On Tap: Five things to take away from the 2012 GABF

Written by Chris Morris for nj.com

What happens at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) says a lot about what’s to come for the beer industry. Who won what, what styles emerged as favorites – they all give craft beer fans a glimpse of their future refrigerator shelves.
So what happened at this years GABF? What does it all mean moving forward? Sadly, I can’t see into the future, but here are some of my takes from this year’s event.

1. Unfortunately, New Jersey had a poor showing. Only four local breweries made the trip out to Denver this year. Harvest Moon brought its Citra Double IPA and Sinterklaas Belgian Winter Ale; Iron Hill showcased Pinelands Pils and The Cannibal; J.J. Bittings featured Bad Boy Octoberfest, Dunkel Weiss, Knockout Bock, OnyXXX Stout, and Victoria’s Golden Ale; and Flying Fish showed off Abbey Dubbel, Exit 16, Exit 4, HopFish IPA, and won bronze in the Specialty Beer category with Exit 8.

I don’t think this accurately represents New Jersey craft beer, though. Some of New Jersey’s best are small, and can’t yet afford to make the long and expensive trip out to Denver. Had Carton, Kane, New Jersey Beer Co., Boaks, Cricket Hill, River Horse, and the others made it out, I think Jersey would have come home with a few more medals. That being said, it’s definitely an uphill battle if we want to compete with California, Colorado, Oregon, and the other states that dominate the craft beer industry.
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From the Bottle Collection: Royal Oak Pale Ale

Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice. Tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s. Or: cover them with… The Bottle Collection.

Written by Ken Carman

I haven’t seen this in the stores for about 5 years, but to be honest: I don’t go looking for it. That’s not necessarily a neg comment, more “not my style.” I remember it as a typical English pale of the lighter variety, essential Brit version of a lager like Bud only with an ale yeast. Preferable, but not my style. Copper with a hint of orange. I remember a light palate to the mouthfeel with a faint hint of malt. Low carb: to be expected. Hops low. Not much of a nose: faint malt and hop sense with fruity background, too long ago to liken it to anything. Clarity was good, rocky head, if I remember right.

Looking over comments at Beer Advocates I’m wondering if, like the beer they describe, my memory might be a tad hazy. OR, maybe I had an old bottle where some of the nuttiness/caramel character faded? I really didn’t notice hops, I do remember that, which I’m guessing is a good sign it may have been an old bottle. I did note that those who had had it on tap in England had a far better experience.

If you are expecting a typical lighter pale ale that you might get in England: have at it. Not me. I’m too deep into aggressive to buy it again, unless I’m trying to impress a Brit visitor, or not offend anyone.

Brewed by O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co. Ltd./Great Barton Farm, Clyst St. Lawrence, in England. Near Exeter and Honiton.