MANTUA, NEW JERSEY
Inside a pale blue aluminum-sided tan brick industrial mall, Mantua’s NECK OF THE WOODS BREWING set up shop in its green-walled space during springtime ’19. On the outskirts of Pitman twenty miles east of Philly, its happy commencement coincided with nearby breweries such as Kelly Green and Human Village.
An expansive, L-shaped, bark-topped bar with sturdy metal siding and twenty-plus draughts ends at the massive courtyard barn wall in the rear. Taking advantage of the high ceilings are the left side brew tanks that head skyward with liquid pleasure. A few wood tables across the bar are available and eight outside tables provide extra seating. A canning line began operating in April ’20.
My wife and I take seats at the front windowed table on a sunny weekday in early January ’21 to enjoy three stouts, two porters, one milkshake IPA, a supersized pale ale, a sour ale and a German pils.
First up, conventional bohemian light body, Lot P Pilsner, brought musky wet-grained earthen mossing to delicate lemon-spiced Hallertau hop herbage.
Zesty Citra-Mosaic-hopped New England-styled pale ale, Chuppta?, magnified its perfumed orange-grapefruit-pineapple-passionfruit tang with pasty wheat gluten thickening its pilsner malt base.
Easygoing kettle-soured variant, Now That’s Sour: Apricot + Mango + Raspberry, let mild salted lemon spritzing activate its downplayed fruity adjuncts over faded pilsner malts.
Milk-sugared vanilla creaming and zesty blood orange peel sweetness contrasted sharp perfume-hopped lemon-limed grapefruit bittering and puckered cranberry tartness over gelatinous oats flaked malts for offbeat hybrid, No OJ No Straw, a kettle-soured milkshake IPA.
Bitterly dry Chateau black malt smokiness lingered thru the oats-flaked coffee roast of PTP Porter, a signature Neck Of The Woods dark ale.
Belgian chocolate spicing sweetened the milk-sugared coffee tones and bourbon vanilla respite of Spicy Mochaccino, a sassy porter with restless cinnamon-barked cumin seasoning.
Sweet milk-sugared coffee vodka licks provided Black Russian cocktail novelty to cocoa nibs roast of Guess Who’s Back, a lightly barley-smoked white stout.
Dry coffee-burnt dark chocolate smokiness and nutty wood-seared hop bittering embedded Exit Light Stout, leaving slight black cherry tartness on the oat-flaked Maris Otter spine. Adding chili to the recipe, Exit Light Chili Stout provided mild bark-dried peppery heat to contrast its vanilla-creamed Graham Cracker bottom in a fascinatingly well integrated blend.