Beer Review: Ross Brewing’s Bockenator

Name: Bockenator
Brewing Company: Ross Brewing Company
Location: Port Monmouth, NJ
Style: Bock โ€“ Dopplebock
ABV: 8%

A tasty, dark lager with a sweet, chocolate twist.

From the Ross Brewingโ€™s Facebook post announcing the beer:

๐—•๐—ข๐—–๐—ž๐—˜๐—ก๐—”๐—ง๐—ข๐—ฅ is our ๐Ÿด% ๐—š๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป-๐˜€๐˜๐˜†๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ธ! The beer style that inspired us to start brewing way back when finally sees a release under the Ross pennant!

Our tribute to all of the amazing German Doppelbocks we’ve had over the years, Bockenator has the ๐˜€๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ธ ๐˜€๐˜๐˜†๐—น๐—ฒ, which in turn are only accentuated by the ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ต ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ. Maintaining balance without being too sweet, with the ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ณ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—”๐—•๐—ฉ% ๐˜๐˜†๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—น, this is the beer ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜„๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜€! Enjoy at your next feast or special occasion, or any other time you’d like an amazing beer. Prost!

Iโ€™ve been happy to see Ross Brewingโ€™s growth over the past year despite launching their brand without a taproom and during a pandemic. When I learned they had a doppelbock in the works I knew Iโ€™d have to grab some. This beer is brewed with chocolate, so I was even more intrigued.

The beer is adorned with cool label consistent with the clean branding of Ross Brewing along with the iconic goats symbolizing the bock style of beer on the can. But the contents of the can are always more important, arenโ€™t they? Letโ€™s dive in, shall we?

Yep, that looks like a doppelbock. Dark brown, slightly translucent, and a thin khaki head. I donโ€™t get too much of an aroma outside of what Iโ€™d expect. It smells like a malty beer.

First sipโ€ฆI get some sweet malt and a crispy/snappy lager finish. I like this first impression of Bockenator. The chocolate comes through more each time I go back to my glass. Not coincidentally, the beer is warmer with each sip I take which, as we all know, allows the flavors to breathe and express themselves more.

That chocolate wakes up more the closer the beer gets to room temperature and consequently, Iโ€™m finding myself enjoying the beer that much more. The chocolate also helps to smooth out the starkly crisp finish.

The folks behind Ross Brewing have continued to show their mettle, especially on a style like Dopplebock. Given one of their launch beers was a somewhat dark lager, I shouldnโ€™t be surprised they brewed a tasty Dopplebock, another dark lager.

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

Draught Diversions: October 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 donโ€™t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we useโ€ฆ

2021_Oct_SixPack

Stout season is officially here! A couple of beers on this monthโ€™s edition of the Tap Takeover Six Pack are seasonally appropriate in that regard and one, a porter, fits the mold too. I made two visits to Kane Brewing this month and a visit to Icarus, so those breweries made up much of what I enjoyed in October 2021 even if only one from each appears. Four beers from New Jersey, on from New York and one from Germany. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

La Di Da Di: Banana, Peanut Butter & Vanilla (Twin Elephant Brewery) | Porter โ€“ Imperial / Double | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

TwinElephant_LaDiDaDi

Twin Elephant gets a lot of love for their IPAs (and rightfully so), but their dark beers have been my jam since they launched five years ago. This one is a perfectly balanced dessert beer. The peanut butter is great and blends with the vanilla and banana very nicely. Too may beers with peanut butter in them use powder or the peanut butter tastes like a stale Reeseโ€™s Peanut Butter cup. Not this beer, oh no. This is delicious.

Das Beste (Icarus Brewing Company) | Kรถlsch | 4.50 Bottle Caps on untappd

Icarus_DasBeste

This is the first Kรถlsch / Kรถlsch style ale from Icarus and boy howdy is it delicious. I enjoy a good Kรถlsch and this is one of the better ones Iโ€™ve ever had. Very glad to see a style like this come out of a brewery largely known for IPAs and boozy stouts. But I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least about the quality of the beer because for my tastes, Icarus simply doesn’t make bad beers. That may be relatively clear since they make more appearances here, in both the Monthly Six Packs, and the Tap Takeover in general, than any other brewery.

