Category Archives: United States Brewpubs

BRAINDEAD BREWING

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DALLAS, TEXAS

Open during 2014, Dallas-based BRAINDEAD BREWING quickly became friendly competition for neighboring Deep Ellum Brewing.

A no-frills pub with a mind-blowing 30-plus taps of proprietary beers and ales, Braindead’s best fare may well be the one-off barrel aged elixirs, robust Imperial Stouts and brettanomyces-laden sour ales.

Serviced by an 18-stool polyurethane-wooded bar with diamond plate backing and unique refrigerator-doored tap mounts, this roomy freestanding site also features a spacious front deck with fireplace and umbrellas as well as a street-side black railroad engine.

Several wood tables and booths plus two vast community tables and stacked liquor barrels consume the interior. Illuminating palletized drum-shaded lamps light the facility. In the back, large brew tanks hold the serious suds I’ll quaff with my friend, Jeff, during a 2-hour stopover, November ’17.

Out of the four ‘Core’ offerings, only Gritz, a pre-prohibition-styled cream ale, will be missed.

Zesty beige-yellowed dry-hopped wheat ale, Nimbus, brought lemony grapefruit tanginess to grassy herbal notions.

Pleasantly off-dry Red gathered raw-honeyed grapefruit tartness, crisp cereal grain toasting, mild grassy hop bittering and quaint candied spicing.

Easygoing Export Extra Stout coalesced mild espresso bean, dark chocolate and chalky cocoa bittering with dried black currant spicing above dark toffee malts.

Approachable Imperial Pale Ale, P-Wing, let sweet honeyed malts contrast piney hops while orange-juiced tangerine and peach tanginess briskly surfaced.

Fruit Loops-like Belgian Pale Ale, Fumble Brag, allowed dry-hopped floral fruiting to access herbaceous whims as sugared grapefruit, orange and white grape spicing took hold.

Leafy Octoberfest, Gemutlich, let dry fig-apricot fruiting lightly creep into biscuit-y cereal malts and astringent hop resin.

Elegantly tart saison, Good Morning Dave, brought limey grapefruit souring to horse-blanketed hay dryness.

Distinct compost-wafted sour ale, Dr. Dreipricot, regaled orange-peeled apricot puree with sour-candied lemon peel bittering over wild oats.

Softer thirsts should imbibe the three lagers found on this initial perusal.

Simple Mexican Dark Lager, Cerveza Oscura, a mocha-malted moderation with muted mango fruiting and mellow toffee hints sufficed. As did light Polish-style pilsner, Exhausted Nihilist, musky malt liquor-like fodder with mild grassy-hopped astringency and biscuit-y malts. Another, wildflower-honeyed Honey Lager, stayed dry as floury grist consumed grassy hop astringency, unripe fig tartness and herbal notions.

Things got much more interesting with the complex dark ales to follow.

Mincemeat-like Imperial Stout, We Own The Night, draped bitter Blackstrap molasses over spicy dried fruiting, dark chocolate malts, cold-brewed coffee tones and tarry hops (gaining tertiary tobacco chaw, maple oatmeal and  walnut illusions by the bittersweet mocha finish).

On the sweeter Imperial Stout side, creamily resilient We Own Brunch poured Blackstrap molasses and dark chocolate syrup atop sweet vanilla, sugared coffee, maple oats and cinnamon spicing, leaving slight burnt wood notions at the back end.

Luxurious Imperial Wheat Porter aged in bourbon, Hammer Of The Gods 2017, seduced its creamy chocolate-coated sweetness with bourbon, burgundy and port tones as well as vanilla-sugared cinnamon and nutmeg spicing.

Didn’t get to try these barrel aged elixirs: Given To Rye To Rye Brown Ale aged in Whiskey barrels; red wine-barreled raspberry-pureed Sexport Stout; oak-aged Memory Hole Barleywine; bourbon-rye-barreled dubbel, Priory Of Orion.

www.braindeadbrewing.com

 

FOUR CORNERS BREWING CO.

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DALLAS, TEXAS

One mile south of Deep Ellum’s arts community in South Dallas’ light industrial Cedars district, FOUR CORNERS BREWING CO. outgrew its initial spot near the Aquarian and now consumes two large, well-maintained buildings as of October 2017.

