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Just a post to share various local beer news and happenings in Northern New Jersey and the Tri-State Region this month.

Boaks Beer Launched

Cheers and best of luck to a great homebrewer who has now gone pro! Brian Boak, award-winning homebrewer and president of my local homebrew club (http://www.jerseybrewers.com/), has now launched his own line of commercially-produced specialty craft beer under the label Boaks Beer (http://www.boaksbeer.com/index.php).

His Monster Mash Russian Imperial Stout is now available in restaurants, bars and stores in New Jersey. While the Russian Imperial Stout style in general isn’t a favorite of mine, this one is a solidly good beer, and is opening to great reviews on beeradvocate (http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16792/41239) and ratebeer (http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/boaks-monster-mash-imperial-stout/83776/)

Even more highly anticipated (in my opinion) is his Two Blind Monks Belgian-style Dubbel which should be available later this month. If it is anything like the subtley spiced, rich and malty homebrewed Dubbel that Brian has shared at our homebrew club meetings and at last Fall’s Brewtopia Fest in NYC, this is one well-worth seeking out.

We wish you all the best, and look forward to your future releases!

Still crazy after all these beers

Follow the link below to an article on the excellent Captain Lawrence Brewing Company and the state of homebrewing in Westchester County, New York: http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080305/LIFESTYLE01/803050302

The Beer Essentials

Follow the link below to an article on the Hudson Valley’s own Defiant Brewing and homebrew club the Ramapo Valley Ruffians: http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008803050305

1st Manhattan Cask Ale Festival

Cask-beer afficianado and expert Alex Hall, recently featured in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/dining/24pour.html), is organizing Manhattan’s First Cask Ale Festival in conjunction with (and being held at) the Chelsea Brewing Company on March 28-30. For more information, and eye-popping list of breweries expected to be providing casks, visit: 

http://www.gotham-imbiber.com/beerfestival.html

It Must Be Spring…

 if Maibock is now on tap! Ramstein, brewers of some excellent German-style lagers and wheat beers, will have the debut of this year’s Maibock (a traditional German hoppy sweet strong pale lager typically tapped in May) at their March Open House on Saturday, March 8th from 2 – 4 p.m. at the High Point Brewing Company in Butler, NJ. Their open house includes samples, a brewery tour, and the chance to purchase growler-fills of their draft-only beers (including their Maibock). Visit the brewery website at:

http://www.ramsteinbeer.com/

Out of Town Events: Philly Craft Beer Week

 A celebration of the (self-proclaimed) America’s Best Beer-Drinking City, there are numerous events, tastings, tours, dinners and even a breakfast (ah, yes, “Wheat Beer! The Breakfast of Champions”). For more information, visit:

 http://www.phillybeerweek.org/

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12 BeersHere’s a variety pack with lots of variety: 12 bottles of 12 different beers. Saranac is brewed by FX Matt in Utica, NY, which is the same brewery that contract brews all of Brooklyn Brewery’s bottled offerings and some of their kegs. Now, Saranac beers aren’t always as interesting, rich or flavorful as what they brew for Brooklyn. But for $10.99 for a 12-pack, there are some real winners in this box.

I haven’t even made it through all 12 yet, but so far the Bock is a well-hopped, full-bodied rendition of the traditional German style. It pairs amazingly well with Buffalo wings… the hops stand up quite well to the kick of the hot sauce. If only they would sell it outside of the variety pack!

Other nice selections are a tasty Mocha Stout (a little thin in body, but rich in flavor), a Chocolate Lager (think of this as a “light” stout), and their delicious Black Forest (dark, malty, and full of caramel flavors). Only the Rauchbier was a disappointment… this take on a traditional German ‘smoke’ beer just wasn’t smokey enough for my taste.

Of course, if there’s a beer you don’t like, there’s only one in the box, so you won’t get stuck with a bunch of bottles you don’t want. At the same time, if there’s a beer you really like, the problem is there’s only one in the box!

Definition: Bock

Bock literally means “goat” in German. So, why call your beer a goat? Maybe because of the ‘kick’ this relatively high-alcohol lager will give you! A traditional Bock is typically a strong, dark, malty brew with hardly any noticable hop flavor. While overall a somewhat sweet brew, a slight bitterness in the finish is not from the hops but from the roasted grains.