CYPRESS BREWING COMPANY

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EDISON, NEW JERSEY

Despite its small, demure serving station area, CYPRESS BREWING COMPANY has the warehouse capacity for enormous growth. Open since 2015, its large silver tanks prove expansion doesn’t have to take place off-site anytime soon. Residing at a tucked away tan-bricked Industrial Park just off the Garden State Parkway near the Raritan River, Cypress currently specializes in a few recurring draughts, some canned fare (such as the popular cranberry-pureed Thanksgiving offering, Miigwetch Pale Ale) and sundry tapped one-offs.

A beautiful backwall-painted Cypress banner salutes patrons to the left side hunter green-walled, blacktop-slated, stone-laid serving station (with eight taps, two TV’s and blackboard beer listing). Its porcelain grain wood floor tile, three rounded black-hued Industrial tables and inlaid cypress tree mural on the opposing wall bring a sterling feel to the pristine bantam space.

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My wife and daughter join me on New Year’s Eve 2018 as I down five worthy afternoon draughts – four of which leaned to the dark side.

First up, vivacious dry-hopped medium body, Insane In The Grain IPA, brought sharp yellow grapefruit tanginess and sweet orange peel zest to the fore as resinous piney hops subsumed the backend (where wispy mango, peach and pineapple tropicalia snuck in). A true counterpoint to the following darkies.

Dry Northern English Nut Brown contrasted its walnut-seared hop char with less enthusiastic glazed hazelnut sweetness and soap-stoned peanut shelling.

Ample nuttiness also welcomed Alva Imperial Porter, leaving molasses chocolate-sugared dried fruiting on the tongue alongside serene walnut, Brazil nut and charred chestnut licks.

Fully realized dessert treat, Nice Imperial Lactose Stout, let cocoa-beaned milk chocolate richness gain cinnamon-spiced ginger leaf minting.

Its more aggressive chili-peppered version, Naughty, allowed its fudgier cocoa persuasion to retain tidy brown-sugared cinnamon coffee tones.

cypressbrewing.com

 

STONE & RAIL

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GLEN ROCK, NEW JERSEY

Settled into the tiny Northern Jersey town of Glen Rock alongside the railway line, STONE & RAIL RESTAURANT AND BAR is an inventive modern gastropub with an invitingly original upscale menu and a strong focus on craft beer.

Paying homage to the local railroad transit system, its vintage reclaimed wood and rustic charm offer a warm atmosphere. Three TV’s at the 20-seat wood bar provide a sports-centric feel. Left side dining tables counter the 20-draught bar and a back balcony features billiards and shuffleboard.

On my December 2018 dinner jaunt, ate Stone & Rail burger (smoked bacon, caramelized onions, muenster cheese with parmigiana fries) alongside Butternut Squash Granny Apple Bisque while wife consumed sourdough-toasted, muenster-cheesed, tomato-creamed Artichoke Grilled Cheese. Also quaffed four previously untried suds: Newburgh Hefe’ry Hudson, Sixpoint Binary Double IPA, River Horse Craic Irish Stout and River Horse Jaysus That’s Sour (reviewed in Beer Index).

Fun for beer geeks, families and sports fans alike, Stone & Rail’s a welcome edition to this small upscale community.

stoneandrail.com

BELL’S BOURBON BARREL AGED THIRD COAST OLD ALE

On tap at Ambulance, supersized bourbon-barreled barleywine segues syrupy caramelized bourbon vanilla warmth into molasses-sapped chocolate dalliance, leaving tingly cognac, brandy, burgundy, port and sherry tones in the deep recess. Spruce-hopped mineral graining and leathery dried fruiting of original Third Coast base hidden far beneath the surefire cherry-bruised bourbon vanilla resonance.

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GOOSE ISLAND BOURBON COUNTY VANILLA STOUT

On tap at Plank Pizza, passionately designed Madagascar vanilla bean version of famous bourbon-aged Imperial Stout really is decadent. Creamily rich vanilla sugaring informs fudgy dark chocolate mass. Light bourbon sweetness glides into luxurious chocolate-vanilla sludging. Luscious crème brulee, milk chocolate, toasted coconut, marshmallow, hazelnut coffee and Graham Cracker illusions as well as latent burgundy licks contrast tarry hop-charred bittering at bold dessert finish.

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LEFT HAND CHAI MILK STOUT – NITRO

Complex Christmastime hybrid way beyond stylish nitrogenated milk stout parameters.  Savory maple-syruped chocolate mousse creaminess gains immediate cardamom-spiced orange peel sweetness, ginger-leafed cinnamon minting and coniferous pine nut minerality for chai tea-inspired nitro stout. Tertiary sarsaparilla, cola nut and walnut illusions casually integrate with wintry sandalwood, sage and fern snips as well as delicate rice pudding, cherry coughdrop and gingerbread dalliances to further enrich rangy milk stout template.

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LEFT HAND WAKE UP DEAD NITRO RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT

Fulsome nitro stout (in a can) with tremendous depth, body and overall richness. Bittersweet milk chocolate creaming leaves frothy éclair mouthfeel deepened by cocoa-powdered espresso tones and slight dried fruiting to its sweet oats-flaked barley roast base. Wood-burnt hop char and tobacco chaw bittering fill out bold nitrogenated dark ale. Retains stylishly silken smoothness of usual nitrogenated stout while being more aggressively demanding.

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