Monthly Archives: September 2015

From Roscoe and Points South

Here we have an assortment from New York and New Jersey

Roscoe NY Beer Company

TroutTownAmberTrout Town American Amber Ale

Pours hazy amber with a small bubbly off-white head, dissipating quickly. Gives a malty nose, a little toward sourdough, then a more caramel malt. Only a little hops on the nose, just maybe a hint of spice. On the palette things start as a malty mouthful then a surprising shot of stone fruit and a sweetness with a slightly hoppy edge. This slides easily on as the flavor becomes the finish, slightly hoppier on the end. 5.0% ABV 30 IBU

TroutTownBrownTrout Town Brown

Deep brown in the glass with a hint of chestnut looking through toward the light. The aroma is of toast and caramel malt, sweet with light hops and a hint of chocolate. Gives pretty big mouthfeel and big flavor, malt turning roasty with a brush of brown sugar and coffee. The sweetness lingers into the finish with roasted malt coming in and out. To me, no apparent hops but you know they’re there. 5.5% ABV, 35.5 IBU

Broken Bow Brewery

Tuckahoe, NY


bbBrokenAugerLagerBroken Auger Lager

Pours coppery amber with a generous white head. Starts with a very subtle cracker malt nose. The flavor is like a slightly sour tangerine over a light caramel malt. Slightly dry malt and Euro-hop finish.

bbRedAleRed Ale

Dark red amber in the glass with a very generous off white head. This has a very similar, mild cracker malt nose with only a hint of hops. Less sour than the lager, it’s still fruity and malty but with less caramel. I prefer this one. The finish is quite dry.

bbMarbledaleAPAMarbledale American Pale Ale

Pours deep chestnut but I poured poorly so it had a giant foamy head. Again the same mild nose but with a little more fruit. Here come piney hops over caramel malt with nice citrus. The finish is again gentle but this time with more hops.

New Jersey Beer Company

North Bergen, NJ

New Jersey PaleHudson Pale Ale

Medium amber with vanilla cream head. The nose delivers lots of biscuity malt with shots of Euro-style and citrus hops. Gives a mild malty flavor with mild citrusy hops but the hops get much stronger on the finish and slide back toward Europe. The emphasis seems to be on the bittering hops rather than the aroma or flavor hops. There’s also a touch of toffee on the end. Straightforward and drinkable. 5.8% ABV.

Brix City Brewing

Little Ferry, NJ

Belgian Dubbel

Pours amber with virtually no head. There is more fruit than yeast in the nose with malt developing. The beer started too cold. The palette shows good body with lots of malt and classic Belgian esters like banana. The finish is mild and has a dusty quality. 6.3% ABV.

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O’zapft is!

“It’s tapped!” The first keg of the Volksfest has been tapped! And so begins the first day of Oktoberfest, the largest beer festival–the largest folk festival–in the world. This year, that day was September 19, and the festival runs through October 4, so most of Oktoberfest is in September.

This year marks the 205th Anniversary of the first Oktoberfest, a celebration of the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, October 12, 1810. The celebration became annual, and the start of the festival soon moved forward into September to take advantage of longer, warmer days. In truth the festival is far older than 1810, probably dating back to the 15th Century. By the way, there will NOT be a test on any of this material, particularly not after a couple of liters of Märzen, the traditional Oktoberfest beer.


As for “the largest beer festival” there’s really no competition. More than 6 million people will attend, consuming more than 7 million liters of beer! This horde jams 14 large tents and many small ones, and when we say “large” tents, consider that the Löwenbräu-Festhalle tent has a seating capacity of 5,700, with 2,800 more seated outside! You see the Hippodrom-Festzelt tent above. This massive party occupies Theresienwiese, “Theresa’s meadow,” named in honor of Ludwig’s bride and now colloquially referred to as the “Wies’n.”

