Welcome to the Six-Pack Project! The idea of the project is to create a six-pack of beer that would best represent the current beer scene in your respective state. The Six-Pack Project was created by Bryan over at the This Is Why I’m Drunk blog. Check out his introduction to the project here!
Last month I started talking to Bryan about doing a second tour of our great state of New Jersey. Back in May, Ryan over at Mould’s Beer Blog took us great tour of his favorites.
Why the need for a second tour of Jersey? It is not like we are California or Maine or New York. Hell even on the widely panned map showing the “famous” craft beer from each state, we ended up with Jagermeister..
For a state that, save Philly, has arguably one of the best incoming distribution of beers from across the nation, why is our local selection so small? I feel like i could name off-hand more breweries in New York, Maine, California, etc than I can from my own state. Like Ben Franklin said – we were a keg with 3 taps, and that still seems to hold true to this day.
It was a painful past for lovers of the uber local micro breweries here, but thankfully those days have past. While we might not have the quantity of breweries, we are starting to more than make up for it in quality and originality. My choices, in part, reflect that quirkiness. If you are going to drink local here, you might as well make in interesting!
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout ABV 8.2%
OK i know Weyerbacher is from Easton PA – But I am claiming them as ours kinda like how the Giants and Jets are still New York teams.
They describe this as: An incredibly intriguing ale made by aging our Old Heathen Imperial Stout in oak barrels that were used for making fine Kentucky bourbon!
Intriguing would be an understatement. Pouring black with a thin mocha head, you are instantly greeted with a nose of chocolate. It sips smooth, bringing out the roasted coffee notes, slightly sweet and with a hint of vanilla from the oak barrels. No alcohol presence to speak of. Velvety mouth feel, pure pleasure to drink
I feel like this tastes like what I was expecting Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh to taste like. The barrel aging only enhanced the already great flavors, and took nothing away. The 4 pack I had was already 1.5 years old so it may have mellowed a bit. While it is a winter release, I have seen it at just about every bigger bottle shop I have been to recently (bottle kings etc) so getting it off-season usually should not be an issue.
It should be served on the warmer side to really let all the flavors shine. My first bottle was out the fridge for a good 45 minutes.
Berliner Wiesse ABV 5%
Not even 2 years old at the point of writing this, Carton is a brewery to keep your eyes on. They are going places, no doubt about it.
Carton describes this as having : Puréed green apples from France that are added to the fermentation to define the familiar acidity of a lactic sour, then the beer is “dry-hopped” on fresh wasabi roots.
Leave it to Augie to come up with this spin on the traditional Berliner. Pouring light yellow with a slightly hazy cloudy body, this one is on the tarter side of the wiesse spectrum. You can pick up on the taste of sour apples, and the wasabi.
The heat was present just enough to tingle your mouth but not enough to be an assault on your nose. Basically exactly what you would expect from wasabi.
Carton recommends / describes Intermezzo as a palate cleanser, and it does exactly that. Unless I was eating sushi or something similar, I am hot sure if I would want more than one of them in a row, but it works perfectly as a one serving item to be used as a cleansing course between servings or different beer choices. I could drink a few of these in an evening if i was using them in that manner.
River Horse Hop Hazard
Pale Ale ABV 6.5%
River Horse’s description: With Hop Hazard our challenge was to hand craft a malt rich base that could counterbalance a combustible five-hop blend and still leave your taste buds with enough room to enjoy a unique, dry-hopped finish.
As Pale Ales go this one holds its own against the likes of Founder’s Dry Hopped Pale Ale, or Oskar Blues’ Dales Pale Ale. I, personally, could go for a little more malt presence (admittedly I am no huge fan of bitter beers), but it is hardly palette wrecking.
Pouring a Hazy amber with off-white head, it has strong citrus hop presence to the nose. Even given the higher 6.5% ABV it was an easy drinking bottle. No alcohol presence to speak of.
While not my favorite of my picks, which is really more a matter of personal style preference than a knock on the beer. Hop hazard is still a good all around pale ale, that is widely found at local restaurants, and more than deserves it’s place on a best of NJ list.
Kane Brewing Company Overhead
Imperial / DIPA ABV 8.2%
Ah double IPA’s – one of those styles everyone has brewed, and in many cases brewed really, really well. Can NJ hold their own against their CA or DE brethren? Yes, yes we can.
