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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Show Your Support for A-4602 and Help NJ Craft Breweries

Thanks to the folks at NJCB (New Jersey Craft Beer) for sending this email this morning. If you love NJ Craft Beer, take a moment and send an email to the members of the Regulatory Oversight Committee. You can just copy and paste and make the changes to the parts in red

New Jersey Craft Beer
As you know if you've visited a New Jersey brewery, tours are required before consumption on site and there are other laws that should be modified. Here's where you come in. 
Send this email to ALL these listed here and change the INFORMATION HIGHLIGHTED to your personal information by TODAY, Thursday, June 15 at 2PM.
Dear Chairman Gusciora and Members of the Regulatory Oversight Committee,
I am writing you today as a New Jersey based VOTER, CRAFT BEER CONSUMER, ETC to express my support for A-4602 (Lampitt/Singleton/DeAngelo), which removes the requirement that limited licensed breweries provide tours for consumers and permits certain food consumption on premise, and ask that you please vote in favor of it on Monday June 19th.
The intent of this legislation is to afford New Jersey breweries a meaningful level of parity with other in-state craft alcohol producers, as well as craft breweries nationwide, in the areas of food availability and tour requirements.  This puts New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage to our neighboring states. While many breweries may still offer a voluntary tour to their customers if this bill is passed, I believe that mandatory tour requirements are not workable, especially when beer production and packaging is often taking place in close quarters.

Regarding the issue of food and snacks at a brewery, most states explicitly allow the sale or free offering of food, with some, like Pennsylvania, requiring food be available at a brewery if beer is being sold for on premise consumption. In New Jersey, both classes of winery license, plenary winery and farm winery, have no tour requirement and have no prohibition regarding the sale or free offering of any types of food, including light snacks, and allow restaurants to be operated on a winery’s licensed premise. Also, bi-partisan legislation recently signed into law in May 2017 (A-3351 / S-2570, PL 2017, c. 80) creating a state license to manufacture mead and hard cider, contains no tour requirement and allows for the sale and/or gratuitous offering of “light snacks”. A-4602 mirrors the provisions of this new mead and hard cider license.
Thank you for allowing me to express my support for A-4602, and for your consideration of my request to post the legislation for a vote in your committee this month.
Respectfully,
YOUR NAME AND CITY/TOWN, NJ.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10 Tips to Having A Blast at Craft Beer Fest

Yesterday, I wrote about how to decide which Beer Festivals to attend and what to do before you go.
You can check that out here: Prepare for Beer Festival Season
Today, I have some tips that I have learned along the way that can make your day of beer a true festival.

1. AVOID THE STUFF YOU SEE EVERYDAY
Craft Beer Festivals give you the chance to try local breweries and beers that you may not always have access to in your area.  In order to make the most of the day and to stay as coherent as possible while doing it, avoid the beers you see in your local beer store each day.  That means not getting a sample of Samuel Adams Summer Ale or Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.

2. GO TALK TO THE PEOPLE FROM YOUR FAVORITE BREWERY, BUT DON'T DRINK ALL THEIR BEER (YET!)
One of my favorite stops at a Beer Fest,
I usually end my day at their spot.
I know that it might sound odd that the first two tips for going to a Craft Beer Fest are "don't drink beer"... especially when you know that you like the beer.  Hear me out though. You know you like the beer from your favorite place. You have been to the brewery, you have growlers and glasses with their logo on it, in fact you are wearing their t-shirt at the Beer Fest. So save yourself some alcohol content and don't get a sample of all that they have, but don't avoid them like they have cooties. Go on over, say hello, shake their hands, and see what they got. One of my favorite breweries,  Bolero Snort, always brings a firkin of one of their beers with a little added touch. Maybe your favorite brewery will bring their porter and add peanut butter cups to it and give you a whole new beer tasting experience.  If not, tell them you will see them later and then end the day at their tent.

3. TRY A NEW...
Brewery
Beer
Style of Beer (or give another chance to one you might not have liked in the past)

You may be an IPA guy. You might be wearing a shirt that says Haze for Daze. Either way, after 12 IPA's its going to be very difficult to notice the difference between them all. You will also have a hard time getting the subtle aromas and flavors after trying 22 ounces of beer. So take a chance and try that Gose or a Barleywine. Try the new brewery with the funny name that you have't gotten to visit yet.  Try a different style of beer from the brewery that you only buy IPA's from. 2 ounces of beer is a good time to take a chance on something new. Which leads me to...

