Dark City Goes Dark: Boom! Roasted – Coffee IPA

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On the docket:  16oz. can of Dark City’s Boom! Roasted Coffee IPA

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country stemmed snulip

S:  Hazy pale-gold with a merengue head.  Sustained retention.  Tiny, zippy bubbles wend their way to the top.

A:  When taken in colder, the hops are definitely the dominant note.  Bright stone fruit notes of peach nectarine and a cymbal slash of grapefruit pith.  As it warms up, the earthy, dark roasted notes of the coffee get louder- the bass and floor toms that contrast the bright brassy hops.

T:  Much of the flavor mimics the aroma.  A third player enters- the slightly doughy, grainy malt. All work together to provide a complex experience.  The coffee provides depth and richness, but also bitterness.

F:  Light, fluffy, but carbonated.

O:  A highly enjoyable, sessionable coffee IPA.

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Oh, have you not Herd? It was my understanding that everyone had Herd!

Bolero_The_Herd_My_BlogOn the docket:  Bolero Snort’s IV Anniversay, The Herd 750mL

Poured into:  Dogfish Head craft goblet with enough vigor to produce a head, but as not to disturb the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.

Sight:  A deeply gingerbread body fills the glass with a quick-forming khaki head.  As dark as it is, there’s nice evidence of carbonation, tiny, delicate bubbles well up from the base.  A few seconds later, the head dissipates to a tightly hugging ring and a storm-front mass of suds on top.  Further insepction reveals a lovely reddish hue to the body.  No lacing, but hey, it’s a 10.5% abv drink.  Taking a look at the bottle, one can observe a ring of  yeast sediment on the bottom.

Aroma:  Intense, sweet malt.  Almost rootbeer-like spicy sweetness.  Just a fleeting sense of vanilla and gentle perfume of esters and alcohol.  Molasses.  Dark purple fruit note.  Yep, the plums are there.  No hop presence.

Taste:  Much of the aroma follows through to the palate.  Malt and sugar sweetness, on the fuller side of the style.  Pleasant warmth from alcohol which keeps it from becoming too sweet.  The plum note manifests as part of a “fruitcake” sort of fruitiness, along with the yeast.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, with very fine bubbles, not sharp and biting.  Finish is moderately dry with a slight bitterness, bringing another means of balance.  Medium-full body.

Overall:  More abbey-style than Trappist, a nice New-World interpretation.  This is not your father’s Chimay.  A great way to celebrate four years… at least that’s what I herd.

Suggested food pairing(s):Mongoian beef and broccoli, port-wine cheese, filet, raspberry chocolate cheesecake

Beer Dinners, and Why They’re Awesome

If you’ve ever attended a well-run beer dinner, you know the treat it is– the thoughtful pairing of beer and food.  I attended one not too long ago, featuring an extensive list of Firestone Walker’s portfolio, paired with wonderful dishes, ranging from Bavarian pretzels (with Pivo Pils) to pork belly (with Double Jack).

Beer and food pairing is an excellent creative exercise, and one Garrett Oliver goes to explain at great lengths in his book, The Brewmaster’s Table.  This is also a valuable concept to understand when studying for and taking your Cicerone exam.

For those of you who follow me and are local to Warren County, NJ, I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m brewing up a celebration of sorts, a beer dinner that will feature the three Hackettstown breweries all under one roof.  That’s right, Czig Meister, Man Skirt, and Jersey Girl will share the spotlight one night in the semi-near future at a location I’ll disclose as I get further along in the process.

Excited?  I know I am.

More Powerful Than a Lauter Tun: Jersey Girl Brewing Co.’s Rake Breaker

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On the docket: 16 oz. can of Jersey Girl Brewing’s Rake Breaker

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Honey-gold, reminiscent of peach juice.  Hazy, murky, unapologetically New-England in color and appearance with a nice thick cap of head.  I can’t see the bubbles, I’m sure they’re there.  Not a huge amount of lacing, but it’s present in delicate, icing-drip fashion.

A:  Aromas of apricot, tangerine, and peach rocket into your nostrils.  You can detect this heady mélange from nearly a foot away.  A slight malty sweetness creeps out from behind the hops, which are clearly the star of the show.  Stick your nose in the glass when you’re done (and before you pour the next can)- divinely grainy aroma sticks around.