Premium Verum / German Pilsener (Warsteiner) | Pilsner โ€“ German | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

Warsteiner_Pilsner

Sometimes a good, classic German Pilsner hits the spot. Thatโ€™s exactly what this beer did for me. It is always nice to get the beer in not just Proper Glassware, but glassware with the breweryโ€™s logo on it made specifically for the specific beer. Maybe that helped with the enjoyment a little bit, but the beer itself is tasty enough. Regardless, this was good, but nothing mind blowing.

Brux Royale Belgian Chocolate Stout (Ross Brewing Company) | Stout โ€“ Imperial / Double | 4 Bottle Caps on untappd

Ross_BruxRoyale

Ross Brewing has come out pretty strongly this year, producing interesting looking beers. This decadent stout is just the second beer Iโ€™ve had from them and it is an impressively crafted, boozy stout. Roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate are the signature flavors here.

Cinnamon Babka (Grimm Artisanal Ales) | Stout โ€“ Imperial / Double Milk | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

Grimm_Babka

Iโ€™ve enjoyed some of Grimmโ€™s lighter offerings so I wanted to sample this big, boozy (12%) Dessert Stout. When added appropriately, cinnamon is a nice adjunct and thatโ€™s the case with this beer. Hints of cinnamon and cocoa make for a delicious evening sipper. I was a little worried when I had the first sip of the beer, but once it warmed up a little bit, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this beer.

Grisaille | Blend Nยฐ1 (Field & Oak) | Saison โ€“ Grisette | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

FieldOak_Grisaille

Under the Field & Oak brand, Kane Brewing has been in the process of making some Belgian inspired beers on the lighter side โ€“ Saisons, Grisettes, Lambics. Beers that have funk and some kind of fruit. This Grisette was the first one of those beers I sampled and I could have enjoyed an unending glass of this beer all day. The oak aging lends a hint of vanilla. Slightly funky, effervescent, and delicious.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Draught Diversions: Summer Six Pack 2021

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that donโ€™t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you donโ€™t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we useโ€ฆ

Summer is nearly upon us and the Summer Beers have been in stories for the better part of the last month, with upcoming Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial kick off of Summer. I mixed it up a little bit with NJ and PA beers compared to last year, and each beer is a different style, at least according to how they are categorized on untappd. As I preface this Summer Beer post every year, because a post about Summer Beers was the very first Draught Diversion I posted/published, I am continuing the “tradition.”

SixPack_2021-Summer

As in past Summer Six Packs, not all of these are official โ€œsummerโ€ beers, but they are styles for me that seem to fit right into the summer and have been organized alphabetically by brewery.

The Keg Stand | Lager โ€“ American | 5.5% ABV | Four City Brewing | Orange, NJ

FourCityKegstand

This beer is the only one Iโ€™ve had the opportunity to enjoy and it is everything youโ€™d want in an โ€œAmerican Lager.โ€ Clean, refreshing, and crisp. The can art practically screams summer beer

What Four City Brewing says about the beer:

Our American Style Lager is brewed with the best Heidelberg malt, flaked rice & corn. This combination meshes nicely with New Zealand Hallertauer hops & our house lager yeast.


Trimminโ€™ | Pilsner โ€“ Other | 6% ABV | Last Wave Brewing Company | Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

LastWave_Trimmin

For me, Pilsner is one of the ideal styles of beer for summer. Then again, Pilsner is one of my favorite styles, so that shouldnโ€™t be a surprise to long time readers of the Tap Takerover. I figured a brewery based in one of New Jerseyโ€™s most popular shore towns would be a good one to highlight for this style.

What Last Wave Brewing says about the beer:

When youโ€™re cruising on your longboard and set your line, itโ€™s all about the glide, which is also known as โ€œTrimming.โ€ Our dry-hopped pilsner takes this classic style to heart with a simple pilsner base that gets its flavor from a slow, lagering process that brings out crisp notes of grainy goodness and a pale yellow body. A light dry hopping provides a touch of citrus and floral notes in the aroma to create a highly crushable lager with a little extra flavor to get you locked in.


