Category Archives: United States Brewpubs


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Open for business since the Fourth of July, 2014, PLATFORM BEER CO. is arguably Cleveland’s best brewpub (with a second site now operating in Columbus). Utilizing a large, raw space just west of downtown Cleveland at  the Gordon Square Arts District in the Ohio City district, Platform delivers a plethora of wide-ranging brews and allows dedicated brewing apprentices to sharpen their craft through their Incubator pilot batch program sponsored by owner Paul Benner’s Cleveland Beer Shop across the street.

Inside a defunct meat packing warehouse, Platform’s red brick-walled interior, Edison bulb lighting, black ceiling and exposed ducts provide an Industrial setting while the dog-friendly rear patio offers further seating. The 25-seat central bar contains 2 cornered TV’s, 24 tap handles and several brew tanks. Two community tables, an electronic bowling game and a satellite kitchen at the front complete the score as my wife and I settle mid-bar to sample some of the best suds this town’s got to offer in spades during a March ’17 sojourn.

For a soft-toned starter, City Boy Sour retained a pinkish champagne hue and flavoring as raspberry-pureed souring reigned upon sugary Sweet-Tart spicing and spritzy lemon salting to its straw wheat base.

Dedicated to Cleveland’s hard-working blue collar souls, New Cleveland Palesner Pilsner engaged its dried barleycorn musk with earthen Noble hop herbage, cracker-like pale malts and floral snips.

Hopped-up Vienna-lagered Taube Brau brought caramelized barley malting to floral-dusted hops and desiccated orange-fig illusions in a spritzy manner.

The Project -Eldorado Pale Ale, a light-bodied sweetener, loaded tangy strawberry, melon, lemon, canteloupe and pineapple brightener upon its honey-spiced Graham Cracker base.

‘Complex’ Winter Wit layered polite Christmas spicing atop mild lemon-soured orange peel bittering, herbal lemongrass perfuming, distant banana-clove sugaring and neutral white wheat graining.

Brisk tropical fruiting picked up sharp hop spicing for excellent flagship offering, Speed Merchant White IPA, where floral orange-peeled grapefruit, peach, pineapple, mango and lemon illusions brightened the soft white wheat base as its dry piney bitterness increased tension.

A veritable citrus hop bouquet wafts its way thru medium-full-bodied Warrah Imperial IPA, framing its bittersweet orange-peeled grapefruit, pineapple and tangerine tang as well as its dried-fruited black cherry, fig and date nuances with caramel malt sweetness.

Smoky meat-cured beechwood subtleties affected Noble Dragon Porter, a black chocolate-based dark ale with maple, caramel and vanilla sweetness contrasting earthen pepper spicing.

Possibly today’s best choice, High Brow Barista Pale Ale let rye-spiced malts propel dry-beaned medium roast coffee bittering above its zesty lemon rind tartness and wispy grapefruit tingle in a crisply clean-watered setting.





Just across the Cuyahoga River from downtown Cleveland in the newly gentrified West Side Market section of Ohio City, capacious sports-barred brewpub MARKET GARDEN BREWERY features a front patio and community-tabled beergarden to sidle its Prohibition Era-styled interior. Opened November ’15 and initially visited March ’17, this multifarious pub was transformed from its dilapidated state to become the centerpiece of a proudly reconstituted market district.

Occupying a cavernous warehouse facility and a few doors down from the owners’ still-thriving sister brewery (the smaller-sized Nano), Market Garden’s custom-built walk-thru brew system, manned by experienced former Dogfish Head and Great Lakes brewer, Andy Tveekrem, allows patrons full access to witness the brewing operations.

Meanwhile, olden chandeliers, decorative railroad-tied walls, marbled slate table tops and cornered leather booths provide sterling antiquity for the centralized 30-seat curved bar. Downstairs, the low-ceilinged Ohio City Room adds a separate bar and plenty of seating while a backroom dining space keeps kids happy.

The worthy pub menu included 30 items such as the delicious Brisket Burger and equally fine Truffle Mac & Cheese. Four chalkboards list 20-plus homemade brews.

Market Garden’s most popular beer, perfectly streamlined Prosperity Wheat, brought mild banana-clove-bubblegum sweetness to lemony orange zest and wheat-sugared pale malts above sourdough breading.   

