Monthly Archives: April 2016

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!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

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?

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Take Me Out to the Beer Game

The Bronx Brewery

For many New Yorkers, the Bronx Bombers are the only reason to cross the Harlem River from Manhattan. Now there’s another reason, the Bronx Brewery. (Pity they don’t normally package in bombers, that would be perfect…a lot of work, but perfect.)

As for me, I’m starting my beercation, a week which will feature visits to several breweries in several states. I am informed that I’m expected to post about it. For much of the week I won’t have access to my computer, but I promise to post more when I return. Anyway, I started with a flight and a pint.

Bronx Flight 1Summer Pale Ale

They recommend a sequence for the flight, and I had no reason to second-guess them. Their summer offering pours hazy gold with a hint of orange. The nose is quiet with light malt and light citrus. The flavor has lemon peel (as did the batch) plus light malt with spicy & citrusy hops coming in. The finish is crisp, light & citrusy, a very refreshing summer beer. 5.2% ABV, 32 IBU

Session IPA

A clear gold glass with a brief white head. Actually all these beers–except the rye–had a brief white head. I think the cups were bad for head development and retention. On first sniff the nose delivers stone fruit, then hops & hops, fairly sharp. The palate moves from light malt through stone fruit and back to citrus hops, nicely balanced. The finish is light and fairly long with nice bitterness. Here’s one that the brewers can drink all day long. Session IPAs at many breweries seem to be for the brewers as much as for the customers! 5.0% ABV, 59 IBU

American Pale Ale

Here’s their flagship, and they can be proud of it, clear amber with a chestnut touch. The aroma delivers light to medium bakery malt, leading to flavor that is nicely caramel-malty moving through a spiciness like a hint of ginger and on into stone fruit. Pretty complex. The finish lingers moderately with hops coming in as a presence, restrained. 6.3% ABV, 50 IBU but doesn’t seem bitter at all.

Rye Pale Ale

The pours a hazy honey gold with no head or ring, almost like Real Ale. The nose is of cat pee and spice over biscuit malt. It moves on to a light caramel malt flavor with bright citrus hops coming in to carry on into the nicely bitter finish, with a light lingering sweetness. 6.3% ABV, 58 IBU. 58 vs 50, but this shows bitterness where the APA did not. This is not a complaint!

Belgian Pale Ale

Changing course, this shows lightly hazy straw, and the minimal head clearly shows the shortcoming of the cups. It starts with a classic Belgian estery nose, banana and melon, with a solid biscuit malt backbone. It continues with a really fruity flavor with a slightly silky mouthfeel and lots of malt, sliding into a malty fruity finish with just a touch more flavorful hops than a typical Belgian. 6.7% ABV, 36 IBU

Bronx Pale wTeaSpring Pale Ale with Tea

The pint has the head that I’m sure most of the others would have, medium off white, over cloudy amber like an apricot nectar. The aroma starts with floral herbal tea notes and plenty of biscuit malt. The flavor is really interesting, reflecting the black and chamomile teas plus a lemon hint from the lemongrass. This is really true to its ingredients, with a light fruitiness coming in. Light piney hops carry the finish, very much in balance. Nice! 5.7% 36 IBU. I had this with “black pepper pork clouds” like pork rinds but fluffier. These played off very well against the tea and malt. Nice pairing.

Dustin gave one of the best brewery tours I’ve had, giving not only the what of the steps of the process but also the why, mash tun to brew kettle to whirlpool to fermenter, then on to bright tank, forced carbonation and canning. Almost all beers are either canned or kegged, eliminating light from the equation to help keep the beer as fresh as when it leaves the brewery. When I’ve had their stuff “in the field” they seem to be succeeding nicely.

Definitely worth a stop on the way to Yankee Stadium, or as a direct destination for Mets fans and others!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Two Stouts, a King, a Monk, a Stone and Three Philosophers

No, they did *not* all walk into a bar.

Actually, I suppose they did.

Bells ExpeditionBells Expedition Stout

We start with an opaque black glassful with a brief brown head. From a foot away the aroma reminds me of chocolate milk. Moving closer it delivers massive malt and a roasty earthiness with a hint of brandy. The flavor leads with roasty malt and hints of charred oak, but this needs to warm up about 10 degrees . . . okay, now it’s richer and deeper with more balanced malt, and that touch of chocolate is back, lingering into a very smooth finish with just a hint of spicy hops. 10.5% ABV

Captain Frost MonsterCaptain Lawrence Frost Monster

In honor of April snow, a winter creature visits. Almost opaque dark brown with a brief brown head ringing the glass. The aroma is of spicy hops, cake malt, roast grain and a vanilla hint. Medium to full in body, the flavor reminds me of bitter Mexican chocolate with roastiness like lightly scorched grain. There is substantial bitterness on the finish, along with hops and very dark malt. 12% ABV, 65 IBU

Konig Ludwig Weissbier HellKonig Ludwig Weissbier

Once reserved for the royal family, “Royal Bavarian Hefe-Weizen,” this pours a cloudy golden straw with a moderate bubbly white head. This German style features a yeasty aroma of stone fruit rather than the banana of the Belgian equivalent. That aroma concludes with a little burst of noble hops. The fruit gets stronger on the palate, moving into biscuit malt with a touch of caramel. The finish is very crisp with a clear hop note to tie it all together. 5.5% ABV.

