquor stores trying to sell us the dark, malty lagers (Festbiers and Märzens) in July! I’ve gone one about seasonal creep in the past, but it seems earlier and earlier that beers appear outside of their designated season. My standard preamble on the differences between Festbiers and Märzens: Märzens typically have an ABV starting at around 6% ABV and are a little “heavier” while Festbiers are generally lower in alcohol and more “sessionable” in the 5% to 6% ABV range. I like them both. 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.

SixPack_2022_Oktoberfest

I’ve tried to highlight a variety of Oktoberfest offerings this year, three Festbiers and three Märzens. I’ve also highlighted local (NJ), regional micro (PA & NY), a more widely distributed regional (VT), and a German brewery. What I’m saying is some thought went into the Oktoberfest beers I featured in 2022.

On to the Six Pack!

Festus Haggen (Festbier) | Ashton Brewing Company | Middlesex, NJ | 5.9% ABV

Ashton_Festus

Ashton has been making great Lagers since they opened in March 2020 so it shouldn’t be a surprise they brewed a great Festbier. I had a taste of this a couple of years ago and was very impressed. Although they call it a Festbier, it had a bit more malt and felt more like a Märzen. Either way, it was quite tasty, so I may have to get a six pack of it this year.

What Ashton Brewing says about the beer:

Festus Haggen is a traditional Festbier like what would be served at Oktoberfest. It is a golden lager with notes of bready malt and herbal hops. A mild sweetness and a hint of bitter balance to make this one to drink by the liter. Prost!

Märzen/Eiszäpfle (Märzen) | Badische Staatsbrauerie Rothaus | Baden-Württemberg, Germany | 5.6% ABV

RothausMarzen

Rothaus makes one of the absolute best German Pilsners in the world so of course they make an excellent Märzen. I remember being extremely pleased to find this one on tap at a great beer bar a couple of years ago and this is the first year I can remember seeing bottles of this one on shelves. It is well worth seeking out. Just look at the bottle, it screams Germen Authenticity!

What Rothaus says about the beer:
Here we introduce you to the Rothaus Eiszäpfle. The best barley malt from southern Germany, spring-fresh brewing water and the famous aromatic hops from Tettnang and the Hallertau characterize the full-bodied taste of this beer. A higher original wort and a rather mild hopping ensure the distinctive, malty note.

The term “March” should also be mentioned. Beers of this type of brewing are traditionally brewed more heavily, since brewing was only allowed in the months from September to April. A longer-lasting beer was thus produced in March, which also survived the five months without a brewing process.

Bierstiefel (Festbier) | Three 3’s Brewing | Hammonton, NJ | 5.7% ABV

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Three 3’s is based in Hammonton, NJ, which is a hub for quite a few NJ breweries. I’ve had and enjoyed the handful of beers from them, so I imagine their take on the classic Festbier is quite tasty.

What Three 3’s says about the beer:

The literal translation of Das Boot! Premium German malt and hops combine with our house lager yeast for this harmonious expression of all that is festive. Medium bodied, subtly sweet and crushable, a beer to be enjoyed amongst friends. Prost!

High Brau (Festbier) | Torch & Crown Brewing Company | New York, NY | 4.8% ABV

TorchCrown_HighBrau

I’ve been hearing good things Torch & Crown, especially from Al Gattullo on his craft beer cast. Their beer is starting to creep over the Hudson River into NJ stores so I will definitely have to sample some in the near future. Maybe it will be this one?

Torch & Crown says this about the beer:

Highbrow and lowbrow…that’s our game. Like us, these two beers aren’t fussy, exclusive, complicated, or unapproachable. High Brau is our tribute to a traditional bavarian festbier, with a nutty, lightly sweet aroma and smooth, malty finish. The perfect beer to usher in the end of summer.

Oktoberfest (Märzen) | Workhorse Brewing Company | King of Prussia, PA | 5.4% ABV

Workhorse_Oktoberfest

Workhorse Brewing entered the NJ market last year through a distribution agreement with Cape Beverage and I immediately tried their delicious Helles Lager. I’m hoping this Märzen makes it to shelves around me.

What Workhorse says about the beer:

This Oktoberfest offering is inspired by the traditional ingredients and methods associated with a German Märzen. Flavorful Vienna and Munich malts are blended together in a decoction mash to produce a beer rich in toasted bread notes. An extended lagering phase and a touch of spicy German hops round the beer into form.

Oktoberfest (Märzen) | Zero Gravity Craft Brewery | Stowe, VT | 5.4% ABV

ZeroGravity_Oktoberfest

Zero Gravity makes and outstanding Pilsner – Green State Lager, as well as many other beers. I’ve only had a couple, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. Their Oktoberfest looks quite tasty and the can art evokes the classic German bierhall. .

