Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Light the way

Climax Brewing doubled down for Lent, and now brewer Dave Hoffmann is following that up by seeing the light.

The Roselle Park brewery plans to release Hoffmann Helles (4.6% ABV) about April 2nd in its customary kegs and half-gallon growlers (which are filled on a bottling line. The beer keeps longer than growlers filled from the tap, like it’s done at brewpubs, Hoffmann says.)

Signature flavors in Hoffmann's helles (which, as you know, is auf deutsch for "light," as in a reference to color): Spalt hops and a breadiness that tastes like it came from a decoction mash.

Hoffmann Helles comes on the coattails of Climax’s Lenten season release of a doublebock (named, as you can guess, Hoffmann Doppelbock; 7% ABV, Spalt and Hallertauer hops). It's the fourth year for both styles under Climax's brand. Incidentally, Climax is going on its 12th year as a brewery.

Climax’s beers can be found in draft and growlers across North Jersey, and on draft in Philadelphia bars. South Jersey folks may have to trek to Mount Holly or Florence (at Red White & Brew) to find Roselle Park’s finest in malt art.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And Philly makes three

The newest flower in the beer garden is set to bloom in early spring with some honey wheat, amber ale and Bengal Gold IPA.

We are, of course, referring to Triumph Brewing’s much anticipated new location in Philadelphia (two bars and a restaurant and a 15-barrel brewery inside 12,000 square feet), its third after Princeton and New Hope, Pa.

When the doors to the Old City site swing open, you can also expect a stout on tap, as well as beer on a hand pump.

Rounding out the location’s amenities: Internet WiFi, a 100-inch projection TV with surround sound, a private dining room and a business center.

The chat board buzz about Triumph pouring beer at Second and Chestnut has mentioned “early spring” since mid-winter. Regarding the grand opening, company reps were staying with that phrase on Monday.

If you’re the antsy type and not satisfied with that explanation, think about it this way: Spring starts Tuesday and Triumph probably wants to be open in Philadelphia as much as anyone who wants them to start filling pint glasses.

(Side note: Brewing operations chief Jay Misson will oversee the Philly location and Patrick Jones, the current New Hope brewer, will handle daily brewing duties.)

Trivial pursuits

Speaking of Triumph (which recently celebrated the 12th anniversary of its Princeton brewpub) …

The Oxford English Dictionary has just given the word wiki its lexicographic due.

Wiki's joining 287 other words in the latest online version of the venerated reference tome. (Wiki had already made the cut in the dictionary in Mac OS X that runs our PowerBook and G5, by the way.)

The word refers to websites that allow collaborative editing of content and structure by users and perhaps is most famously associated in mainstream usage with Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. (Wiki comes from wiki-wiki, a Hawaiian phrase meaning “quick-quick;” it owes its cyber life to programmer Ward Cunningham. We know all this because we looked it up.)

Winning a spot in the OED is probably a big deal somewhere to someone, but it has virtually nothing to do with Jersey beer, were it not for two entries in Wikipedia: Triumph and Flying Fish Brewing (Cherry Hill).

Somewhere along the line, the two Jersey brewers picked up some wiki-nality and were immortalized in Wikipedia. (See entries here and here.) Tun Tavern also has an entry, but it details the history as the Philadelphia birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps and only offers a link to the Tun's Atlantic City brewpub.

Such wikognition doesn’t strike us as having the same bragging rights as grabbing a gold medal in Colorado in the fall.

But if you follow the logic that any publicity is good publicity, then appearing in a compendium that lives its life as a work in progress where anyone can chime in with his knowledge on the subject probably can’t hurt. (By the by, for the ambitious out there, you can bump up Wikipedia’s article count by authoring entries on the rest of New Jersey’s brewers.) We’re wondering: Is there a Pete’s Wiki Ale out there?

(Side note: We reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation and its founder Jimbo Wales last week to ask three important questions: Do you like beer? Ever been to Jersey? Ever had a Jersey-made beer? The foundation said he was in Japan, and we suspect our email to him posing those questions got snagged by his spam filter. Or he just plain thought we were drunk.)

Summer in April, no foolin’

And speaking of Flying Fish, April 1 will see the 11th release of the Farmhouse Summer Ale, the Ra of the Fish’s seasonal beers.

Once upon a time, Flying Fish made this beer with a dash of sour mash, an intrepid endeavor for any brewery. These days acidulated malt gives the beer the tang that Farmhouse fans expect.

If you’re sprucing up the back yard and wheeling the grill (or smoker) out of winter storage, keep this beer in mind. We like it as the denominator in a half and half with Guinness. Or try it straight up with a bacon cheese burger turbocharged with some jalapeƱos.