MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY
Embracing their Afro-Caribbean heritage in a whimsically uplifting tan-bricked neighborhood joint, MONTCLAIR BREWERY resembles a beachy shanty town shack with its oceanic aquamarine aluminum topped exterior, reclaimed wood interior furnishings, onsite sugar candy machine, interestingly offbeat tropical elixirs and lemonade-flavored shandys.
Spiritedly celebrating their cultures, husband and wife entrepreneurs, Leo and Denise Sawadogo, opened Montclair Brewery October ’18. A beautiful right side mural portrait features the beer-lovin’ couple. A snazzy milk stout, root beery brown ale and the pair of candied shandys honor Denise’s Jamaican origin while a baobab fruited golden ale and several herbaceous concoctions salute Leo’s ancestry.
Mash tun wafts from the brewtanks in the back as my wife and I grab chairs on a sunshiny Wednesday afternoon, August ’21. The elongated, aluminum-sided, wood top, L-shape bar featured 20-plus tap lines and several community tables dotted the surrounding area. Exposed pipes and a TV hang from the barren ceiling and two electronic boards list today’s offerings.
Perfumed herbage seeped into limey lemon peel bittering for light-bodied Claremont Pilsner, a style-defying Czech pils hybrid with rosemary seasoning (and basil-sage wisps) guarding its earthen grain spine.
Another unconventional stylish departure, Bellevue Blueberry let wildflower-honeyed blueberry jam pick up lime-soured floral herbage in a unique lacquered manner.
A clover-honeyed Creamsickle knockoff, Frog Hollow Orange Wheat brought candied orange, tangerine and clementine to its lacquered wood retreat, leaving bittersweet orange peel zest upon its citric vanilla finish. In the can, rustic raw-grained hop musk wandered alongside navel orange tartness.
Tame baobob-fruited Baobiere Golden Ale, a tropical vitaminized antioxidant, relegated its Africanized citrus zesting for creamy vanilla buttering and serene floral daubs. In the can, mild lemon-pitted mandarin orange and passionfruit tartness gained light peppery snip and fungi yeast funk to propel spiced-up baobob briskness.
Bold for its style, passionfruit pureed Golden Buddha Golden Ale left subtle lemon meringue tartness, zippy orange zest, salted pineapple whims and tidy white peach snips on its latent chamomile herbage.
Sweet orange peel seduction and distant grapefruit misting tingled the mild rosemary springs placating City Green Farmhouse Ale, an off-dry saison with leathery barnyard acridity.
Laidback Raspberry Framboise retained subtle lemony raspberry souring over mildly creamed wheat malts but seemed tame next to the more ambitious fare.
Approachable raspberry pureed Belgian Red Devil Lambic gained cherry soda pop sweetness for its ancillary bubblegum sugaring contrasting tart lemon candied raspberry souring over a Graham Cracker honeyed wheat base.
Herbal-spiced dried fruiting received candi-sugared sweetness for Peoples Republic Of Montclair, a busy Belgian dubbel.
Mellow guava puree souring mollified loosely West Coat-styled Hava Guava IPA, prodding lemony orange powdered candy tartness above sweet wheated oats.
Lemony pineapple, grapefruit and orange amplified spiced-up Waga Dipa, a zestful Imperial IPA with mild piney hop bittering contrasting a heady pale malt sugaring.
Tangy navel orange spritz led Poor Richard’s India Pale Ale, an herb-daubed piney hopped moderation with celery watered pale malt crisping.
Way beyond stylish definition, Tropical Brown Ale let sour-creamed soy milking curdle sarsaparilla sass, cherry baby aspirin tartness and candied orange whims.
Nearly as idiosyncratic, brown-sugared Jamaican Me Crazy Milk Stout allowed black licorice, black cherry and molasses to sway its soothing milk chocolate resonance.