Beach Fuzz | Wheat Beer โ€“ Witbier | 5.5% ABV | Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company | Croydon, PA

NCBC_BeachFuzz

This beer looks like it would be great for the cooler in the summer, with refreshing sweetness from peach puree doesn’t it? Victory has a similar beer (Twisted Monkey), but I think Beach Fuzz may be slightly lower in ABV and the base beer is a little lighter, too.

What Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company says about the beer:

Brewed with: coriander, orange peel

We brewed up a classic, Belgian Style Wheat Ale with White Wheat & Flaked Oats, hopped in the kettle with Saaz hops, and then we conditioned it on peach puree. The result? A bright and zesty Belgian Wheat Ale, with a soft malt character, hints of spice, and loaded with stone fruit flavors. We taste juicy, ripe peach notes, a dry finish, and rays of sunshine on our faces.


Meet Me at the Snack Shack | IPA โ€“ Session / India Session Ale | 4.7% ABV | Ross Brewing Company | Port Monmouth, NJ

Ross_SnackShack

IPAs are still the most popular style, but with lower ABV beers becoming more popular, the Session IPA (sub 5% ABV) has grown in popularity. When you go to the beach, you either bring food or you go to the snack shack. Even if you bring food, you still likely go to the snack shack, so this beer is really appropriate for the Summer.

What Ross Brewing Company says about the beer:

Meet Me at the Snack Shack will be dropping at all your usual spots starting this week and rolling out throughout New Jersey and New York during the two weeks after that! Our 4.7% abv Session IPA somehow fits all the flavor and aroma of a full strength IPA into a crushable low-alcohol package. Citra, Motueka, Azacca, and El Dorado hops, flaked wheat, and a perfectly pleasing malt bill combine to give you 2021’s beer of the summer, even if its only March. Get in early, you’ll be thankful you did. Not to mention it’s the first-ever Ross can to feature the amazing original art of the one and only Tommy Lombardozzi!


16oz of Freedom | Pale Ale โ€“ American | 5.2% ABV | Twin Lights Brewing Company | Monmouth County, NJ

TLB_16oz

Twin Lights officially launched last year and in the summer, they canned up this celebratory Pale Ale. I hope they offer it up again this year.

What Twin Lights Brewing says about the beer:

In honor of Fourth of July, we introduce to you another limited release, 16oz To Freedom. Our first American Pale Ale! For the malt bill we incorporated a blend of Pale malt, Maris Otter, and a touch of light crystal. For our hop selection we chose to kick it a little old school. We added Chinook for some bittering and also in the whirlpool combined with Centennial. We dry hopped this beer with Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe for a crushable, medium-bodied, malty and hopped up American Pale Ale


Summer Hazy Love | IPA – American | 5.5 % ABV | Victory Brewing Company | Downington, PA

Victory_Summer-Hazy-Love_12oz-Can

One of Victoryโ€™s most popular beers is their Summer Love golden ale so this is something of a brand extension, if you will. Upping the hop level, making it an IPA and throwing Hazy in the title is a sure way to get some attention. I havenโ€™t had this yet, but Iโ€™d be surprised if I get through the Summer without trying this beer

What Victory Brewing says about the beer:

Let’s keep sharing the love. Summer Love goes Hazy in this IPA that sparkles with juicy hop notes for those days that feel like the sun never sets. Time for another..

What new lagers or ales are you hoping to try this summer? What has been a trusty beer for you in past summers?

SixPack_2021-Summer

Flagship February/Beer Review: Ross Brewingโ€™s Shrewsbury Lager

It is officially Flagship February in the beer world, a โ€œmovementโ€ started by beer writers Stephen Beaumont and Jay Brooks a couple of years ago and it is wonderful idea. Basically, we as beer drinkers should remember the beers that helped to lay the foundation for craft beer. Beers like Sierra Nevadaโ€™s Pale Ale or, as I posted a couple of years ago, as part of my American Craft Beer Classic series of posts, Allagash White.

For the 2020 iteration of this โ€œcelebration,โ€ I featured two of the NJ beers that helped to establish the craft beer landscape in New Jersey. The creators of Flagship February decided to shift slightly with their focus to highlighting breweries and what they see as their Flagships in 2021 given the drastic changes the COVID Pandemic has forced upon the world. As such, I thought Iโ€™d similarly shift with a newer brewery who is set to open their doors during these turbulent times: Ross Brewing and the beer they are announcing as their Flagship Lager, Shrewsbury Lager. So the beer sort of eschews the traditional historical component of the โ€œfoundationalโ€ idea of Flagship February, but it is the beer the brewery calls their Flagship.