Fine strong lager, Illuminator Doppelbock, stayed sweet as caramel-spiced toffee malting picked up mild dried fruiting.

Dewy peat malts soaked Wee Heavy Wallace Tavern Scotch Ale, leaving toffee-spiced caramel sweetness upon brown-sugared molasses wisps.    

“Intense tropical fruiting” deluged brilliant Citra Max IPA, a zesty Citra hop-spiced medium body gathering grapefruit and orange rind bittering alongside tangy pineapple, mango, papaya and tangerine illusions. Dank piney hop resin increases its bold bitterness.

Sharp IPA-derived fruit spicing glazed Retro Hippo Barleywine (2017), a floral-wafted middleweight with tangy yellow grapefruit, navel orange, pineapple, peach, mango and tangerine tropicalia picking up fig-sugared sweetness and delicate butternut-pecan-praline undertones.

Then came the terrific dark ale selections.

Splendid Midnight Vorlauf Coffee Porter raised its cold-brew coffee roast above black-brown chocolate malts and mildly charred hops for a fine morning wake up call.

Nitro Saint Emeric’s Stout retained a mildly creamed black chocolate moderation and dry nutty swipe above musky earthen wood tones.

Blending bittersweet chocolate-malted cocoa nibs with mild chipotle and cayenne-peppered habanero heat, Barrio Mole Stout lingered on with a smoky mocha resonance. Quite inspiring.

Even better and richer, oak-barreled Irishman’s Enforcer Imperial Stout layered Tom’s Foolery bourbon vanilla subtleties atop black-malted cocoa nibs and dark chocolate for comforting warmth.

Due to heavy drinking, I missed out on Chinook Strike Pale Ale and Progress Pilsner, two lighter mainstays.



A few doors down from its bigger business partner, Market Garden Brewery, in Cleveland’s historic Ohio City Market Square, friendly neighborhood joint, NANO BREW, features award-winning burgers and a few promising homemade elixirs by experienced brewer Andy Tveekrem.

Utilizing a two-sided bar broken up by a red brick wall, Nano’s signature bike handles, old wood floors, stage lighting, exposed pipes and rear open kitchen give it a rustic aura. A dog-friendly patio, oaken community tables and front cornered booths provide ample seating. The 24 draughts include three original Nano brews plus a fine assortment of Ohio microbrews.

On this sunny Saturday afternoon, March 2017, the place is packed to the hilt. So I grab my samplers and stand along the central corridor. Someone here must have a druggy sense of humor since the Wake ‘N Bake and Acid Trip burgers provide a happy snicker.

First up, sharply sugar-spiced Namber Amber Ale brought red and orange fruiting to minor hop astringency for a decent moderate-bodied opener.

Next, Fireside Wheat Winter Hefeweizen enlivened sweet Christmastime spicing (cinnamon-clove-ginger) with fig-sugared dried fruiting.

Before heading off to Market Garden, Nano Porter contrasted coffee-stained walnut bittering against hazelnut-glazed sugaring and black chocolate malts.




Any true beer lover cruising down Route 80 in Central Pennsylvania a few miles north of Penn State must make the journey to ROBIN HOOD BREWING COMPANY. Situated inside Home D Pizzeria in a well-designed freestanding building in the Victorian-housed borough of Bellefonte, the friendly sportsbar-related beer and wood-fired pizza joint take their homemade craft brewing and popular pub fare seriously.

Open since 2014 and already on their 500th beer batch by my March ’17 visit, Robin Hood Brewing dominates its bucolic rural region since the closest competition lies twelve miles south and many more miles further in any other direction. A small enclosed wood deck sidles its stone-walled entrance side and a separate left side dining section serves families well. The 10-seat L-shaped bar area includes several booths and tables as well as 12 big-screen TV’s and a host of blackboard beer menus.

Brewmaster Chris Schell concocts a well-rounded selection from light lagers to bourbon-barreled Imperial Stouts and I try thirteen during dinnertime. Wine lovers should be informed of the 700 bottle selection.

Smooth Munich-malted L.J. Lager let dank grain pungency affect mild hop toasting for simple blue collar fare. Another easygoing moderation, English-styled Peasant Ale, brought light citrus souring to musky grains, sweet toffee and biscuity malts. Conventional King Richard Red spread toasted caramel malts across rye-spiced apple and fig sweetness.