Moving its brewing operations to a separate storage facility also utilized for prodigious canning and increased keg capacity, Four Corners decided to keep their sizable taproom independent.

Inside a rustic red brick-walled edifice with painted proprietary beer banners, epoxy floors, exposed pipes and high ceilings, the meticulous, yet spare, taproom (with open kitchen) features a 12-seat left side bar with aluminum-chaired wood tables, a few comfy lounge couches and upside down assorted lamps. Neon lettering above the bar spells out the brewery’s moniker while windowed silver tanks store smaller beer batches and a stage area in the rear hosts local entertainers.

Across the way, Four Corners sprawling brewing operations take up an entire factory-sized compound. Part of the Cedars’ recentralized urban cosmopolitanism, this rooster-symbolized brewery currently crafts six year-round offerings and a few special one-offs.

On my sunny Saturday afternoon November ’17 visit, I try their six staples alongside two new recipes.

First up, dry golden ale, Local Buzz, utilized locally sourced honey to spice up its musky brown tea likeness and toasted rye breading.

Sessionable pilsner-malted Sol Y Luna stayed brisk as carbolic lemon fizz tickled earthen-grained fennel, straw wheat and spelt crisping.

Dry-hopped amber ale, Heart ‘O Texas, slipped lemony grapefruit tanginess into mild toasted grains.

Honeyed citrus gave El Super Bee its misty zest over corn sugared pale malts. 

Murkily piney fruited India Pale Ale,  El Chingon, let grassy hop resin seep into cedar, floral and citric illusions.

Bitterly mocha-smoked oatmeal stout, Notorious O.A.T., surrounded treacly black chocolate with cola nut, dried prune and leathery grain nuances.

As for the one-off specialty beers, cereal-grained Homie Brew Texas Steam Beer plied mild sour fruiting to millet, wheat and alfalfa grist.

Best bet: easygoing East Coast-styled IPA crossover, El Oso White, a spicy tropical-fruited moderation, brought floral-bound grapefruit, orange, peach and mango tanginess to mild piney hop bittering and lightly sugared pale wheat malting.

Bringing just a hint of Mexican spirit to proudly mainstream Texas beers, Four Corners relies on centrist brews for casual tastes.

www.fcbrewing.com

 

PEGASUS CITY BREWERY

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DALLAS, TEXAS

Residing at a well-maintained warehouse in Dallas’ Design District (five miles northwest of Deep Ellum’s arts and entertainment neighborhood), PEGASUS CITY BREWERY concentrates on crafting five endlessly approachable core beers as well as a few reliable seasonals since opening July ’17.

At the right side entrance, a natural varnished wood bar top invites customers to the modest pub. Eight tap handles service the eight-stooled bar where a wood-engraved, black-outlined, white lettered Tiny Tap sign sits atop the bar. Across the way, two overhead garage doors saddle a large-ceilinged lounge area with wrought iron patio furnishings and a massive rear brewing area.

On my November ’17 jaunt, I grab a seat in the lounge and sample all seven currently available draught offerings.

Easygoing Summer Special Blonde Ale, a polite Belgian-styled moderation, brought honeyed citrus tones to the fore as mild grassy hop astringency contrasted light banana-clove sweetness and minty lavender herbage.

Another seasonal offering, Big D Jamboree Festbier, let raw-honeyed dryness seep into dried fig, nutty caramel and baked bread illusions for a crisp marzen styling.

As for the Core 5, “deceptively easy-to-drink” Nine Volt DPL Tripel unveiled white grape esters and bittersweet orange tanginess to complement its candi-sugared spicing and contrast its earthen grain bottom.

Crisply clean Cannoneer Bold Amber coalesced grain-roasted caramel malting with dewy earthiness and chestnut illusions.

Mild flagship beer, Highpoint Porch Ale, an English mild, delivered roasted mineral graining to casual honeyed nuttiness and latent vegetal nuances.

Dry-toned Sixth Floor Easy Porter relied on dewy compost earthiness to scour its day-old roasted coffee souring, bittersweet Baker’s chocolate mustiness and desiccated plum snip.

