On a corner of Outwater Lane in the industrial town of Garfield, New Jersey, lies rustic red-bricked beer haven, THREE WISE MONKS. Formerly an ‘old man bar’ with the snarky slogan ‘warm beers/ lousy food,’ the cozy saloon has gained the attention of local minions and seasoned conniosseurs alike since its March 2012 soft opening and May 18th Grand Opening a few months hence.

A family-run operation, Three Wise Monks recently acquired a new chef who will expand the food menu to include chicken and steak lollipops, shishkabob, and tacos to go alongside chicken quesadillas, Dubbel chicken wings, Monked Up Burger, plus the hummus and fish ‘n chip platters I enjoyed during my initial April ’13 visit. Brian and Adrianna Iarossi, two of the sibling proprietors, tend bar at the 4 PM opening as several regulars get greeted warmly and I imbibe a few previously untried brews. Some lucky person’s having a birthday party in the backroom (which contains a big screen TV, stone hearth and dartboard).

My friend Fred and I get comfortable at the 14-seat oak bar in the front, where 14 tap handles, 2 TV’s and several liquor shelves are situated. Near the cash register are several unused tap handles from various worthy microbrewers. Several monk figurines crowd the top shelves alongside colorful bottles of hard-to-find micros. Four 4-ounce samplers are available for those wanting to discover new suds.

As I speak with Brian, he breaks out an eight-year aged JW Lees Harvest Ale matured in sherry cask. The limited edition barleywine brought sugar-caned red cherry ripeness and candy apple-glazed red wining to syrupy molasses, caramel and butterscotch sweetness, proving to be a fine whiskey-malted slow sipper.

While Fred works on easygoing white-peppered, yellow-fruited, fungi yeast-soured Unibroue La Fin Du Mond, I break into lovely dark-spiced, dried fruited, floral wood-toned Speakeasy Betrayal Imperial Red.  

First up this weekday afternoon, Vicaris Winter (10 degrees) proves to be quite exhilirating. Its syrupy orange-bruised black cherry fruiting waves in and out of chocolate-caramel malts and toasted hop bittering. Before heading into the sunset, we share sessionable dry-hopped Smuttynose Paradox Short Batch #21, an experimental hop varietal with bright lemony grapefruit rind bittering leading the way.

The following Monday I revisit Three Wise Monks around 5 PM and Brian’s the sole bartender. Several beer aficionados begin to gather as we then share a few previously untried libations. Perhaps the best, Belgium’s Ichtegem Grand Cru, a Flanders Red Ale matured in oak barrels, layered Spanish Madeira wining atop sour raspberry vinaigrette, bubbly champagne, green grape, green apple and berry illusions.

Another fine offering, Boulder’s A Honey Of A Saison brought honeyed spices to lemony grape tartness with a sweet whiskey back. Dry lemon-seeded Captain Lawrence IPA worked lemon-seeded grapefruit rind souring into its rye-breaded spine. 

Bettering Leinenkugel’s cloying Summer Shandy by far, Samuel Adams Curious Traveler Shandy tasted like a Margarita with its lime-salted lemonade sugaring and Mead-like honey backdrop.

Three Wise Monks is a friendly family affair extending their love for craft beer to anyone sojourning the northern Jersey area. And the hand-picked bottled selection may be just as ambitious as the ever-changing tapped offerings. Talk about a convivial neighborhood joint where everybody knows your name. 

Following several more trips to friendly rustic dive, tried yummy fried pita with roasted pepper and garlic hummus dips alongside easygoing citric-hopped Victory Dirt Wolf Imperial IPA during January ’14 stead. Comfort food menu proved worthy.


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