Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout Review

For this video, we tasted and reviewed Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout from Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery. The first thing we noticed was the almost funky salt aroma on the beer, which subsided as the foam settled down. But it really did have a hint of that “bay marshes at low tide” kind of smell, which was really cool, but that’s not necessarily what you want your beer to taste like.

Thankfully, the salt isn’t nearly as pronounced in the taste. There is some salt taste, but just a hint carries through from the nose. It had nice subtle flavors of coffee, toffee, and toasty malts. Without the salt, it might just be another pretty good stout, but it’s just enough to make it taste unique. It’s like when I first started seeing “salted carmel” stuff a few years ago. It’s not a combination I would’ve thought of, but it actually works pretty well.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Pearl Necklace. I thought it would end up going one of two ways- either not enough oyster influence, rendering it a good but unremarkable stout, or too much salt, making it fun to taste but something you would never order a pint of. Luckily, the brewers at Flying Dog got the balance down on this one.

Cape May Brewing Company’s Devil’s Reach Belgian Ale Review

For the next beer in this series of reviews, we tasted Cape May Brewing Co’s Devil’s Reach. I hadn’t tasted it before this review so it was a nice surprise to find that this beer is awesome.

It’s a light golden color and a little bit hazy, with a nice white head and great aromas. It tastes super smooth and balanced, with some notes of pepper, clove, warm spices and a little fruit. There are nice toasty malt tastes up front and it finishes really nicely. It’s a delicious beer, especially at 8.6% abv, and is another really great beer by the folks at Cape May Brewing. Check out the video below!

 

 

Victory Brewing’s White Monkey Video Review

Victory’s Golden Monkey and I go way back. It was one of the first non-national brand beers I ever tried, and I have a lot of good memories that took place over a couple bombers of the consistently awesome Belgian tripel.

Check out the video, with more tasting notes further down

For White Monkey, the regular version spends three months in oak barrels that were previously used to age white wine. I sometimes hesitate to buy random barrel-aged beers- there are more of them coming out every year, and the barrels don’t always make for a better beer. I see it a lot in stouts, usually aged in a liquor barrel, occasionally in something like a sherry cask. I feel like if you make a mediocre or boring stout, you can just age it in a barrel or add a bunch of coffee, double the price, and keep selling it.

But because I’m a huge fan of Golden Monkey, and white-wine-oak-aged Belgian was a combo I’d never seen before, I grabbed a bottle to taste in this new series of beer reviews.

It poured a nice light gold color with a bright white head, and as soon as I uncorked it I got the aromas of white wine. There was maybe a little sweet yeasty kind of scent, but the nose was dominated by oak and wine, which unfortunately didn’t change much when we tasted it.

There’s little remaining of the original Golden Monkey in White Monkey, which apparently undergoes a big change in the wine barrels. There are more acidic fruity tastes in this, peach and citrus along with lots of grape, and I even taste some tannin in it. There’s some vanilla-ish tastes with the earthiness of oak, and a slightly bitter finish.

But honestly, all the scents and tastes you get from the wine kind of killed it for me. There’s really little to none of Golden Monkey left in it. Disappointing because the base beer is the main reason I wanted to try it. Still, I could see fans of white wine enjoying it as a sort of Chard-beer hybrid. Just don’t go into this one expecting much of the original to be there.

Yards Chocolate Love Stout Review

Because it had been a while since my last straightforward beer review, I wanted to pick something really good and different from the beers I’ve reviewed already. Scrolling through my posts, I was surprised that I never reviewed a stout for Tapped. So when I saw two bombers of Yards Brewing Company’s Chocolate Love Stout on the shelf at Passion Vines, I knew I had to pick one up.

Yards makes a number of solid beers, including one of my favorite session beers, Brawler. They also did a really cool series of beers based on recipes from the founding fathers, Ales of the Revolution. In any case, I know they’re across the river in Philly but they really make consistently good beers, so one of them was bound to be featured here.

IMG_3363Chocolate Love Stout pours a really dark color with a big lumpy tan-colored head that eventually settled down to a half-inch layer that left a lot of lacing around the glass. And when I say it pours dark, I mean like really really dark, like black-hole-absorbing-all-light dark. I held it up to the light and there was the tiniest hint of a reddish-brown on the edge, but that was about it for color.

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Reeeally dark. Basically opaque.

