Author Archives: hermannthelombard

An Elf Festival

Janet and I had an Elf Festival with a Bomb last night, splitting:

• Dark Horse 4 Elf
• Tröegs Mad Elf
• Ridgeway Bad Elf
• Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb
• Tröegs Mad Elf

Hey, you can’t deny an encore to a Mad Elf! It was a great evening in which nothing else got accomplished, a fine holiday feat.

I also used a cunning, er, an accidental ploy. On the bottle, Ridgeway Bad Elf says “Winter Ale” and in fine print “golden ale,” but I happened to look at RateBeer and they list it as an IPA. It was Janet’s least favorite of the five, but she liked it. I’m luring her to the dark side of hoppy beer!

Happy Holidays to All, and many great beers in the New Year!


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An Apology, and Deschutes


I know, I know, I have grossly neglected my duties as your correspondent. It has been months and months since I posted to the blog. It’s not that the Beaker Peoples have faded even farther into history, it’s that I was studying to be a beer judge.

Perhaps that sounds like I’m pulling your leg, or perhaps that sounds like a fantasy job, but what *is* is the Beer Judges Certification Program, henceforward the BJCP. To become a BJCP judge requires a great deal of study to pass a couple of remarkably difficult exams. Studying for the exams literally took all of my time and energy, or at least all of my beer-related time and energy, and then afterward I was totally burned out. It wasn’t too long before I started taking notes again, but it’s been two and a half months more since I’ve had the energy and willingness to sit down and write up those notes. Let’s just say that I now have a lot of material.

I will also write about the experience of the tests and of becoming a BJCP judge. As for the test, they told me to expect results in FIVE MONTHS, and only half of that time has passed, so I don’t actually know how I did. Nevertheless, I started judging, once a week before the exam, and once yesterday. I’m a “Rank Pending” judge.

Deschutes Brewery

There are, of course, many many breweries that aren’t available in New Jersey or New York, but the one that I most anticipate is Deschutes Brewery from Bend, Oregon. At present I only get it when I visit my cousins in Pennsylvania, so close and yet so far. Since they are building a new brewery in Virginia, I assume they plan to expand East Coast distribution. In the meantime…

deschutes-ehopDeschutes EHOP

Amber Ale Brewed with Sage and Thyme – a collaboration with Harpoon.

Savory beer! Herbs arrive as the cap comes off! This is more of a savory blend than it is individually sage and thyme. There’s a medium high light tan head with good persistence. It’s a cloudy dark amber, almost opaque. The aroma is of rich bready malt with restrained sweetness and caramel, accompanied by medium low earth and spice hops. Then a wave of caramel candy comes in. The flavor starts with medium high malts of bread and caramelized cake, followed by a wave of herbs, then a break to medium earth, spice and floral hops with medium low bitterness. The herbs and hops combine to nicely balance the malty sweetness, drying out a little while leaving malt in the driver’s seat. This lingers long. The body is medium full, a little chewy, with creaminess and a little spice tingle across the roof of the mouth. Don’t sip too gently, this rewards the whole palate. 7.4% ABV

So that’s what my notes look like, tinged by beer judging. The main change is trying to give a magnitude to each characteristic. It’s one thing to say that a beer is malty, and another to say it has “medium high malts of bread and caramelized cake.” Is that overkill, or does that give you a better idea what a beer might taste like? I hope the latter.
But that’s not “judging” a beer, that’s not a Beer Scoresheet like the ones used in competitions. The first thing is that each beer is placed judged against a somewhat arbitrary defined “style” and specifically against the Style Guidelines of that style. It isn’t just whether it’s a good beer, it’s whether it’s a good example of that style, for example a good American Pale Ale. Then the judging is systematic, focusing in turn on Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel, and Overall Impression. Then scoring points are assigned to each of those, with a possible perfect score of 50. So here are my notes on specific beers, made while preparing for yesterday’s competition.

deschutes-pairDeschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Aroma: Medium gentle hops, flowery & citrus. Medium low grainy bready malt. As head dissipates, hops build to medium high. There’s a tangerine note with stone fruit from a combo of hops and esters. No phenolics. [Those would be spicy things like cloves, or nasty things like band-aids! These are “fermentation characteristics” usually from the yeast used.] (9/12)

Appearance: Almost clear gold with a medium off white, bubbly head. Good retention [meaning that the head hangs around for a while, the standard “good” being that the head persists for at least a full minute.] (3/3)

