Head High Tasting: September 1, 2017 Style: American-style IPA Beer #: 1,102 ABV: 6.6%
I have foodie friends and when they gush on about certain dishes, they often describe the fresh flavor. I think everyone gets that sentiment, and it’s easy to distinguish the differences between freshly picked tomatoes from your garden and the flavorless red things sold at the supermarket. I think the same can be said for hop-based beer. A positive experience can be described as a beer that has a fresh hop flavor. That is a bit deceiving as many hops used are dried and pelletized and really aren’t fresh off the vine. I think the interpretation is that you can taste the true characteristics of the hop and the latest evolution of craft beer has brewers working to spotlight a fresh flavor.
For many years, hops were added primarily in mid-boil and late boil. The mid-boil hop addition converts the alpha acids found in hops to bitterness compounds. The late hop addition released enough hop oils to contribute to a beer’s aroma. The boiling of hops doesn’t do much for imparting that fresh hop flavor. Today, brewers are shifting away from the bitterness addition and concentrating on the late or post cooling by using hopbacks, whirlpools and dry/wet hopping. So, when someone say that a beer has a fresh hop flavor, a lot of creativity went into the finished product.
A friend stopped by Kane during a recent beach trip and picked me up a few four-packs of Head High and Overhead – 93 points. Purely a guess, but I think Head High and Overhead might describe wave heights as overhead represents an imperial IPA as compared to the base IPA.
I’ve had this beer many times and I’m surprised that it hasn’t appeared in my blog. Fresh hops abound here and Head High is a solid go to beer, 91 points.
If you want release information, Kane tends to make announcements via their Instagram Page
At one time, I thought being a craft beer fan living in Chicago or Michigan would be awesome. You could stroll into any local store and pluck offerings from home-state brewers like Three Floyds or Dark Horse right off the shelf. Now, I don’t feel the same way. Not that these breweries don’t make great beer, it’s just that the quality of beer made in New Jersey is on the rise. New Jersey no longer owes anyone an apology for our beer. Well, maybe a couple of New Jersey brewers should offer their mea culpas. In Carton and Kane, we have two world class breweries right here in New Jersey and they’ve produced a number of world class offerings.
Carton and Kane have not achieved “pluck off a shelf at any time” status but more and more you can find places to fill your growlers with some Jersey goodness. The packaging of this growler comes from Amazing Grapes in Pompton Lakes and I have to admit, a first for me. Looks more like a carton of milk (no not Carton’s Carton of Milk). Silent Nights joins other stouts/porters from Kane Brewing that use night or time of day as their theme – Holy Night, A Night To End All Dawns (ANTEAD), Evening Bell, Morning Bell and so on.
My thoughts on Silent Nights: 12% Alcohol By Volume is beautifully concealed. Not much in the way of heat or booziness It certainly has a rich and smooth mouthfeel. Reminded me of Dark Horse’s Plead the Fifth Massive roasted grain, bitter baking chocolate. raisin. Hops lend this vegetative undertone 93 points – a real gem.
I’m back the next day for a proper glass growler fill…in a Carton glass growler.
Tasting: September 26, 2015 Style: Pale Ale Beer # 811 ABV: 5.2%
This past August, Kane Brewing Company in Ocean, New Jersey celebrated their fourth anniversary – or as they prefer one-thousand four-hundred sixty days. I’ve found that over the past three-hundred and sixty-five days, their offerings appear to have become easier to find at area bars and restaurants. I regularly see postings of availability of Kane’s lineup at places like Amazing Grapes in Pompton Lakes and the Liquor Factory locations in Sparta and Jefferson. While these places offer growler fills, many have cast an eye to the announcement that Kane will be canning their Head High sometime this fall. I’m hoping that these start showing up on shelves at these same places because they offer a bit more of a consumption window than a growler. While hop-centric beer will always be a race against time, an unopened growler is said to last a week or so and once open it may only remain on key for a day.
Hop Lab: Citra reminds me an awful lot of Trillium Fort Point. Both cloudy, both tartly crisp and taste a whole lot bigger than a pale ale. Hop Lab: Citra is not at juicy and tropical as the Trillium but in this case, there’s no shame in being 1A. Another solid offering from this cornerstone New Jersey Brewer – 93 points.
Update (August 27, 2017):
Hop Lab: Citra was so popular and critically acclaimed that Kane Brewing added gave it a new name (Sneak Box) and added it to their regular rotation. Very cool name as a Sneak Box is a canoe-like boat that is mostly associated with New Jersey and Barnegat Bay.
