Recently in Jack's Abby Category

Jack's Abby Copper Legend

| No Comments

I did a pretty good job cobbling together a functional relationship with lagers last year, but have mostly fallen off the wagon in 2016 (I guess the barrel-aged Troegenator counts, but it feels like cheating). I know, I'm the worst and it's not like I was really comprehensive last year or anything, but I have drank a bunch of lagers this year, just not anything I've reviewed. You guys don't need me to tell you that Prima Pils is awesome, do you?

The brewery I keep coming back to for lagers of late is Jack's Abby. Since we're in full Oktoberfest season and since they put out very nice tallboys of their take on the style, I figured it's time to get back in the swing. Last year, in reviewing one of their collaborations, I mentioned that they could turn me into a lager man yet. They responded: "ONE OF US! ONE OF US!" As a fan of that movie, this only endears them to me even more. Gooble gobble!

Jacks Abby Copper Legend

Jack's Abby Copper Legend - Pours a burnished golden orange, dare I say, copper color, with a couple fingers of fizzy head that nonetheless sticks around for a while. Smells of bready, toasted, lightly caramelized malt, earthy noble hops. Taste has a great sweetness to it up front, again with the toasty, caramelized malt, and enough Euro hops to balance it all out. Maybe some nutty flavors as it warms up. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, soft, easy going, refreshing, near quaffable. Overall, yes, this is my kinda Octoberfest! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a mug on 10/15/16.

Alas, no other lagers in the review pipeline just yet, but I'm sure we'll find something in the nearish future. In the meantime, I've got a ton of IPAs and DIPAs clogging that pipeline, so we'll spend the rest of this week covering those...

Jack's Abby Saxonator

| No Comments

In my effort to engage with more beers from the lager family, Jack's Abby is certainly a worthy ally. Last time I reviewed a beer by them and noted that I was becoming more acclimated to lagers, they responded on Twitter "One of us! One of us!" This reference to a classic movie only served to endear them to me further. As such I was looking forward to trying more from them, like this Doppelbock that I picked up in the summer, but only managed to open once the weather became a little more conducive to such a burly beer. In truth, it's not really my favorite style, but as always, I'm interested in branching out. Doppelbocks seem like the sort of style I could get into eventually, even if they're not really there yet. As such, while I enjoyed this, I'm also a bit restrained on it because of my preconceived notions. I'll get over this sort of thing someday, I swears. In the meantime, let's take a closer look:

Jack Aabby Saxonator

Jack's Abby Saxonator Dunkles Doppelbock - Pours a reddish hued brown color with a finger of off white head that sticks around for a bit. Smell has some raisiny dark fruit, but also an herbal, earthy, bready aroma that I associate with lagers. The dark fruit comes out a little more in the taste, sweet crystal malts, and that herbal, bready lager character pitch in as well, finishing sweet. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, low, tight carbonation (appropriate for the style), hints of booze, and maybe a little stickiness. Overall, it's a solid little dopplebock. Admittedly, this is not my style, but this feels like a well crafted version. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (500 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/06/15. Bottled: 02/05/15. ("Drink Lager")

Not my favorite Jack's Abby beer, but they will always be my lager gateway, especially once they start distributing more out here next year (at least, I hope so, fingers crossed!)

Jack's Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody

| No Comments

Collaborations always sound fun, but they can be tricky beasts. Sure, it's always cool to see two brewers hang out and have some fun, but I've found the results to be a little hit or miss. Collaborations seem like opportunities to let loose and experiment, so it makes sense that such exercises don't always yield gold. They're rarely bad, but a lot of them just feel like they're floating in a nether-region, not really representing either brewer's character very well. Sometimes, though, you get something harmonious, more than the sum of its collaborators. Is this collaboration between the lager focused Jack's Abby and the recently rejiggered hopheads at Otter Creek one of those harmonious combinations? It's certainly one of the better collaborations I've had recently and these two brewers seem to retain their identity whilst still producing something new.