Flavor: Fruity mouthful starting with citrusy hops, tangerine not grapefruit, and fruit not peel. Medium high hops. Malt is secondary but balancing, bready. There is a bit of stone fruit, perhaps from esters [fruity elements, often from yeast.] Medium bitterness at the finish, nicely dry, with both hops and malt lingering on aftertaste. Balanced toward hops [as opposed to toward maltiness.] (16/20)

Mouthfeel: Body just on the light side of medium. Carbonation is medium. No alcohol warmth. Only slight creaminess. Also slight astringency of the drying sort, not unpleasant. (5/5)

Overall Impression: Very nice, restrained and balanced pale ale. The hops are the leader but not strongly bitter. Excellent beer! Might be even better with 10% more hops for flavor and aroma. Please repeat this! (8/10)

Total: 41/50 [which places this in the Excellent range, defined as “exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.”]

Okay, now *that* is overkill for purposes of this blog. Gruesome detail and numerical scores are a bit much, I think. One thing is that judges are expected to provide suggestions for improvement, except in the exceedingly rare case of a 50 out of 50 beer. (I’ve only had one or two of those out of all the commercial beers that I judged while preparing for the exams.) That’s my weakest area as a judge. On the one hand, who am I to provide “suggestions” to professional brewers? It’s like the old cliché, teaching granny to suck eggs.

But homebrewers who submit beers in competitions want to know how to improve their beers. Yes, they would love to get gold, silver or bronze medals to acknowledge their efforts, but mostly they want to make better and better beer. Meanwhile here am I, having brewed precisely four batches of beer. Yes, I can read remedies for specific flaws, and I can give suggestions for things like improving head retention or clarity, but it’s hard for me to give recipe suggestions like increasing character malts that influence color and sweetness, or altering the hop profile. It’s a learning process.

So here’s one more “scoresheet,” this time for a flagship beer of a fine brewery. It’s important to note that a pro brewer is not obliged to brew to *any* specific style guideline. Their concern is to brew a good beer, NOT a good “American Porter.” The same could be said for home brewers, but if they are to compete on a fairly level playing field, they have to be judged against *something* and hence the style guidelines.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Aroma: Medium high malt showing chocolate and caramel, lightly burnt caramel with roasty notes. Medium low earthy hops are a nice accent. Faint red berry esters. (10/12)

Appearance: Clear dark brown, with ruby highlights when held up to the light. Medium bubbly yellowish-tan head. Medium retention. (3/3)

Flavor: Medium high dark malt, lightly sweet, then cocoa and a hint of coffee. Low earthy hop flavors. Medium bitterness. Faint red berry fruit persists. Finish is dry, almost dusty, then some sweetness comes back in for a balanced aftertaste, firmly malty. (18/20)

Mouthfeel: Medium full body, moderately high carbonation, quite creamy, a little astringency from the roastiness, appropriate to style and quite nice. Faint alcohol warmth. (5/5)

Overall Impression: Outstanding porter, rich and complex with layers of flavor that unfold on the palate. If I were to change anything, I might suggest a tiny addition of caramel malt to accent the flavor. (9/10)

Total: 45/50 [which places this in the Outstanding range, defined as a “world-class example of the style.”]

I will NOT be giving such gruesome detail going forward, and I don’t plan to be giving numeric scores, partly because I don’t want to work that hard when mostly I want to enjoy beer! Speaking of which, cheers!

In case you’re curious (or a glutton for punishment, or at least for eyestrain) here is the scoresheet for the Black Butte Porter:

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Wrapping Up (Beercation 8)

Beercation Wrapup

Coming to the end of my Beercation week, with one more brewery and a craft pub.

The Alementary

Alementary Exterior

Mr Stevens

An English mild, this is dark brown with a medium light tan head. Starts with a darkly malty nose with a hint of classic English hops, it seems. On the palate there is a light body, a big malt flavor, not sweet though with a hint of toffee, fairly crisp. The finish is mild and medium long with malt giving way to a little tingle of hops. If you want “sessionable” then this is your beer: 3.6% ABV, 18 IBU

This was the brewery’s grand opening, so all was madness, with 45 minutes in line to get a pint. It was worth the wait, and great to see them off to such a good start. In fact, they were so busy that with eight taps flowing, the first keg kicked in 15 minutes!
Alementary Grand Opening
So that’s my eighth brewery in seven days, starting with the Bronx Brewery. I followed the Bronx Brewery by visiting Growler & Gill, so now I’ll finish my Beercation at the Dog & Cask.

