Two Roads Honeyspot Road White IPA (6% ABV): This American IPA brewed by Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, Connecticut pours a slightly hazy straw yellow with a bright white soapy head that fizzles out quickly after the first sip. Two Roads’ take on the white IPA is refreshing and more in line with a wheat beer than an IPA. The brewing process uses American ale yeast without the spices in order to achieve the unique, refreshing flavor. American Wheat hits your senses first with bread-notes, pungent grapefruit and minimal bitterness that quickly changes and finishes with a healthy dose of bitter hops to remind your taste buds that you’re drinking an IPA. Keep in mind that I was in dire need of a drink when I stumbled into The Crooked Knife – more below – but, Honeyspot Road White IPA is flavorful, with an undercurrent of wheat that nicely highlights the hops for an award-winning* drinking experience that I would recommend all summer long.
I ordered a pint of this beer at The Crooked Knife on W 14th Street in NYC (there are two locations). After a few hours of walking The High Line, Meatpacking and Chelsea, I randomly stumbled on this place in need of a place to sit down and sip on a cold brew. The outdoor seating drew me in, but the friendly staff, good service and drinks made for an enjoyable experience. Bonus, a pint cost $7, not bad for NYC.
* Two Roads Honeyspot Road White IPA is the 2013 Great International Beer Festival (GIBF) gold medal winner for American Wheat.
Smuttynose Vunderbar Pilsner (4.9% ABV): This German-style pilsner brewed by Smuttynose Brewing Company located in Hampton, New Hampshire pours a hazy pale yellow with a two-finger white head that slowly thins. Grassy, sweet malt and zesty lemon come together for a subtle yet refreshing aroma. A malt foundation begins followed by sweet honey and grassy herbs with a slightly bitter finish. This is a decent beer, but not a great representation of the style. I was hoping for a traditional German pils with more depth, but I got an easy drinking beer that seemed a bit bland. I can only reminisce about my trip to Bavaria.
Crispin Artisanal Reserve “The Saint” (6.9% ABV): This natural hard apple cider brewed by Crispin Cider Company based in Colfax, California pours a cloudy pale yellow with no head. The Saint is brewed with maple syrup that is clearly defined in both the aroma and flavor. Mostly tart apples and sweet maple syrup on the nose with white wine essence. The maple syrup gives this cider a slightly heavy quality that takes away from the clean crispness I’ve come to enjoy when drinking a cider. You can also expect a notable yeastiness. The Saint is a world away from many other ciders on the market and has encouraged me to try the other flavors of the artisanal reserve offerings.
P.S. I prefer to drink to ciders over ice. If you don’t want to water your drink down, try these.
Delirium Tremens (8.5% ABV): This Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed by Brouwerij Huyghe in Belgium pours a pale golden yellow with a thick white head that doesn’t last. The aroma is mostly spicy pepper, malt, lemon citrus with a herbal/medicinal quality. Tremens is highly carbonated, yeasty, bready, spicy and fruity – mostly apple – at first with substantial bitterness on the back-end that creates a clean, dry finish. The alcohol doesn’t come through as expected; good drinking experience overall.
Yards Pynk (5.5% ABV): This fruit beer, available August through October, brewed by Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia pours clear mahogany with some pink filtering through and a thin white head that dissipates quickly. Pynk is brewed with more than 3,000 pounds of cherries and raspberries that create a fragrant aroma that is tart and sweet with a bit of fermented undertones. I didn’t think it was possible, but Yards successfully brewed a fruit beer that is not overly sweet. Tart raspberries are at the forefront of the flavor followed by biscuit and sweet cherries. Bonus: Feel good about drinking another beer! Yards donates $1 from every case sold to breast cancer research and awareness.
Saucony Creek Schnickelfritz Chocolate Cherry Milk Stout (8% ABV): This milk/sweet stout from Saucony Brewing Company in Kutztown, Pennsylvania pours a deep crimson brown with a sudsy off-white head that slowly settles into a thin head that lasts. Dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, vanilla and a bit of cherry on the nose. Schnickelfritz is silky and creamy with lots of caramel, vanilla and cherry malt. The chocolate comes through a bit more as this beer warms up for an adult treat on a cold night.
Fun Fact: “Schnickelfritz” is a Pennsylvania Dutch term that refers to a naughty rebellious child who is always getting into trouble.
Link here to read more about Cloverleaf Tavern.
Ichtegem’s Grand Cru Flemish Red Ale (6.5% ABV): This Flanders Red Ale brewed by Brouwerij Strubbe in Beligum pours a dark reddish brown with a thick taupe head with some staying power. Tart cherries with a bit of funk and some vinegar undertones create an aromatic experience for this style. Sour cherries and berries kick off the overall flavor with faint vinegar followed by malty vanilla for a dry finish. All of the components come together for a balanced “sour” flavor that is not at all overwhelming. If you’re interested in trying a sour, Ichtegem’s Grand Cru is a nice gateway beer to introduce you to this style.
Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin (8.5% ABV): This pumpkin ale from Boston Beer Company pours deep, translucent chestnut with a small, airy, taupe head that doesn’t stick around long. The aroma is pure pumpkin pie – cinnamon, caramel, nutmeg and sweet biscuit. Considering the high alcohol content and 28 pounds of pumpkin in each barrel, Fat Jack has a medium body with a slightly creamy mouthfeel. The same fall flavors carry over into the flavor, but toasted malt combined with spicy bitterness on the back end make for tasty pumpkin ale.
Kuka Belgian Golden Ale (9.2% ABV): This Belgian Strong Ale brewed by Andean Brewing Company in Blauvelt, New York pours clear, golden amber with a small, one-finger, white head. The unique ingredients – maca root and blue agave – encouraged me to try this brew. The aroma is mostly sweet malt, yeast, underlying peppery spiciness and overly ripe produce. Kuka Belgian Golden Ale has a fermented quality to it that, in my opinion, overpowers the overall flavor. There is a hop presence mixed with smokiness and fermented vegetable/fruit flavor. Some of the other reviews I read claimed this beer was sweet, but the bottle that I had no sign of sweetness whatsoever. I’m starting to question whether or not the bottle I had was expired. Overall, this was a bad drinking experience and not something I would want to drink again. I’m glad I didn’t have to buy a six-pack of this!
Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream (5.4% ABV): This pumpkin ale, available from August through October, from Magic Hat Brewing Company pours orange-mahogany with a thin, beige head that allows for a bit of lacing. The scents of fall infiltrate the senses with aromas of pumpkin, cinnamon, caramel malts and allspice. The rich quality of these heady flavors carries over into the overall taste, but Magic Hat does it in a way that gives Wilhelm Scream a lighter quality than many of the other pumpkin ales on the market. The right amount of carbonation and trace of bitterness captures the essence of fall you expect without creating a heavy, filling beer.
If you like this brewer, read what I thought about Elder Betty and Circus Boy.
* This beer war ordered at Tiff’s Bar & Grill in Morris Plains, NJ.