July 19, 2009

Interlude: Trap Rock Brewery

If there's one tangible difference of all this homebrewing, it's the fact that neither Nahum nor I buy all that much beer anymore. I mean, more often than not we've each got close to a case (and sometimes more!) of 2JB goodness around; and my taste for our brew has driven me to prefer ordering wine in restaurants.

But if one is going to hone one's brewing acumen, then it also stands to reason that one should hone one's beer palate as well, right? With that in mind, last weekend Nahum and I (and the wives) decamped to the Trap Rock Brewery in Berkeley Heights, NJ. This nearby brewpub had, in addition to an appealing food menu, no fewer than eight microbrewed beers on tap at any given time. If one must do one's research, this seemed like the way to go.

Our biggest worry was dispelled immediately: instead of fretting over how many of these beers we could reasonably (and soberishly) sample, the Trap Rock folks offered a 6-beer sampler for under 10 bucks. We each got a hilariously sizable carousel of 5 oz. glasses, each containing a different beer. It quickly became hard to picture how, exactly, our food would fit on the table.

But that was someone else's problem. Our issue was to try the Ghost Pony Helles Lager, Schroeder Weiss, JP Pilsner, Dr. Otto's Rye Bock, Yankee Porter and Kestrel IPA.

The simple evaluation goes something like this: the Ghost Pony was good, a lightly flavored beer, but nothing special; the Weiss was fantastic, with a complex set of citrus notes that rivaled our own wheat-based concoction; the Pilsner was malty, hoppy, and one of the clear highlights of the sampler; Dr. Otto's was peculiar but good, not as clearly rye-tasting as advertised but still summery & yummery; the Porter was a dark-horse favorite, with rich color and flavor; and finally the IPA...which was undrinkable--not because it was bad, necessarily, but more because the inordinate blast of hops and 7.0% alcohol just made it too much to enjoy next to all of its subtler brethren.

Sadly, the sampler did not include two of the Trap Rock's other brews, and Irish Ale and something from their "Secret Tap" (whatever the heck that means). The lessons learned included a realization that it is possible to make a too-hoppy beer, that we totally need to make a porter come the cooler days of autumn/winter, and that we need (need) to get rolling on a batch of pilsner soon.

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