4. Don't be a fraud to pour out a beer that you really do not like.
I know it a major party foul, but its not like that was the last beer in your fridge. You also don't have to be rude about it. Take your tasting glass. Take a sip. (Cringe) Walk away from the nice brewer that gave you the beer. Take another sip ( you always have to give it another shot). If its still a no go than pour it out at the next stop.  There is no gain in drinking unwanted beer.  Every beer is not for everyone.

5. KEEP YO HEAD UP & STAY OFF YOUR PHONE
 -- What?!? How do I check in to all my beers on Untappd? 
I have tried to check in and rate beers on Untappd at a Beer Fest and it is a pain in the butt. You end up holding up your group or the people in line behind you. You also end up miss out on talking to people around you and soaking in the festivities of the Beer Fest.  
This also goes for most other social media. Social media is a big part of our lives and the craft beer scene, but Craft Beer Fests are for us to be social with the people there.
I now only check into one beer on Untappd while I am at the Beer Fest and then put it away for the rest of the time there. I keep a record of beers that I liked by taking pictures of the tap, the sign or whatever the brewery has that tells you about the beer.  I can then check in beers that I liked later on.  I also take notes on a piece of paper or on the notes app on my phone if there is a beer that stands out.  When I do get around to Untappd later that day or the next day, I will usually only check in 7-10 beers, usually my favorites or ones that I purposely sought out that day. 
Using your phone less for social media means the battery will last longer which will help you a lot later when you need to find your lost friend or call an Uber.
But do you use your phone to...

6. TAKE PICTURES OF PEOPLE NOT JUST BEER
I take pictures of beer with baseball cards and baseball hats. That is a hobby of mine. Beer Fests are a lot about the beer, but they are also a lot about the people who make it and drink it. Take photos with old friends, new friends, brewers, people wearing funny hats or anyone who wants to photobomb your photo.  Be social and meet some new people and capture those moments because after the last beer is sipped, the thing you will probably remember the most are the good times you had with the people you shared it with.

7. DO YOU
Wear that hat you afraid to wear, wear a bandana, dress in matching costumes, buy gold sneakers with your hashtag on the back and wear them proudly. The craft beer scene is all about standing out and doing something different, so don't be afraid to do it and be you. Bonus: You will get to pose for a lot of pictures with your Abraham Lincoln hat on and get to talk to a lot of people.

8.  EAT EARLIER RATHER THAN LATER
At most of the Craft Beer Festivals that I have attended, the food offered was usually independent food trucks or vendors with some delicious homemade treats. Get to them early because if they are good, you will spend a lot of time waiting in line waiting for the food or they will run out.

9.  TALK TO A BREWER AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT RYAN BRAUN (MILWAUKEE BREWERS' OUTFIELDER)
Talk to someone who makes beer. Ask them about their favorite beer, how they got started, what their favorite style of beer to make is and how they came up with the funny name for their stout.  It's really neat to hear about these things from the people who make beer. Most are very down to earth and are happy to talk about their beer.  Little piece of advice: Instead of holding up the line and bombarding them with questions. Get your tasting, step to the side and introduce yourself. Then ask a question or two and move on. You don't want to monopolize their time when they need to evangelize to others about their brews.

10.  USE THE LAST HOUR WISELY.
Here is how a 3 hour beer tasting session (12-3pm) goes.
1:00PM: "Wow, we still have 2 hours left."
1:30PM: "Man, I am hungry, let's get some BBQ and chill for a minute."
2:00PM: "One hour left, still lots of time to get that beer.'
2:50PM: "Ahhhh, we didn't get to that whole side of the field!!!!"
3:00PM: "I need to go get some of that hot sauce!"

The last hour flies by. So look around and find something that you may have missed. Maybe take this moment to go buy that Blood Type: IPA shirt that you really liked. This is great chance to stop back by your favorite brewery and grab a taste of your favorite red ale that they have or retry that delicious blueberry saison you had in the first hour. Whatever you do, always have a beer with you because when the clock strikes 3 its over.

Craft Beer Festivals are a very unique experience and if you have never attended one before, I do recommend it. It offers you a great chance to try new beers and be social with others who like beer too.
LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE HEADING OUT TO ANY BEER FESTS 
OR CAN RECOMMEND SOME GOOD ONES. 