Dark-roasted German-Mexican-styled Texican Black Lager relegated its maize-flaked South of the Border influence for Germanic oats-sugared mineral graining and toffee malting (picking up latent prune and raisin fruiting).

www.pegasuscitybrewery.com

HAPPY VALLEY BREWING COMPANY

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STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA

Inside a spaciously remodeled beige-yellowed barn house just down the road from Penn State University’s campus lies HAPPY VALLEY BREWING COMPANY. A massive brewpub-restaurant open since 2013, this rustic wood-furnished edifice benefits from its diverse interior.

Using exposed floor joists as ceiling beams and dimly lit by low-volt pendant lighting, the centralized 30-seat bar at its cement-floored lower level provides the perfect Irish pub atmosphere. A separate brewing room allows for ample tank space and a community-tabled side deck near the backyard grain silo offers bucolic outdoor splendor.

Upstairs at street level, a large sportsbar atmosphere gets reinforced by multiple TV’s at all sides. The wood lacquered 12-seat bar (decked out in white tiles) utilizes Edison lights and a huge astronomy mural covers the front wall.

Sandwiches, steaks, pizzas, fish and charcuterie (Gernelli-breaded cured meat, cheeses, pickled veggies) sport the rounded menu.

My wife and I grab a table in front of the red fluorescent Happy Valley Brewing sign on a sunny Saturday at noon in late October ’17 to try a dozen fully realized and well rounded brews. I chow on charcuterie while slipping some suds down the gullet.

Light pink-headed ruby-bodied aperitif, Nitro Zerbert Raspberry Summer Ale, brought a nitro-creamed raspberry tartness to wispily sweet vanilla spicing. Its soft raspberry-seeded piquancy picked up subtle blueberry, huckleberry and gooseberry snips.

Stylishly nebulous but nonchalantly likable, mild nitro-injected Stratus Loftbier lets light peaty earthiness and wispy rye breading bring a mossy ESB-like brown tea likeness to the fore.

Another lightly creamed nitrogenated offering, Phyrst Phamily Stout, draped dry roasted coffee over dark chocolate, vanilla, charred nut and earthen mildew subtleties.

Light-bodied Wheat Ale, Hayday, let “bright citrus overtones” gain a mild grassy hop musk and pale wheat-flaked cereal graining.

Halfway nutty Craftsman Brown Ale sidled earthen grape esters with sour coffee undertones and biscuity nuances.

Slightly sweet Tailgater Blood Orange Pale Ale allowed bittersweet blood orange zest to rejoice above lightly spiced pale malts as mild clementine, tangerine and curacao orange wisps complement the carbolic citric spritz.

Happy Valley’s most popular variety, sessionable India Pale Ale, Knuckleball, caressed “vibrant citrus hops” with mild pale malt spicing, leaving sparkly orange, peach and mango juices upon the tongue.

Another sessionable softie, Space Wheelie Intergalactic Sour, featured lemon-soured pink guava tartness dried out by horse-blanketed straw astringency.

Tropical India Pale Ale, LeMonster, reined lemony pineapple and mango zest atop light pine needling, honeyed pale malts and calm chamomile herbage.

“Classic” IPA, Barnstormer, glazed its juicy grapefruit-orange-pineapple tang with coniferous piney hops, spritzy citrus spicing and terse herbal notions.

Brazen Black IPA, Bongo Fury, buried black grape and grapefruit illusions beneath charcoal-stained dark chocolate bittering and ashen hop-charred acridity.

Local Café Lemont coffee provided a dark-roast java intensity for Joe, a medium-bodied dark ale with lightly milked coffee creaming, vanilla bean bittering and latent charred nuttiness.

www.happyvalleybeer.com

 

 

 

 

 

HIJINX BREWING COMPANY

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ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Down the road from Allentown’s center of town near Fairview Cemetery in an inconspicuous warehouse, HIJINX BREWING COMPANY crafts a wide assortment of delectable elixirs. Headed by experienced brewer, Curt Heck, a former homebrewer who joined defunct Old Lehighton Brewery in ’96 before landing at well-regarded Weyerbacher in ’97, Hijinx opened during 2014 and occupy a high-ceilinged 4,000 square foot space.

