WILLIAMSTOWN, NEW JERSEY
A humble oasis tucked away off the Atlantic City Expressway (one mile north of 13th Child) in the quiet tree-lined suburban village of Williamstown, CROSS KEYS BREWING CO. opened its doors March ’18. Comforting in its charmingly ungarnished warehouse-converted studio splendor, Cross Key’s green-hopped insignias are ever-present throughout the gray cement-floored pub.
An outdoor wood patio at the parking lot leads to the entrance where two overhead doors provide further access. A nifty wood-lacquered bar top with embedded keys, twelve-plus tap handles, twin electronic beer boards and overhead caged Edison lights is situated in the rear. Barreled tables and a few couch furnishings decorate the spare space. A separate high ceilinged right side room with stainless steel brewtanks, large refrigeration unit and ample kegs store the proprietary suds.
The winning array of rounded elixirs proved quite expressive on my Saturday evening jaunt, January ’21. While watching the Packers battle it out on TV, I sank eight sundry suds.
Easygoing light body, Williamstown German-Style Pilsner, confined its pasty corn-sugared malt liquoring and lightly floral-spiced herbage to its salty cracker spine.
Banana-spiced cotton candy sweetness enjoined brisk orange zesting to contrast pungent herbal hop astringency and salty phenols lingering thru the fruitful frontage of The Journey, a peppy Belgian Blonde Ale.
Candi-sugared bruised orange sweetness enhanced rummy banana daquiri cocktail flare for creamy Belgian tripel, The Marathon, a fine pilsner malted elixir.
Tartly vinous Yada Yada Yada Cherry Pie Gose allowed candied apple sweetness to seep inside its cherry rhubarb piquancy and lemon-soured cranberry, strawberry and apple splurge.
Orange-spiced oats sugaring coated Orange Jumpsuit, a tangy citric-glazed double dry-hopped IPA with mild pine oiling.
Floral-spiced piney fruiting embraced Hopedemic East Coast Double IPA, a pasty pale malt-sugared medium body with tangy peach, grapefruit and orange zesting.
Robust Peepin’ Porter relied on dark chocolate malts for its cocoa-dried roasted coffee, espresso and macchiato aspect, leaving cola, hazelnut and walnut dabs on the backend.
Decadent Quarantine Reserve Imperial Stout utilized syrupy chocolate-bound Madagascar vanilla beans to boost its boundless aspirations. Lusciously rich bourbon vanilla, chocolate cake, hazelnut coffee and hot cocoa tones as well as bruised black cherry, black grape and blackberry sweetness contrasted dark roast hop-charred bittering over honeyed mocha malt base.