SHARE A FEW OF YOUR TIPS TO MAKING THE MOST OF A BEER FEST. 

STAY SAFE AND HAVE A BLAST! 
🍻








Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Beer Fest Season

The weather is getting warmer (well not really here in NJ) and that means Beer Fest Season is upon us.  It is one of my favorite times of the year for me because you get to be outside, drink beer and hang out with friends and meet new people. I get pretty excited and it kind of reminds me of this scene from Wedding Crashers.



While our goals may be different, my enthusiasm matches that of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.  Heading out to beer fest, just like with crashing a wedding, requires planning.    If you want to read an excellent article on how to prep for a Beer Fest, check out CraftBeerJoe's article Seven Ways to Prepare for a Craft Beer Festival.  I usually attend 3-5 beer fest a year and I have my plan pretty well laid out, so while I may skip some of the steps that CraftBeerJoe suggests, know that I already have taken into account for them.  So whether you have never attended a festival or you are a seasoned vet, here a few things to help you get ready for your Beer Fest!

Before we get started on the what, where and how's of Craft Beer Festivals, you need to ponder this question...   What are you going to the festival to do? 
  1. Drink as much beer as possible
  2. Try some new beers
  3. Hang out with friends and meet some new ones
  4. Get to know more about the craft beers and breweries 
All viable reasons, but each requires planning. 

I go to Beer Fests for a mix of the the last three, so I will be talking about it from that perspective.

LARGE OR SMALL, DAY OR NIGHT - THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU GO
I have done big Craft Beer Festivals and small ones. While the larger ones give you more options and usually offer more than just beer (concert, zoo, etc), the smaller ones will give you a chance to talk with the brewers, sample the foods, and usually don't have lines.  Before you buy your tickets, talk to someone who has gone the festival before and ask them how it was or do some research and find reviews or photos from the event.  
I personally like the smaller Beer Fests because they feel less like a marathon and more like a backyard bottleshare. I am a talker so I like to chat up the brewery owners and talk about their beers and find out more about them and why the do what they do. The smaller beer festivals also have a more laid back feel to me as opposed to the college frat like feeling, I sometimes get from the larger ones.  
Most Craft Beer Festivals will offer a day session (12-3pm) and an evening (7-10pm). I like day drinking, so I always go with the afternoon session.  I look at it like this: If you are drinking beer all day, you are not going to be very productive that day. If you are drinking beer all night, you may not be in great shape the next day too. I recover better during the day after a nap, shower and a meal so it works for me. If you are the type of person that doesn't get hungover, then maybe the night one may fit your schedule better.

TICKETS, TICKETS, PLEASE
Know when to buy your tickets. Many of the bigger beer festivals will sell out. So if you have your heart set on a certain event, check out the date months before it happens. Not only is this helpful to getting a ticket, but you may also get it cheaper when you buy as an early bird special. Most well established festivals will be the same weekend each year.  One of the bigger Craft Beer Festivals in my area, Brew at the Zoo at Turtleback Zoo sells out in a week. Many friends have mine have missed out on this one because they didn't know they went on sale.  This year, I am the guy who missed out on a ticket! Be a good friend and when you are buying your tickets, send a message out to your beer drinking buddies.

Sign up for those apps that send you local events and deals. Living Social and Groupon are great ways to get notified when tickets go on sale or are discounted. Those site will also sometimes offer deals to use at local breweries, so its well worth the gigabytes on your phone. 

UBER IMPORTANT
As the date gets closer, be sure to plan the logistics. How are you getting there? How are you getting home? Who is going and what time are we meeting?  Most beer festivals will give you a tasting glass and you will receive a 2 ounce pour for each beer. That doesn't sound like much but they add up quickly, not to mention some are higher ABV than others. After sampling beers all day, we all need a designated driver. Either bring a non drinking friend and buy them a designated driver ticket or arrange for a ride or ride service.  

