ASBURY PARK, NEW JERSEY
After visiting bucolic Allaire State Park for a terse hike, my wife and I happened upon DARK CITY BREWING CO., Asbury Park’s first craft brewery. Taking hold in 2016, Dark City provides a steady stream of consistently rewarding brews handcrafted in the closed-off back brewing space by reserved zymurgist, Steve Bohacik. On my sunny March ’20 expedition, a gamut of rangy stylistic fare captures my palate.
Set in a window-laden tan building along the increasingly popular Main Street strip, Dark City’s elongated wood lacquered serving station (with twelve draught handles) centers the sparsely decorated open space. A bright blue right-walled jellyfish mural adds pizzazz to the pallet-wooded furnishings, saucer-like lighting and pipe-exposed high ceiling. Several community tables fill out the wide expanse (with 2 TV’s on opposing sides).
Grassy lemon-dried moderation, Circuit Kolsch, stayed crisply clean and deliberately understated, leaving compost-wafted raw grain moisture on wispy citric hop tartness.
Dryly brisk Brass Ring Wheat Ale brought citric IPA fruiting and woody Amarillo hop herbage to its floral-bound wheat grass base.
Bound by its sharp orange-peeled grapefruit rind tang an sunny Mosaic-hopped lemon zesting, Blue Bishop IPA with Blueberries let docile blueberry pureeing gain sourer-than-sweet alacrity.
Vinous balsamic-soured green grape esters and spritzy lime zest stayed mellow for white-wined alternative, Mixed Use Sour Ale.
Dewy peat and toffee-spiced dried fruiting enhanced the caramelized brown chocolate sweetness of serenading dessert treat, 1871 Barleywine, a sturdily welcoming strong ale with tertiary sherry, coffee and vanilla snips.
Creamy dark chocolate syruping draped dry bourbon pleasantry and mossy peat for softly creamed barrel-aged anniversary blend, DCBC3, an impressive 13% strong ale with fudged cocoa brownie resilience and bitter vanilla beaning deepening its overall intensity.
Conditioned on ‘rook’ coffee, maple and cinnamon, sensational Imperial Milk Porter relinquishes beautiful bourbon vanilla resonance alongside caramel-burnt brown chocolate spicing and milk-sugared coffee tone. Eventually, toasted cinnamon adjunct seeps thru vanilla-mocha stead, picking up whipped cream chocolate pudding sweetness, chewy marshmallow snips, spiced rum licks, frothy cappuccino dips and black licorice blips to counter less prominent wood-charred hop sear. Embraceable night cap with ultimate warmth.
Ultimately irresistible Cognac barreled Sunday Brunch conditioned on Rook coffee, maple syrup and cinnamon. Creamy milk chocolate whiskeyed cognac warmth consumes indelible cinnamon-spiced maple syruping and punctual bourbon-burgundy-brandy wining. While cognac influence stays subtle, its scaled back Rook coffee adjunct lingers in the midst as fudge-caked creme brulee, chocolate rum cake, cinnamon chocolate babka, Black Forest cake and vanilla ice cream illusions add to distinct barrel-aged dessert classic.
Richly intense full body conditioned on cocoa, vanilla beans and walnuts reminiscent of sweet toffee-sugared fudged brownie (or perhaps a Sugar Daddy candy bar). Creamy caramelized mocha continuance gains dark chocolate syruping as well as anise-spiced black cherry, raisin and prune dried fruiting. Dandy decadent dessert!
Updated version ‘brewed with lactose and conditioned on coffee’ fortifies creamy milk-sugared coffee expanse with wood-seared hop char, coating the back end with dark chocolate syrup. Mild espresso, caramel latte, chocolate pudding and spiced toffee illusions add further overall luster.
Luxurious milk stout conditioned on coconut and vanilla retains chewy dark chocolate creaminess and toffee brownie expedience. Mississippi Mud-Caked marshmallow fudging engages coconut cream pie, caramel latte, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, Black Forest cake and glazed hazelnut richness (along with mild cayenne-peppered cinnamon and cumin spicing. Confectionery Almond Joy candy liquefied and spiced-up.
Rich milk stout offshoot conditioned on peanut butter, peanuts and cocoa nibs. Chewy dark-roasted peanut buttering caresses creamy cocoa-nibbed dark chocolate syruping. In the recess, rum raisin, black cherry and burgundy licks sweeten bourbon vanilla wisp and whiskey-nipped peanut buttered chocolate finish.
Musky Muscat-wined bruised cherry luster, blackberry Concord grape esters and sweet burgundy licks receive toffee-spiced dark chocolate syruping for inspiring crystal malt sugared American-styled barleywine. Earthen cellar mildew and ashen charcoal hop singe contrast dried fruited Merlot tannins at chocolate grape-truffled finish of expressive full body.
Seductive molasses-sapped maple syruping (aged in bourbon barrels) advances alongside dark cherry-pureed raisin, prune and date surge. Ever-present caramel-candied chocolate malting adds further luster. Below the rich surface, sharp rum-spiced burgundy tones and mild anise spicing contrast charred hop bittering.
Melding chili-peppered cocoa and cinnamon adjuncts to cocoa-dried dark chocolate syrup, lactic milk stout collaboration (with Ohio’s Listermann Brewing) picks up black cherry-pureed bourbon licks, relegating its ashen hop-charred bittering. Effectively efficient cinnamon-peppered cocoa quencher.
Supple kettle-hopped tropical fruiting guides haze-glazed orange yellowed medium body. Lemony orange-juiced grapefruit tang gains mango-salted pineapple, peach, guava and gooseberry souring, bitter juniper nip and musky floral remnant as well as ethanol vodka whir over brittle white bread spine.
Zestful lemony grapefruit juicing retains ample tropical inertia, absorbing salty mango, tart pineapple and sweet peach tones as well as vanilla-creamed orange tang for indelible vibrancy. Recommended.