The Oktoberfest in Munich from Ferris wheel

Back to the beer, the true point of the exercise! Authentic Märzen-Oktoberfestbier is only brewed within the city limits of Munich, just as authentic Champagne is only produced in that region of France. Any “champagne” from anywhere else is technically “sparkling wine” and any “Oktoberfest” brewed outside Munich is “Oktoberfest-style.” There are six breweries producing the genuine article, Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spatenbräu and Hofbräu-München.

In the world of American craft beer, 20 years makes a brewery an elder statesman, and 50 years–the rescue of Anchor Brewing by Fred Maytag–marks the beginning of time. This is but a blip in the history of the Munich breweries. Some of the founding dates are a little fuzzy, but Augustiner is acknowledged as the oldest independent brewery in Munich, dating to 1328. Lowenbrau followed in 1383 and Spaten in 1397, rounding out the 14th Century. Hacker (not yet Pschorr) came along in 1417, Hofbräu in 1589, and Paulaner, the youngster, in 1634.

So what IS the genuine article? Märzen is “March” beer, traditionally brewed during the cold months suitable for unrefrigerated brewing and lagering. These got stored in cool cellars and caves for consumption during the hot months, but then needed to be finished off in October when the new crop of cool weather beers needed to be stored. One thing this means is that these March-to-October beers were well aged, by beer standards.

Jugg_with_Beer_Loewenbraeu_one_literAnd what of the style? gives a brief description, “A beer rich in malt with a balance of clean, hop bitterness. Bread or biscuit-like malt aroma and flavor is common.” The classic Märzen is a relatively dark lager, amber, typically with a reddish tinge. By Munich standards it is a relatively strong lager averaging about 6% ABV (Alcohol By Volume.) It should clear and effervescent with a big head, at least when poured vigorously, and a vigorous pour is traditional, as fast as 1.5 seconds to fill a one liter stein. There is a slight sweetness from the caramelization that produces that reddish color.

Perhaps sadly, Märzen is no longer the beer served in the great tents on the “Wies’n.” Tradition has fallen before modern tastes, and the lighter Helles lager has supplanted the heavier Märzen. Fortunately, the Oktoberfest beers exported to the United States still represent the Märzen style.

Only four of the six breweries export their Oktoberfest. Lowenbrau no longer exports across the Atlantic. Augustiner does not export their Oktoberfest. This leaves four of the Big Six for this tasting, and four tasters for a “rigorous” scientific sample. Three would describe themselves as casual beer drinkers, with one who doesn’t care much for lager at all. Add to this one beer geek.

Hofbrau GlassHofbräu Oktoberfest

The panel’s immediate reaction: good drinking beer, smooth, “doesn’t hit you in the face” with slight bitterness on the finish. The color is fairly pale, palest of these four, crystal clear light amber with a big frothy white head. The nose is of light cracker & biscuit malt with a small puff of noble hops. Very crisp with moderate malt and a bit of caramel. The hops gently dry out the finish. Classic lager, it does nothing poorly. It’s a good–if light–introduction to Märzen, luring in even our non-lager drinker. 6.3% ABV

Spaten OktSpaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

Pours chestnut-amber with a moderate white head. Sweeter than the Hofbräu, it has more flavor with no bitter aftertaste. The flavor is smoother and more balanced with a longer finish and better mouthfeel. To me, it has a sharply hoppy nose with mild biscuity malt. On the palette it is quite smooth with medium malt, a touch of toffee and light effervescence. The finish gives nice quiet toffee with the spice of noble hops. 5.9% ABV

HackerPschorr BottleHacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest

They claim the title “Original” because brewmaster Joseph Pschorr was commissioned by the Crown Prince to develop special beers for his big party. The modern version is medium amber, then our panel found it bitter on the initial flavor, but really with not much flavor. They found it “a little thin. Not enough going on, nothing special” but not bitter on the finish. I found it to have a less hoppy nose with more caramel and more malt. It’s not as smooth as Hofbrau but it has more malt flavor and less hop flavor. It gets crisper and smoother on the finish, distinctly more bitter. Basically the profile emphasizes aroma hops and bittering hops over flavor hops. 5.8% ABV

