Hey Y’all, Check Out These Pictures, Or, Please Don’t Try to Drink This Blog Post…

It’s picture time! I realize I haven’t put up a picture-heavy blog post in a bit, so here’s one coming at’cha!

ALSO: I wrote an article for TigerLyfe Times about Sand City Brewing’s recent Oops! I _____ed My Pants! triple can release! Check that article out over HERE! Thanks for reading!

Radical One from the aforementioned Sand City Brewing. The hop hits keep coming and coming with these guys outta Northport!

#LGM! LIC Beer Project Dutch Kills Kölsch at Citifield! This is my kind of baseball beer! Crisp, malty, fruity and super refreshing!

From Salt House Bar in Galway Ireland! Brouwerij Boon Geuze Mariage Parfait, all the way from Belgium! This beer brought the house down. Tart, funky, dry, and delicious. Absolutely nothing wrong here!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. Particle Pilsner. One of the more hoppy pils’ I’ve had. Bright, crisp citrus is balanced by sweet, cracker like malt. Love it!

A “candid” photograph at Samson’s Birthday party at Greenpoint! Cheers!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale Tremendous. Paired with an, *ahem*, appropriate movie (on VHS, no less!)

My favorite beer of summer, 2017. Carton Brewing Beach, a session Ale with (I believe) Citra hops and orange zest. Bright, beautiful grapefruit and bitter orange, a bit of dankness, but still clean and dry enough and low enough ABV to keep on drinkin’. So, keep on drinkin’!

Also, I’m getting a foot massage whilst I took this photo. So, your opinion is invalid.

Finback x Jacks Abby Spill The Tea IPL. The green tea is a cool addition to the citrus hops and citrus peel, adding a clean, grassy note that’s intriguing. And no need to boil water and risk burning your precious, precious skin. 😘

Singlecut Beersmiths strikes again! Some Cat From Japan Session IPA, and Charlie’s Good Tonight IPA. Both phenomenal beers, and I’m hoping they’ll release them again in the future.

I know, I know, this isn’t beer. But when Holly Kay and I found the Dingle Whiskey Bar tucked away inside Fraunces Tavern down in the Financial District of NYC, we had to stop in and have some Irish Whiskey (at triple the price we paid for it on the Emerald Isle, of course). And it was worth every penny.

Bradco brought this beer back from Michigan. Old Nation Brewing Co. M-43 New England Style IPA. These cats from Williamston, MI have nailed this style, which surprised me. Watch out, New England, Michigan’s coming for you. HARD.

Enjoyed this collaboration by Other Half Brewing and Cloudwater Brewing, Tremendous Ideas. The simple can design also lends this can to take beautiful pictures even when an amateur photographer (me) is behind the camera (iPhone). Also my bed looks super comfy and as I’m writing this, I’m minutes away from hopping into it and drifting into a blissful slumber so, that’s also cool.

This was at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. The Hellboy pizza with soppressata picante and Mike’s Hot Honey (yo, MIKE’S HOT HONEY. Who’s this Mike guy? I want to raid his house and take all of his hot honey for my own.). This hot-ass pizza was paired with a Greenpoint Beer & Ale Milk & Honey, a sweet, creamy ale that paired perfectly with the spicy ‘zza, bro.

Threes Brewing SFY (the artist formerly known as SuperF*ckingYawn) IPA, as we prepared for the magical wonder that is the Binky Griptite Orchestra at Threes Greenpoint Location. Binky plays guitar with the Dap Kings, and brought his musician friends to play some amazing 1940s Jazz and R&B and it was absolutely incredible. It was the opposite of SuperF*ckingYawn, but so was this beer, so…

Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to basics. Allagash White, my first Belgian white beer I fell in love with. Simple, refreshing, with notes of orange peel, clove, banana. Sometimes simple is beautiful.

Again, let the hate flow through you. I will combat that hate with Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses Seltzer. Is it Strawberry Kiwi? We’ll never know. Polar’s been keeping these flavors as mysterious as the mythical beasts on the cans. Damn you, Polar.

Fan favorites Moustache Brewing Co. made this delightful Saison brewed with Lavender, Honey, and Lemon Verbena. They knocked it out of the park, with floral, sweet, banana, and citrus dancing mischievously around the palate, this beer is simply a delight. Love you, Moustache Gang!