On a cold Friday evening in late October ’17, my wife and I spent a few hours at this pleasantly roughhewn brewpub. Right alongside a Meadery and a distillery in the same industrial complex, Hijinx had twelve draught beers available on our initial sojourn.

A large open garage door welcomed us to the cement-floored joint. Two community tables and several wood barrels sidled the hardwood bar while the brewtanks were stationed across the room.

Keen local faves, the Peter Johann Band, played a few hot sets while we kicked back and enjoyed five well-balanced brews (and bought many more for home consumption reviewed in Beer Index).

Spunky Wicked White doused zesty orange peel briskness atop muted coriander spicing, distant banana tartness and herbal Belgian yeast funk.

Earthen peat musk gave an Extra Special Bitter-like profile to Tail Pale Ale, a nifty IPA crossover with dry orange, apricot and tangerine tanginess picking up raw-honeyed astringency.

Dewy peat mustiness, dry rye malts, soily truffle nuances and mild apple-pear fruiting caressed easygoing Pitch Penny ESB.

Spicy hop-tingled citrus fruiting serenaded sessionable Party Guy Ale, a pale-malted moderation with tangy orange-tangerine-grapefruit licks sidling dried prune, sour cider and sweet peach notions as well as tertiary vegetal snips.

Red and orange fruiting dabbed Far Darrig Irish Red, a mildly spiced smoothie with amber-grained toffee malting.

hijinxbrewing.com

YERGEY BREWING

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EMMAUS, PENNSYLVANIA

On a dead end corner lot in the sleepy Lehigh Valley town of Emmaus, YERGEY BREWING is the delightful brainchild of bearded engineer, Jim Yergey. One block away from Funk Brewing at a freestanding beige cement garage with an arched roof, Yergey’s distinct brews have inspired local denizens and ‘brewpies’ alike since opening September ’16.

On my late October ’17 sojourn, the cozy hangout is packed thru to its covered front patio as the night falls. The 20-seat bar features 12-plus tap handles and a few silver brew tanks. Edison lights hover above the six wooden table-chair setups and two community tables. The black ceiling offers a caliginous backdrop for the comfy epoxy-floored nanobrewery.

A few Grateful Dead cuts play in the background while I sample nine well-rounded selections.

First up, sweet-tart banana fronted Anna Banana Hefeweizen, a simply delectable moderation with spritzy lemon zest and Graham Cracker-like wheat sugaring.

Next, smoothly ethereal No Joke Blonde Ale tethered tart grape esters to mild herbal spicing, honeyed biscuit sweetness, lemon meringue piquancy and sugar cookie nuances.

Easygoing oats-flaked Slightly Nuts British Mild let brown chocolate and toffee sweeten alongside hazelnut, chestnut and pecan illusions.

Amber grain toasting and dry citrus hops balanced A Beer Has No Name Red IPA. Its grapefruit-orange-mango tang gained a caramel sweetness over light phenol astringency.

Sessionable India Pale Ale, LV’s Hoppin’ coalesced yellow fruit spicing with fragrant floral citrus hops and yellow wooded dryness.

Yergey’s most popular offering, mellow Hoptiletious Double IPA brought bright floral citrus sweetness to dry piney hopped tenacity as its orange-pineapple-grapefruit tang lingered above sugary caramel malts.

Brewed in collaboration with Backyard Beans, cold brewed dark roast coffee took prominence for Cafehoptiletious, a hybridized IPA with a mildly smooth nitro soothe and crisp citric-pined respite.

Bringing moderate chili heat to the fore, Chocolate Chili Porter tamed its peppery frontage with brown chocolate, black cherry and blackberry sweetness.

For dessert, nitrogenated Bourbon Barrel Kings’ Nightcap maintained a mild bourbon molasses creaminess above nutty caramel malts and subtle brown chocolate sweetness (gaining wispy cherry puree and blackberry brandy undertones).

www.yergeybrewing.com

ELK CREEK CAFE & ALEHOUSE

 

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MILLHEIM, PENNSYLVANIA

Near the center of Main Street in rural Central Pennsylvania outpost, Millheim, red-bricked General Store-like bistro ELK CREEK CAFE & ALEHOUSE opened for business in December 2007. A quaint smalltown pub with a warm, friendly atmosphere, the rustic butterscotch-walled coffeehouse is equally at home serving 11 AM weekend brunch as well as the finest homemade draught beer around.