PREPPING FOR FESTING
I start hardcore prepping for a Beer Fest three days beforehand. Since you will be consuming a lot of different beers and since most festivals are outside this means you need to: 

  • Check the Weather Forecast - This makes a difference on what shoes you will wear, what you need to bring with you (poncho or sunscreen), and the setup of the day. If it does rain will they move it indoors or will you be soggy for hours? 
  • Hydrate - I start hydrating and planning out my meals a few days before a festival. Your body needs water, but at a Beer Fest you are giving it beer, so the water you drink a few days in advance will help keep you afloat later on. 
  • Print Out the Tickets - It is a nice backup just in case something doesn't work when you get to your destination.
  • Fuel Up - I plan my meals so that I won't be drinking on an empty or too full of a stomach.  Last year, I ate 3 hot dogs within the hour before we left and midway through the 3 hour session, I was bloated and full.  So knowing your body and how it works at an optimal level is important. I usually go with a good meal the night before (something that won't send you running to the bathrooms the next day) and two smaller meals the morning of (oatmeal, eggs, cereal). 
  • Plan Your Outfit - This one is probably just a "me" thing, but I have a Beer Fest outfit. It is
    comfortable, functional, and meant to be fun.  I have a few different beer shirts that often end up being conversation starters (more on that later) that I rotate through season of beer festing. Shorts with pockets that button are important because they prevent you from losing your wallet or cool swag that the breweries hand out. And the final piece is always comfortable footwear. With lots of walking and standing, you want some support. My footwear of choice happens to be gold Nike sneakers with custom #Brew162 on the back, which tend to standout, but look pretty sweet.
  • Make Your Necklace - Most festivals won't let you bring food in, but they will let you wear it. The Pretzel Necklace is a Beer Fest staple that you will see all around you.  Let me start by saying, it is not comfortable to wear or is it the most fashionable accessory, but when you are waiting in line for a pour, it will come in handy and will also help cleanse your palate of that not so great tasting you just had.  It is also super cheap and easy to make, so save yourself a few bucks at the festival and be "that guy wearing the pretzel necklace." Single guys: It is a great way to attract ladies who just need a little snack. 
  • CHARGE!!!! Your Phone - You will lose your friends at some point and need to call them. You will also need to call your ride or order an Uber, so having a full charge is important.

CHECK THE SITE & PLAN YOUR ATTACK 

This is a very crucial step for having a great day, so it gets its own bold and all caps heading.  The larger Craft Beer Festivals will require more planning, simply because they are larger, there will be more people there and there are so many options. 

The first thing to do is to check out the Beer Fest's website. Check for the list of breweries, the food and rest areas, and the bathrooms.  If there is a map or layout, I always print it out. This gives you a good idea of the space you have and where you want to start. 

Some Craft Beer Festivals will tell you the breweries that are attending and the beers that they will be offering. If this is the case, make a list of 10 beers (that's about 20 ounces of beer) that you really want to try and try them first. This way you will be able to most enjoy them, write stuff down about them, and remember them. After that take a break, grab some food and then go back out and try some other new stuff.  The Great Beer Expo at the Meadowlands does a great job of prepping people before hand through their website. They have maps, the beer list and host of other information.
Most of the Craft Beer Festivals that I have attended, only offer you the list of breweries that are coming. For those, I will usually pick 5-6 that I absolutely want to try and hit them up first.  

I usually split a 3 hour session up into parts: 
1st hour: Try new beers or breweries
2nd hour: Eat, Chat with a Brewer, Find stuff that I may have passed up
3rd hour: Talk with others, hang out with friends revisit favorite beers

Brew at the Zoo 2016
Beer, Animals and Good Friends
I know this sounds like a lot of planning just to go drink beer, but like anything in life when you plan ahead, you can enjoy the celebration so much more. Craft Beer Festivals are supposed to be fun, so I try to take care of all the details before I get there so that I can make the most of my time. Not having to worry about what to eat or where to park leaves you with the freedom to enjoy drinking beer and enjoying the company of others. So now that you have your plan and are all prepared, its time to drink some beers and share good times with others. Come back tomorrow for the Brew162 Tips to a Great Beer Festival. 












Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Check Out That Glass


Let me start this article by making a confession... I don't own a teku glass...

I know, I know... but hear me out before you take all of the delicious and juicy imperial IPA's from my fridge.  It's not that I don't like the teku glass or that I don't enjoy using proper glassware because really I do.  I always pour my Guinness into my Guinness pint glass and my pilsner glass has more than a few miles on it.  My father-in-law gave me a set of different glasses and I have accumulated a large number of beer glasses on my own. For almost every style of beer, I have a glass to match it. But when it comes down to it, does the glass make a difference?