Number 1: Lupulin River by Knee Deep Brewing. Funny, this one was one of those beers that created a lot of beer store aisle buzz and frankly, it’s lost on me. I get a strong smokey flavor (hemp) some bread-like malt. Hops are a bit disjointed. I certainly don’t get the bright tropical fruits that others describe. Bottled on July 15th – but purchased just two weeks ago. It’s been stored in my fridge but I suspect age, heat have taken its toll. I have to call them as I taste them and Lupulin River gets 83 points.
Number 2: Hop Knife by Troegs. Along with the late summer arrival of pumpkin and Oktoberfest beer comes the fresh hop harvest ales. I did miss the Hop Knife release last year so, I’m happy to have a friend give me a couple of bottles this year. Very herbal and grassy. Expected a bit more dankness and freshness but this 6.2% ABV beer comes up a bit too demure for me – especially when compared to the other beer that still occupies my beer fridge. 87 points.
Number 3:ReDANKulous by Founders There was a hysteria that used follow Founder’s Backstage series releases – not so much anymore. When I think dank – I think fresh, raw, musty, green. If I get any of these characteristics, they are hidden behind sweet and massive caramel and a fairly strong citrus hop bitterness. I’ll note that this dark reddish-brown ale checks in with a robust alcohol by volume of 9.5%. Nice but could be better 88 points.
Number 4:Cousin Steve and the Lemon Hearts by Clown Shoes I was thinking Grapefruit Sculpin and the crisp and fresh grapefruit flavor when I bought this bottle. I had hoped for some of the same crisp and fresh tartness but this one falls way short. The base IPA is clunky – some nice sweetness but the hops are bitter for the sake for bitterness. There’s no citrus to compliment the underwhelming lemon addition. 82 points. By the way, I was told this was a New Jersey exclusive and the singer on the label is the New Jersey beer rep. Very cool and I’d be happy to have my image on a label. But I’d also hope it was better beer.
Number 5:Crossing Streams IPA is an IPA brewed as a collaborative effort between Miami’s M.I.A Brewing and Tampa Bay’s Coppertail Brewing. Got this as a bonus beer in a trade that centered around Marshall Zhukov for a Hill Farmstead Arthur. Wax necked presentation – as usual, a pain in the ass to get into. Crossing Streams IPA is cloudy and very malty sweet. For a 7.4% ABV IPA Crossing Streams IPA is tad astringent and a bit fizzy on the tip of the tongue. It lacks any positive hop influence and has a weak body. Minor dankness overall a very clunky bitterness. Not worth my time 80 points.
Number 6: Cigar City Cucumber Saison Someone said that this beer tasted like pickles – hmmm. I love pickles. Before I crack it open, let me note that this was a gift from a friend that was visiting family in Tampa Bay and took a side trip to Cigar City’s brewery. I’ll say the base beer is not extraordinary but the quick wave of fresh cucumber is an interesting addition. It does wear itself out after a couple of ounces. Overall, I’ll put Cucumber Saison at 83 points.
Number 7: Deep Rooted by Kane Brewing. This brewery is A Jersey favorite. The color is an amazing rich brownish red. From that color, it looks more like an imperial red ale than American IPA. The flavor also points to imperial red as I get some caramel and some simple syrup sweetness over some herbal hops. Flavors are a bit demure for my liking and there is an astringent crispness that seems out of place. 85 points.
Number 8: Citrus by Funk Brewing This sharp looking can came as a recommendation from a beer clerk in Pennsylvania. Happy to see that they hail from Emmaus, PA (home of Shangey’s). Has grapefruit juice added. I bought because I thought of Grapefruit Sculpin. Not much of a comparison as the fruit in Grapefruit Sculpin tastes like you bit right into a grapefruit while Citrus delivers a pleasant but demure citrus flavor. Nice malt base. I’ll put Citrus at 87. Nice effort. Look forward to future offerings.
Number 9: Ripple by Kane. Going for the pot aroma and flavor and they nailed it. A really easy drinking ale. Mellow and dank with mango and tangerine. 89 points.
Number 10: Hop Drop by Newburgh Brewing: Squealer fill at Cable Beverage. Whopping 10% ABV in this imperial IPA. Big juicy hop bomb loaded with tropical fruit and syrupy sweetness. Woodsy and a bit of boozy heat. Really nice 93 points.