Dog & Cask

Sorry for the quick notes! I was with friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, and I spent more time listening and talking and less time taking notes. Here’s an all-Jersey flight:

Magnify Search Saison Foeder Batch 1

Pours nearly clear with a medium white head. The aroma is of stone fruit & yeast with light hoppiness. On the palate comes very tasty fruit, then herbs then back and forth with malt and oak notes coming in. The finish is stone fruit soup fading to spicy hops. Wouldn’t drink 3 but 1.5 is about perfect. 5.5% ABV

Bolero Snort Strawbully

“Strawberry wheat saison” made with strawberry and Sorachi Ace, starts with a nice strawberry aroma, then subtle flavor builds sip to sip with a hint of sweetness coming in. Toward the finish an herbal note joins in. The Sorachi Ace is muted but emerges more on the finish. 4.3% ABV

Carton BDG

American Brown Ale, a caramel brown cask ale with a light head. Delivers a rich malt & toffee nose, continuing through the flavor and into the finish. 6% ABV

Carton Boat Beer

Hazy pale gold in the glass with a persistent white head. This has a bright lemon aroma. The flavor contines the fruit with hops coming in, quite crisp on the palate, followed by a long hoppy finish. 4.3% ABV

Kane Citra

This pours cloudy gold with a generous white head. Really pretty orange peel hops arrive on the nose and continue in the flavor, then bittering out. This is not subtle or intended to be. 5.2% ABV

Hermanns Blonde Ale“Hermann’s Blonde Ale”

Back at home, what better way to wrap up my Beercation than to have my own Blonde Ale. I can’t claim objectivity, but it’s nice and malty with hints of stone fruit. Best of all, it’s mine.

So what are the totals on the scorecard? Seven days, eight breweries, 57 different beers. And once I was done, the ‘fridge doesn’t look so bad after all. Never mind the other three cases worth in the closet!


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The Jesters of Easton (Beercation 7)

Weyerbacher Brewing Company

Across the I-78 bridge into Pennsylvania, a tiny detour brings me to a brewery that I have wanted to visit for a long time.

Weyer Entrance

Weyer LimitedThe tasting room is practically a Mecca, with a menu of beers that you can’t get anywhere else.

Weyer Insanity 365Insanity 365

Blithering Idiot aged in oak barrels for one year (shorter aging shown below.) Maple syrup brown (ok, medium amber) in the glass with zero head. The nose is of intense boozy malt and brown sugar. On the palate comes candied malt and and a whiskey kick with vanilla oak touches. The finish goes on forever, sweet & malt & boozy. 11.1% ABV

Line Street Pils

To clear the palate! Pours clear straw with a generous snowy head. Starts with a pure lagery nose of cracker malt and noble hops. It’s crisp enough to cut through the 365 bourbon, delivering straight malt with a nice hop bite. I think of Weyerbacher in terms of big Belgian ales, but they do a good lager! In fact, they say: “Sure, we love our big beers, but sometimes we just want something lighter without sacrificing flavor.” 5.3% ABV

Weyer LIdiot GraisseL’Idiot Graisse

Then there are one-offs not even on that menu. Here’s another Blithering Idiot variant suggested by a member of the tasting room staff, this is served from cask and pours a pretty chestnut amber with a light off white ring. The aroma delivers subtle wine and malt, followed by a very malty flavor, adding a tang of red grape with the sweetness characteristic of Blithering Idiot. It’s made with Cabernet-aged French oak and red grapes, a successful experiment! 11.1% ABV I presume.

Weyer Brunicorn!Brunicorn #1

An American Wild Ale, in the glass it’s like pretty, light apricot nectar with the tiniest off white ring. The nose is peach nectar, slightly tart, followed by a crisp, tart & stone-fruity flavor moving into a wheaty body. The finish resolves like an Italian fruit soda, lingering quietly with a white wine note. I’m not up to sours but this I like. Not a favorite, but I’m sure not sending it back! 6.5% ABV

Then we have two that I had in the tasting room, AND brought back to repeat at home.

Weyerbacher Jesters ChoiceJesters Choice 4

Smoked American Porter. Nearly black with generous foamy tan head. There’s a very malty nose on the dark side, lightly smoky, and maybe a hint of hops. Smoke arrives on the palate, as crisp and refreshing as smoke can be, followed by a ton of dark malts and some caramel. The smoke balances the sweetness as hops might do in other styles. This is a porter with smoke, not smoke with beer like a rauchbier. That balance of slightly sweet hops and slightly bitter smoke lingers, as does the lacing on the glass. The tiniest note of bacon emerges on the finish. 7% ABV 40 IBU

Weyerbacher IPASingle IPA #1

The start of an annual series of four, this one is clear gold with a generous white head. Citrus hops, citrus hops, floral hops? The aroma starts with citrus juice and moves to citrus peel, then a fleeting floral note transitions to malt. The beer looks like a light amber snowstorm with particles percolating up the center and down the sides. On the palate things start with lemon peel then quickly get outright bitter moving directly into the finish. Maybe my taste buds are off, this doesn’t taste as good as it smells. 5.5% ABV “Features a blend of Centennial, Cascade, Calypso and Equinox hops.”

