Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hit & Run at Rattle & Hum

I paid a quick visit to Rattle & Hum, on 33rd Street in Manhattan. As always, the list of 40 drafts was a bit overwhelming, though the printed menu divides things up neatly by style, approximate IBU, portion size, RateBeer rating, ABV and State or Country. As it happens, I struck gold twice.

RnHJaiAlaiCigar City Jai Alai IPA

Light orangy amber in the glass with a medium off yellow head. It has a nice citrusy hop aroma with just a hint of malt. The flavor starts with orange and orange peel, opens into attention grabbing hops and what seems like a bit of crystal malt. The medium mouthfeel shows slight silkiness. The finish just brings it all together in beautiful balance. Great non-hop-bomb IPA. 7.5% ABV, 70 IBU

RnHSignatureDe Proef Signature

A Belgian Strong Ale, this pours peach with an ample bubbly head. The rich apricot brandy nose has lots of yeast masking bready malt. The flavor is super malty with candy and fruit, mouth filling and palette coating. Absolutely delicious lingering through a long finish drying out a little on the end. 8.5% ABV

I said that the 40 draft choices are a bit overwhelming (never mind the bottle choices!). The printed list is 8-1/2 x 14 inches, landscape mode, 3 columns wide. As for the chalk board version (get your magnifying glass here, and I apologize for the crappy quality):


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From the Farms of New York

Butternuts Beer & Ale

butter_porkslapPork Slap

This American Pale Ale from Garrattsville, NY (not far from Cooperstown), pours light amber with a little haze and not much head. The aroma is lightly hoppy–flowers and herbs–over cracker malt. The flavor brings in orange and emphasizes malt with balancing hops. It has a fairly bitter, dry citrusy finish. 4.3% ABV


This is hazy amber in the glass with a big foamy off white head. This leads to a big banana nose with lots of yeast, then to a palette of malt and banana with stone fruit. The finish is sweet and fruity. Quite nice! This seems to be a new offering, not mentioned on their entertaining website.

butter_moothunderMoo Thunder Stout

Very dark brown with a brief tan head. The nose leads simply with strong roasted barley and dark malts. It has a very straightforward roasty stout flavor, not coffee or anything else, just roasty grain. The finish is more of the same. It’s fine but seems like a one trick pony. 4.9% ABV

Images courtesy of Butternuts Beer & Ale

Chatham Brewing

Chatham8Barrel8 Barrel Ale

Described as a “Super IPA” from Chatham, NY (near Albany) it pours very dark amber to light brown with a brief cream colored head. It leads with an ultra malty aroma with molasses and roasty notes. The flavor matches the aroma but it’s not sweet and adds a shot of bitter hops and a full mouthfeel. The style at first seems German then resolves as a fine strong ale more like a Wee Heavy than an English brown ale. The finish is consistent, with the roastiness giving way to the hops which persist for a few minutes. I wish I had more of these! Nice introduction to a new–to me–brewery. 8.0% ABV

ChathamFarmersDaughterFarmer’s Daughter Rye IPA

Fills the glass with dark amber with a brief off-white head. The nose delivers spicy rye and hops over a toasty malt base, and the flavor continues these. Basically comes across as a brown ale with hops, an English style IPA rather than a New World hop bomb. The medium length finish is of caramel and spice. 6% ABV

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Once upon a time there was a pastor . . .

Naked Flock Cider

Warwick, NY:

The Naked Flock Story is an old folk tale from the town of Warwick. There was a Pastor who was great friends with Moby Dick Author Herman Melville. Melville brought the Pastor a gift from a trip to the Orient. Seeds that the Pastor planted in his garden and grew into the most beautiful Poppies that anyone in the town had seen. One day the geese broke into the garden and ate the Poppies, and yes, they were those kind of Poppies. The geese fell into a sleep so deep that they were thought dead and plucked by the pastors children for their feathers. To everyones shock, hours later the geese awoke and staggered around naked.