What Zero Gravity says about the beer:

German malts and hops along with a long lagering give this beer impeccable drinkability. The superb malt flavor is balanced by just a hint of hop bitterness.

I hope to try a couple of these beers this year. Are there any other Märzen or Festbiers I should try?

SixPack_2022_Oktoberfest

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

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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.

Beer Review: Bull ‘N Bear’s Alternative Investments

Name: Alternative Investment
Brewing Company: Bull N Bear Brewery
Location: Summit, NJ
Style: Altbier
ABV: 5.5%

Bull n Bear crafted a nice, malty easy drinking and flavorful German Ale.

BullnBear_AltInv

I was in Summit, NJ recently for a few things and knowing I was going to be in Summit, one of those things was visiting Bull ‘n Bear Brewery. I was quite happy with the beer I had when the brewery first opened and a subsequent visit, so I was happy to give their beer another try. Altbier (literally, “Old Beer” in German) is not exactly a popular style in today’s “craft” beer landscape. Northeast brewery Long Trail’s “Long Trail Ale” is one of the few more widely available interpretations of the style so I was excited to see “Alternate Investment” on draft.

Altbiers are predominant in the Düsseldorf region of Germany and are one of the few German styles not a lager (Hefeweizen and Dunkelweizen being the others). Often characterized by a maltiness, some sweetness, and maybe some hop character, the color is often reddish brown or even copper. An English Brown Ale is a somewhat close equivalent, but the malts in the Altbier will stand out as a major differentiator from my experience.

On to the beer under review, Alternative Investments from Bull N Bear Brewery…

I’m given a brownish-reddish beer that is cold to the touch. Slight aroma, but nothing that would set it apart from other beers I’ve had. First sip is smooth and malty.

There’s a slight sweetness from the malt, the kind of tastiness that makes you want to drink the beer very quickly. I get notes of caramel and hints of vanilla, two flavors that complement each other very well. As such, those flavors work well in this beer. Maybe a hint of chocolate, as well as slight fruitiness. It isn’t over carbonated and at a nice ABV of 5.5% make for a beer that delivers on flavor, but won’t knock you over the head with booziness All in all, a really tasty, flavorful profile of the beer.

Recommended, link to 3.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Originating from Germany, the Altbier, or old beer, uses the old school brewing style of top fermentation and is left to condition for longer than normal. That’s 10 different beers with the style of Altbier. .

BullnBear_Badge

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

Beer Review: Wet Ticket’s Tastes Like the Tropics Mango Wheat Ale

Name: Tastes Like the Tropics Mango Wheat Ale
Brewing Company: Wet Ticket Brewing
Location: Rahway, NJ
Style: Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat
ABV: 4.7%

Wet Ticket Brewing releases another delicious summer/warm weather wheat ale, with the perfect amount of mango.

WetTicket_TastesLIkeTropics

From the untappd page for the beer:

The name, “Tastes Like The Tropics,” really says it all. An enticing upfront Mango aroma leads to a very pleasantly balanced and refreshing beer. Kudos to all the people who provided their input as we went through three “Test Ticket,” versions in order to help us finalize the recipe. We think you nailed it.

Playing off their popular Tastes Like Summer – Watermelon Wheat beer, Wet Ticket introduced this beer, Tastes Like The Tropics – Mango Wheat Ale in the Spring of 2022. Well, more properly, Tim Pewitt and his crew released the final version to the public at that time. Wet Ticket does several test batches in their brewery known as Test Tickets, where they ask for feedback from their patrons. One of the final products of those “Test Tickets” is this sweet and well-balanced beer perfect for warm weather. Let’s unpack that a bit.

The base beer is a “Pale Wheat Ale” in other words, an Americanized Hefeweizen. I’ve had, and thoroughly enjoyed, Wet Ticket’s Hefweizen so the beer is off to a good start, at least in theory. For me, a Hefeweizen is an ideal summer beer, with the balance of clove and banana flavors from the yeast. The addition of Mangoes only amps up the summer feel of this brew.

Pouring the beer from the can into my Wet Ticket glass, I like what I see. I get some aroma of mango, a fruit I enjoy quite a lot. I drink a lot of juice and one I like is called “Mongo Mango” and this beer bears a strong resemblance to that juice with the bright, inviting orange-yellow color. The big difference is the beer is slightly translucent.