Paulaner GlassPaulaner Oktoberfest Märzen

Another chestnut amber, this with a light off white head, perhaps poured too gently. The panel found it to have a good malt flavor turning rapidly bitter, medium bodied, and with a medium bitter finish. Basically medium medium. I found it to have an aroma of light bakery malt with a note of noble hops, a fairly light body and flavor with just a hint of caramel. The quiet finish develops more malt and caramel. I guess that’s a more elaborate way to say “medium.” 5.8% ABV

The Judgment of Jersey

At this point we ranked the four brews. To our surprise, all four of us picked the same favorite: Spaten. We were almost unanimous placing Hofbräu second, though I found a tie with Paulaner, favoring lighter Hofbräu if drinking more, and heavier Paulaner if drinking less. Paulaner came third for two of us, but last for one who found it too bitter. That left Hacker-Pschorr with one vote for third and three votes for last. So our ranking went Spaten, Hofbräu , Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr.

Tasting Bottles

Now if someone will pay the airfare, I would be happy to visit Munich to report on the other two. Until then,


Hofbrau-Hoisting Close

Hippodrom-Festzelt image licensed under CC-SA, Author Aschuff
“The Oktoberfest in Munich from Ferris wheel” by Michael.chlistalla under GNU Free Documentation License
“Masskruege” by Ich (talk) – I (Ich (talk)) created this work entirely by myself.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia

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To Craft, or Not to Craft?

The Lagunitas Brewing Company

Petaluma Calif. & Chicago Ill.

Here you have a brewery with a unique outlook on beer–I mean life–no, I mean beer and life. This is reflected by their bottle copy, as in the case of Equinox:

Qan you imagine a world without Beer? Everything ewe Gnoe would be different. Phish might phyl, daugs might uze power touls. Pfriedae nights mite be spent building treez out of the day after tomorrow’s pstale sour qreem and cheaze leavings. And then their’d bea the spelling iszuues. Thingss wood bee just plane wierd, eye meene weird. Come two thinq of itt, Ehe think aya cood stand beain a liddle bit hapier wrie gnau… (glug, glug, glug… gulp.) Mmm, aah! Once again all is right with the world, the fish are in their ocean, the dog will not maim me, I’ll have a date for Friday night, and I know for sure that in fact God loves me. Beer. You only borrow it.

Now *you* try getting that paragraph past autocorrect!!!! After that, I need a beer, no, several.


Light amber in the glass with a moderate foamy head, heavily lacing the glass. Delivers an aroma of massive if restrained hops: pine and citrus. On the palette there is bready toasty malt and a wave of hops, basically in balance. This is a canonical American IPA, almost defining the style, with a Iong balanced finish. It’s not moderate, it has lots of everything but in great proportions. 6.2% ABV, 51.5 IBU

PILS Tap StickerPils

This is their only lager, straw colored with a medium white head. The aroma is a light lager with noble hops, specifically Saaz. It’s nicely effervescent in the mouth with caramel notes and a bigger shot of hops. The finish continues biscuit malt and hops. Definitely a Czech style pilsener. 6.2% ABV, 35 IBU


Here you have a beer that was going to be called Kronik, with label to match. Did you know that beer names have to be approved by the government? In this case I think that California accepted the name, but the federal BATF rejected it, claiming that it was some sort of marijuana reference. Lagunitas stuck a “Censored” sticker over the label, resubmitted it, and this was accepted. It pours medium coppery amber with a brief off white head. The nose starts with crisp bready malt and then a ton of caramel comes in. The flavor is slightly sweet with a whiskey note and a long malty finish. It has plenty of hops but very balanced. 6.8% ABV, 39 IBU

Fusion 31, Mozango

Unique, this is a wheat IPA with mango and distinctive Mosaic hops. It pours light amber with a medium lacy white head. This is followed by a beautiful fruity-sweet hop nose. It’s a great IPA with a luscious hint of mango. Starts super smooth and lingers on the finish with a sustained hint of fruit. I fear this is a one-off, draft only, so I sadly don’t expect to have it again. Maybe if we whine and get the sympathy of the Lagunitas dog? 8.9% ABV


