Newark Beer

By Amy Tindell

I optimistically inquired of Google where a girl might find some adventure in Newark, NJ prior to a recent business trip there. Google showed me only sites advertising establishments that had closed within the past two years, or advising me to take the 12-minute train ride to NYC. In case I had doubts about Newark’s coolness, Selena Gomez was to perform in Newark the night I arrived.

Not quite dissuaded, I ended up at the Dinosaur BBQ downtown, conveniently located between my firm and the hotel. Indeed, there were two (2) beers that I had not yet tasted, both from the Garden State itself. If that is not adventure, I don’t know what is.

My first order, eliciting a smile from the bartender, who had just served 6 Bud Lights, was for a Flying Fish Hopfish. Flying Fish Brewing Company was founded on the Internet in its early days, around 1995, as a “virtual brewery.” It seems that the Founder, Gene Muller, used the website to advertise the brand and raise money for the brewery, before producing his first beer in September 1996. Muller’s idea was to “give beer lovers a chance, via their computers, to roll up their cyber-sleeves and … help select and name beers, design t-shirts and labels, volunteer to be a taste-tester and even apply for a job as a brewer.” IRL*, Flying Fish is located in Somerdale, NJ and now the largest craft brewery in the state.

Flying Fish produces four full-time beer styles, in addition to its seasonal beers. It prides itself on balance, a quality much appreciated by a non-hophead ordering an IPA in the US. Hopfish does feature a healthy hop bitterness, but as advertised, this IPA is balanced by a healthy, slightly sweet, malt backbone that marries American, English, and German malts. The finish has a floral, citrus quality thanks to extensive dry hopping with 22lbs of Nugget Hops. Though not meant for a West Coast hophead, this tasty IPA certainly contributed to the night’s adventures for this (balanced) American girl.

My next adventure (read: order), copied by my now-intrigued tablemates, was a Kane Overhead Imperial. Kane Brewing Company was built in Ocean Township, NJ, and got its start in 2011, after its Founders spent years in B-school, wearing suits, and touring the world’s breweries. The brewery specializes in American- and Belgian-style ales, sold only in central and northern NJ. The Overhead Imperial pours a dark gold, slightly amber color, and thanks to several hops additions (Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe, Centennial), smells of citrus and tropical fruit. The aroma does not mislead, as the taste fronts with a heavy dose of tropical and citrus fruits and bitterness, but the brew is balanced by sweet malts, caramel and pine notes, and a pronounced grapefruit and alcohol finish. Overall, it was a very enjoyable DIPA (Double India Pale Ale).

So there you have it: even in Newark, one may find hitherto unknown tastes. And who knows what further adventures await on the walk home?

*IRL = in real life

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