Spencer2Spencer Trappist Ale

The only American Trappist ale–the only one brewed outside Western Europe–the label says “Pair with Family and Friends.” It is apricot gold with a generous buttermilk-colored head and lots of effervescence. The nose gives biscuit and cake malt with slight stone fruit and light earthy hops. The flavor leads with crisp apple and good malt, continuing into a malt and stone fruit finish. This seems like the Trappist single that only the monks get in Europe, rather than the Trappist dubbels and triples (and occasional quads) that are exported to the U.S. 6.5% ABV

021416_EnjByUNFILTERED_22ozR2Stone Enjoy By 02.14.16

No, these are old notes, not an old bottle! An unfiltered IPA, it’s effervescent, hazy gold with a generous yellowish head. Very distinct hop aroma–showing I don’t know my hops–all hop, pine & citrus. Ah, from the website I see that there are twelve different varieties of hops! No wonder I couldn’t identify them! It then gives a creamy mouthfeel with leading sweetness, then the hops come in with great flavor. The malt emerges and carries the flavor into a balanced hoppy finish. 9.4% ABV 90 IBU

ommThreePhilosophersOmmegang Three Philosophers

Deep amber in the glass with a moderate orangey head. The nose is super malty with quiet stone fruit and a little hop zing. This is followed by a delicious caramel or toffee mouthful, wine-like with an undertone of peach or apricot. It has a very smooth finish of hops and malt and fruit. Outstanding! 9.7% ABV

Image couresy of Stone Brewing Co.
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beer from Bergen

The Alementary

Many, perhaps most professional brewers cut their teeth as home brewers. This has been true for a while, but doubly so for the current generation of new pros, like Blake Crawford and Mike Roosevelt. Professionally, they represent the science side of the art and science of brewing, Blake as a chemical engineer and Mike as a molecular biologist. Along with that comes an on-site lab that would be the envy of many a larger brewery. Meanwhile, their home brewing passion lets them explore the artistic side. In addition they emphasize the community aspect of hanging out with friends and beer.

Opening in Hackensack, NJ, I guess they are the second production brewery in Bergen County. The Alementary officially opens on April 16, but my homebrew club got a preview. These are brief notes, even for me, but I tried five of the eight they had on tap, first a flight of four, and then a solo tasting glass.

Alementary Flight


Pours cloudy pale straw with a brief white head. The nose is hoppy for a Kolsch but with a nice pilsner malt backbone. On the palate it’s very refreshing, delivering that malt along with a crisp edge of noble hops. Malt and spicy hops alternate down a moderately long finish. 5.2% ABV

1st Session

Straw-colored with a light bubbly white head, their first session IPA starts with a good complex hop aroma. The flavor shows light flavor hops balanced neatly by biscuit malt. The finish is light as well, with bracing bitterness. 4.8% ABV

A-Game IPA

A golden glass with a peach hint and a very light hop aroma, lighter than the session IPA. The hops grow stronger on the palate, citrusy, with malt comeing along and then a bitter wave. It’s very smooth, and the finish continues these elements. 6.0% ABV

Vindication Black IPA

I presume the name reflects breaking through all the paperwork and plumbing to finally be able to open the brewery. This is dark brown with chestnut highlights and a medium tan head. To me this is more brown ale than IPA, but very satisfying with a moderately long finish. At all times any roastiness is balanced by the hops. 6.8% ABV


This pours pale gold with a moderate bubbly head and a tangy malt nose. The aroma delivers salt and light tartness balanced with cracker malt, continuing through the flavor into the finish with salt building very slightly. This is tart, not sour, and both salt and tartness are nicely restrained. This would be particularly good with food. 4.8% ABV

Alementary Kolsch

Our mission is simple: Create approachable and uncomplicated world-class beers in a brewery experience that gives our friends and neighbors a brewery that they are proud to call their own.

From this preview, I think they are delivering on their mission. Welcome, Blake and Mike!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Seven Hells! Fresh from Westeros

Ommegang Seven Kingdoms

Of Westeros’ Seven Kingdoms, six were conquered and one, indomitable, was brought in, not by war, but by the sacred blood ties of marriage.

Omm Seven KingdomsThe sixth in the excellent Game of Thrones series of beers (sounds like it should have been the 7th.) Pours a slightly hazy straw with a medium bubbly white head. The nose is yeasty Belgian with little apparent hoppiness except perhaps for an emerging citrus tang. It’s a foamy malty yeasty mouthful with grapefruit peel, and enough sweetness for balance. This glides into a long smooth finish of malt and citrus with almost no bitterness. 6.9% ABV

Seven Kingdoms is a marriage of a traditional Belgian-style wheat and a hop-forward American ale – but unlike so many of the marriages on the show, the resulting hoppy wheat is pleasant, playful and inspired.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Proudly powered by WordPress Theme: Adventure Journal by Contexture International.