Enjoyable moderation, Blueboary Wheat, spiked its prominent blueberry lacquering with subtle floral-perfumed hops and sweet wheat malts. Easy drinkin’ moderation, Pomegranate Wheat, draped pomegranate-soured blueberry and rhubarb tartness atop wispy white wheat breading.

Subtle grapefruit and orange rind bittering graced Blooming Spring IPA, an approachable moderate body with piney-hopped honeysuckle herbage. Dryer and bitterer Bulls IPA presses sweet ‘n sour grapefruit, pineapple and mango tropicalia against bark-dried wood tones and musky grains.

Soft-toned Long Bow Imperial IPA hid its hefty 10% ABV behind sugar-spiced fruit juicing, caramelized pale malt sweetness, resinous earthen pine bittering and evergreen freshness.

Dry-malted and suggestively named F-Tuck Porter brought dark-roast black chocolate malting to caramel-burnt coffee tones and earthen musk.

Next, three rich stouts helped bring a climactic height. Nitro Maiden Milk Stout contrasted milky bourbon chocolate and vanilla sweetness against dry cocoa tones. Unorthodox Axehole Russian Imperial Stout brought Baltic Porter-like dewy cellar musk and dried prune acridity to black-malted dark chocolate, cocoa and coffee tones.

Perfect mocha-bound digestif, Black Barrel Bourbon Stout, caressed beautiful Elijah Craig bourbon warmth with lovely chocolate-vanilla-coconut sweetness.  

Another luscious dessert treat, Major Oak Wee Heavy, saturates caramel-malted vanilla, coconut, molasses and fudge tones with bourbon-barreled Jack Daniels whiskey sweetness for a wholly involving Scotch ale.




Inside a small middle space at an inconspicuous West Fountain Street mall just across Route 95 from Providence proper, intimate LONG LIVE BEERWORKS thrilled its local neighbors, who came out in droves to celebrate its grand opening, January 2016. ‘Hardcore New Haven-bred hop enthusiast’ Armando De Dona utilizes a backroom seven barrel system to craft his highly respected original recipes. Unlike downtown breweries Union Station and Trinity, Long Live Beerworks is a traditional production microbrewery – meaning it only serves beer, not food.

Settling in on a cold Saturday evening February ’17, my wife and I grab seats at the L-shaped 8-seat serving table. On the right side, a large mural-like Long Live Beerworks canvas counters the black-walled bar area. In the springtime, a small exterior patio provides more room.

On tap during my 1-hour stopover were two magnificent coffee-flavored dark ales and one juicy IPA. Though we’re crunched for space, the tiny facility has no problem keeping the customers satisfied.

Lemony yellow grapefruit zest fronted Citra-Centennial-hopped Wesside IPA, a crisply clean medium body anchored by mildly creamed crystal malts and dank pine resin.

Next, Harry May Oatmeal Porter (with Dave’s French Roast Coffee) reigned luxurious coffee bean essence over sweet toasted oats, gaining cappuccino, café latte and cocoa undertones at its sweepingly majestic finish.

Just as enjoyable, Coarse Grind Stout (with Dave’s Coffee Espresso Blend) brought medium-roast coffee tones to the fore, as dry espresso, cacao nibs, dark chocolate and macchiato notions reinforced its java goodness. 



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In a red brick warehouse section just off Main Street and about a mile from fellow Pawtucket brewpubs, Foolproof and Crooked Current, BUCKET BREWERY uniquely built its imposing brewing system alongside the L-shaped serving bar during autumn 2013. Bucket’s old industrial setup includes a plain white interior with cement floors, double-hung windows and community tables.

On this late afternoon February ’17 perusal, I get a flight of six elixirs, which included two distinctly rewarding gose beers for starters.

Approachable Patience & Prudence Gose brought stylish salted coriander spicing (based on Leipzig’s 19th century-designed Ritterguts Gose) to slightly tart citrus licks and floral hibiscus-like rose hips snips over a light sourdough base.

Somewhat hybridized Creamsickle Gose, infused with orange and vanilla sugaring, gained a lemony snicker for a sweet shandy-like alternative that forgoes the spicy saline route for a neat Creamsickle likeness.

