Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here by Pipeworks Brewing
Tasting: November 10, 2017 Style: White Milk Stout Beer #: 1,117 ABV: 10.5% Line from the movie, Big Lebowski. The reddish brown color of Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here threw me for a minute but a double take on the label does say white stout. Looks more like a barley wine and tastes a bit like a barley wine. Boozy, caramel sweet, and mellow vanilla coffee flavor. This unique beer grew on me as I worked my way through but still a so-so beer, 86 points.
B.O.R.I.S. Reserve by Hoppin’ Frog
Tasting: November 11, 2017 Style: Russian Imperial Stout Beer #: 1,118 ABV: 10.4% Called a reserve for the use of better, darker grains. I guess regular B.O.R.I.S. uses crappy grains. Lots of roasted grains, mellow chocolate underneath. A tad boozy. All-in-all ,92 points.
Tasting: November 19, 2017 Style: Russian Imperial Stout Beer #: 1,119 ABV: 9.4 % A few sips in and I’m reminded why I don’t like pumpkin beer. Well in this case, butternut squash beers. Spices give this a chemical flavor. Not enjoying this at all, 70 points.
Another release in the series named for New Jersey Turnpike exits. This time, Bergen County’s Exit 18. It’s noted that the Baltic reference is a tribute to the many Baltic residents in the county. That’s Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. A pretty broad brush. Frankly, this beer should have been named for the Hudson River as it’s quite demure in watery flavor. Offers up some boozy burn. Very disappointing. 72 points.
A lot of my friends will drink a hard cider as a change of pace to craft beer. Typically, it’s skillfully placed near craft beer and hard to miss in better beer stores. I haven’t been a fan of cider because my experience to date has been with overly tart, artificially sweet and over carbonated ciders.
Of course by now, you are probably wondering why I have photographs of Ironbound Cider. No, I didn’t borrow the six-pack or the image from a website or someone else. I own this six-pack baby!…
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…My explanation? Recently, a friend offered me one at a barbecue. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying one and the appearance was invitingly golden and very still. It turned into a “why the hell not?” moment. A few sips and I realized that this wasn’t the cider of my past experience. It didn’t make my face grimace. This one was elegant and it was much more subtle and refined than I was expecting. I judge beer by its balance and I’ll do the same with this hard cider. I’d have to call Ironbound Hard Cider really well-balanced. There was no puckering tartness and the sweetness was genuine as the apple itself. Now, I have my change of pace cider…
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…By now, you know that I am a fan of labels and I typically visit brewery websites for more information. Visit Jersey Cider Works This can’s label is chock full of tidbits and I’ll touch on just a couple items. First, let’s talk about the name. Say Ironbound, I think of the Portuguese neighborhood in Newark. It doesn’t make me think of the pastoral orchards of upstate New York. Rather, I’m hopeful the apples didn’t come from somewhere in Port Newark. However, I did learn that Newark has a rich history in cider since they claim that George Washington himself praised the quality of cider that originated in Newark. Next, I’ll note that hard cider is similar in alcoholic strength to a macro brew and Ironbound has an ABV of 5.2%.
The more I learn about Ironbound and its parent – Jersey Cider Works, the more there is to like. Jersey Cider Works and its sister company, New Ark Farms, focus on job-creation for the Newark’s “chronically underemployed”. The farm is located in northern Hunterdon County and they maintain 8,000 apple trees with varieties that originated over 250 years ago in and around Newark, NJ…
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…I’ll add one other note. When my kids were younger, we learned that much of the macro apple juice available was produced in China. We avoided this juice for fear that it was treated with unknown and possibly unsafe chemicals. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Read about their poor environmental practices and business ethics and that should be enough to turn your stomach. I like that this is locally sourced as I suspect many macro hard ciders also use the cheap and unsafe apple juice from China.
In conclusion, if you live in New Jersey and you like hard cider, there is no reason why you should not make Ironbound Hard Cider a regular purchase. Either that or continue to suffer the puckery face you get with commercially available macro ciders.
