Beer Review: Tart & Thankful – A Collaboration between Highrail Brewing & NJ Craft Beer

Name: Tart & Thankful
Brewing Company: Highrail Brewing in collaboration with New Jersey Craft Beer
Location: High Bridge, NJ
Style: Fruit Beer | Fruited Sour
ABV: 4.9%

A delicious, balanced fruited sour perfect for the autumn/winter seasonal holidays.

Highrail_TartThankful

From the Facebook post announcing the beer:

Tart & Thankful (4.9%), a bright and cheerful seasonal sour brewed with cranberry. Now available for taproom pours and crowler and growler fills. *A limited supply of 4-packs are also available.*

We collaborated with the team at New Jersey Craft Beer (@NJCraftBeer) to create this Thanksgiving-inspired sour ale. Dosed with Cranberry puree and lightly hopped with Vic Secret, this sour ale hits every mark for a sour and is perfect for sharing at the Thanksgiving feast. Contains lactose. 8 IBU.

I visited High Rail Brewing about two years ago, which was not long after they first opened and enjoyed the beers I had during that visit. When the Hunterdon Beer Trail came to be, I knew I’d be visiting again and that visit was pushed up when the good folks at High Rail collaborated with Mike and the fine people behind New Jersey Craft Beer on this cranberry (one of my favorite fruits) fruited sour.

The beer I’m handed from the draught pour is slightly pinkish. I don’t get too much of an aroma outside of maybe a slight funk as well as the cranberries.

The first sip is really nice, with a noticeably pleasant hit of cranberry.

Halfway through the beer, I’m struck by how well balanced and approachable this beer is. Let me unpack that statement. Some sour beers are very potent, which can potentially be off-putting. Tart & Thankful is far from off-putting, sure it is sour, but damn is it inviting. The sour is a slight tap to the cheek to assert itself. The cranberry element is fairly abundant and the addition of milk sugar/lactose balances out how highly tart cranberry can be. My only issue here is that I wish there was more cranberry. But as I noted above, cranberry is one of my favorite fruits (I drink cranberry juice everyday and love a cranberry smoothie for breakfast) so I may be an outlier.

HighRailNJCB_TartThankful

Tart & Thankful is an outstanding beer, probably the best beer I’ve had categorized as “Fruit Beer” on untappd. As a fruited sour, I love it. It is refreshing, light, clean and overall just about everything I’d want in a beer that has sour elements and cranberries in it. Well done Highrail and New Jersey Craft Beer.

This beer is available only (I think) at the brewery on draft and in cans. Perfect for Thanksgiving, or anytime. It is a beer that is well worth visiting the brewery to enjoy. And while you’re there, enjoy more from Highrail because they make tasty, approachable brews.

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

A delicious, balanced fruited sour perfect for the autumn/winter season.

Highrail_TartThankful

Beer Review: Bolero Snort’s Mele Kalikimakow

Name: Mele Kalikimakow
Brewing Company: Bolero Snort Brewery
Location: Carlstadt, NJ
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 6.1%

Bolero Snort’s growing sour beer program produces a tasty and delightful non-standard Holiday beer.

From Bolero Snort’s blog entry for the beer:

Here’s the island greeting that we send to you, from the land where palm trees sway. This lava flow cocktail inspired sour is loaded with fruit! Sweep the winter blues under the Holiday table and drift away to warmer, poolside days with this blend of Strawberry, Pineapple, Banana and Coconut! Mele Kalikimakow is ideally sipped out of some bull shaped glassware to toast the holiday season right!

This is the third beer I’ve reviewed from Bolero Snort and the third style. Since Scott and Bob opened their gorgeous, enormous facility in the shadow of the Meadowlands Sports Complex late 2019/early 2020, they’ve increased their production output significantly. One area in particular that has seen growth (quantity/variety. sales, and in what people are saying) is their sour beer “program” and this beer is a great example of that.

When thinking of Christmas beers, Belgians and Stouts come to my mind. But with the name of this beer a bovinely inspired play on the Hawai’ian Christmas Song (and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), the style and elements of the beer – a fruited sour evoking a Lava Flow cocktail – make a little more sense.

The beer pours very thick with a pinkish hue. It sure looks like a beer playing with the idea of a Lava Flow* cocktail! I get those fruity tropical aromas mixed with the funk of the yeast from the beer, too. So far, seems on point for what the beer is trying to do.

My wife and I went to Hawai’i for our honeymoon and when we landed in Hawai’i after a 10 hour flight plus a 2 hour layover, I had a delicious Lava Flow. Because I was so tired from the 10+ hours travel, it took just one drink to get me a little tipsy!

I’ll admit, the thickness and look of the beer had me questioning my decision. But a sip eroded those doubts.

The beer feels almost as thick as it looks, but fruited sours like this often do. What do I get from the copious flavors outlined above and on the can? While the strawberries lend much of the color and I assume the bananas help with the texture, the pineapple is the front-most flavor out of the cocktail fruits. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoy pineapple so that works just fine by me.

This isn’t a beer you can our should chug, but it you don’t want to let it warm too much either. As I was continuing to drink through the pint of the beer, the coconut in particular emerged a little more with the strawberries dancing in the background. Carbonation was minimal, but present reminding me that this was indeed a beer.

It seems Bolero Snort accomplished what they set out to do with this beer – it put me in the mindset of enjoying a Pina Colada in beer form. I’ve also been singing Mele Kalikimaka for the past few days.

I will also point out the great can art that captures a scene from the holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The Bolero Bull is dressed up like Clark Griswold (with added Mariner Moose Egg Nog Glass) during the scene when he’s daydreaming about the pool he’s going have installed thanks to his expected Christmas Bonus.

I suppose the best way for me to describe this beer is that is a fun, playful Christmas inspired beer that is a nice alternative to the traditional Christmas Stouts and Belgian Holiday ales.

Recommended, link to 4 bottle-cap Untappd check-in