BLOOMINGDALE, NEW JERSEY
Coming into existence during the fall of 2015, Bloomingdale’s RIVER OF BEER proved to be a fabulous family affair on my initial May ’16 sojourn. Owned by Fred Soule (whose wife runs the antique shop next door) and featuring his son Dave’s fine craft beer selection (served on this rainy afternoon by Fred’s niece), this friendly neighborhood joint is only three miles from Route 287 on Hamburg Turnpike’s Main Street corrider.
Inside an antique brown Victorian house, River Of Beer’s reminiscent of an Old World Parlor with its vintage front door, custom-designed warmth and cozy pub-styled L-shape bar (with 14 seats, 4 TV’s, well-stocked bottled-canned beer refrigerator, top-shelf liquor, decorative overhead tap handles and small back kitchen). Its delightful upstairs bar matches the first floor’s homey rusticity with its beautiful recycled wood furnishings, barnstable-pitched ceiling, tongue-in-groove pine arches, front corner recliner and love seat (plus the exquisite four tabled widow’s peak).
My wife and I quaff several previously untried brews at the back deck, which is adorned by an awning-covered patio table, a leather-seated wood barrel table, red brick fire pit, porch furniture and beer-bannered wood fence.
As for today’s elixirs, I grab four reliable Jersey suds, a rye-barreled double bock and one choice Milwaukee offering (reviewed fully in Beer Index). Just up the road, Butler’s Ramstein Pale Ale brought lemony spiced hops to the fore. Meanwhile, Little Ferry’s Brix City Gloria Belgian Blonde trickled citrus spritz onto white-peppered hops and candi-sugared malts; Roselle Park’s Climax 20th Anniversary Barleywine retained a soft-toned fig-sugared cherry tang and fruity hop astringency; Atlantic Highland’s Carton Eden Saison, a simple table beer, provided jasmine-flowered grains of paradise tropicalia and herbal lemon tones. Wisconsin’s Lakefront Hop Jockey Double IPA gathered pine-needled grapefruit and mandarin orange juicing to override the crystal-sugared caramel malting.
But today’s finest brew was a specially-made Ramstein Winter Wheat Doppelbock soaked in Dad’s Hat Rye barrels. A true godsend, its smooth rye-dried frontage picked up a large rum-spiced bourbon contingent to elevate the molasses-sugared brown chocolate sweetness, cherry jubilee liqueuring and red grape tang.
Not to be outdone, River Of Beer’s entrepreneurial home brewer, Dave Soule, showed off his brewing prowess with a richly creamed doppelbock (?) full of sugared fig, stewed prune and ripe raisin overtones placed directly above dewy peat earthiness.
To quote soul legend, Al Green, Take Me To The River (Of Beer, that is)!