Pours amber and effervescent with a generous yellowish head. The aroma starts with a brief zizz of yeast then bready malt with a hint of caramel and a subtle note of toast, wrapping up with plenty of blended hops. The mouthfeel is foamy with more caramel in the flavor deepening toward molasses and earthy hops, then building to a balanced sweet malt and bitter hop finish that lingers a long time. They call it “A Genuine Pale Oat Ale” and it’s similar to a hefeweizen with darker malt and more hops. Good, very complex stuff. 8.0% ABV 50 IBU

lagLittleSumpinLittle Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

Amber-gold in the glass with a generous bubbly ivory head. Citrus hops arrive as soon as the cap comes off. Up close there’s a medley of cracker and cara malt with lots more hops. The mouthfeel is medium and the flavor leads with hops, crisp and smooth over a solid malt base. The finish is fairly bitter but clearly aroma hops are enphasized, then flavor and finally bittering. 7.5% ABV 64.20 IBU however you measure twenty one-hundredths of an IBU.

lagSucksLagunitas Sucks

The Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale, this pours medium amber with a frothy off white head. Estery aroma of stone fruit and biscuit malt leads to a slightly peppery hop note. The flavor starts with a melon and brown sugar tone–I know it’s not Brown Suggah–and a complex malt body from four different kinds of grain. The finish isn’t very long but displays fruit and sugar with balancing hops. 8.0% ABV 63.21 IBU (and that last 0.01 IBU makes all the difference!)

lagImpPilsImperial Pils

Clear straw color with a moderate Snow White head yields a pretty glass of beer. Noble hops lead the nose with lots of biscuit malt and perhaps a hint of yeast. This delivers very crisp flavor to start, moderate effervescence, then that biscuit builds in followed by a wave of hops. Classic hops, but significantly more so than a classic pilsener (the spelling Lagunitas chose for the bottle copy.) There is slight heat to the long, crisply bitter finish. 8.6% ABV 57 IBU


This is a glassful of amber with a full ragged lemon cream head. The nose starts with a deep earthy hop aroma, a mix of spice & citrus & pine with a ton of bready malt and a hint of toast. Very effervescent with medium full mouthfeel leading into that massive malt with continuing earthy hops. All is in balance between malt and hops so that it’s quite smooth for the firepower. The finish carries all of this smoothly into the sunset. 8.2% ABV, 72.41 IBU.

BrownSuggahBrown Shugga’

We had the substitute, here’s the original! Pours with a pretty 1″ light tan head over amber. It has a strongly hopped nose with a touch of sweetness, then creamy foam on the palette, malty and slightly sweet and something like a Belgian yeastiness. The finish is much sweeter than the hoppiness of the nose, ending in great balance. Nice stuff, stealthy strong. No wonder they sucked when they failed to produce this! 9.9% ABV, 51 IBU

Imperial WheatWine Tap StickerScare City #4 Wheat Wine

This is light amber with a brief white head. The rich bakery malt nose has a hint of caramel. The maltiness continues into an equally rich flavor of peaches and caramel, but not at all sweet. It has a fairly full mouthfeel with a hint of creaminess. The finish is long, malty, and smooth with hops around the edges. The size and balance of the beer masks the actual bitterness. 9.7% ABV, 75.5 IBU

They asked, “Qan you imagine a world without Beer?” Well, can you imagine a world without Craft Beer? During the tasting, Lagunitas was a craft beer, but now it isn’t, by the definition of the Brewers Association. You see, to be “craft” you have to be independent. Days after this tasting, Heineken bought 50% of Lagunitas. Great was the Sturm und Drang of online reaction, ranging from a knee-jerk “It’s the end of the world, Lagunitas is ruined” to my opinion, “Good beer is good beer” even if the owner is a macro brewer of yellow suds. It’s interesting that Heineken did NOT buy a majority share, leaving considerable room for Lagunitas to continue to innovate and to continue to produce Good Damn Beer. For now I’ll give them–and the dog–the benefit of the doubt!
lagPale Ale Tap Sticker