The nose on this was wonderful, really subtle and smooth. There were aromas of cocoa, toasty sort of toffee scents, and vanilla, but not like the overwhelming vanilla extract scent of Creme Brulee, just enough to balance the earthier scents with some sweetness. Lots of nice, warm smells in this one.

The Love Stout has a medium body and low carbonation, which suit the style, but from the looks of it I was expecting it to be much thicker. It’s actually surprisingly drinkable, and I had no problem finishing my 750 after taking tasting notes.

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My second pour I just sort of dumped it all in to make a lot of foam

Upon tasting, I got a lot of toasty and bread-y malt flavors with some subtle cocoa underneath. The malts start to fade out and as the chocolate comes through the vanilla shows up as well. It really mellows out through the end of a sip, and left a gentle dark chocolate aftertaste that was really delicious. There was a bit of hoppiness on the back end, but not enough to overpower the other tastes.

Overall, the Chocolate Love Stout from Yards lived up to the hype. People have suggested it for a long time but I never got around to trying it until now. I’m not always the biggest fan of stouts, but this one was actually pretty approachable. Some might say it lacks the complexity of other stouts, but I’m not really looking for complex flavors with this. It says on the bottle that it’s “irresistibly smooth” and it really is.

Dark and smooth are the key words for this beer. I know he did ads for Colt 45, but if there’s a beer truly deserving of Billy Dee Williams, it’s Yards Chocolate Love Stout.

As a little bonus, I took some notes on Kane Brewing’s Simplicity when I was at Passion Vines. It was one of two Belgian Strong Ales they had on tap, the other being Unibroue Terrible. The Simplicity was lighter-bodied and easier-drinking than the Terrible, and had a little less bite-y spice notes to it, which all work in its favor. Simplicity lives up to its name in the best way possible- a good beer that doesn’t overdo any one aspect. Nice and balanced, and much lighter in color and body than I expected. It had a little sweetness that really balanced it out.

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Kane Simplicity, on tap at Passion Vines Somers Point

Broadway Beer Brunch

Early Sunday afternoon, my sister Molly, her friend Gia and I went to Broadway Burger Bar in The Quarter for the Beer Brunch they had as part of Tropicana’s Beer Week. The menu had five dishes, four beers, and two cocktails, and for $20 you got to choose an entree and two drinks.

For the beers, they had Allagash White Ale, Ayinger Brau-Weisse, Ommegang Hennepin, and Stella Artois Cidre, or a flight of all four. They also had a Bloody Mary-Martini hybrid and a Mimosa made with the Ayinger, but I wasn’t going near those. First, Bloody Mary’s are gross, and second, why ruin the Ayinger with orange juice?

I was tempted to get the flight just because they’re always fun, but I ended up getting the Ommegang Hennepin followed by the Allagash White.

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Ommegang’s Hennepin Farmhouse Saison was great with the giant pretzel and dips appetizer we started with

The Hennepin was delicious, and one of more unique beers on this brunch menu. True to its style — the Belgian farmhouse saison — Hennepin is a little heavier and definitely hoppier than typical wheat ales. It had aromas of citrus and a yeast-y sweetness with some bread and fruit, all of which comes through in the taste, but with a decent hop presence that finishes a little dry but still smooth. One of the dips the pretzel appetizer came with was crab and cream cheese and the Hennepin tasted especially great with that.

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Allagash White

The Allagash White, which I’ve had a bunch of times prior to this, is a little closer to what you might expect from a wheat or white ale. It was a little lighter, cleaner, and crisper than the Hennepin, but still had plenty of character. The sweet fruity scents are balanced by subtle spices, and it’s as light and crisp to drink as it looks. It’s got a good fizzy carbonation, and a lot of flavor for how drinkable it really is. One of the things I’ve always liked about this beer was how approachable it is. I mean, my sister even ordered one, and she usually sticks to national brand light beer. A good choice for pretty much any occasion, but especially for brunch.

For food I went with the Off Broadway Sliders. The bananas foster french toast sounded awesome, but it was almost 3 p.m. and I was feeling more like lunch than breakfast by then. The sliders were really two four ounce burgers, definitely bigger than I expected from the name. They were really good though, the bun was nice and soft, and they came with a fried egg, hollandaise sauce, and bacon. The server only gave me two choices- well done or still a little pink in the middle, so I went with the latter. Well, there was a little pink inside the burger, or least a pink-ish grey color, waaay inside. That was really the only issue I had with the food, because everything else was really good. I had never really considered hollandaise sauce on a burger, but it worked surprisingly well.