Label sez this is a "nouveau Pilsner" and it lives up to that name by incorporating a pretty traditional Pilsner lager (presumably Jack's Abby at work) with two new German hops called Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria. It turns out that American "special" aroma hop mania has spread to traditional noble hop growers in Germany, who released these two daughters of Cascade hops in 2012. I've had Mandarina in a few things before, but I haven't even heard of Huell Melon. Both are supposed to introduce citrusy characteristics to the more traditional German herbal hop profile. I didn't realize this when tasting it below, and called these "bright European hops", which I actually think fits pretty well. Let's take a closer look:

Jacks Abby and Otter Creek Joint Custody

Jack's Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody - Pours a mostly clear pale yellow color with a finger of dense white head, great retention, and some lacing too. Smell features some grainy character along with what I'll call bright European hops (meaning that it's not like American or NZ/Australian citrus/pine bombs, but it's got a citrusy vibe to it), citrus zest and some earthy, herbal notes. Taste has some biscuity character, those citrus and herbal hop notes from the nose come out here too, a little sweetness amply balanced out by earthy bittering hops in the dry finish (not like a heavy handed IPA; more balanced and clean). Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and clean, relatively dry, with a certain quenching feel to it. Overall, another nice take on the style, I might become a lager man yet. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a Willibecher glass on 8/21/15.

Certainly a worthy collaboration, and both of these brewers are pretty good in my book. Look for more Jack's Abby reviews in the nearish future...

Pizza Beer Club

| 2 Comments

Tonight was beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for drinks, food, and fun. This time we went to a favorite discovery of mine, Ravanesi Pizzaria, a tiny little joint out in the burbs that scratch makes almost everything. Pizza places are a dime a dozen around here, but these guys really distinguish themselves. It's one of those places where they open at 4:30 pm and close whenever they run out of dough. Yes, it takes approximately 30 hours to make the dough, so they do run out fairly frequently. As a veteran BYOB attendee (because of beer club), most places aren't so busy on Tuesdays and thus welcome a bunch of beer nerds who take up a table and drink a lot of beer whilst occasionally munching on their food. This place was pretty much bumping from around 5 pm until we left at around 8 pm. But the pizza. The pizza is almost absurdly good. And it's not like Philly is bad at pizza (there's plenty of bad pizza, but we've got our hotspots). Check it:

ravanesi-pizza.jpg

A most excellent backdrop for beer club.For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we had are below. Usual nerdy disclaimers apply, this was not ideal tasting conditions and I didn't exactly take detailed notes, so take it all with the requisite mountain of salt. In order of drinking, not necessarily how they appear in the photo:

August Beer Club at Ravanesi Pizza

  • Otter Creek/Jack's Abby Joint Custody - Yep, it's a pilsner, but it's a pretty darn good one, crisp, light, and refreshing. Certainly a step up from your typical macro, and perhaps worthy of a closer look this next weekend. B+
  • Night Shift Santilli - A rock solid IPA, nice citrus and dank pine character, nice and crushable. B+
  • Two Roads Road Jam Raspberry Wheat Ale - Holy hell, this is terrible. Robitussin tones, artificial raspberry flavor, and the like. Perhaps not quite that bad, but not at all good. D
  • Vault Mosaic Imperial IPA - Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, I just reviewed it yesterday. In fact, it performed supremely well in this tasting format, pairing well with the spicy Sopressata pizza and just generally standing up to the other beers pretty well. May be tempted to raise this one to an A-
  • Night Shift Trifecta - Brewed with three Trappist ale yeasts, I found this a bit disappointing. It's got some decent Belgian yeast character, but it isn't quite carbonated or dry enough to really work well. Disappointing C+
  • Smuttynose Spank - For a beer that labels itself as a "hoppy saison", I have to admit that I find little in the way of hops here, even if it's an otherwise unremarkable beer that is far from bad, but which won't exactly light the world on fire. B-
  • Adroit Theory Ortolan Bunting - A very odd beer, almost quad-like, but without the full fruit character, but a very nice nose that doesn't quite live up to the straightforward taste, with some dark malts, perhaps even some smoked malt. Fine, but not quite a top tier effort. B
  • Lickinghole Creek Enlightened Despot - One of the best beers of the night, a clear winner, Pappy 15 barrel aged imperial stout, is quite tasty, very sweet, loads of coconut and vanilla from that barrel, delicious stuff. A-
  • Smuttlabs Durtay - Smuttynose - A rum barrel aged brown ale, this one works pretty darn well, very sweet, a little boozy, but a nice barrel and molasses character comes through too. B+
And that just about covers it. I really love this pizza and want to come here as often as possible, but it's also a little out of the way, so I'm guessing it won't be quite as regular as some other BYOB places. Still worth the trip though, so we'll see...