The Pastors own congregation was horrified by the sight and demanded the geese be slaughtered. But listeneing to the pleas of his children he decided to take a stand and defend the Naked Flock.

nfOriginal Label


The Original cider is fermented with champagne yeast and wildflower honey. It starts with a crisp apple aroma with a hint of honey. The cider is pale straw in the glass with no head and a light body. The flavor is crisp and floral with almost a citrus hint. Finish is lightly sweet, never even close to cloying. I haven’t had many ciders, but this is simply the best I’ve had, and starts to change the way I think about cider! 6.8% ABV


This pours golden straw with no head and a distinct Citra mild “cat pee” nose. It delivers apple and Citra flavor without bitterness. The hop flavor is milder than the nose, and the finish is apple without bitterness, with light honey sweetness instead. Cider for hop heads? I’ll drink to that! 6.8% ABV


Lemon Ginger

The aroma captures the trio: apple, ginger, and citrus with a hint of spice, like a mix of cider and ginger ale. The flavor is all of those, bursting from the glass. On a hot humid day: flat out delightful. The finish still suggests honey but is drier than the other two. At the tasting it had not yet been bottled, but it has been now! I look forward to grabbing some bottles soon. 6.0% ABV

An important thing about cider is that it is gluten free, opening a range of choice to those who can’t tolerate beer (or at least the vast majority of beers). The alcohol runs higher than the typical commercial cider. They attribute this to avoiding use of any concentrate or diluting elements. Naked Flock is a product of Applewood Winery, and in addition to wine and cider, they have live music every Saturday through the summer. I have to get up there . . . all of 45 minutes away!

Labels courtesy of Applewood Winery
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Mix and Match

I have no theme this time, just an eclectic grouping of beers that I have tasted recently. Well, if there’s a minor theme, it’s of three countries producing great beer, in this case Germany, Belgium, and the United States.

mixPaulanerHWPaulaner Hefe-Weizen

We start with hazy gold from Munich with a big white head, especially if over poured as I did. It has a tangy, yeasty nose with a sweet spiciness. The flavor is like a malty, spicy marzipan though not as sweet, with a medium thick body and mouthfeel. Malt dominates the finish and some spicy hops assert themselves again. A bit of a classic. 5.5% ABV

mixKwakPauwel Kwak

From Brouwerij Bosteels in Buggenhout, Belgium, Kwak pours chestnut amber with a bubbly yellowish head. The aroma is of rich yeast-roll malt and toffee. The flavor is sweet caramel and massive malt with a cinnamon spice note, not FROM cinnamon but from other spices and hops. This big flavor flows into the finish then a dark fruit element like raisins emerges and lingers. One of my all-time favorites. 8.4% ABV

mixLagunitas WTFLagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot

“A Malty, Robust, Jobless Recovery Ale”

WTF? Deep brown in the glass with a reddish tinge and a foamy cream-colored head. It leads with a strong cracker and caramel malt nose with a spicy hop bite. This is followed by a super malty flavor with a roasty undertone and slightly silky mouth feel, again with hops nibbling at the edges. The finish continues malty with distinct bitterness coming in. I don’t know whether this particular bottle came from Petaluma or from Chicago. 7.85% ABV, 59 IBU

“We’re not quite in the Red, or in the Black . . . Does that mean we’re in the Brown?!”

mixLeffeLabelCropLeffe Blonde

The classic Belgian yeasty nose arrives as soon as the cap comes off, delivering banana and spices. Fortunately, what we call “banana” in beer passes muster with those who can’t stand the fruit itself! This pours pale amber suggesting a tripel, and the flavor follows that malty estery profile, but it’s not as strong as a tripel. Basically it’s the single that you never get from the Trappists. The malt flows richly into the finish with a sort of marzipan note. Elegant. 6.8% ABV This is brewed in the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium, and is proof that AB-InBev can preserve some high-quality beers (so there’s hope for Elysian, perhaps).

Troegs Scratch #177

Featuring Mosaic hops, this Pennsylvania beer is a pretty peach-amber with a generous fine grained off-white head. The nose is tricky, muted hops with what seems like saison yeast. The flavor also plays with styles. It has light to medium body, crisp, almost apple-like after having some ciders but not because I had tasted the ciders. It has a gentle spicy hop flavor with plenty of malt. Some honey sweetness sneaks in on the finish with some bitterness way out on the end. This might even work for someone who does not yet like hops. Sneaky too. Seems like a session IPA but 7.0% ABV.

mixFinchsFinch’s Hardcore Chimera Imperial India Pale Ale

From Chicago, this pours amber with a big fizzy off-white head. The nose delivers lots of bakery malt with earthy, spicy old world hops. The flavor is of unsweetened caramel malt with a solid shot of hops producing a savory hint. Bitterness emerges on the finish, still in balance with the malt. It’s an American IPA, but it strikes me as a European IPA, an imperial version of the classic British IPA. 9% ABV

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Rule, Britannia!

Great Britain

Who added the “Great” to “Britain”? The brewers, of course! Americans hear about “a pint of bitter” and have not a clue what that means (much less what “real ale” means.) I imagine that “the local” is under siege by the big companies, and those local brews would never be available outside, much less west of the Atlantic. There is not that much ale from Great Britain that makes it over here, certainly nothing like the variety that bewilders tourists who enter a pub. It’s much easier to get good German lager and good Belgian ale.