First sip is sweetness, a pleasant tropical sweetness from the mango maybe a little bit from the yeast. Mango is a little thicker than most fruits, or rather the juice from a mango has a thicker consistency, if my aforementioned “Mongo Mango” is an indication. That comes through slightly in the beer, but the flavor of the mango shines very nicely. I appreciate that it is strong and present, but not overpowering. That shows great care in crafting the beer and why Tim and his crew go through iterations of their “Test Tickets” before making the beer a more wide release.

Tastes Like The Tropics – Mango Wheat Ale is a quintessential summer beer and a nice companion to Wet Ticket’s hugely popular Watermelon Wheat. Tastes Like The Tropics – Mango Wheat Ale was one of the beers I had in my cooler for the annual summer family party and it didn’t last long, I had to squirrel away a can for myself so to ensure I tried it and I’m very glad I did.

Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Draught Diversions: Reverse the “Special Ruling” by NJABC

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…

I’ve written very often about the Beer Scene here in New Jersey, about what a great community it is, how the breweries are almost like an extended family. Well, legislation put forth on July 1 initiated sweeping changes for the craft beer community in New Jersey.

A special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control dictates that brewery licensees will be limited in the number of events they can host and attend every year.

Under the ruling, microbreweries are allowed to hold 25 on-site activities, like music, trivia, yoga, etc. annual in addition to 52 private parties. Breweries can also attend only 12 off-premises events, such as town and holiday celebrations. Before the unjust ruling, breweries could weren’t limited to the number of events they could hold. The definition of “Events” is fairly broad, and includes anytime they have television on, host a DJ regardless of the brewery advertising it.

Further, breweries cannot have food trucks on premise. For example, I’d guess Readington Brewery near me which is a purpose built brewery on a plot of land can’t have a food truck, but say, Jersey Cyclone whose brewery is in an industrial park and where Cyclone doesn’t own the property can have a food truck.

The restaurant lobbyists are the ones helping to push through this legislation, and have been seen as one roadblock to the growth of breweries in NJ for years, partially because liquor licenses in NJ are so expensive.

There’s a great article on tje Breweries in PA site, something of a “cousin” site to NJ Craft Beer: New Jersey Continues To Be The Armpit of America; Strips Breweries Down To Bare Bones.

More details can be found in this NorthJersey.com article.

StealThisBeerSqure

Steal this Beer from this past Monday (07/04/22) featured Scott Wells of Bolero Snort (Carlstadt, NJ) as their guest. Hosts Augie Carton (of Carton Brewing) and John Holl spoke with Scott about this ridiculous legislature.

xNhhrXTrCecKbIC-800x450-noPadOne way YOU can potentiall affect change is to sign the petition on Change.org, Reverse the “Special Ruling” by the NJABC. As of this post going live, the petition is nearing 2500 signatures.

The form letter below was posted on thr NJ Craft Beer site, please feel free to use when you write to your elected officials (Assemblypersons and Senators), who you can find here: NJ Legislature: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/district-map.

Dear ELECTED OFFICIAL

I am a resident and voter in (YOUR TOWN NAME), NJ. I spend a lot of my free time and hard-earned money patronizing the state’s local breweries with my friends and family because I am a big fan of locally-produced craft beer and the small businesses that brew it.

On Friday, July 1st, all of my local breweries were arbitrarily hit with a long list of anticompetitive restrictions on their license by the NJ Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (NJABC) which has drastically changed my ability to enjoy the atmosphere and offerings of my local breweries. These restrictions are anti-consumer and artificially tip the scales against brewers and the small businesses they’ve created.

Did you know: A brewery can get fined or lose their license if an international soccer tournament happens to come on the TV and nobody changes the channel immediately. Breweries have to choose between hosting my birthday party or someone’s wedding because they have a cap on private parties. Breweries can’t support the local Independence Day celebration or the Memorial Day parade because it counts as an extra “off-site event” that they might not have planned for. A brewery advertising the fact that their local coal fired pizza truck is slinging pies in the street can get the brewery shut down.

Breweries can’t donate a keg to a fundraiser in support of a children’s charity any more, or offer discounts to military veterans or volunteer firefighters who serve their community. Breweries can’t help arrange an outside caterer for a local high school reunion to have food to help their customers consume responsibly and dance the night away. Breweries can’t sell (or even give for free!) the designated driver a cup of coffee to enjoy while their friends responsibly partake in handcrafted ales and lagers. Isn’t that ridiculous?

In many towns, the local brewery as an anchor business is now limited in the events it can host that draw not only local consumers, but also out of town customers who spend their money in a myriad of ways that help the town. Towns that were dying have seen a revitalization driven by these local economic engines creating space, patronizing local artists, advertising not just their product but the experience of being in that town.