Something I love about Weyerbacher is their support for charities, including their support of animal shelters, as with their Last Chance IPA. This continues in the tasting room:

Weyer Last Chance Tips

And one more I brought back from the brewery . . .

Weyerbacher InsanityInsanity

“Insanity, 11.1% ABV, is made by aging our Blithering Idiot Barleywine Ale in whiskey barrels.” So this has shorter aging than the 365 and pours a cloudy chestnut brown with a brief light tan head. Starts with a big dried fruit and malt nose with a boozy note and a hint of oak. It has a complex flavor passing from fruity to malty to caramel, back to malt with a sugary sweetness, then back to fruit. Waves of flavor continue through a long finish, ending sweet.

And this brings me HOME!!

LootHere’s the loot from the trip: 54 12oz, 3 half growlers and a 750:

FridgeWhat I had not really considered was what I already had in the ‘fridge: 19 12oz, 1 16oz, 3 bombers and 2 two 750s, not to mention about 20 homebrew in the closet!

What have I *done*?

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Why Did the Hippo Cross the State? (Beercation 6)

River Horse Brewing

River Horse Sign

When is a tasting not a tasting? When you know the brewery is open, but when you get there it’s only open for retail sales, cases and bottles and growlers, but no pints or tasting. Disappointing, but I decided to take my tasting to go. So the beer crossed the state to get to the other site, my apartment.

River Horse Tasting

River Horse IPAIPA

This pours cloudy amber with a very generous foamy white head with a yellow tinge. It has an old fashioned hop nose, before the citrus bombs; it’s earthy, with light biscuit malt. On the palate there is light fruit then lots of malt, slightly muddy, with light hop flavors. On the finish the malt transitions slowly to hops, continuing to a medium length. 5.7% ABV

River Horse Special AleSpecial Ale

“An American Amber” this is dark amber with a brief medium tannish head. There is a cake malt nose with toffee notes. Malt dominates the flavor, followed by a little wave of dark fruit ending with a puff of hops. This reminds me strongly of British styles, but the hops are American. The finish continues the malt and light toffee and fruit. Not a favorite but that’s a matter of style rather than of execution. 5.5% ABV

RiverHorse TripelHorseTripel Horse

Cloudy golden amber in the glass with a light white head. The first sniff is malt, the next sniff is estery, the third adds spices. The flavor is fruit malty, the body is medium full, spices play around the edges, and dryness alternates with caramel. Quite complex! The finish is medium: medium malty, medium spicy, medium long. 10.0% ABV and potentially quite sneaky. The flavors build sip to sip, becoming quite delicious.

River Horse Summer BlondeSummer Blonde Ale

A pale golden pour with a medium bubbly white head. It’s a full bore malt nose, biscuit and bakery, dry with a little shot of traditional hops. On the palate it’s lightly effervescent, giving an immeduate shot of toffee followed by lots of malt. Some hops join the malt on the finish. It’s a sessionable 4.5% ABV

River Horse HopHazardHop Hazard

“Unfiltered American Pale Ale,” it’s cloudy amber like liquid caramel with a medium off white head. The mostly malt nose has some stone fruit, and surprisingly little hop aroma, then earthy hops come in strongly on the palate, and stronger still on the finish. This makes a nice progression keeping things interesting sniff to sip to savoring. 6.5% ABV

Maybe I shouldn’t list this as Beercation at all, since none of these were tasted until I got home, but I put River Horse in brewery sequence if not in tasting sequence.

I suppose that under New Jersey law they could not give a tasting at that time. The bizarre requirement is that you can only give a tasting to someone during or after a tour of the facility. Since the brewery was in production, they naturally couldn’t give a tour. Something about running over customers with a fork lift, or at least washing their shoes in beer. In fact I got a minimal tour from just inside the door of the brewhouse, but that cuts no ice. It’s interesting that some breweries like Cape May Brewing observe this requriement rigorously, while others–who shall remain nameless–seem to ignore it altogether. It may be a matter of who got slapped on the wrist by the state!