Bass has been around forever, but I think it’s but a shadow of real ale, perhaps even less so since it became an AB-InBev product. Newcastle Brown has been on shelves for a long time, but tended to stay on those shelves long enough to risk getting skunked. Now the stock turns over faster. Boddingtons is a more recent arrival that has gained wide distribution. It might or might not be a step up from Bass, but it’s certainly a step up from yellow fizz.

However, some really good stuff makes it here with reasonable availability. One I’ve written about before is Wells & Young, but really only their “dessert” side.

For me, the biggest turnaround was Samuel Smith. Their beers have been here in good variety for a long time but suffered even more than Newcastle from lingering on the shelves too long. That problem has been banished.

gbSamNutSamuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

Tadcaster, Yorkshire, England

Brown as the name with a brief, foamy off-white head, a reminder that most British ale shouldn’t have a lofty head. This starts with a roasty malt nose with spicy sweetness and a hint of coffee. It has a rich brandy-like flavor, full bodied with dark malt and a touch of the namesake nut. The finish is not at all bitter but rather has a bit of toffee that carries on for some time. 5.0% ABV

gbBitterAndTwistedHarviestoun Bitter & Twisted Ale

Hillfoots Village, Scotland

For me this is a pint of bitter or a very close relative thereof. Pours pale gold with a brief slightly bubbly off-white head. The nose is grainy, slightly pruny malt with underlying sweet and underlying bitterness with hops blending in, subtly woody with floral touches. This has a nice medium mouthfeel showing full body and slightly silky texture. There’s a hint of molasses and a citrus note on a malt backbone and then moderate hop bitterness and oakiness comes in and lingers into the finish. The full body belies the low 4.2% ABV. That makes it sessionable but would easily stand up to stews and savory dishes.

gbOldEngineOilHarviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale

Inky black, and from a distance only the rich foamy tan head shows that it’s not in fact engine oil. This leads with a delightful roasty toffee aroma with a teasing hint of spicy hops. It is rich and mouth filling with the flavor of toast and toffee with a savory note. It suggests sweetness without becoming so. Roasted goodness continues into a long dry finish. 6% ABV.

gbHarveysHarveys Elizabethan Ale

Lewes, Sussex, England

Pours dark brown with a skin of bubbles rather than a head. The nose is like a whiskey barrel with fermenting dark fruit and packed with heavy pruny malt. The flavor continues the dark fruit character and gives some heat and caramel as if spiked with a bit of whiskey. The fruit fades quickly into a dark malt finish with a hint of hops drying things out. A bit too heavy for my taste right now, and could use some dry roastiness to offset that. This bottle was possibly over age–or even skunked–but I saw no end date on the bottle cap. This deserves another try. 8.1% ABV

gbJacobiteTraquair Jacobite Ale

Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, Scotland

Very dark brown in the glass with a moderate fine-grained vanilla-colored head. You could practically chew the aroma, it’s so rich with spice and biscuity malt and oak. The flavor starts with vanilla from the oak then fills with big malt carried on a creamy mouth filling body, with coriander playing at the edges. There’s a crispy hop accent. The flavor becomes the finish fading ever so slowly and lingering long. Put this way up on my list of favorites. I want more, Right Now. 8.0% ABV

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Two Blondes, a Matador, and a Duck

That sounds like the punchline of a bad bar joke, but here we have a brief session at The Dog & Cask in Rochelle Park, NJ, with the beer accompanying some tasty teriyaki wings.

Brix City Gloria Blonde Ale

BrixGloriaGolden in the glass with a brief white head that then laces the glass. It gives an estery yeasty nose of apricot spice. The very good Belgian flavor continues the nose but adds a malty quality and the spiciness resolves into hop bitterness. It has a soft malty finish. 5.6% ABV

Bolero Snort El Matador

I had just a taste, finding a nose and flavor of cilantro and what seemed to be pine. The actual ingredients include cilantro, lime, and jalapeño. The finish is quiet and hoppy. This is definitely worth trying, but I wasn’t in quite the right mood. Probably one glass rather than two. 4.2% ABV, 35 IBU

Kane Single Fin

Back to the Belgian Blonde style, with a pretty gold and a brief white head. It starts with a tangy nose of light esters and spice with a floral hint. The flavor is slightly bland, but fresh and clean. Malt develops on the finish with a fruit note and a light and drying hop edge. This is a nice session beer, if undemanding. This may have suffered by following El Matador. 5% ABV

Rushing Duck Brett Wheat

This starts with a lightly funky, fruity nose with crackery malt. The creamy texture features funk not sourness, filled out with fruit and malt. The finish is long but mild and the brett fades into the malt. Poured from a growler, this had been opened the day before, so I didn’t get it at its freshest.