One step beyond its humble lager auspices, 33rd Inning Red Rye Lager laces its subtle rye spicing with sweet caramel malts to contrast the latent dry wood temperance and desiccated hay stash. Distant black currant and cinnamon notions fade fast. Way cool.

Fine mainstream fodder without being predictable, Pawtucket Pail Ale placed perfumed “apricot and tangerine” subtleties inside fig-sugared caramel malting, mild citric hop bittering and recessive nutmeg spicing.

Efficient medium-bodied Leroy: The Million Dollar IPA utilized Calypso-Citra-Centennial hops to generate lemony grapefruit, orange and green apple briskness as well as resinous dry wood tones.

Joyous Christmas-spiced milk stout, Black Goat Of The Woods, dripped syrupy dark chocolate atop cinnamon, ginger root and coffee ground adjuncts, gaining a mild black licorice snip beneath the mocha surface. Serenity now!



Inside an old red brick industrial mall with green doors, CROOKED CURRENT BREWERY came into existence during 2016 when Narragansett-raised brewmaster, Nichole Pelletier, and entrepreneurial businessman, Jason Lourenco, combined forces. Proudly obtaining the title of “smallest brewery in the smallest state,” this friendly dive features a gigantic right-walled Crooked Current sign, cozy left side tasting bar, slanted white-walled ceiling, several cool caricature drawings, painted wood floor and exposed ducts.

Packed to the hilt on a freezing afternoon in February ’17, my wife and I grab a counter and consume samplers of each three fine offerings currently available on draught.

First up, tropical Kiwi-bound fortified New Zealand IPA #3, where subtle passionfruit, pineapple, mandarin orange and grapefruit pith tartness sits atop alder wood-lacquered hop bittering.

Bringing its stylized vanilla-chocolate-strawberry flavoring to the surface, Neopolitan Brown Ale allows tart raspberry, plum and prune subtleties to affect its coffee-grounded earthen hop bottom.

Another dessert treasure, White Stout, brewed with cocoa and coarse ground coffee, picked up a sweet-spiced vanilla tingle, powdered sugar-glazed donut bumrush and lemon rind-embittered coffee snip (as well as a green tea spot), finishing a l’il like a coco caramel latte.


Image result for benny brewing companyWILKES-BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA

Since moving into its new digs at a roadhouse-styled aluminum outpost not far from its original spot in Nanticoke-based Marty’s Blue Room (where brewmaster Ben Schonfeld mastered his skills), BENNY BREWING COMPANY competes favorably with nearby Catholic school-housed Breaker Brewing.

A 20-seat L-shaped wood bar with antique railroad ties and three TV’s counter the right side open kitchen as hard rock blasts from the speakers upon my mid-afternoon early February ’17 jaunt. Entrees include blackened haddock, crab cakes, burgers, cured meats and sandwiches while fine cocktails, mixers and wine lift the spirits.

Each of today’s six offerings prove to be well-balanced, stylistically spot-on and memorable. Refreshingly clean moderation, Wit, brings tart lemon-dropped spicing to recessive banana-clove sweetness, light white-peppered yeast funk and subtle herbal whims.

Sharply fruit-spiced 570, an American Amber Lager, mingled brusque apple, orange, grapefruit, tangerine and pear illusions with toasted amber and caramel malts.

Orange-peeled yellow grapefruit and pineapple tang provided juicy frontage for resileintly pine hopped Pale Ale.

Interesting limited edition India Pale Ales included One And Done #6 Black IPA, where dark-roasted chocolate and coffee lingered above dried fruited tenacity. And crisply clean One And Done #7 Session IPA let its sweet orange-peeled tangerine tang ride above sugar-spiced lemon tartness and oily pine hops, leaving an aspirin-like astringency upon the reductive citrus finish.

The perfect dessert treat, Oatmeal Chocolate Stout brought fudged brownie, black chocolate syrup and vanilla-sugared cocoa overtones to its mild oatmeal spine. Its Nitro version retained a softer tone as mildly creamed chocolate cake sweetness enveloped bitter cocoa, dark-roasted peanut butter, toasted almond and Amaretto niceties.


