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.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out golfing with some friends. Before meeting up, the four of us decided to each bring a four-pack of beer to trade, something we enjoy or that’s difficult to find. After we were finished leaving divots in the fairway, we traded and went our separate ways, electing to drink the newly acquired beers at our convenience while giving an opinion to the group. This week’s beer is the last one from that trade, it’s Lone Eagle Brewing Company’s Maiden Flight.
Founded in 2016 by homebrewers Todd Becker and Bob King, Lone Eagle was the first brewery in Flemington, New Jersey – just a stone’s throw from the state’s capital city of Trenton. With 12 to 14 taps occupied at the brewery’s 5,000-square-foot facility, the 10-barrel brewhouse plans to triple capacity this year, though it’s unclear as to whether or not COVID-19 put a dent in that. In just over four years, Lone Eagle has continued to make a name for itself with a strong local following, winning several awards, including two first place medals at the Atlantic City Beer Festival as well as a Maiden Flight being named one of the 10 best beers in New Jersey’s ever-growing craft beer scene.
Maiden Flight is an 8.0 percent ABV West Coast IPA brewed with Summit, Amarillo and Equinox hops which the brewery notes offer a “strong tropical hop aroma from heavy hopping.” There’s not a ton other available information. The label is fairly eye-catching, with the brewery’s logo featured prominently on the bottom along with an old-timey airplane in the middle and a green background with a transparent world map as the backdrop. It really has kind of an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom vibe to it – plus, the label has a summary of what you’re drinking, the hops, the ABV and the awards it won.
Knowing what my friend had told me about this beer, I was excited to crack it open. I’m going to skip the aroma for just a second and jump right to the pour, which was nothing short of stellar. This beer was one of the best pours I’ve had in quite some time, especially when it comes to this style. Maiden Flight offered three fingers of slowly dissipating off-white head in my tulip glass, complementing the golden, almost crystal clear, body. It was a thing of Instagrammable beauty. The aroma, on the other hand, was not quite what I was expecting. I noted a little bit of biscuit and some mild fruit-based undertone – perhaps orange – but in whole it wasn’t really decipherable.
The flavor kind of hit the nail on the head as far as the West Coast IPA is concerned. It had a touch of pine and caramel, along with a little of the tropical from the nose, and finished up with a delectable dry, somewhat bitter, punch on the back-end. It left me wanting more sips thanks in part to a medium-bodied mouthfeel with great carbonation until the very end.
It’s extremely drinkable, it’s tasty and it has a hell of a good look. The biggest thing weighing this one down comes from the nose – but if that’s the only really issue, well then I’m quite happy. When I made my score decision, I jumped on BeerAdvocate to see what other people had to say. The site itself scored Maiden Flight a solid 88 out of a possible 100 and the average score is 3.99 out of 5.0, based on 31 ratings. I would go a little higher than that, based on conversion, giving this an 8.2 out of 10. I loved the crisp and bitter punch on the back-end and just thought this was made very well. Looks like I’m going to have to ask him to save me one of their major juicebomb efforts next.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.