Thanks to my dear friend Will Russell, for asking me to be a part of his wedding party. As part of our Groomsmen’s gift, he got us these HEAVY DUTY USS Enterprise Bottle Openers. This is insanely dope and I will use it always. Make it so.

Treehouse Brewing Company, if you don’t know, now you know. Christopher Benedict, if you don’t know, now you know. Get with the times, y’all.

Interboro Spirits & Ales x Pipeworks Brewing Mad Fat! Unicorn. Thanks Bradco for sharing!! Mad Fat! Fluid plus Ninja Vs. Unicorn equals an amazing liquid combo. New York x Chicago, taking over the world.

If you’re not salivating by now, you need to let me know, and I’ll take you out and buy you a beer. So, if you’ve made it this far, and it’s had no effect on you, let me know. The next one’s on me.

Until next time!

Cheers!

Highlands, Sea Bright, and Carton Brewing Company, or “Everything is Legal in New Jersey”, Part II

WHEN WE LAST LEFT OUR FEARLESS, ATTRACTIVE ADVENTURERS…

We had just finished up at Carton Brewing Company, and we were STARVING. The evening prior, we were headed to Tommy’s Tavern and Tap, as we’d heard great things about their tap list, brick oven pizza, and sushi (how can you go wrong across the street from the Atlantic Ocean?), but the power had gone out in the town of Sea Bright, and they, along with most of the other shops and restaurants in the neighborhood, had closed early. We decided we would go to Tommy’s to quench our powerful hunger (If you’ll recall Part I, we had only eaten 2 things of Auntie Anne’s pretzel nuggets and two Diet Cokes since breakfast…)

By this point, we were both exhausted, still trying to wind down from our day-to-day stresses, (I believe I’ve mentioned how stressful and wonderful it is living in this hectic, smelly, gross, beautiful, monster that is NYC), and I began to feel very emotional, and also a little bit guilty. I told Holly that I felt like I was dragging her around on all these beer vacations, and I was upset because I never wanted her to feel like we were doing something she didn’t want.

She cocked her head a little bit, and smiled, and said “I suggested we do these types of trips, so that you had things to write about for the Blog. Also, I love any vacation where we’re together. You’re not dragging me anywhere.” She also told me that she hates when other people take credit for her ideas. We both cried a little bit more (stress is weird, you guys) and ordered what any two grown adults would, chicken fingers and pizza, which were comforting and delicious.


But wait… Isn’t this a Beer Blog?

Yes it is!  It’s the BENEDICT Beer Blog, and Holly brought up an amazing point, (after I asked her if I should leave that last part in) that sometimes it’s good to get some insight into our lives, because my goal with this blog is to talk about our life, our love, and our adventures and how craft beer is involved.

So, now the beer!

Holly and I split a Kane Brewing Head High IPA. Kane Brewing is another brewery about 15 miles south of Highlands, which unfortunately wasn’t open during our stay. Thankfully, most of the bars with craft beer carry their selections on tap, and we were lucky to have tried this. Flavors of juicy pineapple, orange rind, and pine dominate, with some grassiness, and cracker. At 6.5% ABV, this is crushable.

New Jersey is literally inside this beer!

We had seen this cute little boutique wine and beer shop, Cork & Barrel Wine and Spirits (I’m still amazed in states that sell beer, wine and liquor in the same store). We were hurried into the store quite quickly, not really knowing what was going on, but the employee filled us in, saying one of their regulars had called to see if they were open, and they were turning off all the lights to play a prank on them. They told us to hide towards the back of the store, which we did. When the customer showed up, they pretended as if they were closing up shop and leaving, and I’m not sure they got the reaction they wanted, but Holly and I appreciated being a part of the joke.

We were recommended a bottle of wine from the 90+ cellars, a company that partners with respected wineries from around the world, puts their label on the wine and sells it for less. We ended up with a delicious Malbec for around $10. Not bad.

When we got back to our wonderful, luxurious AirB&B, I think we maybe had a sip or two of wine before falling asleep. We were so thrilled to still have a full day ahead of us (we’re not used to two-day weekends, yo.), and so exhausted from all our activities (Boardwalking, Apple Picking, Drinking, Eating, Crying), we fell asleep with no trouble.

The next morning we were met with another amazing breakfast, this time, a scrambled egg dish with tomato sauce, a side of fresh fruit, and a toasted English muffin with a sweet basalmic drizzle. Also, a fresh pot of coffee. We took our coffee to the porch to plan our 2nd (!!!) day off together, and this morning, unlike the last, was warm, and the sun was out in full force. Today. Today would be our day at the beach, our last “See Ya Later!” to summer.