BACK THAT GLASS UP
I have read a lot about proper glassware, mostly because if I am investing in good beer then I want to enjoy it at its best.  My go-to article on glassware for different types of beer is this one from BeerAdvocate. Other articles offer their opinions on the matter, but are all over the map. One article will tell you, that if you drink beer from the wrong glass than you are missing out and not drinking beer as intended. Another article will tell you that it doesn't matter if you drink a beer out of a vase or a champagne flute, its the beer that makes the difference.  In 2016, both Dogfish and Anchor Brewing tackled this issue on their respective blogs and came up with different conclusions.  If there are so many differing thoughts on the matter, who is right? Is there a right or wrong answer?

Many articles that I have perused usually use the phrase "scientific studies show" which means that there are some very smart people using their valuable time to find out if we should be drinking a stout from a goblet or a pint glass.

KISS MY GLASS
Whatever all the research says, it is still up to the bar, the brewery or the individual to decide what to do with all the information about #properglassware. Whether you are in strict adherence to glassware etiquette or are just glad to be using a clean glass, there is room for all of us at the table.

I tend to float somewhere in between, but probably for the wrong reasons.  I like the way certain glasses feel in my hand and look when filled with my favorite brew.  I started using a tulip shaped glass because, 16oz cans of my favorite Imperial IPA fit better in it and look great too.  I will admit that I have noticed that head retention is slightly better in those glasses than a regular pint glass. But that doesn't mean that I always match the glass to the style of beer that I am drinking. From my drinking experience, I find that the glass doesn't make the beer taste better, but makes me feel better about the beer.
I have a few favorite glasses that just feel good in my hand, so I tend to use them much more often.  It may be a comfort thing, but when I am ready to watch some baseball and enjoy a good beer, I want to enjoy all aspects of it and not be too worried about my delicate and hard to get glass. Now that isn't to say, I won't buy a new glass ever again. But if I do it will be because I like the way it looks and feels in my hand, not because I am supposed to do it.  So whether you use the right glass or not, always remember that the receptacle is not nearly as important as the contents.

DO YOU INSIST ON PROPER GLASSWARE?
WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE MATTER?
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE GLASS?



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH BEER? 

There is OJ some where in this fridge...
I don't know about you, but at this moment, I have:
1 mini fridge full of beer,
2 shelves of a regular side by side refrigerator full of beer,
3 shelves worth of on-deck beers in the garage.
So, how is that a bad thing you ask? Because as of this writing, I am already planning on buying more.  3 local breweries are releasing new products that I want to try and if I don't grab them on release day they will be gone.  

The amount of good beer coming out now is amazing and at the same time overwhelming!  Is it all too much? Do I need every can release from my local brewery?  What if I skip this can release? Will I miss out on the most delicious beer ever? If I do, what will happen? Will they take away my Craft Beer Membership? (I actually do have one.)

These are all the questions that go on in my head as I shift beers around in the fridge to make more space or look for room for a useless container of orange juice.

BEER BUYING STRATEGY
I rationally know and understand that if I skip a can release they won't force me to drink Coors Light for the rest of my life (sorry, Coors Light fans).  But I have changed my beer buying habits a bit, so that I can enjoy all the great stuff available while not going broke. One solution that has been working so far has been splitting the booty from these limited releases with my brother.  While I end up having less beers to drink, I also end up spending half as much money.  And while, I have missed out on a few can releases because of real life stuff, I have still been lucky enough to try a few of those beers because friends saved me one or the brewery still had it on tap.

I have stopped going to the beer store "just to look around" to keep myself away from the temptation of making a 6 pack of beers I have never seen before.  Sure, I might not ever try that seasonal beer from Random Brewing company in Shreveport, Louisiana (not a real brewery), but that's life. We don't get to have everything and I am choosing to miss out on some of those brews. I have decided that I am focusing my resources on local stuff. With the amount of good breweries in NJ, NY and PA, I will never run out of stuff to try, but hopefully this approach will keep me from buying beer every week to just every other week.

There is a lot of good craft brews out there and more are coming out each week (or every other week) and while it is not impossible to have them all, I have to set my limits.  So if you are lucky enough to get your hands on all them... Cheers! and maybe save me one....