Olden hardwood floors and wood furnishings bedeck Elk Creek and its menu features locally sourced food. The right side 20-seat bar (with a dozen tap handles, local distilled liquor and wines) counters macramé-designed artwork at the left end.

My wife and I stopped in for a plentiful Sunday brunch (Sausage, Gravy & Biscuit alongside a breakfast burrito) on a rainy Sunday morning in October ’07 after visiting nearby Penn State University for a few days. We sampled eight approachable brews as noon time approached.

Easygoing Winkleblink Wheat Ale woke up our tastebuds with tingly lemon-candied spicing and floral-daubed grapefruit notions hovering above doughy baked breading.

Lightly kilned grain malts picked up grassy hop astringency and spritzy orange tartness to saddle Elk Creek Copper Ale’s brown-breaded caramel malting. The hand-pulled nitro version diluted its wavered toffee sugaring for softly creamed Scotch-licked dewy peat earthiness.

Leafy foliage provided autumnal resonance for Elk Creek Oktoberfest 2017, a tea-like pale-toned moderation with red-orange fruit subtleties.

Stylishly ‘bold’ Great Blue Heron Pale Ale covered its splashy citric-spiced tang with peppery herbs peppering and grassy hop astringency.

Maybe the best and most popular offering, vibrant Double Rainbow India Pale Ale brought lingered lemony grapefruit tanginess to grassy dry-hopped astringency and herbal notions.

One of my faves, English-styled Brookie Brown Ale let caramel-burnt dark chocolate malts infiltrate toffee-sugared walnut and almond illusions as well as sweet vanilla wisps.

For dessert, enjoyed the five malt varieties consuming Poe Paddy Porter, where dark-roast chocolate consumed earthen truffle, raw molasses, bitter coffee and cacao nibs illusions.

www.elkcreekcafe.com

 

 

 

DISTRICT 96 BEER FACTORY

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NEW CITY, NEW YORK

Just next door to Burger Loft in simple nuevo fashion sits New City’s DISTRICT 96 BEER FACTORY. Opened July ’17, but serving draughts to Burger Loft since at least January, this elegantly devised open space will be treasured by beer enthusiasts for its easygoing suds (mostly small-batched pale ales and IPA’s) and “illuminating Industrial chic” design.

The storefront-windowed pub features a beautifully vaulted skylight ceiling, plasma cut metal boarded beer listing (with radiant District 96 lettering) and sundry Edison bulb lighting. Sporting twelve white-tiled draught lines plus one nitro line and cider tap, District 96′s fifteen-seat oak bar services eight tables at the red brick left side wall and its burger-centric neighbor at the other side of the entrance.

Owner John Potenza hired New England Brewing Company’s Chase Planson as head brewer to run the daily operation. And the large lower-leveled brew tanks taking up the spacious back area will help make expansion at this site much easier.

I had consumed eight homemade draughts (listed in Beer Index) at Burger Loft over the last several months, but found four previously untried brews one rainy September ’17 evening.

First, approachable The Wit House let funky fungi-herbed Belgian yeast lightly affect floral orange-peeled lemon tanginess to its delicate white wheat base.

Sessionable Misunderestimated IPA brought bright yellow grapefruit and zesty lemon to the fore as grassy hops picked up mild piney bittering.

More stylistically robust, turbidly yellow-hazed Sexual Relations IPA allowed juicy yellow grapefruit, pineapple, mango, papaya and guava tropicalia to gain mild orange rind bittering above creamy crystal-malted sweetness.

For dessert, dry Dark Money Porter recalled an Irish Stout with its mildly creamed Bakers chocolate, burnt coffee and espresso tones upending moderate hop charred bittering (and distant black grape esters).

Serving Rockland County’s affluent Clarkstown community with a fine menu of ever-changing beers, District 96 has already got local Hudson Valley patrons hooked.

www.district96beer.com

SHIP BOTTOM BREWERY

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LONG BEACH ISLAND, NEW JERSEY

In the heart of Long Beach Island in Beach Haven’s Bay Village, SHIP BOTTOM BREWERY came into fruition during the summer of 2016. On a second floor loft overlooking the bay, this increasingly popular brewpub features a steady flow of year-round beers (lager/ hefeweizen/ IPA/ stout), seasonals and one-offs readied for crowlers-to-go or on-site imbibing.