I had this one on tap. It poured out a cloudy orangey amber with a small white head. The lacing was nice and lasted the whole glass.
The nose a great pine / grapefruit hop aroma to it. You are initially hit with its nice malt presence before the grapefruit / pine bitterness of the hops comes up on the back-end. I found it to be very well balanced. It is just a polite easy to drink DIPA, in a world where more and more people want to have their senses kicked it, this brings a little East Coast restraint to the table.
Carton Brewing Digger
Gose in the loosest description ABV 3.9%
Digger is an interesting brew, the only description I saw about it prior to tasting it was “a Gose brewed with local clams and lemongrass.”
After trying it, I still honestly did not know what to think of it. All I got was a slightest hint of salt water and otherwise not much else. I didn’t hate it in the bottle pour sense, but I was confused at what I was drinking.
Talking with Augie a few weeks later, and hearing his intent for Digger it does start to make sense. He wanted to go for something light to be drunk on a hot day outside. Something that would leave you feeling hydrated and not thirsty. Think of it as the beer equivalent of an Electrolyte Sports drink. It is only really similar to a traditional Gose in the sense that it is brewed with salt. Think of it more of a more modern twist on the Farmhouse beers of yore.
It pours a light golden yellow with white frothy head. As notes it has a very light aroma and flavor. If you try this I would make sure this is the first beer as you have, as it would be so easily overpowered.
Now this one might not be for everyone, but it is a purely NJ original. I doubt you would find anything like it anyplace but here.
Carton Brewing Monkey chased the Weasel
Berliner Weisse ABV 3.9%
They definitely hit it in terms of getting an easy to drink summer beer. Pouring lightly hazed melon-yellow red, it was very light and refreshing. I did find it just a tad too sweet for my tastes though. The fruit is very upfront so it cut the tartness quite a bit. If DFH’s Festina Peche was on the super tart side of the Berliner Weisse spectrum, this one is on the other. If this were in cans or bottles I would have it as a go to summer beer pick. Perfect for relaxing outside or after a long day in the heat.
Bonus pick because we love bakers six packs here!
Imperial Pumpkin Ale ABV 8%
This is my one seasonal choice for the tour, and with good reason. This is bar none the best Pumpkin Ale I have tried, and regardless of style, is the of my top all time beers. My only negative mark would be that it is in a 4 pack and not a 6.
As Weyerbacher describes it: “Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices(Cinnamon,Nutmeg,Cardamom,Cloves). This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is heartier, spicier, and more caramelly and pumpkiny than its faint brethren! Perfect finisher on a cool autumn night, or match it up with a slice of pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream. If you don’t agree this is the mother of all pumpkin ales, then you just don’t like mothers! ”
My thoughts: Upon pouring, I was instantly greeted by smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other scents of fall. Seriously Yankee Candle should make a seasonal release out of what I was smelling. With is clarity, minimal head and sweet potato like color it really is begging for the candle treatment. This really does smell just like you are pulling pumpkin and sweet potato pies right out of the oven.
Now, smell is one thing, but Weyerbacher also managed to pull of the taste – it was liquid pie – all the spices, but none of the marshmallow and brown sugar sweetness assault. Nor was it pure savory, perfectly balanced right in the middle, each sip as enjoyable as the last. Standard Weyerbacher declaimer: you never taste the alcohol, and you will hard to try to not gulp it down.
Over the years I have had a handful of, for the most part, inoffensive and more or less forgettable, Pumpkin Ales, Imperial Pumpkin is nothing like them. Maybe Pumpkin Ales needed the “Imperial” kick in the pants just like Pale Ales did to produce some amazing brews?
Something to think about on a cool crisp fall evening as I sip another one.
And because we are not do yet, I have a few more links you!
I have been following these guys on twitter for a while, just waiting for them to open so I could check them out. Some New Jersey up & comers that, as of this writing, are not up and running yet:
Fellow September Six Packers
- Alaska by William at Drinking on the Last Frontier
- Alabama by Blake at The Southern Committee
- Tennessee by Charles from Swen’s Brew Blog
- Bolivia by Kyle at The Brewolero
- Italy by Matt of Birra
- The Six-Pack Project: Minnesota’s Flight (alcoholbyvolumeblog.wordpress.com)
- Ryan’s New Jersey Six-Pack Project (mouldsbeerblog.blogspot.com)
- Jersey Beer sucks, but it’s getting better