Pils, Wheat, and Pale images courtesy of Lagunitas Brewing
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Astoria’s Own

SingleCut Beersmiths


Queens, New York has not been a hotbed of craft beer activity, but that is starting to change. Coming up on three years old, Astoria’s SingleCut is almost the elder statesman of the borough. They came to Growler & Gill for the tasting.

1933stickersSinglecut 19-33 Lagrrr!

19-33 is their street address, and 1933 was the repeal of Prohibition, so it’s an auspicious number. This is a Czech-style Pilsener, starting with clean cracker malt, and a dry hoppy nose. What must be noble hops come through in the flavor, drying things out even more. A slight earthiness comes in on the finish as the hops linger. 6.2% ABV

Kim Hibiscus Sour Lager

Pours a pretty rosy amber, the fruit aroma is obvious. It’s a tart nose rather than full sour. The flavor leads with raspberry sweetness and then the tart comes back. This isn’t the sort of Berliner Weiss that causes the timid to pucker and run away. Basically it delivers tart fruit juice at relatively low ABV. The finish is brief and tart. 4.9% ABV That’s stronger this year than previously as the recipe varies from year to year.

billytulipBilly Half Stack IPA

Almost clear gold in the glass with a moderate white head. It delivers a strong resiny nose with citrus and malt. The flavor is funky earthy hops and crystal malt. The finish emphasizes the bitterness of the hops and the malt fades away. Quite a good beer. 6.6% ABV

billypintBilly Full Stack IPA

Pours hazy gold, again with a moderate white head. The aroma starts with serious hops with citrus and pine, but cleaner than the half stack. It is full bodied on the palette with a good balance of rich malt and powerful hops. The description said 120 IBU and Untappd says 137. There is an underlying sweetness that emerges more in the finish, and the hop bitterness is balanced by that, making it more balanced than the Half Stack. Very good. 8.2%

scMoShuggie“Mo’ Shuggie” Soulbender IPA

This is a cloudy pale gold tinged with copper, with a medium foamy yellowish head. The hops are apparent as the cap comes off, spicy and resiny with lots of citrus in the background. The flavor is malty with some sharp bitterness and maybe a hint of citrus. There’s a nice medium-full mouthfeel with mild carbonation. The finish is quite bitter and lacks complexity. I expected more from the Aussie Kiwi hops. Perhaps they faded between brewery and glass? 7.4% ABV 123 IBU


Images courtesy of SingleCut Beersmiths

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Brew from Lake George

Adirondack Brewery

Adirondack2Just some quick notes from a pleasant visit to this brew pub in Lake George, NY.

Dirty Blonde Ale

American wheat, not as light as described, which is not a complaint. Plenty of citrusy hops. This struck me as almost a cross between a wheat and a brown. 5.3% ABV, 40 IBU


Traditional Marzen, caramel with a hint of citrus hops 6% ABV, 25 IBU

Red Pale Ale

Their hoppiest beer, rich and malty, chocolate malt and crystal malt. This features the “C” hops, Centennial, Chinook, Cascade, and Columbus. 5% ABV, 75 IBU

Bear Naked Ale

Similar to Oktoberfest with Munich malt and classic hop edges. This pours pale copper-amber with a caramel nose and a hint of yeast. Some toast and fruit come in on the flavor. 5.2% ABV, 30 IBU

Bobcat Blonde Lager

Straw-colored with a big head and effervescent mouthfeel. It has a light body and smooth, lightly sweet flavor. This would be a very good lawnmower beer, but easily savorable too. 4% ABV, 15 IBU

Tangerine Dream

Their summer seasonal, the tangerine peel appears in the nose and the flavor. It pours with a light golden head. There is a little hop bite on end. To my taste, this could use more tangerine. 4.4% ABV, 20 IBU

Beaver Tail Brown Ale

Lots of caramel in the aroma with a toasty edge. Roasty flavor with a good shot of Centennial hops. 5.6% ABV, 45 IBU

Iroquois Pale Ale

Pours pale amber with a touch of orange. Citrusy hops dominate the nose. The flavor is of smooth balanced caramel malt with a long finish.