Glenmere Brewing Company

Inside an inconspicuous large grey shed behind a car wash in the rustic village of Florida, New York, GLENMERE BREWING COMPANY came into existence during July ’16. Located within a few miles of Warwick beer pub haven, Eddie’s Roadhouse, and respected garden center, Pennings Farm, Glenmere’s reliable logo “Elements Of The Craft” represents co-owner/brewmaster Michael Sandor’s sound philosophy of proving ’the hallmark of all beer should be good drinkability and likability,’ preferably from locally sourced ingredients.

A lifelong local Orange County native, Sandor became active in the homebrew community and judged brewing competitions before starting his own business plan with partner Fred Mehler. Some of his favorite stylistic offerings are Imperial Stouts, German Lagers and dunkelweizens.

Although there’s too much random beer info online these days, he still appreciates reading (now-deceased) premier beer enthusiast Michael Jackson’s stuff. Not wanting to get stuck making only flagship beers from his pristine stainless steel 15 barrel system, Sandor prefers to allow a ‘nice rotation’ of diverse brews to gain exposure with the local denizens now populating Glenmere’s barrel-topped bench and stool tasting room.

“The area was changing and people’s tastes were also changing,” Sandor confides as he pours four goblet samplers for me this cold February ’16 Saturday afternoon. “Millenials always want the next thing. But it’s challenging. 70% of what they purchase is stuff they never had before. Most recipes are developed, then there are adjustments. But ultimately, it’s worked in our favor. We’re always onto something else.”

Presently, Glenmere’s fermenting an English Style Strong Ale as well as readying a smoked porter and a stout. As of February ’17, they are self-distributing within New York State.

Sandor says, “Because there are so many India Pale Ales available, I haven’t concentrated on that style. A large percent of the craft beer market are IPA’s and seasonals. Once people get past the bitterness, they build a comfort level for IPA’s. It’s my favorite hangover style for the morning after.”

Nevertheless, one of Glenmere’s finest offerings, Lucid Dragon, is a robust IPA loading lemony orange-peeled grapefruit, pineapple, mango, tangerine, peach and guava tropicalia as well as subtle sugar spicing atop biscuity Maris Otter malts, leaving a mildly dank piney hop bittering upon the zesty fruitful finish.

Softer palates will appreciate The S.A.G.A. Amber Ale, a classic well-balanced moderation with a sprinkling of tangy IPA-like fruiting (grapefruit, orange, mango, pineapple, tangerine, clementine) atop woody dry-hopped bittering and caramel-spiced malting.

Perhaps Glenmere’s most admired brew yet, boldly dark-roasted Pennings Brown Ale, provides a nutty chocolate decadence so undeniable it won a Gold Medal in Portland, Oregon’s Craft Beer Show.

My personal fave may’ve been richly resilient Wicked Witch Stout, where dark-roasted cola-walnut-hazelnut overtones and black chocolate syruping gain ‘deciduous black raspberry’ rasps along with pureed blackberry, strawberry and blueberry subsidies.

It’s also worth mentioning the live acoustic showcases that take place once in awhile.

The New York landscape for brewers has never been better. And Glenmere’s entrepreneurial mavens prove there’s still room for more growth. Cheers!


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Off the main drag in a red brick edifice formerly housing St. Joseph’s Catholic Monastery, Wilkes-Barre’s BREAKER BREWING COMPANY is the brainchild of day-time engineers Chris Miller and Mark Lehman. Going up the wood ramp to its backdoor entrance during my initial May ’13 visit (and December ’17 followup), I enter the still-developing microbrewery’s spotless sample room and meet the friendly entrepreneurs at the alter-like mahogany bar.

Lehman, a hop-headed Sierra Nevada Pale Ale lover since ’94, began brewing operations out of Miller’s garage in ’09, making small batch brews that kept running out due to local popularity. Nowadays, a clean tan-tiled brew station with 150-gallon tanks, mash tun, and brew kettle overlooking the Wilkes-Barre valley serves as the engine driving this expanding business. Presently, 20-plus local bars carry Breaker’s approachable fare.

Framed pictures of ancient factory workers and barrel-breaking prohibitionists line the wall behind the serving station (made from rectory church pews) while curtained windows, exposed ducts and a blackboard beer list also don the provincial interior. Though only Lunch Pail Ale, I Love Pa., and Potbelly Pumpkin Ale have been bottled for consumption as of this date, Lehman claims he’d like to expand the line. Look for a Double IPA and Barleywine in the near future.