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Magic to Do (Beercation 5)

Spellbound Brewing

Spellbound LightCropMy original intention was to visit smaller breweries in South Jersey that I don’t get in North Jersey. I discovered a problem: I was trying to do this on a Wednesday and most small breweries aren’t open on Wednesday, then typically they are open something like 4-8 Thursday and 4-8 Friday. Meanwhile I was planning to come home Friday afternoon. That sort of cut me down to visiting one small brewery Thursday evening as it seemed difficult to cram two into 4 hours. Also, by then I was getting a bit tired! Based on several recommendations, the choice was Spellbound. This started at Kid Rip’s the night before, where I also had the Palo Santo.

Spellbound Flight

IPA (Infused with Basil and Sorachi Ace Hops)

Pours pale amber from a Randall with a generous lemon cream head. Starts with a bright Sorachi nose with an herbal hint over cracker malt. On the palate that hint resolves into basil on a solid malt backbone. Long hoppy finish, nice stuff, I really like this. It’s a pity that a Randall is such a PITA for a bartender, the infusions can be great. 6.5% ABV

Peach Citra Pale Ale

Clear pale gold in the glass with a brief white head, then a luscious peach nose with citrus notes. The flavor shows less intense peach with a slight chalkiness and lots of biscuit malt. The peach fades slowly on the finish as the hops build briefly. 5.5% ABV I don’t like it as much as I want to. There’s something in the flavor–not the nose–that seems artificial.

Cherry Belgian Tripel

This is chestnut-tinged pale amber with a medium off white head. The sour cherry aroma is followed by light malt. Yeastiness comes in on the palate with a lightly viscous mouthfeel, bread-biscuit malt and lots of cherry, then malt and cherry slide into a medium length finish. 8.5% ABV The cherry really carries this. Don’t serve it too cold. I brought home a growler of this!

Porter Aged on Palo Santo Wood

This poured opaque brown with generous creamy tan head and a roasty, woody, coffee nose over nice malt, followed by hops. The flavor matches the aroma, and the woodiness is distinctly different from oak (no vanilla, for example). The finish starts woody with a sweet hint, seems to fade quickly, then rallies and persists. 6.9% ABV [It’s interesting to compare my notes to the night before.]

Spellbound IPAIPA

A slightly hazy gold glass with a generous fluffy white head. Hops hit as the can opens, nice and floral-citrusy. The flavor starts with momentary bakery malt immediately overrun by citrus hops with an earthy quality. The finish is quiet with citrus peel bitterness, fading. 6.5% ABV, 75 IBU

So what *is* a Randall?

The original was Randall the Enamel Animal (Version 3.0, below,) created at Dogfish Head. “Randall is an organoleptic hop transducer module…” Now that’s clear as mud, right? It’s an infuser, where beer from the tap passes through a chamber containing the ingredients to be be infused, in this case basil and hops. Then the beer passes through a second chamber, for “de-foaming,” and finally through a tap to the glass. It’s rather fiddly to operate. There are just as many things that can go wrong as you might guess from that description!

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Gone to the Dog(fish) 3 – Beercation 4

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

“Off-centered ales for off-centered people.”

Dogfish Brewery
As a brewery, is a treehouse in the front yard a sign of being off-centered? Maybe, maybe not, but then there’s this sign on the men’s room door . . .
Dogfish PeePoo
. . . and on the ladies’ room it says POO PEE. I rest my case. Of course they can rest their case on a great tap room selection!

Dogfish Tap BoardShelter Pale

This was their first release ever, back in 1995 when they had a 12 *gallon* brewhouse. Now they have a capacity of 600,000 barrels, and the first beer from the first brewery in the first state comes back for an encore. It pours clear and effervescent gold with a generous lemon chiffon head. The nose features earthy hops, Willamette & Columbus, less common these days. There’s a medium amount of malt in the flavor, but the hops are featured. The quiet finish smoothly extends the flavor. Once the hoppiest beer on the east coast, it’s now just a pale ale, “old” fashioned and excellent. 5.0% ABV

Dogfish-BTDMT-CropBeer to Drink Music To

Having debuted in February, this Belgian Trippel is golden amber with a generous yellow-tinged head. The aroma is lightly estery, fruity-spicy. Really intense flavor adds biscuit malt to the mix along with the complexity from orange peel, peppercorns, candi sugar and cardamon. There is both sweetness and spicy heat on the subtle finish. 9% ABV

Alternate Takes #1

Brand new in March, this pours golden straw with a moderate ivory head. The aroma gives strong, unusual hops of earth and citrus with mild “cat pee.” There’s a nice medium mouthfeel with a sweet touch and quite a bit of malt for a DIPA. The hops are flavorful but restrained, really good. The finish lingers and moves from sweet fruitiness to become quite bitter. Centennial, Warrior and Idaho 7 hops. 7.8% ABV

120 Minute IPA

“Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, it’s easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!” Well, the Holy Grail is light amber with a generous yellowish head, followed by an intensely bitter citrus nose over bready malt. It coats the mouth, sweet, then a ton of fruit and malt with very clear alcohol heat. The finish is long and sweet with hops as a backbone weaving in and out. Wow. This batch was exactly one week old…so fresh!