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Utah Uinta

Uinta Brewing Co.

Uinta Trio

“Earth, Wind and Beer” — Here’s the brewery that is hardest to get past auto-correct!

Uinta HopNoshHop Nosh IPA

Light amber in the glass with a fluffy lemon cream head. The nose gives a zing of resinous and spicy hops over malt. Dried apricot and bakery malt carry the flavor with steady hops, not flashy like a hop bomb, but pretty high on the bitterness scale. The finish remains both fruity and hoppy. 7.3% ABV

Uinta DubheDubhe Imperial Black IPA

“Ale brewed with hemp seed” pours very dark brown with a generous ragged tan head. The aroma starts with chocolate malt and roasted grain surrounded by spicy, earthy hops. The flavor to me is a porter plus good hops, with slight burnt caramel touches. The finish emphasizes bittering hops with a very dry mocha note. 9.2% ABV

Uinta BarleywineAnniversary Barley Wine Ale

This is a reddish brown ale with a creamy tan head. The nose is like a hint of German chocolate cake but dried by hops. There is momentary heat on the palette but then a rich toffee-bourbon flavor spreads across the tongue with full mouthfeel and lots of spice cake malt. The finish brings in fermented fruit, and while hops are there, the finish does not get drier. 10.4% ABV

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Down In the (Long) Valley

Long Valley Pub and Brewery

They claim: “Most Award-Winning Brew Pub in NJ / Quality Hand-Crafted Ales & Bold American Fare” On this occasion I can’t speak to the Fare, but their list of GABF medals is quite impressive. Here’s the flight that I had.

LongValley Flight
Hookerman’s Light

The color is straw with a moderate white head that rings the glass. It’s an ale to lure the light malt lager drinker toward good damn beer. The nose gives light stone fruit and a little shot of noble hops. It’s a cross between a hefeweizen and an American pale ale. The flavor delivers fairly big bakery malt and a good finish.

American Pale Ale

This is pale amber with a brief white head. It’s a very straight-forward pale ale with a nice shot of American-style hops on a backbone of bakery malt. For a pale, it’s quite crisp.

German Valley Amber Ale

They say “the town of Long Valley was originally called German Valley after the German immigrants that first settled in and cultivated it’s fertile land.” So here’s a German ale in their honor. It pours a dark reddish amber with a moderate foamy off white head. The flavor suggests crystal and cara malt with full body and a slight orange peel note persisting in the finish with solid American hops, though not citrusy hops.

Lazy Jake Porter

This pours opaque brown with a generous tan head. Chocolate malt stands out of complex malt aroma with a significant hop bite. The flavor features foamy roasty malt with faint butterscotch notes and a full body, followed by a long slightly sweet roasty finish. I can see why this has won five GABF medals. It is a dead-on, true-to-style porter. If the weather was cooler I would certainly have had more.

Rye Ale Seasonal

Champagne in the glass with a generous white head, faintly hazy. There is a sharp noble hop aroma over cracker malt. The rich flavor reminds me of a very light orange cream with delicate biscuit malt. Surprisingly, it has a very long finish continuing the malt with a tiny hop bite. Another beer to lure the brainwashed adjunct pilsner fan, this is perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day. This is the one I chose for a follow-up pint.


This is another seasonal, pouring chestnut with a yellowish head lacing the glass. It delivers stone fruit and a light caramel malt aroma. More fruit follows on the palette, with a nice malty finish and enough bite to hold up the banner of Extra Special Bitter. I could see raising a pint of this in a British pub.

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