Ross Brewing Company has been around for a couple of years, contract brewing small batches for distribution in New York, but late 2020/early 2021, they made a big push into the NJ Craft Beer scene, their home state. After a few setbacks prior to the COVID Pandemic, then the COVID Pandemic, Ross Brewing is looking for a mid-2021 opening in Middletown, NJ. Like every brewery, theyโ€™ve got an IPA as one of their top beers, at least by number of Check Ins in untappd. But Iโ€™m featuring one of the more โ€œtaken for grantedโ€ styles, the Amber Lager. Here are the stats for the beer, in the standard Tap Takeover format.

Name: Shrewsbury Lager
Brewing Company: Ross Brewing Company
Location: Port Monmouth,NJ
Style: Lager โ€“ American Amber / Red

From Ross Brewingโ€™s landing page for Shrewsbury Lager:ย Our flagship lager is inspired by the river that runs to the south of our hometown of Red Bankโ€”the scenic Shrewsbury. Low in bitterness and high in malt character and complexity, the subtle use of hops makes a balanced, refreshing lager with a crisp, dry finish, perfect for drinking on a boat, a beach, a deck, or just about anywhere!

Letโ€™s take a look at this beer, or rather, here is what I think of Shrewsbury Lager.

In the Northeast (and more of the US recently), one beer epitomizes the American Amber Lager and it is the beer that can simply be ordered at the bar as โ€œLager.โ€ That beer, of course is Yuenglingโ€™s Lager. It is a beer everybody knows and everybody has had. Ross Brewingโ€™s Shrewsbury Lager is of the same style.

The look test: a pour into the glass reveals a deep amber beer, which is exactly what it says on the can. Iโ€™d say this is a bit darker than Yuenglingโ€™s take on the style, which is a hint to me that this beer might be more flavorful.

The first sip test: this beer is flavorful, refreshing, and whispers: โ€œthereโ€™s more, donโ€™t stop there.โ€ I listen to that whisper and continue, realizing Shrewsbury Lager has some pleasant and subtle sweetness from a nice malt profile. The beer has just enough substance that it has great flavor, but it isnโ€™t overpowering, making for a beer that lends itself to enjoying a couple to few pints in a row. In other words, this beer is a crusher.

Thereโ€™s also a slightly toasted element to the malt profile of the beer, with hints of caramel. Those elements come together very harmoniously making for a very altogether flavorful beer floating at 5% ABV level. The longer lagering process allows for flavors to develop and mature during the brewing process, which seems to be exactly what happened with this beer.

What does this all mean? The fact that Shrewsbury Lager is both a launch beer and the flagship Lager for Ross Brewing is very impressive.

This beer works as an everyday beer that could sit in the cooler, sit at the dinner table with just about any meal that asserts enough flavor on its own, but wonโ€™t overwhelm whatever meal with which you pair the beer. With each can I had over the course of a few days, I found myself enjoying the beer more each time, appreciate the elegance of the beer and finally, with the fourth can in that four pack, wishing I had more.

Back to the Yuengling Lager comparisonโ€ฆI think it is a very smart move for a brewery to brew / can / sell a beer that is comparable to the most ubiquitous non-Macro Lager because it works perfectly as a beer to introduce craft-wary consumers (admittedly, a shrinking group of people) to more flavorful, local options especially folks who may be averse to โ€œhoppy beers.โ€

Bottom line, if Shrewsbury Lager is any indication of Ross Brewingโ€™s abilities, then they are definitely on the right track to success. It most definitely is a beer worthy of โ€œFlagshipโ€ status.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.

Untappd badges earned with this beer:

Paint the Town Red (Level 10)

Get out there and raise a ruckus with your favorite Amber or Red Ale. That is 45 different beers with the style American Amber / Red Ale, American Amber / Red Lager, Irish Red Ale, Imperial / Double Red Ale, Red Ale โ€“ Other or IPA – Red.