Neshaminy Creek Leon Russian Imperial Stout

For this video, it was a rare cool July night and I had just eaten dinner, so I brought this big Imperial Stout from Neshaminy Creek over to Ben’s house to taste. I bought it a few weeks ago after my friend Kyle recommended it at work one night, and I’m glad he did. The so-called “s’more stout” was awesome, really delicious, but I was glad I had some people to share it with because I don’t know if I’d want a bomber of this to myself. It’s good, it’s just also pretty heavy.

Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company started up about three years ago in Croydon, Pa., and when I first heard of them I felt so nostalgic. I grew up a few miles up the river from there, the Neshaminy Creek ran past my hometown, we went to the Neshaminy Mall, played basketball against kids from Neshaminy, and so on. So while it’s not quite from my hometown, they’re pretty close by.

Anyway, when I heard “smore stout” I knew I’d have to try it. Stouts can be a really good platform for certain flavors (see: Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Tuckahoe’s New Brighton Coffee Stout) but not everyone gets it right. Each batch of Leon Russian is made with 16 pounds of bittersweet baker’s chocolate, 30 pounds of graham crackers, and 50 pounds of freshly-made marshmallow fluff. Oh, and a double dose of five or six kinds of malt. After reading that I decided that yea, Croydon is definitely close enough to South Jersey to justify a review of this.

As soon as I opened it I got a big whiff of dark cocoa and roasted malt aromas, and even more so after pouring. It’s a really dark, almost completely black color with really thick dark tan head. This Imperial Stout has a medium-to-thick mouthfeel with low carbonation, which suit the style.

The taste starts with the cocoa flavors from the chocolate and chocolate malt, with a bit of toast-y bread-y type flavors underneath. These level out to a slightly sweet and smooth taste, and a little bit of a dry finish with the tiniest bite of alcohol at the very end. It does a pretty good job of covering the really high ABV, which I think can be credited to its sweetness. There was also a really subtle graham cracker taste to it, but just a little bit underneath. The marshmallow fluff doesn’t really stand out, but I think it contributes to that just-right amount of sweetness.

Making a smore stout, the chocolate could’ve overpowered the other malts, it could’ve turned out too sweet, the graham crackers could’ve been lost in the sauce, but the balance is pretty good here. I feel like those flavors need a beer with enough body to keep them in check, and this one has it, I think because of all the malt they use.

All told, this was a really great beer, a big bold stout with some really cool flavors going on. It has enough flavor to hide most of the 11.6% alcohol, without being one-dimensional or bland. If you see the 22 ounce bombers around, it’s definitely worth grabbing one to share with some friends, with or without a campfire.

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.