Dogfish-RomChemCropRomantic Chemistry

There are many rom-coms, but only one rom-chem! You get the aroma almost before you see the beer. There’s a lovely fruity nose masking the hops, in turn masking biscuit and bread malts. It’s a pretty light amber, again with a yellowish head (and it doesn’t appear to be the lighting even though so many of these have shown that color.) Malt charges in on the palate with waves of multiple fruit flavors. The finish is quiet and the hops emerge, citrusy in their own right. 7.2% IPA brewed with apricot, mango & ginger.

Chicory Stout

This is nearly black with a generous light tan head. The aroma is of Louisiana coffee with a roasty hint and ample malt underneath. On the palate it’s fairly light and crisp, roastiness comes first, then coffee, then the chicory bitterness which lingers with a sweetness through the finish. 5.2% ABV, it’s brewed with three varieties of Mexican coffee, chicory root and licorice, along with Simcoe and Warrior hops.

Dogfish-Immort-Ale-CropImmort Ale

Pours hazy amber with a brief white head (see, they’re not all yellowish!) At first there’s not much aroma, but then brown bread, malty and boozy notes emerge. The flavor is immediately complex, malt and fruit and hops, lingering into a caramel malt finish. 11% ABV, brewed with peat smoked barley, vanilla, juniper, and maple syrup from Sam’s family’s farm, aged on oak.

Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats

It’s time for lunch, and where better than in Rehoboth Beach at the brewpub where it all began. They have many “one-offs” here, along with special and experimental batches. I guess you never know what you’ll find. Pity.

Dogfish Brewpub Pair

Five Bloods

An amber glass with a chestnut tinge and a light but persistent off white head. The nose gives intense blood orange citrus over biscuit malt. The flavor is rich, citrusy & malty, quite crisp, then some candi sugar sweetness comes in. All these carry into the finish with the hops emerging to dry things out. Way out on the end, as it warms, a melon note comes in with more sweetness. 7.6% ABV, brewed with “blood orange juice, sliced lemon and orange zest. Dark & medium crystal malts. Centennial and HBC431 dry hops at massive 2 pounds per barrel.” This played really well with salty, salsa spicy fish tacos, even with the cilantro.

Cask 75 Minute IPA

This is exactly the same color as Five Bloods with a more persistent version of the same head. The aroma is not as hoppy as I would expect, but shows citrus and malt. On the palate this is super malty and mouth coating with lots of caramel and zesty hops, and with obvious oak notes. The barrel aging lifts this from good to great. Stone fruit and hops alternate on the finish, with malt and syrup along for the ride. 7.5% ABV, this doesn’t pair as well with the tacos, needing something more meaty or umame, or maybe barbecue.

You wouldn’t get the impression that I like Dogfish, would you?

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Boxer’s Bar (Beercation 3)

Kid Rip’s

Kids Rip’s Tap and Tavern is dedicated to our father . . . Believe it or not, Kid Rip was a tattoo on our fathers arm. Kid Rip was a boxer too, but the tattoo became synonymous with our father . . . We wanted to create Kid Rip’s as a memory to our Father and the type of man he was.

I asked for recommendations of restaurants with craft beer in the vicinity of my motel, and I’m very happy with this one, a bit over a mile away. Obviously I have a theme going of New Jersey beers, so here is a New Jersey flight, plus one.


