MANAHAWKIN, NEW JERSEY
Seeking to become part of the ‘next wave in craft beer,’ beachcombing beer travelers Donn Hoosack and Todd Hunt opened fertile ale haven, MANAFIRKIN BREWING CO., on May 21, 2017. Utilizing milled whole grain in all their ales, this low-key olive green-warehoused Jersey Shore hideaway is stationed in Manahawkin – just ten miles north of Little Egg Harbor’s Pinelands Brewing.
Providing a steadily growing quantity of small-batch elixirs, Manafirkin boasts twenty available draught selections on my early June ’18 stopover.
After entering thru the large overhead door entrance, my wife and I (plus daughter) grab seats at the tree-barked L-shape bar lining the mid-sized interior. Each interestingly designed tap handle features trinketed tradesmen tools. A refrigerator with crowlers-to-go also enjoins the bar area and two TV’s carry sports networks. Silver brew tanks fill the rear and a colorful mounted surfboard on the ocean blue back wall captures the sporting islandic feel of the nearby Atlantic shoreline.
I got two sampler trays (10 brews) plus a pint of a zesty hefeweizen and fantastic tripel.
One truly fine English-styled moderation, Taddy Sesh English Mild, truly captured the classic profile. Its delicately balanced rye-dried peat moss earthiness and buttery baked breading settled alongside musky fungi, roasted tobacco and unripe prune illusions.
Sessionable Disc Head Pale Ale stayed dry as pilsner-malted baked breading and hay-like astringency gained mildly spiced hops and a musky cologne tinge that peaked alongside carbolic lemon-limed zesting.
Lemony banana-clove-coriander liveliness regaled slightly herbal Ouija Hefeweizen, letting sugared wheat flakes sweeten the backend.
Lupulin ‘hop sap’ and parched wood tones anchor Ju Sea Shore IPA, leaving a mild alcohol burn upon lemony orange-peeled grapefruit rind bittering and tertiary mango, nectar and tangerine sweetness.
Assertive Strawberry Puree IPA resonated with sharp piney hops piercing bitter grapefruit, lemon and orange rind juiciness while the strawberry adjunct sits back in the mix.
Sour fig, mild banana and earthen dew draped mild dunkelweizen, Uncle Dunk.
Perhaps my favorite, divine Trippin’ Monkey Tripel elegantly combined sun-dried raisin inertia, banana-chipped clove spicing, glazed pecan snicker and peach-apricot-pear whims with its crystal pale-malted candi sugaring above mossy earthen dewiness.
Dry Peace Pipe Porter let dark-roasted black chocolate smooth out above its raw molasses oats base, picking up casual coffee and cocoa nuances.
Molasses-sapped dark chocolate and sugared oats sweetened Alentine’s Day Porter before serene coffee notes provided lightly bitter contrast.
Black chocolate and powdered cocoa consume carafe-malted Lights Out London Dark Lager, leaving dry fig tones in its earthen wake.
Distinct Columbian coffee elevates Wake The Firk Up! Oatmeal Coffee Stout. Its lovely coffee roast serenades moderate nut-charred hop bittering.
For a tart changeup, salted lactobacillus acidity softly enhanced subtle kumquat fruiting for Quat’s Going On Sour Ale, a mild tropical delight made sourer by mango, kiwi and guava notions.
During my mid-September ’20 Saturday afternoon excursion, discovered another nine Manafirkin brews, each proving to be truly fascinating esoteric fare.
Earthen watermelon rind adjunct subtly serenaded tart lemon salting for Shake Your Melon, a welcoming summertime shandy.
Dewy Kalsch Kolsch placed honeyed tea-sweetened pilsner malting alongside grassy-hopped astringency and lemon-rotted orange bruise in a moderate body setting.
Lime-salted curacao orange tartness secured cologne-wafted white ale, Seagull Brawl, a pilsner-malted moderation with grassy hop astringency.
Carrot-juiced saison, You Might Rabbit, You Might, let orange-braised fennel, pepper-spiced rhubarb and tropical coconut-pineapple pleat its dewy peat rusticity, restricting its sweet carrot adjunct.
Bourbon-barrel aged lager, Baba Bluey, gave its tame honeyed blueberry adjunct a dry whiskey-soured expanse to negotiate.
Murkily bronzed hefeweizen hybrid, Ozzie’s Orange Peel, brought cologne-perfumed orange peel luster to lacquered pine tones and distant banana-clove subtleties, scattering blood orange, Valencia orange and mandarin orange illusions across the juicy citric finish.
Limey coconut and pineapple galvanized If You Like Pina Colagers, a tropical cocktail-inspired lager with rummy molasses sugaring contrasting terse vodka bittering just beneath the surface.
Caramel-burnt brown chocolate sweetened Caramel Toe, a capacious dark ale with toffee-spiced hazelnut, peanut and cola illusions overriding delicate black tea bittering.
Spreading peanut butter goodness all over its dark chocolate malts, Done In A Jiffy Peanut Porter instantly recalled a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Sitting at one of the indoor wood patios at the barroom, my wife and I revisited the mighty Firkin March ’21 for another round of brews.
Supreme in its stylistic realm, sly dry moderation, Nice Cream Ale gained lightly spiced vanilla creaming to secure its grassy lemon-dropped crystal hop astringency over corn-sugared pale malts.
In its sedate whiskey-barreled version, Vanilla Nice adds Wild Turkey influence to wispy oaken vanilla creaming, light bourbon spicing and rummy corn-sugared whims above dry pale malting.
Toasted amber graining picked up light red-orange fruit spicing and leafy hop astringency for Don’t Look Back In Amber, a well balanced moderation suited for richer lager lovers.
