All posts by John Fortunato


Image result for little dog brewing


Named after a basenji painted on the outside left wall, quaint five-barrel pub, LITTLE DOG BREWING COMPANY, is the brainchild of experienced Jersey brewmaster, Gretchen Schmidhausler. Inside a beige-creamed glass-fronted corner warehouse lot (with maroon and yellow apron) at a quiet semi-Industrial neighborhood, Little Dog came into existence during November 2014.

As my wife and I visit in late August ’19, Gretchen’s getting ready to open shop. A well-traveled brewing veteran, she originally worked at Red Bank Brewery starting in ’96, a large brewery that closed down before America’s Craft Beer Renaissance mainly because the “timing wasn’t right.” She settled into Basil T’s thereafter, establishing a fine line of some of Jersey’s finest beer, including award-winning Maxwell’s Dry Stout.

We grab a seat at the wood-lacquered serving station to try six pleasant draughts from the maroon-backed silver tap handles. One community table and three black plastic tables fill out the front room while the back space contains the brew tanks.

Much like long-time Jersey brewer, Dave Hoffman (Climax proprietor in Roselle Park), Gretchen prefers to craft soft-toned ales that flow gentle on my mind. Each delicately textured elixir features a distinct illusionary design made to be influenced by complementary cuisine.

Image result for little dog brewing

Mildly creamed banana tartness, bubblegum sweetness and clove spicing invited herbal lemondrop minting to caress light-bodied Steinerweiss Hefeweizen.

Classic American pale ale, Duck Boy, brought dewy pale malt spicing to orange pekoe tea-like dryness and light lemon riffs in soft-tongued fashion.

Flagship altbier, Gesundheit!, provided brown tea-like splendor for its lollipop-candied tartness, dried fig stint and baked bread cushion.

Easygoing English-styled IPA, Jasper, let dry pale malting and mossy dew infiltrate grassy hop astringency while retaining mild fruit seduction.

Cologne-perfumed lemony herbage fronted spry blonde ale, Local Girl, a whimsical delight with pithy fennel, ginger and pencil shavings illusions.

Dark chocolate syruping sweetened the milk-sugared coffee flow confronting subtle ground coffee bitterness above charcoal-stained hop oiling for Seafarer Dry Stout, leaving weedy black tea musk upon its mossy bottom.


Image result for icarus brewing


Inside a grey warehouse just past Lakewood’s Post Office, ICARUS BREWING came to fruition November 2015. Head brewer Jason Goldstein, an Ohio State University food science major, trained under the staffs of stalwart breweries Heineken and Newcastle, setting up Rinn Duin (now Toms River Brewing) thereafter.

Icarus has crafted a myriad of wide ranging one-off elixirs and a few recurring offerings since its inception, taking great care in providing interesting flavor profiles for a legion of fans crowding this venue as soon as it opened this sunny Thursday afternoon in August ’19.

At the lacquered wood serving station are 24 tap handles, a red and black beer list and small refrigerator with to-go brews. Five barreled tables with block seats fill out the epoxy-floored interior and a Led Zeppelin poster across an Icarus insignia.

The bartender plays vinyl records as I devour ten samplers of superfine Jersey suds. For more info, check Beer Index for 20-plus more Icarus reviews.

Image result for icarus brewing

Reliable flagship pale ale, Go Flight, expedited juicy lupulin-powdered grapefruit, orange and pineapple tanginess plus limey gooseberry tartness for ‘heavily wheated’ dry malting.

Aussie summertime hoppy pilsner, Extinguish, brought lightly soured apple, pear and grape tannins as well as sweet cantaloupe and honeydew illusions to lightly pungent grain musk.

Oak-barreled Belgian farmhouse yeast left tart pineapple salting, mellow grapefruit tanginess and dry barnyard funk on dry saison, Wax Wings.

Conditioning Icarus’ Yacht Juice base on lime, toasted coconut and habanero peppering, dry North East IPA, It’s Getting Yacht In Here, left a bit of peppery heat upon its lightly vanilla creamed tropical fruit spicing.

Waxy lupulin-powdered Mosaic hop fruiting and heavily wheated oats consumed New England Imperial IPA, Drinking Crayons, leaving lemony tangerine, mango and apricot illusions in its wake.

Lactic triple IPA, Touching The Sun, combined sweetly sour citrus fruiting with mild oats-flaked wheat malts, spreading orange-juiced pineapple, green grape and gooseberry tartness across its lupulin-powdered surface.

Lovely fruitful dry-hopped Abomination collaboration, The Long Fall, a powdered pastry-like Milkshake Triple IPA, tossed creamy Madagascar vanilla beaning at orange-peeled grapefruit tanginess, sour gooseberry-guava licks and lactic milk-sugared barley flouring.

Perfumed coconut water and mild lime bittering serenaded laidback NEIPA, You Put The Yacht In The Coconut, bringing waxy floral citrus tones to the mix.