Kane Hop Lab Triple IPA

A cloudy gold glass with a medium off white head. The nose delivers serious hops masking malt, then comes a quite bitter flavor. Some caramel arrives to offset hops on finish, but this is quite unbalanced. Balance isn’t a requirement, but this one doesn’t work for me. 10.5% ABV

Forgotten Boardwalk Pocket Tricks Red IPA

Pours clear red gold with a medium white head. The aroma is of nice citrusy hops with a candy sugar note. Very refreshing, this starts crisp on the palate, then edges into sweet with mild hops returning on the finish. Interesting the way dry and sweet alternate in flavor and finish. 8.5% ABV

Rinn Duin Sandpiper English Brown

Medium brown in the glass with ruby glowing through and a generous, tight off tan head. The earthy nose reminds me of mulch. That’s not necessarily bad, let’s see how it tastes. The flavor is very malty but the body is a tad thin, and the flavor just goes away, leaving a watery finish. Swing and a miss. 5.1 % ABV

Spellbound Palo Santo Porter

This pours near black with a generous tan head. There’s a good roasty, woody aroma with a touch of hops. This is interesting on palate, starting malty and spicy with woody notes like I’m sipping from a wooden cup. There is a light sweetness carrying into the finish. Quite refreshing for a porter as long as you like palo santo, which I do. 6.9% ABV

A flight wasn’t quite enough–and they don’t do shorties–so let’s have a full pour!

Spellbound Peach IPA

Gold with a distinct reddish tinge and a moderate tight bubbly white head. I could smell peaches from two feet away! The aroma combines lots of peach with lots of malt. A big sip delivers peachy malty flavor, what you smell is what you get, then the rather crisp finish makes this quite refreshing! This is a summer IPA working well in spring. 6.5% ABV

Add to this some of the best chicken tenders that I’ve ever had, and Kid Rip’s was a hit with me. I would have loved to explore their menu further, but I was still groaning from the sub in the afternoon! A little bit about the place:

Kids Rip’s Tap and Tavern is dedicated to our father, but it is here for you. We have taken every care to create an environment for you to unwind, relax, laugh, eat and drink. It is with great honor and dedication that we bring you a diverse line of craft beers, deliciously prepared food and an inviting atmosphere.

Because at Kid Rip’s we knock ourselves out to please you.

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Something Fishy This Way Comes (Beercation 2)

Flying Fish Brewing

The route from Cape May to Somerdale follows the Garden State Parkway north to the Atlantic City Expressway and then northwest toward Philadelphia. I know two things: one needs food to taste beers–and drive–safely, and production breweries in New Jersey are not permitted to serve food, but most encourage you to bring food in. Ah, but I know one more thing: Atlantic City has some of the best subs in the world, specifically from White House subs, which has been turning them out since 1946.

White House Subs

A detour into the city and a stop was simply required, then on to Somerdale and the largest craft brewery in New Jersey.

Flying Fish Brewery

So I mentioned that the subs are the best . . . did I mention they are also some of the largest? Here is my first flight with HALF of a White House sub. Notice that there is more meat than roll in these. Damn, I just made myself hungry just thinking about this!

Flying Fish 1st Flight Sub

Oh, right, the beer!

Farmhouse Summer Ale

Clear straw in the glass with a medium white head. Starts with a cracker malt nose with a touch of noble hops. The flavor is straightforward ale with an earthy hint but mostly malt, finishing up with a nice little hop bite. It’s an ale that could fool a pilsner fan, perhaps ideal for luring in an uneducated macro fan. 4.9% ABV


Pours clear amber darkened by chestnut highlights with a medium white head. It has a light spice aroma over bakery malt and then comes red fruit like a hint of raspberry or cherry. On the palate comes rich complex malts with plenty of fruitiness and a hop sparkle drying the finish out sharply. Nice stuff! I picked up a half growler of this. 7.0% ABV

FF-Exit-9-CropExit 9 Hoppy Scarlet Ale

Amber, also clear with a medium white head. Clarity seems to be a hallmark of Flying Fish. The aroma starts with some cat pee hops with biscuit malt and stone fruit. On the palate this is a hoppy one, citrus & pine. There’s good malt underneath, mostly masked. Light caramel emerges on the finish playing tag with the hops. 9.0% ABV

Cuervo Barrel Saison

A slightly hazy golden glass with a generous off white head. There is a sour fruit nose without funk, and with biscuit malt. The flavor is not sour but rather malty and fruity replaced immediately by the tequila. There’s an earth-fruity note, if that makes sense, perhaps from the agave. (I wonder if any nectar was used.) The finish is smooth and long with a smoky hint creeping in, perhaps from the barrel. 7.0% ABV – Outstanding. I wish I could have gotten a growler of this!

