On Saturday, Nov. 18, beer and cider fans climbed aboard the hallowed decks of the Battleship New Jersey for a memorable and historic beer festival.

Located on the fantail (tented rear deck), samples of cigars on the pier, a tour of the Battleship, live music and food concessions were all available to be enjoyed.

Smaller than other festivals on the Battleship, this is only because it is their first year holding a Fall beer event. The craft brewers could be counted on two hands, but I was still no less impressed with the beers available.

A combination of beer reps, brewers, and friends of the breweries were pouring Yuengling, New Belgium Brewing, Brooklyn Brewing, Blue Moon. Sam Adams, Angry Orchard; Jack’s Cider, Rivertowne, Heavy Seas. Sly Fox and Double Nickel.

There were also a few non-craft options, but seriously – who wants to hear about them on a craft beer site?

 

Beer Standouts

Evil Genius Beer Company

The brewers at Evil Genius are definitely at the top of their game. Once again I was given the chance to try #Adulting, their guava IPA, as well as Stacy’s Mom IPA, both stellar offerings. Their humor is right on par with my own, known for their… zanier beer names.

One of my favorites in the past I tried at the Brooklyn Brewery Beer Mansion, called “Gwyneth Paltrow’s Head Was in the Box.”

Stacey’s Mom

Pouring a hazy orange with a strong and long-lasting white head leaving behind generous lacing. Smells of tart citrusy hops, bready, caramel malt, and tropical fruits aplenty.

A medium-bodied and crisp beer, the flavor is not far from the aroma. Finished dry and is an incredibly satisfying IPA, albeit second now to #Adulting below as far as IPAs from Evil Genius go.

#Adulting

The Guava IPA, which I first tried at the Valley Forge Beer and Cider festival, is easily my favorite Philadelphia IPA. Pours a slightly hazy golden amber, with a strong guava nose wafting from the glass.

The balance between bitter and sweet is perfectly on point in this American IPA, with guava, papaya and mango smoothing out the bitter backbone. I admit once I tried everything available at this festival, I finished off my night with several of these in succession.

 

Brooklyn Brewery

Huge fan of Brooklyn Brewery already, it’s a shame they are all the way over in Brooklyn. It’s only about a two hour drive, and my sister now lives nearby, so I really don’t have any more excuses not to visit this brewery.

I’ve already reviewed the American Ale, have about three others in my beer review backlog, and had a blast at the Brooklyn Brewery Beer Mansion in Philadelphia (I look forward to next year’s mansion too).

Brooklyn Winter Lager

It’s not very often I enjoy, let alone hightlight a winter beer, but this one is definitely a standout in the winter beer category. This is my first time having a schwarzbier-inspired beer, let alone a schwarzbier, and it won’t be my last.

Schwarzbiers (black beers) are dark German lagers, that usually have a dark black hue with hints of chocolate or coffee flavors, generally around 5% ABV. They are similar to stouts in that they use roasted malt, giving it the dark color.

The aroma includes fresh bread, cocoa, and almost hoppy scent. This taste like a very creamy and smooth dark lager, with toasted cocoa, barley, and sweet caramel.

Bitter dark cocoa finish. Medium bodied, this is definitely one you can have a few of. The crisp finish makes this way more drinkable than any porter or stout, definitely topping my list of winter beers.

 

Heavy Seas

Always a fan of anything pirate-themed, me and my wife have pretty elaborate pirate costumes Halloween and the occasional Renaissance Faire (we’re nerds, we know).

Our son just had a pirate-themed first birthday party too. So when I come across a pirate chest complete with Jolly Roger insignia, I had to stop and try.

Tropicannon

A deep, clear amber pour, with decent head that leaves some lacing on the glass as it slowly recedes. The smell is almost like candy, with an incredible sweetness to it. As far as flavor, you can taste the grapefruit, mango, and lemon, coming out like a sweet citrus candy.

It’s medium-bodied and almost goes down like a glass of juice.  Even at 7.25% ABV, it does not feel at all like you are drinking a beer.

It was so sweet, in fact, that it’s hard to compare this one to other IPAs, having mostly lost it’s bitter qualities. I had to ask if this was just flat out mixed with fruit juice, but it’s the dried grapefruit, orange and lemon peel incorporated into the brewing process that makes this oh-so-sweet.

The perfect IPA for those who really don’t like IPAs. While I like IPAs to keep at least some bitterness about them, this one was at least interesting enough for a shoutout, albeit a bit too sweet to enter my rotation.

Honorable Mentions

Rivertowne Brewing Red Beet Saison
Tastes just like Ukrainian borscht. Definitely one that could sell well to the Ukrainian-American community.

Double Nickel Brewing Company Golden Belgian Ale
A straight-forward, no-nonsense golden Belgian ale.

Flying Fish Brewing Company Jersey Juice IPA
Not including a review here, because the rep was nice enough to throw me a can of my own to write a larger review. I had been telling him how much I had wanted to try this new offering from Flying Fish. I have already had it, it tastes GREAT, and it will be published here in the blog soon!

 

The Entertainment

As well as being on an Iowa-class battleship, which is entertaining in it’s own right, they had live music on hand to liven up the festivities.

A six-piece live band, Cabin Dogs play their own music, a mashup of the sounds of Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, with a bit of Wilco thrown in. Perfect for the surroundings, and they definitely put out a very chill party vibe.

 

The Spread

They had a wonderful snack table set up for visitors to pick from, with dips, sandwiches, waters, and sodas. On top of that, a concessions stand at the front was picking up the slack with quick snacks for the drinkers.

 

Overall Impression

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – my favorite festivals are those that include historical or otherwise interesting attractions.

The Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale Fest, the Fonthill Castle Beer Fest, and the Brooklyn Brewery Beer Mansion are all craft beer events that utilize the surroundings to their advantage.

Sure, this is not a mega-festival with 300+ beers to choose from, but I was able to enjoy my samples and a cigar sitting on the deck of the most decorated battleship to have served in the U.S. Navy.

I certainly can’t do that anywhere else – I look forward to attending this one again in the future.

 

Complete Photo Gallery

Enjoying craft beer, cigars, and live music on the deck of the most decorated battleship to have served in the U.S. Navy, one of the largest ever built. Click through for the full event recap.
Andrij Harasewych
Editor at The Craft Beer Diaries. Devoted husband and father. Excessively geeky. Comic books, video games, and craft beer are my vices. Favorite beers: Ales and Lagers.
Andrij Harasewych

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