Dry lemony grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering fronted resilient India Pale Ale, Haisy Dukes, leaving piney resin upon its salt-licked grassy bottom.
Cologne-perfumed juniper bittering embossed zesty yellow grapefruit tanginess in gin-soaked (10% ABV) Imperial IPA, Leland’s Law, a dry medium body with latent peach-tangerine-pineapple snips.
Arguably the best IPA available this cold winter evening, Daze Of Our Lives burst forth with juicy fruited tanginess as candied pineapple, sweet orange peel and honeyed peach rallied alongside creamily caramelized vanilla-daubed cotton candy atop sugared oats.
Black malt bittering greeted dark-roast hop char for Playing Pretend Oatmeal Stout, a sticky molasses-thick dark ale with maple oats base.
Soothingly tranquil brandy-barreled Apple Jack’d Triple, a complex Belgian strong ale, spread maple syrup atop candied apple sweetness and creamy cotton-candied butterscotch, vanilla and caramel splendor.
Dark chocolate overlaid cinnamon apple spicing and dry bourbon warmth for politely creamed Midnight Barrels – Lairds Applejack Stout, an oak-aged delight with vanilla tannins guarding brandied whiskey tones at the mocha-dipped candied apple finish.
One month hence, April ’21, tried three more brews and one homemade seltzer.
For starters, champagne-sparkled Firkin Bubbly, a ginger-backed Seltzer, promoted Muscat blanc-wined Williamette grape esters.
Ginger-dried chamomile got lost in hybridized hefeweizen, Good Karmamile, a washed-out moderation with raw-honeyed orange rot and banana-clove soaping.
Briskly dry IPA-like Stratas Fear Pale Ale brought sourly tart strawberry puree to lemony grapefruit rind and orange pith bittering as muskily dank pine oiling seeped in.
Aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, silken smooth Belgian yeast-influenced Barbel Stout gathered oaken vanilla tannins, black cherry tartness and vinous Muscat grape dryness.
Revisited trusty Manafirkin mid-October ’21 to imbibe eight more diverse elixirs.
A light-bodied lager departure, In Cold Pursuit, combined pine-oiled Wai Iti hops with peach limed Triumph hops above dry pale malts for summertime moderation.
Candy apple-glazed amber ale departure, You Are The Apple Of My Pie, let cinnamon-sugared allspice, ginger and nutmeg spicing spackle its crisp grain-toasted biscuit spine.
Given a cinnamon-sugared glass rimming, ‘Cordial dessert’ Oh Dear Gourd Pumpkin Dunkelweizen contrasted brown-sugared pumpkin puree spicing with toasted gourd earthiness.
Lemony grapefruit-induced Falconers Flight hops and floral orange-peeled Galena hops gained mild pine lacquering for crystal-malted strong pale ale, Cobrakai PA.
Dry Nefertiti Nectar IPA brought orange rind and grapefruit pith bittering to floral-spiced herbage over pale malt sugaring.
Mild jalapeno burn outdid tart strawberry adjunct for chalky First Degree Burn IPA, a nifty stylish sidestep.
Popular Firk Up stout given autumnal makeover for offshoot Wake The Punk Up, utilizing cinnamon-sticked pumpkin pie sweetness and Graham Cracker sugaring to back up its dark-roast coffee prominence and brown-sugared oatmeal base.
For dessert, Unhole Mole allowed Laird’s Apple Jack Brandy to soak into the profound cocoa-nibbed Madagascar vanilla beaning and Guajillo-habanero-ancho peppering of this Xocolatl Mexican-styled stout. Sedate cinnamon-smoked cider licks drift into dark cherry, orange liqueur and black grape illusions, staying recessive along with charcoal-stained hop restraint.
On March ’22 revisit, took seats on patio for four more goodies.
Sedate yellow and orange fruiting picked up mild spicing for moderate-bodied But I Don’t Like Craft Beer, a blonde ale with buttery toasted breading.
Strikingly amplified pale ale, Brewski Patrol, let floral-perfumed yellow grapefruit and navel orange tanginess gain mild Chinook-Simcoe-hopped piney dryness and herbal soapstone whims.
Dry floral-perfumed orange and pineapple spicing picked up woody Amarillo hop resin for the citric Cascade hop zesting parading above bready pale malts for Tupac Sha Pour, a bold, “classically bitter” West Coast IPA.
Distinctive dry rye ale, Low Rye Dah, allowed sharp honey-spiced cocoa malts to saturate caraway-seeded pumpernickel breading.
On a beautiful sunny May ’23 Saturday afternoon, returned for five more Manafirkin’s.
English pub classic (with low 3.3 ABV), Side Effects Will Be Mild, saddled its dark cocoa base with dewy peat moisture, roasted tobacco crisping and slightly nutty wattle seeded rye tinge.
Honeyed amber graining penetrated cherry-dried prune, plum and date niceties as well as the fungi-like earthen mustiness of Skeg, a well-integrated amber lager.
Muskily perfumed tropical fruiting gained sharp juniper-berried green tea bittering for Crimson Guards Red IPA, staying soft on the tongue despite its snappy grapefruit-peeled orange rind bite.
Powder-sugared coconut toasting sweetened the milk coffee richness underlining welcome variant, Coconut Coffee Cobra Kai IPA, teasing its coconut coffee creaming with mild hazelnut, almond and chestnut snips but overwhelming the lemony grapefruit and orange bittering of the original.
Another dazzling coffee IPA variant, Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cobra Kai, drizzled blueberry puree atop cinnamon-sugared milk coffee richness, picking up wispy dark rum, peach daiquiri and nectarine illusions.
At nearby Applebee’s, tried Manafirkin Shake Your Melons, where earthen watermelon rind mustiness met cucumber-watered citron melon tang above a delicate white wheat base.