FAIRFIELD, NEW JERSEY
Since perusing CRICKET HILL BREWERY a few times in 2011, I finally got a chance to revisit while picking up a compressor across the street from the rustic warehouse pub.
During a friendly springtime ’18 afternoon journey, I got to experience the newly renovated pale green-walled, cement -floored, duct-exposed space. Besides the bigger bottling line, there was a new wooden serving station with twelve taps, twelve stools and a prominent blackboard beer list. Plus, five stooled tables adorned the interior and a few plastic furnishings outside allowed for picnics.
Onboard as brewer for the last few years, Mark Tilley (formerly of Long Trail Brewery in Vermont)
Before heading out, grabbed a four-pack of Bourbon-aged Jersey Devil Imperial Red Ale and a growler of exquisite Bourbon-aged Doppelbock (reviewed fully in Beer Index).
On tap at Cricket Hill, tidy bourbon sway affects creamy brown chocolate sweetness and sharp hop-spiced dried fruiting. Subtle whiskey, sherry and burgundy whirs bring alcohol warmth to oncoming raisin-date-fig conflux and chewy caramel-toffee sugaring at busy finish.
Wild Turkey bourbon barrels add grain alcohol pungency to sharply pungent citrus bittering contrasting honeyed wheat spine. Zesty orange-peeled grapefruit rind bite persists, picking up distant tangerine, pineapple and peach tanginess. Moderate wood-soaked alcohol burn gains acidic edge at finish.
MORRIS PLAINS, NEW JERSEY
For an independent ‘old man’s bar,’ Morris Plains roadhouse, HOOVER’S TAVERN, stays youthful capturing western Jersey’s woodsy suburban rusticity while serving some of the finest tapped craft beer in the area.
Sure, there’s the typical Bud-Miller-Coors fare, but most of the draughts at this 1930′s established dive bar will please even the most stubborn beer snobs.
An illuminated Sierra Nevada sign guides patrons to this paraphernalia-laden one-room joint. Inside the pale blue bar is an ancient oval bar with 50-plus seats, three small tables and old reliable kitchen appliances to cook pizza, hot dogs and pretzels.
There’s a Heineken sign stretched along the wood-paneled front wall and several TV’s generate local sports fans. Live entertainment could be found on the weekends.
On my initial May ’18 mid-afternoon jaunt, I consumed Southern Tier Somoa This (a S’mores-like Imperial Stout), Stoudt’s Hobo Ed’s Imperial Coffee Porter and New Belgium Tartaion Lemon Ginger Sour Ale. Full reviews are in Beer Index.
Smore’s nighttime campfire snack knocked off as a desirable sweet-toothed milk stout. Toasted marshmallow entry gains brown chocolate and Graham Cracker influence over its cookie dough malting, but flavor profile fades quick. Ancillary toffee, coconut and illusions deepen mildly creamed dessert sweetness.
On tap at Hoover’s Tavern, superb ‘dessert beer’ highlights pink Himalaya-salted brown chocolate luxuriance and coconut-flaked marshmallow sugaring above honeyed Graham Cracker malting. Re-creating a Samoan cookie with unrivaled success, it’s also similar to a S’mores campfire treat. Yummy.
On tap at Curley’s, lovely golden-hued mocha stout cushions fulsome Guatemalan coffee roast with flaked barley-oats and dark chocolate malting. Fertile creamed coffee decadence lingers way above astringent hop char. Golden delight.
On tap at Curley’s, easygoing English barleywine brings tingly brown-sugared molasses sweetness to quaint orange-peeled red cherry, red grape, plum and banana piquancy as well as vanilla whiskeyed snip above flaked barley-oats cushion. Caramel malt base contrasts grassy hop astringency beneath the lightly ethanol fruit-spiced surface.
On tap at Seven Lakes Station, satisfactory double dry-hopped middleweight lets moderately bitter grapefruit, pineapple and orange tropicalia gain mild hop acidity and piney sidebar to absorb its juicy fruiting.
Another highly praised Alchemist elixir (alongside world famous Heady Topper). Sharp lemony orange rind and grapefruit peel bittering picks up resinous pine-needled cannabis dankness. Juicy mango-tangerine-peach tang and tart gooseberry-passionfruit piquancy deepen initial grapefruit-orange luster over lightly creamed crystal malts in well-balanced manner.