Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
Social media can have a significant impact on the beer we drink these days. If you’re anything like me, a self-proclaimed wannabe beer snob, you likely follow several different breweries either on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – yes youngsters, that’s still a thing. Following on social media keeps me privy to what’s going on at my favorite local and national beer producers but it also helps me pick out new beers I might want to try, especially at release-oriented places. So, when Kane Brewing Company posted about a new beer that sounded like it was right in my wheelhouse, I decided to finally make the hour-plus trek to perhaps New Jersey’s crown jewel.
Founded in 2011 by homebrewer Michael Kane, the brewery sits just outside of Asbury Park in a custom-built two-vessel brewhouse. The company creates beers that are self-distributed, which makes them more challenging to find outside of central New Jersey. Kane’s focus is on American style and Belgian influenced ales, though this week’s choice, Reef? There’s a Reef?, is an India Pale Ale based off one of the company’s other efforts.
Brewing can be a pretty stressful job. It’s important to monitor the batches and make sure the processes and recipes are done perfectly, to ensure a well-executed product. That was not the case with Reef? and the end result was a happy little accident Kane put into 16-ounce pounder cans and sold as a limited release at the brewery. According to the company’s Instagram post, a few weeks back a fresh batch of First Reef suffered a miscommunication between cellar shifts, resulting in a beer that was different than intended – with a stronger dose of dry-hop flavor. And thus, to the excitement of myself and many Kane loyalists, a new beer was born.
Reef? is a 7.0 percent alcohol by volume American IPA, brewed with a pilsner base, a small amount of honey malt, oats and wheat as well as Simcoe, Citra, Galaxy, Amarillo and Cascade hops. It sold very well during the time I was at the brewery and I picked up several four-packs of it, and others, along with a special teku glass because I’m a nerd, to bring home for friends to try – I mean I had to at a heavy-hitting brewery like Kane.
The label for this particular beer is pretty typical of Kane and nothing really outside of the box. It features various shades of blue, in the brewery’s standard label design, with the name in yellow. Other than that, it doesn’t give any further information about what you’re about to drink, besides advising to “store cold and drink fresh. This particular beer hadn’t even been sitting in my refrigerator for a week, so I think I checked that off of the list.
When I cracked the can open, I was immediately introduced to a smell I enjoy. The aroma had a potent floral smell to it, though I also noted a little pine mixed with a hoppy, tropical vibe. Of course, it’s a full-bodied beer and it poured pretty beautifully, with a nice amount of off-white head to complement the hazy straw color. I tried a couple of different IPAs during my visit to Kane and I would have to say, this was the haziest when it came to looks.
As far as taste goes, this beer is abundantly bitter. So much so that I can taste it long after each sip, almost right up until the next one. If that’s not your thing, I would stay away from it. Kane wasn’t kidding when it came to dry-hopping this effort and although it powers the end of the sip, in the beginning there’s a slightly sweet, tropical flavor. I would love to know what the IBUs are here, but I cannot seem to find it. The carbonation was what I expected from a beer of this caliber, good but not overwhelming as to impact the taste. I enjoyed the flavor here and found it pretty drinkable.
This four-pack ran me $20 which is par for the course from a brewery that can certainly get by based on it’s name alone. Honestly, I think it was definitely worth it here. When I looked on BeerAdvocate, it was clear that this beer was pretty limited based on just one rating, which was 4.19, so I turned to Untappd and found an average rating of 4.12 based on 193 people. I think these ratings might be just a little high, as I would give this a 7.9 at the most. It’s tasty, it’s more on the drinkable side and it’s bitter – everything I love – but I just thought it could’ve used a little more flavor to compliment the dryness, to really make it stand out. That won’t stop me from quickly enjoying the remainder of the four-pack, however.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.