Jack's Abby Framinghammer(s)

| No Comments

One of the unexpected treasures secured during Operation Cheddar III was a trio of Jack's Abby beers I never thought I'd see just sitting on a shelf. We're fans of Jack's Abby here at Kaedrin, if only because they force us to reconsider our prejudice against lagers (something I've been working on of late). Oh yeah, and their beer is actually quite good, and often not just in a It's good... for a lager way. They actually just started sending some beer down Philly way, gauging interest for a full blown distribution push once additional capacity comes on line at their brewery (fingers crossed that we met whatever swanky criteria they were expecting), but this line of Baltic Porters were scarce (if they shewed up here at all, I don't really remember) and I never got a taste.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the base beer and several barrel aged variants sitting on a shelf in VT. What makes these suckers special? Well, Baltic Porters are an interesting style, something of a hybrid between a Russian Imperial Stout and Porter, these were quite popular along the ports of the Baltic Sea. According to Jack's Abby, while the original British brews were ales, the Baltic breweries tended to make lagers. Yeast wasn't particularly well understood at the time, so they just used their familiar lager yeast to make a big, bold porter, and that's what Jack's Abby (primarily lager brewers) is doing here. Come to think of it, I don't know of any other commercial brewery doing such sorcery, so good on them. I've had a few Baltic Porters in my day, but they always seem to suffer in comparison to RIS in my mind.

That being said, my interest was piqued when I spied the barrel aged versions, one straight up, and the other including an addition of vanilla. There was also a coffee BA version, but I left that for those enterprising VT beer nerds with more of a taste for coffee than I. Rumor has it that the original batch of these suckers were aged in Weller Antique barrels (a fine bourbon on the endangered species list because everyone calls them Pappy substitutes - stop doing that guys!), though who knows if this most recent batch carries the same provenance? I decided to make a night of it and drink all three back to back, perhaps not my wisest decision ever, but given that I've practically been drowning in IPAs and saisons of late, I thought this would be a welcome respite from hops and farmhouse funk (Not that I don't appreciate those amazing beers, just that it's good to change things up from time to time). So how good are Baltic Porters brewed with lager yeast? Pretty damn good, if you ask me:

Jacks Abby Framinghammer

Jack's Abby Framinghammer - Pours a very deep, dark brown, almost black color with a finger of light brown head that sticks around a while. Smells of roasted malts, cocoa, molasses, vanilla, and a bit of caramel. Taste starts off very sweet, bits of caramel and vanilla up front, molasses and lots of cocoa in the middle, and hints of hoppy, bitter roast towards the finish. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, but smooth and a little rich, a full bodied sipper, to be sure, but well attenuated, even if it remains heavy (as it should be). Overall, my kind of Baltic porter, sweet with hints of roast, complex but approachable, very well done. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/20/15. Bottled: 2.3.15

Jacks Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer

Jack's Abby Barrel Aged Framinghammer - Looks pretty much the same as the others, very dark brown, almost black, much less head and retention. Smell is more focused on carmamel and boozy bourbon, some of the cocoa and roast in the background. Taste is all rich caramel and bourbon, with some cocoa and roast for good measure. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, less than the base but more than the vanilla. Full bodied sipper, slightly boozy. Overall, a rock solid barrel aged beer, nice improvement over the base, complex and delicious. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 6/20/15. Bottled: 3.23.15 (I think, it got a wee bit smudged)

Jacks Abby Vanilla Barrel Aged Framinghammer

Jack's Abby Vanilla Barrel Aged Framinghammer - Looks just about the same as the base, very dark brown, almost black, slightly less head and less retention too. Smell is more focused on the caramel and vanilla than the regular or BA, and some bourbon makes an appearance as well, with the underlying cocoa and roast taking a back seat. The taste hits that rich caramel pretty hard and there's an explosion of vanilla soon after the start, very sweet, hints of roast and cocoa, but they're definitely overwhelmed by bourbon, oak, and heaping helpings of vanilla in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, still silky smooth, less carbonated (but still appropriate) and a little sticky, boozy feel as well. Overall, a nice improvement over the base, and my kinda BA porter. I'm actually finding it difficult to gauge this against the regular BA version though A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter glass on 6/20/15. Bottled: 3.26.15 (I think, it got a wee bit smudged)

Also worth noting that I did get a chance to try both the Cocoa-Nut Barrel Aged Framinghammer and Peanut Butter & Jelly Barrel Aged Framinghammer at ACBF during Operation Chowder. Tiny little samples, for sure, so it's hard to compare, but they were also excellent (and one of the highlights of the fest for me). I also snagged a bottle of Saxonator, their dopplebock and another style I'm not terribly up to speed on, so we'll probably get to that at some point this summer as well.

