Inside a detached garage at a rural residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Bethlehem lies fledging Lehigh Valley nanobrewery CAVE BREWING COMPANY. Taking a temporary step back from its original 3,400 square-foot South Mall locale (opened November 2018), Cave decided to scale down in the interim due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
An “underground under radar” small batch brewery created by Jeff Bonner, Cave’s future success will be guaranteed thanks to its well-crafted (usually one-off) fare. Inside his crowded two-room garage, a respectable can-bottle collection surrounds the above-head shelving and a beautiful hand-crafted wood top serving station sits in the midst.
I got to try four Cave brews at home afterwards and all were rewarding. Though I missed Blind Eye Barleywine for now, there was a hefeweizen, Imperial IPA, oatmeal stout and strong ale to enjoy during December ’20 football games two days hence.
One step beyond a simply sweet hefeweizen, El Heffe Wheat stayed tart as lemon-rotted plantain, tannic green grape and dry cider illusions relegated its stylish banana-clove sweetness.
Smoothly crystalline New England India Pale Ale, HAF 5.0, a bold dry body, brought vodka-nipped tropical fruiting to juniper-embittered pine resin and mild whiskey-soured lemon juicing, leaving musky alcohol esters upon its ancillary black tea earthiness.
Muskier still, ethanol-grained 9.5% ABV strong ale, Blurred Vision, let bittersweet hard cider tartness and orange-rotted souring whither to peated Scotch-malted sweetness.
Inspired by one of Bonner’s s favorite brews – Bert Grant’s Imperial Stout, Bert’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout placed mellow dark chocolate-roasted coffee creaming alongside molasses-sugared oats and fudged toffee to contrast its peaty hop-roasted earthiness, picking up tertiary cola, hazelnut, vanilla and dark cherry snips. Splendid!