Flying Fish 2nd Flight

ESB Amber Ale

It’s just as amber as it should be with a medium white head. The aroma is straight malt with hints of toffee and earthy hops. On the palate…now that’s an ale! Bakery malt with notes of sweetness & hops. It’s a short finish but that just calls for another pint! 5.9% ABV

Abbey Dubbel

Pours dark chestnut amber with a medium white head. The aroma is Belgian yeasty with an estery banana profile. On the palate that aroma expands with ample biscuit malt, rather full body and slight effervescence. The finish goes back to the esters. Somehow this is almost more Belgian than a Belgian. 7.2% ABV

FF Exit 4Exit 4 American Trippel

A golden glass with a medium white head, crystal clear again, then the nose is hop spicy with yeasty elements over good malt. The full body delivers palate-coating toffee, fruit and spice. That spiciness builds into a long finish and citrus peel hops come in, showing this is indeed an American–rather than Belgian–Tripel. I’ve had this one before and I like it! 9.5% ABV

FF-Exit-1-CropExit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout

Pours very dark brown with a tan head. The aroma is of roast grain and dark chocolate with a hint of coffee and…a tiny salt tang? The flavor recaps the nose with a more distinct salt tang, not like a Gose but more like lightly salted chocolate. There could be shellfish but I’m looking for that. The finish is long, lightly roasty, lightly mocha, lightly salty adding up to a substantial finish. 8.2% ABV

I bought a variety pack of four exits from the New Jersey Turnpike. Each of the series is loosely associated with something in the area of the exit. So Exit 1 is near the Delaware Bay, thus Bayshore Oyster. Well Exit 16 is near the Meadowlands, known for the Giants and the Jets, but also associated with wild rice, and thus:

FF Exit 16Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA

Golden amber with generous off white head. Hops from a foot away, melon and citrus mostly masking biscuit malt. Earthy malty melon flavor, medium body, leading into almost piney bitterness with citrus zest. Moderate hoppy finish. A bit sneaky strong, 8.2% ABV and doesn’t feel like it.

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Ultra South Jersey (Beercation 1)

Cape May Brewing

At the southern tip of New Jersey, 3 hours and 15 minutes drive from home, lies Cape May, Cape May Airport and Cape May Brewing. (May I also recommend the Flight Deck Diner in the terminal?)

Cape May FlightHerbal Saison

A cloudy gold glassful with a brief white head. The nose starts with really intriguing herbal notes from dill, rosemary and thyme. The flavor is of malt & herbs ending with spicy hops. 6.2 % ABV

Cape May Mop WaterMop Water 5-Spiced Ale

Pours a very cloudy dark amber with a medium off white head. It smells like gingerbread, delicious warm gingerbread. You can practically chew it, with cake-like malt and spicy hops coming on. The finish is long, spicy and malty, dried out on the end by hops. To me, this is an autumn or winter beer, but I’ll drink it in spring or any time. This was my first half-growler of the Beercation. 7.3% ABV

Honey Porter

Made with local New Jersey honeys, this is very dark brown in the glass with a pale tan head. The coffee nose is light and sweet. The flavor adds a little chocolate, more sweet with a nice hop bite. 5.4% ABV

Cape May IPA

Pours nearly clear light amber with a brief white head. Citrus earthy hops in the aroma, I think they mentioned Amarillo. The flavor is like hop hash, muddy and hoppy, good for hopheads (like me). The finish is not that bitter, the hops show mostly in aroma and flavor. 6.3% ABV

Cape May Coastal EvacuationCoastal Evacuation Double IPA

Pale gold with fluffy white head. Nice strong mixed hop aroma, some citrus some old fashioned earthy but apparently all from Centennial. Light slightly silky body with cracker malt overrun by hops plus a light sweetness. The hops power on into the finish leaving bitterness to savor. This is not for anyone afraid of hops! 8.0% ABV.

As a pilot, I was magnetically drawn to another feature of the airport, formerly Naval Air Station Wildwood, the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum. In some alternate life I would have been a naval aviator, so this was amazing.

NAS Wildwood MuseumThis is not a little museum, it has a great collection of aircraft dating from the 1930s through the present day.

Wildwood StearmanI have flown (in) a Stearman, the famous WWII trainer called “The Yellow Peril” because you didn’t know where a student pilot would crash one next.

Wildwood SkyhawkHere is a Blue Angels Skyhawk II. I have a couple of hundred hours in Skyhawks…the Cessna Skyhawk, much less glamorous than this Navy bird.

Wildwood TigerAnd here is a Marine F-5 Tiger, still sporting the red star from its appearance as an enemy aircraft in the movie Top Gun. However, inside that red star is engraved the Marine emblem. I also have over a hundred hours in Tigers . . . the single engine, 4-seat piston sort.

An airport with a brewery, a diner, and an aviation museum? Why does it have to be so far away? But at last I achieved my dream of being a naval aviator.
Wildwood Aviator

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