FORKED RIVER, NEW JERSEY
Veteran-owned BACKWARD FLAG BREWING COMPANY came to fruition during 2016 when Army Staff Sergeant Torie Fisher’s passionate commitment to craft a stylish array of diverse beers fully blossomed. Military-rooted badges, uniforms and emblems bedeck the right wall alongside the microbrewery’s black American flag insignia, designed to amplify Fisher’s appreciation for the armed services.
Backward Flag’s current 10-barrel system (as of February 2020) delivers interestingly wide ranging and oft-times non-conformist fare. Since opening, BF has crafted nearly 100 different brews. There’s a flagship blonde ale, citric sour ale, a few Cascadian IPA’s, a fruited cream ale and more on my initial quest.
Lodged inside a tan aluminum warehouse at the northern Jersey Shore town of Forked River, Backward Flag features a lacquered pine serving station with two separate tap setups delivering a dozen different brews. The cement-floored, window-fronted interior includes multiple US flags, a lounge-y couch area, one large community table and brew-tanked back space.
Fisher and I shared a decadent Knob Creek bourbon-aged Oak Armored Ale blend (with oaken vanilla resonance, dry Scotch licks and silken flow) after enjoying the entire lineup this sunny winter afternoon.
First up, approachable flagship, Oak Armored Ale, plied oak-toasted vanilla pleasantry to honeyed orange goodness, lemon meringue tartness and scant cherry souring above pastry-like pale malting.
Next, vanilla creamed blackberry subtleties placated dry oak-based Blackberry & Cream, leaving candied fruitcake and honey-spiced mead illusions upon its light earthen musk bottom.
As for the two Black India Pale Ales (a.k.a. Cascadian Dark), Mil-Spec Black IPA left cocoa-dried black chocolate bittering on ashen wood-charred charcoal resin as well as black grape jam, blackcurrant and black licorice snips. For citric-pined West Coast-styled Dope On A Rope, black grape musk gained moderated coffee-burnt Bakers chocolate pungency and slight pumpernickel toasting.
Hybridized East Coast/West Coast styled Simmunition IPA featured dank wood-dried Simcoe hops that promoted orange-peeled grapefruit rind bittering and tangy pineapple juicing.
Tartly lemon-limed tangerine acidity embedded oaken vanilla tannins for Roadside Donkey Tangerine Vanilla, a lactic mouth-puckering sour ale with lightly vinous berry piquancy.
Raspy chocolate raspberry caking punctuated Hearts & Minds Brown Ale, a heavenly creamed mocha-bound dessert treat surpassed only by the even mightier chipotle-peppered cinnamon and coconut conditioned version.
Arguably my favorite, light roast Ethiopian coffee bean serenity seeped into the citrus-backed pale malt setting of S.T.F.U. Pale Ale, leaving mild charred nuttiness and oaken vanilla residue on its back end.