On tap at Hoover’s, dry pine-lacquered tropical fruiting of a straightforward India Pale Ale given mild pale malt sugaring to contrast latent green tea herbage. Mild floral bouquet affects bright yellow grapefruit tang and bitter orange rind follow-thru of Citra-Moteuka-Ekuanot-hopped medium body.
HACKETTSTOWN, NEW JERSEY
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.
At the tent-topped parking lot, my wife and I consumed twelve samplers November ’20 – including five diverse IPA’s, four German-styled offerings, two Belgian elixirs and one barrel aged stout.
Musky raw-grained German pilsner, The Carriagemaker, let lemon-spiced herbal hops caress mild wheat-cracked pilsner malting.
Dry lemon-rotted herbage delicately clasped dry pale malts for The Huntsman, a sessionable moderate-bodied kolsch.
Well integrated hefeweizen hybrid, The Lawman’s Sweet Justice, upstaged its stylish banana-clove sweetness with sharp cinnamon spicing and pureed peach tanginess (as well as spritzy orange zest).
One step removed from a rauchbier with its smoked beechwood-like Band-Aid astringency, Tidal Offerings, a hybridized wee heavy, allowed sweet ‘n dry Scotch tones to enter the fray alongside less obvious orange-fig-date-apricot fruiting.
Mild for its style, Chaos Belgian Dubbel, left subtle fig-raisin dried fruiting upon its gentle caramelized toffee spicing contrasting herbal fungi funk.
Soothingly smooth Shield Oath Belgian Tripel retained buttery Chardonnay wining, rummy banana daquiri sweetness and phenol white-peppered herbage above honey-roasted caramel malting.
Recalling a salt-rimmed Margarita, Citra-Cascade-hopped Imperial IPA, U.S.S. Limon, lavished a resounding lemon lime ice pop likeness upon candied ginger-leafed soda sweetening and slightly bitter grapefruit, pineapple and orange reminder above its wispy sugared oats base.
Acute Imperial IPA, U.S.S. Cassis, permitted yogurt-soured blackcurrant intensity pick up subtle raspberry-blueberry-boysenberry tartness and latent yellow grapefruit bittering.
Reserved Hammerhead Milkshake, a lactose NEIPA (in the Deep Sea Series), embellished its vanilla creamed orange peel sweetness with lemony grapefruit pith bittering and yogurt-soured milking, leaving mild acidity upon the juicy citrus pulse.
Durable pinkish amber, Hydrozoan Milkshake, another lactic NEIPA, placed Madagascar vanilla beans alongside its sweet n’ sour cherry vibe, gaining mango-salted tartness and peachy ambrosia sour creaming above sugary wheated oats.
Semi-sharp Master Of The Seas Tripel IPA let moderately embittered tropical fruiting and sour grape esters override piney hop resin while tripel-like candi-sugared pilsner malting nipped vodka-soaked grapefruit, orange and mango tropicalia.
For an early nightcap, bourbon/ red wine-barreled Imperial Stout, Brontes, did the trick. Sweet ‘n dry bourbon tones regaled brown chocolate-spiced fig, raisin and date as well as milk-sugared coffee tones and sweet coconut-hazelnut nips.
HACKETTSTOWN, NEW JERSEY
Inside a pristine red-bricked Peoples National Bank on the corner of Main Street in the sleepy Western Jersey village of Hackettstown, MAN SKIRT BREWING became the area’s first new brewpub (since innovative hillside mainstay Long Valley) in October, 2015. As of my November ’16 one-hour jaunt, entrepreneurial brewing owner, Joe Fisher, manned a small stainless-steeled 7-barrel system that countered the custom penny-laminated tasting room bar set up alongside a few walnut tables.
Unlike its bigger-sized competition at Jersey Girl and Czig Meister, Man Skirt relies on a smaller amount of hand-crafted tap brews. But each of the five offerings available this Sunday afternoon were right on the money and wholly worthwhile.
For starters, dainty moderation, Gold Bar Blonde, retained spicy orange fruiting and sour lemon dryness above crisp barley malts, capturing the natural essence of Cascade-Centennial hops.
Peaty dry-bodied Better Than Pants Best Bitter, a lean English pub ale, brought mossy earthen dew to oily hop resin, biscuity wheat malts and gentle nuttiness.
Also leaning on the Brit side, Hop Jostler Fresh Hop IPA caressed caramelized Maris Otter sugaring with dewy mineral graining and dankly citric hop resin.
Sugared fig battled back sour plum over banana-breaded caramel malts for cherished medium-bodied delight, Badunkeldonk Dunkelweizen.
An earthen-grained coffee and chocolate roast permeated lightly creamed, black-malted dark ale, The Great Porter.
The brewing floodgates have opened for New Jersey’s rustic northwest region and no matter what size or shape they may come in, each has its own distinct suds, charm and rural splendor.