HACKENSACK, NEW JERSEY
In a raw tongue-n-grooved warehouse with aluminum fixings just off Route 4 in Hackensack, ALEMENTARY BREWING COMPANY let those cranky conservative Bergen County folks understand what fresh quality ales have to offer the washed and unwashed masses.
Featuring two community tables, ten-seat hardwood bar, side garage doors and windowed stainless steel brew tanks as of May 2016 (expansion is imminent and bottling seems forthcoming), the ‘rustic-chic’ Alementary is owned and operated by former chemical engineer, Blake Crawford, and molecular bioligist, Dr. Mike Roosevelt.
On draught today are four crisply clean light-hued ales, three interrelated dark-hued ones and a contrastive Cascadian Dark. Interesting gose-styled initiation, Let’s Begin, brought salty lemon-dropped lime parch to dry ginger tones before warming up and allowing its Graham Cracker sweetness to cut thru the gentle Seltzer fizz and proved to be a nice aperitif.
A sturdy followup, The Kolsch tossed lemon-limed tartness at lemongrass herbage and dried fig-apricot nuances. Easygoing IPA, 1st Session, provided soft-toned piney grapefruit bittering as well as lemon-pitted pineapple and orange tones above moderate hop resin.
Refreshing flagship beer, A-Game, a sharply rounded IPA, retained its piney orange-peeled grapefruit, pineapple and peach tang atop lightly sprinkled sugar-spiced crystal malts.
On the dark side, Vindication succinctly blended black patent malt bittering with tart yellow grapefruit and black grape tones over dark-roasted ashen hop pungency and charred pine remnants.
Mild Dark English Ale, Mr. Stevens, engaged light-roast coffee nuttiness with wispy black chocolate tones.
Two similarly mocha-forward dark ales, The Porter, and its even smoother nitro version, placed nutty coffee, black chocolate and dried cocoa illusions atop laid-back dark-roasted hops, but the nitro porter never amassed a sinewy maple molasses sweetness.
At Shepherd & Knucklehead – Hoboken, quaffed Alementary 1st Session, a sessionable IPA with zesty grapefruit, orange, lemon and pineapple tang receiving wispy ‘strawberry, mango and melon’ illusions as well as grassy-hopped herbal snips.
My wife and I revisited Alementary on Boxing Day, 2021, sitting at the barreled seat closest to the lacquered wood serving station. Surveying the electronic beer menu, I spotted four more previously untried suds to swallow.
Interesting dry-hopped, Italian-styled, light-bodied pilsner, Rock Opera, imparted a more floral-herbed citric aspect than its Czech-German rivals, bringing adjunctive lemon-limed Bergamot orange tartness to sweet-corned oats base.
Dedicated to pioneering microbrew enthusiast and Cloverleaf founder, George Dorchak, George’s Pre-Prohibition Lager, a rustic straw-yellowed moderation, coalesced maize-flaked barley malt crisping with a wispily orange-rotted dry champagne spritz, peppery herbal snip and leafy hop astringency.
Soft-tongued, smoothly creamed English mild ale, Doris, a cask conditioned ESB, brought subtle musky cellar fungi to earthen truffle, dewy peat and powdered cocoa illusions above bread-crusted barley graining.
A superfine mocha-induced nightcap, Arecibo, a blended Imperial Stout, ‘amplified’ coffee coconut-fused Porterico and milk-sugared Launchpad Oatmeal Stout, allowing caramel latte, cappuccino, espresso, Bakers chocolate and Black Forest cake richness to reach its gingerbread-spiced Graham Cracker spine (with dwindling bourbon vanilla-daubed coconut toasting).