All this was followed by sitting in at a meeting of the Bergen County Brew Crew, a homebrewing club, and some very interesting brews were poured . . . some of which may be commercially available later this year.

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Oasis in Prohibition, by the Pool

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

SpeakeasyGrowlerProhibition Ale

Speakeasies were the oases in the desert of Prohibition, and here’s the ale to provide relief on a hot day by the pool. This is a dark amber ale with chestnut highlights and a brief tan head, lacing the glass. Caramel malt carries a citrus aroma, probably with some crystal malt and a roasty hint. A creamy mouthfeel leads to the medium finish, and there’s a slight roastiness and finally hops to dry out the caramel. Refreshing by the pool, though a little heavy to be ideal for it. On the other hand it went very well with the items coming off the grill: hot dog, hamburger, BBQ chicken. 6.1% ABV, 50 IBU

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Three Cheers for the Red, White & Blue

Happy Independence Day!

An obvious theme for the 4th of July in America: Red, White and Blue!
Red: Mikkeller Raspberry Tripplebock

An ale brewed with raspberries, this pours opaque brown with a coffee ice cream head. It has a roasty nose of raspberry cream and chocolate. The flavor is momentarily roasted malt, then immediately tart raspberry soda, then back to roastiness with chocolate malt. It’s not a sour but it is quite tart, a bit like a roasty version of a tart lambic. It has a pretty long “lambic” finish. Danish, brewed in Belgium, 13% ABV

White: Gulden Draak

Golden amber in the glass with a buttermilk head, then a rich malty sweet nose with a tint of spicy hops. The flavor is of caramel malt, rich and slightly roasty. There’s a fruitiness, stone fruit , and a creamy mouthfeel. Despite the caramel there’s a crispness leading to a long sweet finish, never cloying, with a tiny hint of hops drying the end of the finish. From Belgium, 10.5% ABV

Blue: Wachusett Blueberry

This is a wheat beer, pouring golden straw with virtually no head. The nose is of light cracker malt with distinct blueberry. The flavor is “essence of blueberry” first and last with mild malt in between. The finish is brief and malty. Westminster MA, 4.5% ABV, 10 IBU

What’s that you say? A Danish brewer in Belgium, an outright Belgian, and only finally an American from Massachusetts? Not red, white and blue enough? All right, let’s distill it right down.

Dales3Red, White & Blue: Dales Pale Ale

Rather dark amber for a “pale” ale, with a medium off white head. The aroma is hoppy with bread malt, then the flavor is caramel with slight roastiness, hoppier than an English IPA, hoppy with citrus and floral notes. It gives a long finish of malt and hops, very satisfactory by–and in–the pool. This is from Oskar Blues, originally from Colorado, but this brew is from North Carolina. 6.5% ABV, 65 IBU

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Crickets from Fairfield

Cricket Hill Brewery


I just visited the brewery over the weekend, and picked up a couple of half growlers. Most satisfactory. Here’s how they describe themselves, modestly, of course:

Cricket Hill is a microbrewery based in Fairfield, NJ, offering some of the finest beers ever made on the planet earth!!! Our beers are all designed as full bodied, session beers that deliver classic flavors… Enjoy!!!

CH_FB_PintGrowlerAbbey Cherry Tripel

Hazy peach color with a brief white head of fine bubbles. The nose is quite spicy with nice Belgian yeast, bakery malt and just a hint of cherry. The esters get bigger in the flavor with apricot and banana, but really very little cherry. I didn’t want or expect cherry pie, but for the name I’d want a bit more fruit. The finish is malty and perhaps yeasty still with fruit and a little hop bite at the end.

Just had some more after having Beach Haus Amber Ale and Brooklyn Blast! and it stands out how good this abbey tripel is, bringing out caramel and more fruit. I’d still want more cherry, but this is good stuff! 8.9% ABV, 31 IBU

CH_SmallBatchAlesLabelDouble Wit

This pours a pretty, hazy peach with a light white head. A nose of yeasty goodness arrives with a fruit bowl of esters and spiciness, probably with a shot of coriander. The flavor starts with spices followed by fruit and rich caramel malt. Any hops are well masked, but probably keep that sweetness in check. The finish carries on waves of spice and fruit and malt, gradually ebbing. Good use of two growlers! 7% ABV, 20 IBU

Images courtesy Cricket Hill Brewing
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