I had limited time for a post this past Tuesday, so I'm making up for it by posting 3 beer reviews this Thursday evening...
1. Flying Fish Exit 9
Lucky #7 in the exit series from NJ brewery, Flying Fish, is based on the exit off the turnpike that leads you to Rutgers University, thus the name: Hoppy Scarlet Ale. This is definitely one of the best red ales I've ever had. Red ales are an odd bunch though. Most breweries don't make one. Because they are more of a session beer and tend to balance between the malty and hoppy types of ales, the red ales out there are either mass-produced and lacking flavor or sway toward malty or hoppy (usually malty). There are exceptions from Lagunitas, Rogue and other breweries, just so we're clear. This one definitely had a lot of hoppy flavor to it but it had some nicely balanced malt backbone to it for a full-flavored beer, thanks in part to it being bottle-conditioned. I'd definitely drink this one again, and any other release from the exit series too. See you at the next exit...
Overall Rating: A-
2. Penn Brewing Co. Marzen
After living in the PA/NJ area for over 20 years, I find it odd that it wasn't until recently that I just tried a beer from Penn Brewing Co. Of course, it'd probably be even more odd if I HAD tried it 20 years ago, since I was only 5 years old (cue the groans from the older readers). Anyway, PBC has been around the block brewing German-style brews out of Pittsburgh. The Marzen style is intended for the spring, so even though we just got snow here in Allentown, I'll celebrate the style. The famous beer critic Michael Jackson (no relation, this guy was a bearded English beer fanatic/writer) named this beer one of his favorite 24 American beers. That's quite an honor. [Sidenote: The coincidental name can't help but remind me of Office Space/Michael Bolton] Anyway, Germans like to make flavorful session beers, so there's nothing extreme here. Just a full-bodied malty amber beer. Hard to say it's one of my top 24 American beers, but as far as session beers go, there's a good argument.
Overall Rating: B
3. He'Brew Vertical Jewbelation
I've seen beers from this brewery for years but only recently started buying them for some reason. The marketing and mission of He'Brew brewery is great, whether you're Jewish or not. They make Kosher beer and use that as a unique angle for their marketing and naming their beers: Genesis Ale, Messiah Ale, etc. Anyway, I recently tried one of their staple beers and loved it. So when I saw this beer, my hand was like one of those old school circa-80's slap wrist bands around this beer: Jewbelation uses a different recipe each year, so they blended the 7 different Jewbelations made and aged it in Sazerac 6 year Rye Whiskey barrels. Umm...yes please. I don't care if you've never had any of the 7 different styles, just seeing that a brewery goes through this process for a beer is enough for any beer/whiskey lover to give it a shot. I'll be honest - I had this after consuming a few others so my palate was not at its best. However, I do remember it being quite lovely. Though strong, at 10.5% ABV, this has everything you might expect: caramel, vanilla, dark raisiny taste, oakiness, some alcohol bite, some hoppiness, woody, rum brown sugar...I could go on and on. Just a very, very full-bodied flavorful beer. L'chaim!
Overall Rating: A-