T:  Closely following the aroma, the taste is very juice-like with nearly candied apricot and peach.  Nearly no malt presence at the outset.  After it warms a bit in the glass, there is a slight cereal presence- must be the oats.
F:  Medium-full, despite a fluffiness on the tongue, coupled with a smooth, refined (NOT FLAT) carbonation.  There’s enough bitterness present to provide a nice contrast to the prominent, fruity flavors.

O:  Fans of incredibly hoppy, incredibly bitter West Coast style IPAs should reconsider what it means to brew an IPA.  This version of many craft drinkers most cherished style is large and in charge.  Fruity, tropical, easy to drink.

Suggested food pairing:  Hawaiian pizza, Asian salad with mandarin orange wedges, toast points with orange marmalade, fresh fruit with heavy cream, jalapeno-cheddar cheese

Bonus idea:  Combine with a touch of Cointreau or peach schnapps, garnish with appropriate fruit slice, and you have two ridiculous beer cocktails.

Orange You Glad I Said Bolero? Bolero Snort’s Orange Cream Pop IPA

On the docket:  16 oz. can of Bolero Snort’s Orange Cream Pop IPA (brewed with lactose, orange zest & vanilla beans)

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn craft glass

S:  Honey-gold or Ticonderoga pencil, supporting an off-white head.  It sits around for a while, great retention.  Lacing is thick and doily-like.  Mostly translucent but clear.  Tiny bubbles well up from the base of the glass.

A:  Bright orange citrus and a touch of vanilla stands out first, with a slight pine and subtle sweet malt.  Excellent aroma, could sniff this for the dog days of summer.

T:  Much like the aroma, the orange zest comes through immediately, plus a small dose of pine.  Midway through the malt comes in, simple with a water-cracker starkness.  This is also where the gentle sweetness from the lactose helps to balance out the bitterness of the hops.  The vanilla is in there somewhere, helping your mouth think that you’re cooling off with a creamsicle.  With a crisp and bitter finish, this one makes you reach for more.  Without a doubt an IPA.

F:  Medium body, with some fluffiness.  Finely attuned carbonation.

O:  Intriguing take on an IPA that’s well executed.  It does conjure images of that white van and unforgettable loud-speaker jingle, standing in line, and finally handing over a few dollars for Good Humored relief from the blistering summer sun.

Suggested food pairing:  Green salad with mandarin oranges, chicken and vegetable and mozzarella kabob skewers, fruit salad, fruit tart, ambrosia

Put This in Your Pipe and Pipe It: My Day at Czig Meister Brewing

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Last Tuesday, the 29th, I volunteered my time (and a talent unbeknownst to me) to helping a new friend do work on his soon-to-be-open brewery.  Matt Czigler, a young, successful professional brewer, has made his dream a reality.  In the 9,000 sq. ft. space which used to be an old auto-repair bay in the center of Hackettstown NJ, his brewery comes together, piece by piece.  My piece in all this involved helping him cut hundreds of feet of pipe to be used in shelving to be installed behind the tasting bar.  Now, the few of you who know me in real life, know I’m not the most industrially-skilled individual.  But, within minutes, Matt instructed me on the procedure, and away we went.  An hour in, I was running the machine like a pro.  For those unfamiliar with the process, this machine holds the pipe and spins it as you use a clamp-like device to cut to desired length, then a second piece (which I’m seen holding) lathes the end to produce the threads in which to screw in an elbow or tee-joint.  The bucket below is filled with oil and the filings, the gun applies the oil to the lathed end to keep it from smoking from all the heat and friction.

It was a relatively straightforward affair, except for the times I had to remind Matt what stage we were on as attention was diverted by phone calls from officials, contractors, friends, and family.  More than once people stopped in to say hello and take in the progress, all of them excited to see Matt’s vision transform into reality.

He now has his fermentation tanks in, and if all goes well, will start brewing on April 9th and open by the end of the month.  I had the privilege of sampling his beer he plans on brewing on the large scale.  Tasty stuff, I might add.

I had so much fun working with my hands and volunteering my time, no doubt I’ll have pictures up of your favorite beer blogger next Wednesday.