But first, we explored the Twin Lights of Navesink, a historical site about a half mile from the AirB&B. This monument consists of two identical lighthouses (one of which offers a spiraling, multi story staircase leading to incredible views of Sandy Hook Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and New York City). It was a bit hazy that morning, but we were still offered some stunning views.

One of the lighthouses!

The other lighthouse!

View from the top!

View of Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean!

We realized before we went to the beach that we didn’t have any towels, so we made a quick pit stop at Target, (which of course turns into a nearly $70 excursion, but we get 5% off with our Target card!) and walked out with towels, I forget what else, and a fresh copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I and II in Hardback.

We spent nearly 4 hours on the beach. Now, if you know what Holly Kay and I look like, basically take the palest thing you can think of, and multiply it by 856,462. That’s how pale we are. So we set up our awesome little beach umbrella and our Home Depot branded chairs, and Holly Kay read the Harry Potter play to me, and also we dipped our feet in the ocean as it was about -856,462 degrees. I also made a fun Facebook Live video with facts about the ocean and the Jersey Shore (which were 100% factual and not at all made up by me on the spot).

After we were sufficiently beached-out, we took a walk over to Tommy’s Tavern and Tap (which was open!), and made a new friend. I will not give his name, but he was in charge of his company purchasing another company that was going out of business, which I won’t name, but it makes really famous sweet treats and rhymes with Schmostess. He bought us two rounds of drinks, lamented to us about how his brother talked him out of purchasing a boat, his mansion down the road, etc. It was amazing. 

Kane and a Cocktail!

I started with a Kane Head High, and moved on to a Brooklyn Bel Air Sour, a nice, tart citrus refreshing brew from Brooklyn Brewery. I find I’m never blown away by anything from Brooklyn, but I’m never mad at them, either. Everything they do is solid and their six packs are usually super cheap and will do in a pinch. Don’t know what to bring to your friend’s party? Pick up a six pack of anything from Brooklyn. Can’t go wrong.

Cute little seaside town!

Before we headed back to the city, we wanted to take advantage of our proximity to the ocean and decided on a seafood feast at Bahr’s Landing. We had fresh oysters, grilled lobster, fried scallops, shrimp, and cod, and french fries. They had Carton Brewing Company’s Wit Whale on tap, it’s zesty orange notes playing off the probably 856,462mg of sodium we took in from all the food. What a way to end a vacation.

Carton Wit Whale and a view of the bay!

Love!

Sometimes it’s necessary to take little trips away, even for just a day or two, to reset and relax. I think Holly Kay and I squeezed every last drop of relaxation we could out of our time in Jersey, and because of the hospitality of our hosts Robin and Robert, will absolutely make our way back here to enjoy the seemingly innumerable restaurants and bars we’ve been recommended.

Enjoy yourselves! Drink amazing beer! Holly Kay and Patrick love each and every one of you!

Thanks for reading.
Cheers!

Highlands, Sea Bright, and Carton Brewing Company, or “Everything is Legal in New Jersey”

Holly Kay and I got a very rare two days off together this past week, so we decided to take a little mini-vacation to tide us over until our BIG Vacation in November to celebrate a (belated) 5 Year Anniversary!  (5 years is the Shillelagh Anniversary, right?  No?  It’s Wooden?  That’s fine, I’m pretty sure there’s wood somewhere in Ireland…)

We booked a room on AirB&B in Highlands, NJ.  I figured it was just far enough away from the city to be a getaway, but close enough that we wouldn’t have to stress about traveling.  (It took about an hour and 40 minutes to get there in rush hour traffic, which wasn’t terrible.). Holly and I read nearly all of the 93 five-star reviews on the app, so we figured the place was a safe bet.

We arrived at our AirB&B, a charming, 100-or-so-year-old house about a half mile from the water, with views of Sandy Hook Bay from the window in our room.

The room was prettier than most hotel rooms we’ve stayed in.  It was impeccably clean, bright, cozy and beachy.  We had access to the common areas of the house as well, including a balcony down the hall from our room which offered peaceful seclusion and gorgeous views of NYC and Long Island.

So beachy!

