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.

Tapped SJ 2014 Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new, almost two months in fact. So I wanted to just do a little update, but actual content will be back very soon!

I graduated from Rowan last week, and the end of this last semester was just really busy and I didn’t have much time for new reviews or videos. Then the holidays, the Eagles making the playoffs, et cetera. But now while I look for jobs I have a bunch of projects going on and I’ll be back to posting regularly. Not making any promises, but shooting for posting at least every week.

Another excuse- I have no beer! Seriously, my fridge is just about empty of beer. I have a couple cans of Resurrection from The Brewer’s Art left, a couple lambics, and I found two Christmas beers in the back. From 2012. So I’ll leave you for now with what happens when you forget about a Troeg’s Mad Elf in your fridge for over a year.

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Yea, I don’t think any beer is supposed to have that much sediment. Smelled like an old Busch Light. It’s kinda hard to tell but that’s a solid 1/2 inch. blegh

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Yep. One whiff and this went right into the toilet. Also found a Breckenridge Christmas Ale from 2012 and that one didn’t do much better. They were hiding behind an even older bottle of Jager

Happy National Stout Day!

So today I learned that it’s National Stout Day! I know because the internet told me so. But anyway, here are some local Jersey craft stouts you can check out if you’re celebrating. In no particular order:

1. ‘Port Omna’ by Kane Brewing Company

I’m not sure this is still available, but I remember it from when it was on tap at Passion Vines. Lots of toasty chocolate and coffee flavors. A really good full-bodied stout if you can find it anywhere. I believe they also did some different barrel-aged versions of it, but I missed those.

2. ‘New Brighton Coffee Stout’ by Tuckahoe Brewing

This one might also be tough to find but there should be some bottles around. I love a good coffee stout and this one was great. The guys at Tuckahoe used coffee beans from Harry and Beans Coffee who operate next door to the brewery, and proceeds from this beer go to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. Made as a tribute to Surfers Supplies founder George Gerlach, it’s a solid beer for a good cause in memory of a local legend, and I can’t ask for more than that!

3. River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout

This is an awesome beer, really dark in color but lighter in taste than I first expected. Really smooth and a little sweet, with a great head and creamy mouthfeel. Another great beer from the Hippo brewers up in Ewing.

4. ‘Carton of Milk’ by Carton Brewing Co.

Another New Jersey milk stout, this one is a bit lighter and more session-able. It’s got a bunch of warm roasted flavors, and more hops than I expected, which made it a little more balanced and adds to its “session-ability”. This is another one we had on tap a couple times at PV so I’m guessing it might be tough to find.

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A pint of Carton of Milk, courtesy of cartonbrewing.com

Kane Brewing Company’s ‘Malus’ Video Review

New video review is up! It’s later than I’d like, which I’ve come to expect now. But I’ve just had a really busy week. Anyway, video is below, with more thoughts on this beer farther down.

Kane Brewing Company is located in Monmouth County in a town called Ocean, and has put out a good variety of really high quality beers. Head High, Overhead, Cloud Cover, and Three Hundred Sixty-Five are a few other ones that I love and recommend to a lot of people.

In the video we said Malus came out two years ago but it’s really more like a year and a half. I had never actually bought one to try, so when I found one that had been aging at Passion Vines for a year I figured now was a good time to give it a shot given the apple cider used in the brewing process.

It’s a really good beer, and the apple cider and champagne yeast really give it a unique flavor profile. Unlike most beers with apple in them, Malus isn’t super-fruity. The reduced apple cider gives it an apple taste, but without a lot of the sweetness I expected. I thought it was great, but if you’re expecting a hard cider or like a Redd’s Apple, that’s not what you get in this.

I love a lot of the beers that come out of Kane, and I’m glad I finally got to give this one a try.

Coming soon: Brew Review Round 2

Just a quick update: I’m currently editing the next round of beer review videos. The first one should be going up Friday or Saturday evening so keep an eye out. We tasted a bottle aged Kane Malus and River Horse Hop-A-Lot-Amus.

So here’s a couple screenshots from the footage, which came out pretty good. Better than last time I think, which is in part why I want to spend a lot of time editing.

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