Saddling up to the bar, I begin my two-hour session with assertive flagship offering, Lunch Pail Ale, where sharp India Pale Ale-like fruiting and astringent hop bittering pick up floral-spiced orange-tangerine-lemon tang over its toasted barley spine.

Easy drinkin’ lighter-bodied 5 Whistle Wheat provided bark-dried grain husk to lemony banana-plantain tartness, candied orange lollipop sugaring and raw-honeyed acridity.

Easygoing Golden Blonde Ale plied perfume-hopped coriander, orange peel and lemon zest to a mellow grain malt bill, scattering tangy mandarin orange, navel orange and tangerine undertones below the surface.

Named after Pennsylvania’s indigenous coal, hybridized Anthracite Amber Ale combined ESB-derived earthen peat dewiness and weedy grain must with red ale-like citric spicing and caramelized sugaring, finishing with a rye-dried black tea bittering (and vegetal hint).

Another hybrid, Phoebe Snow White IPA (with its Lackawanna Railroad ad moniker) blended white-peppered Belgian fungi yeast with India Pale Ale-related sweet orange peel zest and lemon-pitted bittering, bringing musty cellar pungency to tertiary dark floral nuances and wispy sage-rosemary herbage.

Lively I Love PA (India Pale Ale) segued floral grapefruit-peeled orange rind piquancy into pelleted reedy hop bittering  and pungent rye-malted grouting.

Before heading out, sampled Old King Cole Stout, a deep-roasted dark ale cajoling hop-toasted dark chocolate, charred tobacco and freeze-dried coffee notes.

A tribute to the local mining businesses that once ran America’s Industrial Revolution, Breaker Brewing should interest any brew hound traveling thru the capacious Keystone State.

On a cold New Years Eve 2016 afternoon sojourn, my wife and I sampled eight goblet samplers (five of which were previously untried India Pale Ales) at the lacquer wood-furnished old convent section. An eclectic menu of artisan pizzas, paninis and salads went well with each carefully flavored elixir.

Botanical pine-needled Mosaic hop tropicalia enveloped clean-watered sensation, Smooph Mosaic, a crisp medium-bodied IPA bringing lemony orange zest and passionfruit to the fore while tangy mango, pineapple, peach, grapefruit and red apple illusions gain strength atop the sugary caramel malt spine.

Bitterer Citra-hopped version, Smooph Citra IPA, guided musky lemon dryness and tangy orange-peeled mango, peach, pineapple, grapefruit and papaya juicing to its crystal-pale malt base.

Dank earthen wood tones deepened the grassy hop astringency of Terra IPA, as orange-peeled yellow grapefruit bittering contrasted candied mango, peach and pineapple sweetness.Wood-dried orange rind and grapefruit pith bittering surfaced above light pale malting for Earthly IPA.

Cascadian-styled Black Diamond IPA let dark-roasted chocolate malting, black licorice remnants and black grape wisps contrast dry-hopped charcoal char.

Detonator Series – West Coast ESB combined brisk IPA fruiting and hardwood lacquering with dewy peat malts, leaving tangy clementine, navel orange and tangerine in its wake.

For dessert, two stylishly deviant ales sufficed.

Sugared hazelnut glazed Banana Hazelnut Ale while rotted banana sweetness and sharp hop spicing picked up rich S’mores and Kahlua undertones as well as bubblegum hints.

Before heading out, we enjoyed Patchtown Chocolate Mint Porter, a Dutch cocoa and mint-infused porter with mint-leafed black milk chocolate milking picking up Christmastime nutmeg-ginger-wintergreen spicing for its Junior Mint/ creme de menthe finish.



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A large JERSEY GIRL BREWING COMPANY banner welcomes folks to the aluminum-topped white Industrial complex housing this large Mount Olive-based 30-barrel brewpub since April ’16. Owned by homebrewer Michael Bigger and beer enthusiast Charles Aaron, Jersey Girl started out big so expansion would not be necessary.

Taking in multi-faceted head brewer, Jodi Andrews-Stoudt, a nearby Allentown native, the busy team enjoys crafting reliably “good, spot-on” versions of a wide array of styles.