Tasting: May 28, 2016 Style:Fruit Ale Beer # 963 ABV: 10%
Mango Magnifico Con Calor (2016 release)
There are certain words that are polite “code” for something less appealing. For example, in real estate terminology, “cozy” doesn’t mean well-insulated and filled with fireplaces, it simply means a small house. In baseball, when someone is described as “battling”, it doesn’t mean they were a dominating warrior, it means they were underwhelming and barely eked out some success. The word “interesting” applies as a eyebrow raising description and is used in a lot of situations – there are “interesting” hair cuts, “interesting” outfits and “interesting” food. The translation, I don’t want to hurt your feelings but I hate it.
I can’t jump to that translation of interesting but I’ll admit that the ingredients here are the regular interesting. As described on the label of Mango Magnifico – a mango ale with a touch of habanero and an alcohol by volume of 10%. Sounds more like a salsa than a beer.
This is a repeat release in the Backstage Series by Founders Brewing Company. Mango Magnifico’s first release was in 2014 and at that time, it was the seventh different beer released in the series. The Backstage Series of beers are popular tasting room creations taken to a larger audience. The series included the legendary Canadian Breakfast Stout – 98 Points. If only they would re-release that in bottles (sigh).
Aroma is pure juicy mango and not much else. Flavor delivers the same and a wave of mellow heat comes underneath. One doesn’t overpower the other but the combination is…well…interesting. 82 points.
Mango Even Keel Session Ale and Ginger Big Eye IPA by Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, California
Reinheitsgebot, the Bavarian purity law of 1516 outlined that the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer would be barley, hops and water. I assume that yeast or bacteria wasn’t part of the law because we didn’t truly understand the microorganisms until it was studied by Louis Pasteur in the nineteenth century. However, five-hundred years later, it seems anything goes in beer ingredients…from fruit, vegetables, chocolate, spices to shrunken heads (just wait).
Many breweries are releasing a “fruited” version of an established IPA or introducing new fruited IPA. To me, one of the better applications was Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin – 91 Points based on their classic base beer Sculpin – 95 Points. They even released a Pineapple version (I can’t find my review – but it wasn’t very good) and Habanero Sculpin – 84 Points versions of Sculpin as well.
Mango Even Keel Tasting: May 5, 2016 Style: Session Ale (fruited) Beer #: 929 ABV: 3.8%
This can was given to me by a friend. As he handed it to me, he said, “This is the worst beer I’ve ever had in my life!”…Uh-thanks, I think. In case you were still wondering, session ales are named as such because you can have more than one in a “session” (party, picnic or night out) and still remain standing.
I don’t know I’d go so far as to call this the worst thing I’ve ever had. The aroma is indisputable mango and really nothing else. Has an artificial mango flavor and a crushing bitterness that has little discernible characteristics other than being bitter.
It’s a session ale and it’s hard to expect any depth but they done an okay job making this interesting – 85 points.
Ginger Big Eye IPA Tasting: May 5, 2016 Style: IPA (Spiced) Beer #: 930 ABV:7.0%
Another twist on an established base beer – Ballast Point Big Eye – 89 Points. Ginger is mellow and complimentary and to me it might be the highlight of this beer. Base beer still dominates and it has some girth – medium/full body but the hops are flat and somewhat stale. 86 points.
How about one more fruited beer?
Stone Enjoy by 5/30/16 Tangerine Tasting: May 6, 2016 Style: IPA (Fruit) Beer #: 931 ABV:9.4%
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Again, a twist on a reputable classic Stone Enjoy by …IPA – 94 points This time, it’s tangerine that’s added. It’s an awesome base beer and the tangerine addition really plays nicely. Tangerine flavor compliments a fresh tropical hop. Enough malt backbone to balance it off…well executed. Massive 9.4% but not a hint of alcohol. 93 points.