If that’s not impetus enough for you to book this room right now, our hosts, Robin and Robert, were lovely, gracious, and attentive.  They treat their home like a true B&B, offering us a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and fresh fruit upon arrival, and the most delicious breakfasts each morning.  For under $100 a night, and the way that R & R cater to their guests, we plan on making annual trips back here.  We loved every second.

Also, this is their French Bulldog Finny and how could you not fall in love?

Wait, this is a beer blog?

Our first meal of the trip was at Yumi in Sea Bright, a 5 minute drive from the AirB&B.  (Apparently most of the restaurants in Sea Bright are BYOB, and we didn’t B any B, sad face emoji)  The food was amazing.  We shared a fried soft-shell crab (because when you dine 40 feet from the Atlantic Ocean, you eat crab, for crying out loud), a spicy white tuna roll (with tempura flakes, of course), two unbelievable pork buns, and a gosh darn extra side of spicy aioli that you bet your behind we smothered on our crispy fried soft shell crab, because we’re grown adults.

Holly Kay and a pile of fried, soft shell crab

Spicy White Tuna and a red headed fool!

Soft shell from above!

In the Uber on the way back from the restaurant, we chatted with our driver, who had lived in the area for many years.  We told him our plans to visit Carton Brewing the next evening, and he said, “Oh yeah, I know the whole family!”

I wasn’t surprised.  One of my favorite things about craft beer is the focus on community.  Small breweries form relationships with the people around them (local businesses, restaurants and bars) so it’s not surprising that owner Augie Carton is so well known around town.

We went to sleep early that night, after a little singalong (Holly Kay brought her ukulele) and some wine on the balcony!

After breakfast the next morning (vegetable quiche and fresh fruit!!) we took our coffee onto the front porch to plan out our day.

Front porch sittin’ is one of Holly Kay’s favorite things to do.

It was a little chilly, and we were going to go to the beach, but it was cloudy, and that crisp, fall breeze was a’peckin’ and a’pricklin’ the little red hairs on my sexy legs, so we both decided to change into pants and forego the beach for some apple picking (AUTUMN THINGS!).

We first drove down the stunning, mansion-lined coast to Asbury Park, where we walked around the shops on the Boardwalk.

At this point, it still felt like Fall…

Paramount Theater in Asbury Park!

By the time we got to the Eastmont Orchards, it was over 80 degrees and summery again!  But we’re stubborn…  We committed to picking apples, and pick apples we did!  We got all up in those trees bizness, (neither of us are the tallest of humans, so we had to get creative) and filled up a bag o’ apples, and also bought a jar of blackberry peach jam, which is delicious.

We still had some time to kill before Carton opened, and Holly Kay found some outlets (she has a sort of Spidey-sense when we’re nearby outlet malls and was mapping out our route from the orchard even before we began our apple picking excursion).

After a few hours (new sneakers for me, new leggings for Holly Kay, and two orders of Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Nugs with cheese dip and a large Diet Coke) we were on our way to Carton!

This is a blog about beer, remember??  Sometimes I forget…

Carton Brewing is located in Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  They’re just a few miles (UPDATE FROM THE CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT: AUGIE CARTON READ THE BLOG AND THEY ARE ACTUALLY ONLY 6 BLOCKS AWAY) from Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  Their beer is everywhere in Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, and Sea Bright (from what I saw).  They have a huge presence in that area.   The brewery, on the other hand, if you’re not looking for it, you may just drive right on by.  They took up space in an old abandoned warehouse that was used by Methodists (who came into town only for summer) to store their tents (Praise the Lord!).

Carton Brewing(?)

I’ve been a fan of Carton since my first taste of Boat Beer (their flagship, low ABV session ale/session double ipa/whatever).  I listen to Augie’s podcast, Steal This Beer, on the regular (or, as the kids say, “on the regz”…  Right, kids?), and seek out Carton beer on tap around NYC (their distribution of cans doesn’t go outside of New Jersey, so they’re hard to come by).  Most recently, Holly Kay and I fell in love with Sakura (on tap at Barcade NYC), a sour ale made with sushi rice and cherry blossom, which, in concept, is so weird but worked so well.  It was tart, refreshing, salty, low ABV, a perfect beer to drink on a hot day in summer with a good book (preferably in a hammock, but those are hard to come by in NYC, which is poopy.  Maybe I’ll open a bar that has hammocks.  I come up with so many good ideas writing this blog!!)