Aaron explains, “What started out as having one too much to drink one night got us deciding to start a brewery. Chuck loved the idea. We made the rounds to Jersey breweries such as Forgotten Boardwalk and Carton. One of my favorites was Kane Brewing. I love Michael Kane’s India Pale Ales and Sunday Brunch Imperial Porter. They all said if they were to do it again, they’d all start out bigger. So we did.”

At the laminated wood bar in the Tasting Room early Saturday afternoon, I grab a stool alongside my wife to try ten well-rounded offerings on my November ’16 birthday.

Perhaps the finest, award-winning King Gambrinus Tripel (named after the patron saint of Belgian brewing) maintained a mild crystalline-watered tone as lemony banana-clove-coriander sweetness picked up soft white-peppered herbal hop resin. Lemon meringue, key lime pie, chamomile and hibiscus undertones added depth.

Nearly as fabulous, fruitful Scotch Wee Heavy utilized viscous Wyeast yeast to bring its dry Scotch warmth and dewy moss dampness to juicy red cherry, orange, nectarine, cantaloupe and honeydew sweetness above earthen hop resin.

Sharp piney fruiting ignited New England-styled Rake Breaker IPA, a tropical delight gathering lemony orange, tangerine and clementine succulence for its spicy oat-sugared spine and dryly bitter wood tones.

Approachable Sun-Kissed Citra gave its expressive Citra-hopped briskness a dank hop-dried pine needling to contrast the candy-coated orange, tangerine and lemon tang. Crisply clean Blonde Ale sufficed as its candied citrus tang relegated the bready pale malt spine. Peachy apricot and tangy orange inundated wood-dried, soft-toned Pale Ale.

A large hard-candied tangerine contingent surfaced for dry-hopped IPA (featuring Mandarina Bavaria), a sharp medium body contrasting sweet citrus vigor with moderate pine oiling.

Marzen-styled Golden Lager spread sweet n’ sour lemon-rotted orange tartness across leafy hop earthiness and pale malt breading.

Dark-roasted nuttiness and caramelized black chocolate malts secured Nut Brown Ale, a traditional English ale combining peanut-shelled walnut overtones with less prominent hazelnut coffee notions.

For dessert, mocha-bound Chocolate Coffee Porter brought mild black chocolate creaming to its dry-roasted walnut char contrasting the lightly sweet hazelnut glaze.


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Within walking distance of Hackettstown’s Centenary College on a rolling hillside in an antiquated red brick repair shop, CZIG MEISTER BREWING COMPANY’s Old World-styled tasting room, patio-benched biergarten and 15-barrel brew system filled up quickly during my Saturday afternoon November ’16 perusal.

Led by biochemistry-majored homebrewing enthusiast Matthew Czigler, this family-run pub succinctly re-creates “traditional old world classic standards,” emulating European styles with ambition, passion and creativity.

In a capacious space with exposed black pipes, wood-barreled tables and overhead garage door, Czig Meister’s  tasting room features a dozen community tables plus a leathery living room setup. The salvaged wood bar top with bolted foot rail piping sits above a red brick base. Grabbing a stool at the bar, I quaff eight diverse brews over a memorable two-hour session. Since opening in early ’16, Czigler has hand crafted dozens of sudsy elixirs in a short time frame – many of which are experimental limited edition models.

Up first, corn liquor-smitten Hefeweizen belied its banana-clove stylishness with putrid orange-soured lemon tartness. Next, mossy mainstream seasonal, Octoberfest, brought fall foliage to wavered citric spicing and mildly sugared pale malting.

Approachable rye-dried Pumper Dunkelweizen retained overripe banana and juicy citrus tones. Citric herbal delight, Belgian Dubbelbock, crossed white-peppered Belgian yeast and spry lemon spritz with German doppelbock-inspired raisin, plum and prune overtones in a winning manner. Candi-sugared Belgian Quad was equally compelling, draping dried fruited plum, date and fig tones atop light hop-spiced caramel malting.

Refreshingly crisp amber-hazed medium body, Summer IPA- Citra, received a dry wood lacquering to protect lemony yellow grapefruit, tangerine and Navel orange illusions above creamy crystal malting.

Convincingly fruitful Barleywine conveyed candied banana, cherry, fig and red grape tones over caramel malt sugaring in a smooth manner.

Before hitting the road, black chocolate-smoked Milk Stout developed a polite dark-roasted coffee nuttiness over time.