This creates fewer spaces for young artists looking to start or build their musical career. It not only disincentivizes local business collaboration, it actually penalizes it. One tenet of the regulations requires each employee to be Safe Serve certified, then strictly prohibits the two most critical components to ensuring the safe consumption of alcohol: food availability.

My local brewery brings people to my town, gives me a comfortable place to spend time with my family and friends, supports my community, and has increased our town’s ratables. It’s important to me that they are able to survive, and have the opportunity to thrive.

Big money interests from outside our community have their thumb on the scale but it’s important that you understand that the voters in your district like me, my family, and my neighbors value these brewers. These interests’ motives to protect their liquor license value should not stand in the way of your constituents like me from being able to enjoy my local brewery without these current restrictions.

I am asking that you support legislation codifying breweries’ ability to host events, donate beer, provide discounts to those who give back to their communities, and show whatever live television programming they (and their customers) wish. Permanent legislation will prevent attempts in the future to take away these valuable consumer-first protections and imposing unfair, anticompetitive edicts on small businesses.

I appreciate your consideration and support of our grassroots, consumer-first campaign to roll back these unfair rules and enact permanent legislative remedies.

Thank you

(FULL NAME)
(TOWNSHIP), NJ
YOUR PHONE/EMAIL

Draught Diversions: June 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-June

June is in the books, which means 2022 is halfway over. How did that happen? Time waits for no person, as the saying goes, but sometimes we’ll wait for good beer. Fortunately, there’s plenty of good beer waiting for us to drink or specifically me to drink! June also marks one full year since Dusty joined our household/family and she is just a delight and joy to have in our lives. June also means summer and reliable summer crushers, but there’s always room for some big beers here and there. The six pack for June 2022 was 5 New Jersey beers and one New York beer, each of the six a different style

Unleashing the Six Pack for June 2022…

Blackpool (Conclave Brewing) | Mild – Other| 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

ConlaveBlackpool

I had some time on my hands so I stopped at Conclave to kick off the month. I’ve only had a few Mild Ales so I wanted to give this one a try and I was not disappointed in the least. While I haven’t had any “proper” British-made Mild Ales, this one has hints of coffee and caramel and made for an outstanding, simple, yet delicious beer

Quad Rainbow (Destination Unknown Brewing Company) | Belgian Quadrupel | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

DUBCO_QuadRainbow

This big beer comes courtesy of Tavour. While I haven’t had any beers made just by Destination Unknown, I’ve had a collaboration they brewed with Icarus. This beer; however, hits the quad elements of stone fruit like dates, but the whisky overpowers other yeast elements just a bit. Still, a very tasty beer.

Bourbon Barrel Driftwood – 2022 (Kane Brewing Company) | Brown Ale – Imperial / Double | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Kane_Driftwood

A visit to Kane in May means I was able to stock up on a few brewery-only barrel aged beers like this outstanding Brown Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels. In addition, this beer was aged with Maple Syrup and Molasses lending a little more body to a style that is typically not a thick beer as well as some nice sweetness. To say this is one of the best Brown Ales I’ve ever had would probably be obvious, if you’ve been reading the Triple T for a while and know how I feel about Kane’s beers.

Thresh (Untied Brewing Company) | Belgian Tripel | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Untied_Thresh

Every time I stop in at Untied, I’m impressed with the beer I have and this Belgian Tripel is no different. Thresh is a nice interpretation of the style and it was nice to share an early Father’s Day beer or two with my dad at the brewery. Untied is flying under the radar in the NJ beer scene and they really shouldn’t, their beers are well made across all styles.

Soft Focus (Tonewood Brewing) | Wheat Beer – Hefewizen | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Tonewood_SoftFocus

Tonewood recently expanded with a second location and increased production, this is one of the new beers they’ve recently brewed and canned. A fantastic interpretation of the original Hazy beer, this Hefeweizen leans more towards clove than banana. Something about a Hefeweizen in summer feels right to me and this beer hits that note really well.

Hoippu (Carton Brewing Company) | Pilsner – Other | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

CartonHoippu

Carton Brewing’s Global Pilsner game lands in Japan, with a Rice Pilsner and the Japanese Hops, Sorachi Ace. I had a pint of this while enjoying a dinner with my parents celebrating my wife and my anniversary on a perfect Summer evening. The beer is great, flavorful, and goes down the gullet very easily. Slight tang and spice from the hops make for a tasty and unique beer that exhibits the qualities of a pilsner.

Yet again, it wasn’t easy narrowing down the new beers to just six for the month of June 2022.

Here’s a snapshot of the last year with Dusty.