A spacious right side brew area with small serving table holds several mid-size tanks while the left side tasting room offers  10-seat bar with several community tables, electronic wall board (with beer listing), rustic white-boarded walls, six draught lines and one cask.

During October Chowderfest ’17, I got to quaff five diverse homemade suds.

Dry German-styled Barnegat Lager brought grain-toasted pale malting to perfumed citric pleasantries, earthen fungi must, sweet toffee reminders and light vegetal tones.

Candied Blood Orange Wheat Ale let its tangy blood orange adjunct pick up tangerine, clementine and grapefruit illusions above mild wheat malting.

Seasonal Imperial Pumpkin Ale on Cask contrasted honey-sweetened pumpkin pie spicing against vegetal earthen gourd dryness.

Sharply clean The Shack IPA decorated its spicy grapefruit, orange, mango and lemon tang with resinous pine tones and musky earthiness, leaving a spritzy citrus finish upon the tongue.

Sweet chocolate countered cocoa-dried coffee sedation for Barnicle Bottom Stout, a medium-bodied dark ale with mild Blackstrap molasses sinew and dark-roasted hops saddling its brown-sugared oatmeal base.

shipbottombrewery.com

CHECK SIX BREWING COMPANY

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SOUTHPORT, NORTH CAROLINA

Settled into a quiet mall with three black steel porch tables and two picnic benches welcoming customers, CHECK SIX BREWING COMPANY gave North Carolina its southernmost brewpub in 2015. Just south of Wilmington in the Cape Fear region of Brunswick County, the family-run business began in 2015.

Inside the epoxy-floored red-brick pub are a constant flow of  famous wartime aircraft memorabilia, several hanging propellers, a large Check Six insignia and 2 TV’s. At the 10-stool wood bar are 20-plus tap handles to service a community table, several tables and front-walled counters.

Most of the homemade brews dabbled with stylistically hybridized originality and all were named after fighter pilot’s components and lingo.

For starters on this hazily humid Friday afternoon, August ’17, spritzy moderate-bodied German-styled Broken Prop Pilsner countered lemon-candied sugar wafer sweetness with mild hop astringency.

Just a tad more astringent, Gee Bee Honey Pale Ale brought mild honey-spiced fruiting to the fore over dry-hopped grain malts.

Raw-honeyed orange sourness and a ‘touch of pomegranate’  inundated mild crystal-malted Wendy’s Blonde Ale.

Bustling with rich flavor and a mild coconut adjunct, hybridized Flying Circus Coconut Hefeweizen allowed sour lemon-dropped banana-clove tartness, beechwood-smoked pilsner malting and honeyed Chardonnay tones to coexist (alongside a lemon custard tanginess).

Dewy dry-bodied Mc Elroy’s Irish Red Ale gained a tidy cherry-spiced whimsicality.  

Mild peppery heat guided Fox 2 Chipotle Irish Red Ale, a red and orange fruit-spiced medium body with mild earthen hop bittering.

In the same vein, gentle jalapeno peppering heated up lightly pale malted San Philipe Pub Lano Ale.

Dewy English malts gave Hat In The Ring IPA an earthen tone increased by herbal wood-toned hop seepage and countered by tangy grapefruit-orange-pineapple juiciness.

Floral-spiced Aerial Aggression Double IPA let dry-hopped citric juicing take the lead at the mildly bitter finish.

Nutty hop bittering centered Curtiss Jenny Brown Ale, a dry moderation with compost-like dewiness and charred walnut tones.

Nitro-like Wrong Way Corrigan’s Irish Stout brought cola-dried Band-Aid astringency to lemon-wedged black chocolate malting.

Dry cocoa-powdered Flight School Cocoweed Stout gained a light coffee-roasted black chocolate serenity.

Mild milk-creamed chocolate malts gave Dugan’s Chocolate Stout its brownie-fudged Mild Dud/Yoo-Hoo sweetness to contrast wispily  astringent hop-charred nuttiness.  

Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans led Harley Pope Imperial Porter to its oats-sugared hazelnut center and wood-smoked black chocolate finish.

www.checksixbeer.com

 

 

LEGEND BREWING DEPOT

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PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA

Inside a historic white stucco Town Hall featuring exquisite wood furnishings, Old World architecture and large Gothic archway columns, LEGEND BREWING DEPOT sits prominently alongside Portsmouth’s famous seawall. While the original Legend Brewing in Richmond built a solid reputation as one of Virginia’s longest lasting modern brewpubs (since 1993), its well-established brewmasters wanted to expand and hit the jackpot operating this refurbished “Olde Towne” Chesapeake Bay crown jewel.

Situated 90 miles east of Richmond and overlooking Norfolk, Legend’s satellite site sticks out like a rounded castle at the prime Portsmouth pier. Its pristine maroon-beige interior offers simple elegance and the spacious pier-side deck couldn’t be more majestic on this sunny Saturday afternoon in August (just days after the establishment opened).

I’d tried everything on the menu on a few Richmond trips, except one easygoing dark ale and a sassy li’l seasonal offering.

Sweet bourbon-whiskey wisps gathered subtle hazelnut-almond-praline illusions and tingly citrus-spiced hops above caramelized chocolate malting for dainty dandy, Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale (very popular amongst deck-bound quaffers this day).

As for crisply clean Z-Dam Summertime Ale, its zesty lime adjunct, refreshing ginger snap, distant lemony orange tang and fluttering chamomile subtlety created a bright sunshiny glaze for the lightly honeyed pale malt backbone.

www.legendbrewing.com

 

MAGNIFY BREWING COMPANY

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FAIRFIELD, NEW JERSEY

Just off Route 46 in the Pio Costa Industrial mall, Fairfield-based MAGNIFY BREWING COMPANY has become one of Jersey’s finest and most recognized microbreweries in short order.

Specializing in sessionable India Pale Ales, but not afraid to dabble in sundry other styles, Magnify came to fruition after founder Eric Ruta discovered Portland’s “amazing craft beer scene” during college. He eventually hooked up with experienced brewmaster, Erich Carrle (who’d worked at Kelso, Almanac and Speakeasy).

Open since 2015, Magnify’s fluorescent blue, white and yellow insignia dons the front window and a small bench sits outside welcoming patrons to the rustic gray-walled interior.

A large blackboard with colorful beer descriptions lists all tapped selections currently available at the hardwood 8-draught bar (with jarred Edison lights). Eight bar stools, several tables and one community bench fill out the room. Large ceilings allow several tall silver beer tanks to prosper in the rear and the walls are sparsely decorated.

On a hot September ’17 afternoon, I grab a seat and quaff three previously untried brews. Over the last few years, I had already consumed over 20 Magnify brews.

Today, Magnify has four worthy one-off IPA’s to consume on draught or buy in cans for takeout. Each one packs a lot of flavor while never getting too bitter or bold for softer palates.

A collaboration with Long Island’s Barrier Brewing, uplifting lupulin-powdered Don’t Sneeze brought sunny yellow grapefruit tanginess and sweet orange peel briskness to the fore as juniper-embittered piney hop resin contrasted its lightly creamed caramel-pale malting.

Despite its brazen 8.5% ABV, delectably fruited One-Two Punch (utilizing newly designed Michigan Copper hops with the Mosaic varietal) ultimately mellowed down as its spiced-up grapefruit, pineapple, orange, peach and mango tang received a lightly peppered pine oiling.

Crushable triple-hopped Break The Bank let its beige-yellowed murk bring yeasty sinew to the surface. Lemony grapefruit and orange rind bittering aided hemp-oiled herbal hops to contrast candied pineapple, mango and peach sweetness.

Easygoing crisp-watered DDH Mouthfeelings IPA with Oats and Lactose added mildly creamed lactic acidity to lemony orange-spiced alacrity and mild bark-dried yellow wood bittering, fortifying its backend with dried oats.

Magnify, Brix City and Bolero Snort have gained a lot of ground over the last few years, receiving access at nearly every conceivable North Jersey beerpub. Cheers!

magnifybrewing.com