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I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but I think “sliders” denotes really small burger patties. These were like two burgers somewhere between big and slider-sized. But whatever the size, they were still really tasty.

I’m going to try to check out some more of the Trop Beer Week stuff, but this was definitely a good start. I had never been to Broadway Burger Bar before, and it was really nice inside. Our server Mario was quick and friendly, and the sweet potato fries I stole from my sister’s plate were also really good. And I have to say, $20 is a really good price for what you get, especially for The Quarter. Hopefully they do it again next year, and it’s definitely a place I’d like to come back to and try out the regular menu.

Tropicana Beer Week Starts Sunday

I was originally going to be doing a preview of the second Tropicana Beer Week for another publication but I’m doing it here now. Anyway, after some of the coldest days of winter weather that I’ve experienced during the decade I’ve lived in South Jersey, next week looks like it might be warm enough for me to venture out of the house again, just in time for Beer Week.

158_1000From Sunday Jan. 12 through Saturday Jan. 18 over 20 bars, restaurants, and shops in The Quarter of Tropicana in Atlantic City will be doing their own specials and events celebrating all things beer. Last year’s had a good turnout, and this year they have some pretty cool stuff lined up.

“It’s going to be a fun event,” said Tropicana Vice President of Food and Beverage Ray Bertschy.

“It’s going to be a good week, we’re very excited about the dinners at Fin and Il Verdi, and Gary [Monterosso] doing his top five.”

Seafood restaurant Fin will be having a Flying Fish Pairing Dinner on Tuesday hosted by Flying Fish founder Gene Muller. For $75 you get a reservation for a five-course dinner paired with seven beers and. They’re New Jersey’s biggest craft brewery and make a ton of great beers, and I think their history is pretty cool. The full menu can be found on Flying Fish’s events calendar.

And on Friday, Il Verdi is doing an International Beer and Food Pairing with food and beer from six different countries, including Germany’s Warsteiner and Kingfisher from India.

The Broadway Burger Bar is not only doing a dinner on Thursday, but they’re also starting things off Sunday with a beer brunch. They’ll have dishes like bananas foster french toast with a variety of wheats and whits including Allagash White Ale. And at $20 per person, not a bad way to spend what should be a mild Sunday afternoon.

There are a couple opportunities to up your beer knowledge as well. On Saturday January 11, Anheuser Busch is doing Beer 101 at Tango’s Lounge, which sounds like a good chance for the unacquainted to find out how your beer is made and what goes into it.

And on Wednesday night at Top of the Trop, the beer expert and writer Gary Monterosso is presenting five of his favorite beers. Gary has been covering fine beers in the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas for a while and was actually on the History Channel as a beer expert. Dude knows his stuff, and this sounds like a good chance to learn from a master. His picks will be paired with food, and at $25 it’s an inexpensive way to really treat your palate.

A couple of my favorite bars in The Quarter are doing some great beer specials to celebrate Beer Week.

Firewaters has always been my go-to spot for craft beer in Atlantic City. They maintain one of the biggest and most extensive beer menus in the area. And this week they’re doing five dollar flights! For those who don’t know, a flight is a number (in this case four) of smaller pours of beer or wine, so you can try a bunch of different ones at once. It’s a really fun little bar, and if all the different names on the beer menu seem overwhelming, you can try them out four at a time until you find what you like. They have a few really good New Jersey beers on there too, including Carton’s Boat Beer.

Ri Ra Irish Pub usually has some good craft choices on tap, but this week they’re also doing $4 craft bottles, or six for $20. I hear a lot of people citing price as a barrier to the world of craft beer, but Beer Week specials like these can make it a little more wallet-friendly.

I really like the style of Tropicana’s Beer Week- it’s less of a beer festival, and more of a week-long theme for The Quarter. The Tropicana sets the dates and does special rates for the week, but other than that each bar or restaurant plans their own ways of celebrating it.

“We say we’re doing beer week or we’re doing bacon week,” Bertschy said. “And we’ll ask, ‘What do you want to contribute? What do you suggest?’”

Tropicana has the full list of events and specials here. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’re looking forward to! I’m going to try to at least get to Firewaters but that Flying Fish dinner sounds awesome too.