Jack's Abby Hopstitution

| No Comments

While it's easy for a homebrewer to pop over to a shop and purchase all the ingredients needed to make a beer, things are a bit more complicated for larger scale brewers. Ingredients like malt and hops are often purchased under contracts that need to be signed years in advance. Small or new breweries are often squeezed out of the most popular hops because they're all contracted out for several years. That being said, sometimes small quantities of popular but supply constrained hops will often become available. If you're a tiny brewpub operation that is constantly churning through new brews (a la Tired Hands), you can probably swing that sort of inconsistent approach. But if you're a larger brewer (and believe it or not, most are), that small amount of hops might allow you to make one batch of beer, but not more.

Hopstitution is Jack's Abby's answer to this conundrum. They'll make the same recipe, a 5.5% ABV extra pale lager, with every batch, only varying the hops based on what's available. What I have here is batch four, made with Australian hops (the label sez Aussie Rulez). Specifically, this was made with Ella, Topax, and Galaxy hops. I've actually not even heard of Ella or Topax, but Galaxy is one of the trendiest and thus supply constrainediest of hops, so let's see how this little experiment pays off:

Jacks Abby Hopstitution 4 Aussie Rulez

Jack's Abby Hopstitution #4 Aussie Rulez - Pours a slightly hazy, golden yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves lacing as I drink. Aroma is beautiful, tons of tropical fruit hops. Taste is somewhat less powerful than the nose implies, though there's plenty of hop flavor to go around, with less bitterness than expected. Mouthfeel is crisp and clean, light bodied, quaffable. Overall, this actually might be my favorite Jack's Abby beer yet. B+

Beer nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/6/14. Bottled: 7/31/14 (I think? The day is hard to read on my bottle).

I also had a Session Rye IPL from my little Vermont Trip that was pretty darned good. I suspect Jack's Abby would be a regular purchase if they were local, and I should really figure out a way to try some of the more sought after brews...

Jack's Abby Smoke & Dagger

| No Comments

So what I want to know is: who is Jack and why doesn't he know how to spell "Abbey"? Dear reader, I'm so sorry I haven't tackled this conundrum yet. It turns out that Jack is one of the three brothers who founded the brewery. He must be the oldest one, since he clearly got to name the brewery. So far, so normal, but then why the blatant disregard for spelling? Is Abby some sort of Ye Olde European spelling? Nope! Abby is actually Jack's wife, and he named the brewery in honor of her, presumably scoring major brownie points. Well played, Jack.

This particular offering is another smoked beer, but like yesterday's beer, I'm not getting much of that fabled meatiness out of the smoke, just plain campfire... which has its charms anyway, but still. I like bacon, is what I'm trying to say, and if there was a non-disgusting way to impart such flavors in beer, that would be nice. But I digress, let's brandish our cloak and dagger and fight dishonorably, like a spy:

Jack's Abby Smoke and Dagger

Jack's Abby Smoke & Dagger - Pours a dark brown color with a finger of bubbly tan head. Smells lightly of toast and maybe a bit of smoke. Taste is surprisingly tame, with some roast and that smoke playing around the edges. It's not a powerful smoke character, it's actually integrated rather well with the rest of the beer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated. Overall, it's a solid beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV (500 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/3/13. Bottled 5.17.2013.

This exhausts my current supply of Jack's Abby. While none really made me fall down and see God, they were all pretty respectable in their own right, and represent a nice change of pace from the onslaught of saisons, stouts, and IPAs I seem to always fall back on. I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for more of their stuff in my travels.

Jack's Abby Leisure Time Lager

| No Comments

It's time to strap on that leisure suit and drink some lagers:

Jacks Abby Leisure Time Lager

Jack's Abby Leisure Time Lager - Pours a super light straw yellow color with a finger of puffy white head. Smells of typical Euro-lager aromas (mild, floral hops, lager yeast), with that wheat coming through well enough to differentiate it from the crowd. Taste is a bit muted, but that wheat is coming through more here, with the mild, floral hops fading into the background a bit. Mouthfeel is very light, crisp, and clean. Finishes dry and drinks really easy. Overall, it's solid, would make a great lawnmower beer, but it's not very assertive either. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, and I'd choose it over any macro in a heartbeat, but it's not really lighting my world on fire either. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/13/13.

Only one more Jack's Abby beer left in my stash. So far, so good, though not quite the mind-blowers that I've been lead to expect (then again, I haven't had a lot of their more prized brews either, so I'm certainly going to keep an eye out for more from them!)

Categories

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID

About

Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

Follow me on Twitter

Like me on Facebook

Toast me on Untappd

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Jack's Abby category.

Ithaca is the previous category.

Jailbreak is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.