We step inside the brewery, and I’d heard that tours of the brew house were mandatory, which I think is a cool concept, to see where and how your beer is made before drinking it, to get a glimpse of the hard work and love that goes into beer.  However, it was just Holly Kay and I, and the young lady who facilitated the (less than two minute) tour, talked so fast when describing all the different iterations of the building, and how beer is made, we barely understood a word she said.  I was genuinely excited to spend time in the brew house, having listened to Augie talk about it on his podcast, and to learn about the Tippy (the small experimental brew system they keep to test out new flavors and ideas), and how they go about brewing beer.  It seemed like, once she had finished her speech, and had walked us from the front of the building to the rear, she was done.  No question and answer session, just an explanation of how the tasting room works, and pointed us up the stairs.  I was a bit disappointed, to be honest.  I was hoping to be able to snap a few pictures of the brew house, but was ushered up the stairs before I had a chance to.

Holly and I were chatting about it later in the evening, that perhaps, they get a lot of people who want nothing to do with a tour of the brew house and just want to get upstairs and start drinking beer.  I don’t think it was the young lady’s fault, I just had an expectation of what the tour was going to look like, and it didn’t turn out that way.  But lets move on to the beer!

On the stairs to the tasting room…

The way the tasting room works is, you can pay $5 for a flight of 6 4oz tasters.  Everyone starts off with Boat Beer, a hoppy session ale, with aromas and flavors of grapefruit citrus, orange rind, and pine, balanced with a crisp, bready malt sweetness.  Again, this beer is the reason I fell in love with Carton, and it didn’t disappoint.

My gorgeous wife holding a Boat Beer and some poker chips!

The next beer we tried was the B.D.G. (Brunch, Dinner, Grub).  Augie wanted to make a Table Beer, meaning this would be a beer that will play well with any food you make (or order).  This was a brown ale with flavors of toast, roasted coffee, a little spice, and lemon peel citrus from the Aramis hops.  I like this beer a lot, Holly Kay thought it was more bitter than she likes in a brown ale (it’s sitting at 45 IBUs), and we both wished we had some food to go alongside it (no food at Carton, so make sure to eat something before, or, like we did, go out for dinner afterwards!).  Next time I see a draught pop up in NYC, I’ll pick up a growler of this stuff and drink it alongside dinner.

Next in our flight was the Carton Canyon, their take on an American Adjunct Lager (UGH GROSS BUD BUD LIGHT MILLER LIGHT COORS LIGHT DAMN THE MAN), brewed with blue agave, to accompany the food at the nearby Southwestern-style restaurant Copper Canyon.  An adjunct is anything put in beer in addition to the malt bill, most of the time used for cutting costs, but in this case, to alter the flavor profile of a style all beer drinkers are familiar with.  It was bready sweet, with some floral, fruity, herbal sweetness (I tasted eucalyptus).  I would definitely go for this if I saw it on tap ‘round these parts.

Carton Canyon!

I had checked out Carton’s Facebook page earlier in the day (because I’m a stalker) and saw they had their HopPun, a hoppy pale ale, that they were Randalling (infusing) through candy fruit slices…  The device they use to infuse the beer is called a Randall and was invented by Dogfish Head’s insane CEO Sam Calagione (check out the link for more info!).

I was told that the Hop Pun was not part of the flight (I misread the Facebook page and thought it was), so I ordered Holly Kay and I the Wit Whale, which I’ll go into in Part II of this post (oh yeah, Part II…), but the amazing bartender (I wasn’t able to get his name) brought over a shareable pour for Holly and I to taste…  AND IT WAS AMAZING!!  Infusing the beer with candy fruit slices is nothing short of crazy, but it added a really nice candy sweetness to the citrusy hops in the beer.  The flavor was new, fresh, and bright, but invoked nostalgia, as only artificially flavored chewy fruit candy can do.  I’m pretty sure I have one more cavity than I had before I got there, but I ain’t mad…

Cheers to the amazing bartenders!  HopPun Randalled through candy fruit slices!

We forewent our last two tastes in the flight, as we were absolutely starving, because the aforementioned two orders of Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Nugs had long since worn off, and we were ready for dinner.

I picked up way too many cans, thanked our awesome bartenders for their hospitality, and we headed off to eat!

#haul

NEXT TIME, ON BENEDICT BEER BLOG…

Tommy’s Tavern + Tap, Twin Lights, Sea Bright Beach, Tommy’s Tavern + Tap, and Bahr’s (OMG BAHR’S…)  Just you wait….