Taphouse Grille Rare Beer Event
Yesterday I went to Taphouse Grille in Wayne, NJ for their second anniversary rare beer event. Great beer list.
Obviously my first problem was trying to figure out what not to order. One person by himself, who has to drive home after, can only have so many special beers on a Wednesday evening. Some of them I’d had already, like Ithaca Excelsior! fourteen and Flying Fish Exit 4. Both of those are breweries I love and pay close attention to. Next I ruled out the barleywines, even though some sounded good, because I generally don’t care for the style.
I went with the hyper-local beer, which must have been added after that list I linked; Cricket Hill Smoked Rye, small batch. Cricket Hill is brewed in Fairfield, NJ which is only a stone’s throw from the Taphouse. I like rye beers, and I like smoked beers, so this seemed a great choice. It didn’t blow me away or anything, but I did enjoy it immensely and it got better with each sip. It had a nice amount of smokiness, and almost a wet mossy maltiness to it.
I agonized over my second choice, and ultimately went with something I knew wouldn’t be made again: Firestone Walker XVI. This is almost the opposite of local, since it’s brewed in California, but I do have a friend from that area and I visited one of the restaurants when I was out there for a wedding. They make good beer, and the anniversary ale was no exception. I was happy of my choice, getting to taste a truly special beer. It was served in a 10oz snifter glass and even that may have been a tad much. XVI is a beer that was aged in 226 oak barrels and was a blend of eight different beers. To say the taste was complex is an understatement, and the brewery’s description of the beer is pages long! There were so many nuances to it that it was like sipping a rich expensive bourbon. Each sip is a new discovery of flavor, and it packs a rich bourbony punch. That you can get this experience at a fraction of the cost in beer is part of what’s so wonderful about beer. This was the best blended beer I’ve ever had and has me wondering if I can still find a bottle of it locally somewhere.
Near misses: I trust Founders to make good beer, so I was intrigued by Double Trouble. Epic’s Smoked and Oaked looked good, but one smoked beer is enough. The Terrapin Reunion Ale ’12 with cocoa nibs, vanilla, and cinnamon sounded great, and if I see it again it’s going to be my first choice.