Clover-honeyed toasted coconut and macadamia usurped AK47, an easygoing Russian Imperial Stout conditioned on Guatemalan coffee and nearly as great as a nightcap as fabulous dessert stout, Smooshing Sweet Parts.

Brewed with marshmallow, hazelnut and chocolate, Smooshing’s rich sweet-toothed template also included spiced cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruiting to fortify its astounding nutty mocha resilience.



In the midst of Bethlehem’s South Side at a former garage, corner cafe-styled BONN PLACE BREWING COMPANY came to fruition autumn 2016. Formerly residents of Weehawken, co-owners Sam and Gina Masotto moved to eastern Pennsylvania to set up shop at the beige freestanding building now housing their entrepreneurial business.

An assistant brewer at Newburgh, Chelsea and New Jersey Beer Company, Sam also tended bar for popular Manhattan watering hole, The Pony Bar. Originally learning the art of brewing from a Mr. Beer kit, he became obsessed with cask ales on a European stint and developed a few regal English bitters.

Inside the friendly red brick-walled Bonn Place confines, an L-shaped 10-seat bar with eight tap handles pours a variety of delicious suds from the left side steel tanks and oak foudre. There’s side entrance barrel seating, a windowed front table, industrial pendant lighting and a wooden wheeled chandelier as well as a few cornered tables with olden mirrors to complete the cozy interior.

On my Saturday afternoon August ’19 journey I discovered seven Bonn Place brews.

Softly creamed nitrogenated flagship, Nemo Dark & Mild, gathered mossy brown tea earthiness for subtle dried fruiting and chalky chocolate malts.

In homage to Boddington’s Pub Ale, smoothly eclair-creamed Mooey Ordinary Bitter brought dewy moss sweetness and subtle citrus spritzing to its buttered biscuit base in easygoing fashion. Utilizing the same dewy malt base, lemon soda-like summertime softie, Mooey The Radler, left an herbal-spiced remnant.

Orange-juiced yellow grapefruit brightness fronted Moteuka-hopped pale ale, Don’t Look At Me, a candy-glazed moderation with sugary pale malts.

Dry-bodied hoppy wheat ale, Pretty Cool Dad, connected lemon-dried tartness to tea-like dewy earthiness and raw mineral grain resin.

Wood-smoked dark coffee roast contrasted milder pale-malted yellow fruiting for Some Pig Upon Monocracy, a well-designed mocha-induced pale ale.

Sweet milk chocolate-y Imperial Stout, Stickman Breakfast For Dummies, retained toffee-sugared cinnamon and curry spicing to entice its milk-sugared brown chocolate frontage.



Image result for lost tavern brewery


Not far from the Lost River Caverns in Lehigh Valley’s Saucon Valley, LOST TAVERN BREWING opened this first location in the borough of Hellertown July 1, 2016 (with a taproom outpost launched in Bethlehem 2019). Inside a red-bricked gray stucco corner building with Lost Tavern insignia above black aproned canvasses on the main thoroughfare, this metal-wood furnished pub serves a stylistic variety of beer, specializing in expressively individualistic India Pale Ales.

The Industrial brick-walled interior features a 15-seat half-octagon bar with eight taps and seating across the way and at the elongated rear dining hall. A food truck services local patrons with great pizza.

An outside front deck with slate top community seating as well as six four-seat tables and several stooled tables gets packed on my early Saturday afternoon sojourn, August 2019.

Image result for lost tavern brewery HELLERTOWN

Crisply assertive, yet easygoing softie, Main 2 Main Pilsner, placed doughy wheat next to hay-like oats to underscore its herbal lemon spritz.

Dry pale wheat ale, Grace, brought zesty orange-peeled lemon meringue tartness to mild pretzel-like doughy breading and herbal-spiced whims.

Lemon zest, bruised orange and sweet banana surged for honey-dripped Belgian Ale, Odd Fellow, leaving peppery spicing on the baked bread back end.

Easygoing sour ale, Double The Jams: Strawberry Cherry Rhubarb, retained oaken cherry bitterness, strawberry puree tartness and lactic vanilla yogurt milking.

Then came the six stylistically intriguing, wholly assured IPA’s to really brighten the sunny day.

Sessionable IPA, Drizzle, coalesced Mosaic-Citra-Amarillo hops to prompt lemon-juiced grapefruit-orange-peach-tangerine tanginess and mild wood tones.

Tropical fruited New England IPA, Party On Main, brought cherry, berry, mango and pineapple juiciness to mild oats-sugared malts.

Another NEIPA, Music In The Park, blended orange-juiced Mandarina Bavaria hops with estery grape-soured Hallertau Blanc hops and gooseberry-limed Cashmere hops atop its floral-spiced grassy bed.