WHAT IS YOUR BEER BUYING PHILOSPOHY? 
DO YOU BUY IT ALL? BUY ONLY A FAVORITE STYLE OR BREWERY?
LET US KNOW.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Above Average? Below Average? Who Am I to Judge?

I read a great article over at craftbeerjoe.com,  The Problem With Craft Beer Reviews & Ratings that really got me thinking about beer ratings and reviews.  In the article, CBJ highlights the different ways to rate and review beer and some of the pitfalls of them.  I highly encourage you to check it out and read some of his other work because it is top notch! His article and the comments that followed it made me think more about how and why I even put a rating on the beers I drink. 

The 20-80 Scouting Scale

I rate/grade beers on the 20-80 scouting scale used in grading baseball skills by MLB scouts.  There is a great post at Fangraphs by Kiley McDaniel, Scouting Explained: The 20-80 Scouting Scale, which breaks down how it used by scouts.  I decided to use this way of rating beers because I like baseball and thought it was a unique way to grade the beers that I drink.  
As it says in the Fangraphs article: "50 is major league average, then each 10 point increment represents a standard deviation better or worse than average." I follow the same principle in rating beers, so a 50 is a good beer, 55 is above average, 60 is plus, 70 plus plus, and 80 is elite.  In going the opposite way 45 is okay, 40 is below average and 30 is bad beer.  
Derek Jeter Scouting Report
Photo courtesy of The Baseball Continuum

When I grade a beer using the 20-80 scouting scale,  I assign a grade to the beer and provide some commentary and tasting notes on the beer's appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, flavors, etc.  When I do this rating, I don't compare the beer to other beers but try to grade it on its own.  My most common ratings are 50's and 60's. So how do I know which 60 grade beer is better? The simple answer is, I don't. And to be honest, I don't need to know which is higher ranked out of the two.  The 60 grade tells me it was a very good beer and that I enjoyed it.  The commentary that goes with it tells me what the beer was like and then I can make a judgement about whether or not I will drink it again. I try to think of the grades as tiers, if a beer is in the 70 grade tier, it was really awesome and is something that I will probably want again. Beers in the 50 grade tier are a solid average beer, so I will turn to the tasting notes that I do to help me make a choice about buying it again. But really, when it comes down to it there are so many options of craft beers available to me that if I have the option of a 70 grade beer or a 50 grade beer, the choice will come down to what am in the mood for at that time.


Untappd

For most people who drink craft beer, their rating guide comes from Untappd. I try to be consistent about my ratings when I use the Untappd app and I try to add as much about the beer as I can in 140 characters. When I look up a beer on the app, I scroll for ratings that have a review because I just don't want to see how many caps a beer has, but I want to see what gives it that 4.5 caps rating. I take the ratings with a grain of salt because everyone has different tastes and experiences with the beer.
I don't know if the reviewer doesn't like a certain style of beer or if they drink their beer out of a glass or the bottle. Untappd ratings and reviews have a place in my beer buying process, but are not the end all and be all.



Who Am I to Judge?

I mean in reality, I am not a beer expert (although, I sometimes play one at the liquor store).  I do consume a good amount of beer and read a lot about it, but I am no Cicerone.  So there are times when I put a rating on beer and think, "who am I to judge?"  From reading the comments on the article at craftbeerjoe.com and talking to other people about it, other beer drinkers feel the same way.  I try to keep in mind that watching baseball and enjoying beer is my hobby.  I would love it to be my job, but alas no one is looking to hire someone to watch baseball while drinking craft beers. (Although if you are, I am very interested in that position!) Because it is my hobby, I should enjoy it the way that I want and if that means rating a beer so that I know if I should buy it again or recommend it to a friend then, I am perfectly qualified to do that. 
My goal in grading or rating a beer is to increase my knowledge of beer and to give others a general idea of what to expect when they try a new brew.  In every review, I try to be honest and provide some details on what I experienced with that beer. Hopefully my rating and the accompanying tasting notes can help others to have a great beer experience or find out about a beer they may not have heard about before.  Fellow beer drinkers have led me to some great brews because of their posts on Instagram, their ratings and reviews, and blog posts so I just hope that I can return the favor. 