Crisply ‘citrus-forward’ Imperial IPA, The Steel, utilized Mosaic-Centennial hops to fashion its lemony grapefruit-orange tang, mild piney bittering and light herbal tinge.

Brut champagne yeast guided dry-hopped Brut By The Foot: Peach, a mildly creamed peach puree-sweetened sparkling wine alternative with lightly embittered yellow grapefruit zesting and wispy green grape esters.

Vigorous milkshake IPA, Lost In The Mix: Kiwi Strawberry Daiquiri, let rummy vanilla sugaring douse its lemon-juiced strawberry and kiwi tartness as well as its tangy mango-pineapple-grapefruit tropicalia, picking up lactic yogurt souring at the finish.

Finally, ‘hearty chocolate stout,’ Silent Partner, caressed its dark mocha mass with spicy dark fruiting, dry burgundy and black licorice above its earthen bottom.



Image result for funk brewing emmaus outdoorImage result for funk brewing


Inside a bright red brick garage-doored warehouse, the seemingly inconspicuous railroad-bound taproom for FUNK BREWING packs up bright ‘n early this Sunday at noon, August ’19. Having discovered three of Funk’s liquid gems in the recent past (piney tropical fruited Silent Disco; limey fruit-juiced Tumbleweed Pale Ale; autumnal saison Falliage), I was already intrigued by their well-designed, wide-ranging fare.

The rustic brick-walled, cement-floored pub features a simple aluminum serving station with twelve stools, theatre lighting, blackboard beer list and small TV. A hidden right-walled glistening Funk sign, a few metal-stooled tables and exposed pipes at the tan ceiling fill out the small room. Large silver tanks to the left and rear carry today’s four previously untried beers (plus a half-dozen more).

Several patrons grab seats at the rear covered deck, a spacious retreat on this sunny day. A train blows its loud whistle as I down the sassy suds.

Up first, Bikes Lemon Radler loads lemonade upon salted white wheat breading and herbal citrus hop dryness, bettering similarly profiled shandy’s.

Offbeat golden treat, Slurp Rice Lager, let sweet-spiced toasted rice and soba buckwheat contrast its straw-dried leathering above mellow chestnut roast.

Circuitous West Coast IPA, Citrus, brought slightly hazed East Coast IPA spirit to the mix as sour white grape, gooseberry and guava fruiting serenaded orange-peeled grapefruit tanginess and piney hop splurge.

Dark-roast coffee beaning settled way above the dried-out lemon musk of Crumpets Coffee Blonde, leaving a crisp tobacco roast at the back end.

Nearby Elizabethtown houses the purplish Funk Brewing, a second location, in its downtown section.



Image result for HOP HILL BREWING


A tan aluminum garage-doored warehouse hosts HOP HILL BREWING COMPANY,  a worthy red brick-walled, cement-floored nanobrewery within Bethlehem’s rural southern Lehigh University radius opened February 2017.

The unassumingly spare red brick-walled pub features an aluminum-sided L-shaped 16-seat serving station with 12 aluminum tap handles, stringed light bulbs and a stucco left wall. A makeshift front patio with benches fills up during my early afternoon August ’19 stopover as I consume eight well-designed offerings.

Photo of Hop Hill Brewing Company - Bethlehem, PA, United States

Hop Hill’s lightest brew, dry-bodied cream ale, Drinking Games, linked sugar-salted lemon spritz to grassy hop astringency and musty pale malting.

Sweetly tart key lime-pied Belgian Saison contrasted lemon-candied banana sweetness and coriander-clove spicing against salty barnyard acridity.

Straightforward flagship moderation, House IPA, stayed simple as lemony orange tanginess and piney hop resin settled gently above caramel malt sugaring.

Perfumed citrus hops enlightened Hop Sloth IPA, revealing navel orange, yellow grapefruit and peach juicing above herb-speckled pale malts.

Juicy-fruited Brut IPA, Hop Siren, let its sweet champagne spritz and green grape tannins absorb dry pale malting.

Milk-sugared coffee awakened Protocol Porter, a delightful toffee-spiced java-bound brunch treat with dry black licorice snips.


Harmonious coffee-roasted breakfast calling card, Morning Blonde, draped roasted mocha malt goodness all over its mild lemon rind bittering.

Lovely bourbon barrel-aged Morning Wood caressed its roasted coffee bean splendor with sweet butterscotch-candied bourbon wining, leaving cream-sugared marshmallow, coconut and pecan illusions in its clean vodka wake.


On tap at Shepherd & Knucklehead – Haledon, enigmatic orange-hazed Carvel vanilla ice cream knockoff given biting citric hop blitz of an IPA. Mild vanilla creaming lightly sweetens lactose-soured orange peel, mango, grapefruit and passionfruit tropicalia, lemon-bruised floral perfuming, strawberry rhubarb tartness and swerving vodka nip above sugared pastry malts.

See the source image