HAS A REVIEW THAT YOU READ EVER STOPPED YOU FROM BUYING A BEER OR CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT A BEER?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Slack Tide Brewing Co. in Cape May County, NJ



Finally made a trip to Slack Tide Brewing Co. in Cape May County, NJ a few weeks ago.  I had not had any beers from this brewery, but had read good things about it and I totally dig the logo.  When you walk in there is a small tasting room, which on this Friday had a 6-7 people there enjoying their happy hour.  They had 11 beers on tap, so I did a flight to get a sense of what they had to offer.  
The first beer that jumped out at me was the Red Drum, which is a wheat beer made with Aronia berries from a local farm.  The reddish pink color of the beer makes it unique and the light berry flavor is quite enjoyable. Nothing overpowers you (except maybe for the cool color) and it has a nice dry finish.  It grades at a 55 on my 20-80 scale for its uniqueness.

The Angry Osprey was a really enjoyable American IPA that had a citrus aroma and a easy going piney taste.  If I was here for a few beers after work, the Angry Osprey would make me a happy camper. I would put this at a 60 on the 20-80 scale, but it easily has potential to move up a grade.

The last beer of my flight stole the show.  Morning Bite Imperial Breakfast Stout hits you with an ABV of 9.4%, but does so with great coffee, toffee, and malty flavors.  It really was tasty, so I had to grab a crowler of it to take home and enjoy with breakfast the next day.
I give this one a 70 on the 20-80 scale.

I highly recommend that the next time you head down to Cape May, you make it a priority to stop off at this great little brewery and sample some of their offerings. Don't be a slacker, make it happen!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Great Beer Expo at the Meadowlands Expo Center

One of my favorite beer events of the year is the Great Beer Expo at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ.  So on Saturday, February 4, we hit up the afternoon session from 12:30-4pm (because what's better than day drinking on a cold Saturday?) This year I got the chance to try some new breweries and focus more on some local NJ breweries that I have only had a few times. I tried to be a bit more deliberate in my approach and tried to take notes (although I abandoned that after about an hour.)  What I came away with was some great times with friends, a list of some new breweries to check out and a Top 10 list of my favorites from the beerfest.  

There were a lot of beers to sample and in order to make it through the entire beerfest, I had to skip some very solid beers that I really enjoy. Although, there are some that I couldn't resist sipping on while chatting with the brewers from those establishments such as Bolero Snort Moosaic, Demented Brewing Co. Double Dementia, Beach Haus Winter Rental, and Defiant Brewing Co. Abominable to name just a few. So this list is definitely not a "Top 10 Beers at the Great Beer Expo" list. Instead, it's a list of my favorite beers that I had for the first time at the #GreatBeerExpo.  

#10  Heavy Seas TropiCannon
Love Heavy Seas beers and this one was another good IPA. Love the tangerine flavors and at 7.2% it will definitely rock the boat.

#9 Owl's Brew Radler The Blondie
Both this and That's My Jam are light and sweet radlers made with tea. I prefer the blonde (of course) and think this would be a great change of pace drink while hanging down the shore.

#8  Rivertowne Brewing Patrick's Poison Imperial Red Ale
This red ale has a good malty flavor with lots of hops that give a nice balance.

#7 Sly Fox 360° India Pale Ale
4 different kinds of hops give this beer a lot of flavor and bitterness.  I can't wait to grab a 4 pack and really be able to get a better taste.

#6 Manayunk Sour Is the New Black
A sour stout is a beer combo that I have never had before. This one was not to tart and not too stout but had an easy sour taste to go with some malty flavors.  It makes this list for its uniqueness and good flavor.

#5 Czig Meister Blacksmith
Smokey flavor is very unique and allows this stout to stand out.

#4 Southern Tier Crème Brûlée and Raspberry White
Both beers are good on their own, but when mixed together they do something magical in your mouth.

#3 Rivertowne Brewing Hala Kahiki Pineapple Ale
Another one from this Pittsburgh area brewer. Light and sweet, but the pineapple flavor is so on-point that it is hard to resist.

#2 Devil's Creek Brewery Caramel Apple Brown Ale
You get a light apple flavor with caramel to make this brown ale spot-on in its name.

#1 Two Ton Brewing Brute Squad (Coffee & Cinnamon Firkin)
I love a good firkin and this offering from Two Ton did not disappoint.  Neither flavor was overpowering but both were noticeable enough to make it a unique take on their Brute Squad hoppy American style barleywine.


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