Conclave Brewing (Revisited) - Raritan, NJ
Just last week, Conclave Brewing released a potential killer taplist for the weekend of February 10th - 11th. It was way too tempting to not revisit the taproom, take a few pictures and sample a few brews. As always, the fine people of Conclave (Tim & Carl) are excellent. I know it's also unusual to say, but I had my first experience ever at Conclave of... a line! The turnout for this past weekend was unbelievable and I'm very happy that things are going well for, what I consider to be, one of the top breweries in New Jersey. If the guys have more weekends like this, they are going to have to expand sooner than later... but that's just pure conjecture on my behalf and wishful thinking.
As always, the Conclave lineup is above average. You really weren't going to find anything on this board that was going to disappoint. Sadly, I will say that some of these brews aren't in the lineup for this weekend, so make sure you check their social media before visiting them. I had yet to try most of what was on this board - so needless to say, I was beyond excited for the offerings.
- Ollirama IPA (6.0% ABV): The first thing that jumped out to me were the sweet and hoppy notes that immediately are followed by a sweet taste from the beer. It's not often I've had an IPA on the sweeter end unless it was brewed with honey, but surprisingly enough, it wasn't overbearingly sweet. It was good enough to warrant a 32 oz growler back home.
- Hop Ritual Pale Ale (5.4% ABV): Solid as always. The Citra and Mosaic hops shine very nicely throughout the tasting. It's definitely hoppy, but kept in check with the lower ABV. You get some nice subtle fruit flavors to complement the hops as the beer begins to warm up.
- Shamanic Revelation IPA (6.8% ABV): I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed this beer a lot. This was my sleeper pick of the afternoon, just because it was juicy, slightly piney and with notes of pineapple. The body of this beer is absolutely perfect and I wish I could have grabbed a growler to take home. I'm not sure why I haven't heard more people talk about this beer or maybe I just wasn't paying attention... but if you visit Conclave and love IPAs and see Shamanic Revelation on tap... please do me a favor, get some.
- Buddy (8.0% ABV): This was a special cask conditioned stout released just for that weekend. I was lucky enough to try this before it ran out and was glad to do so. The scotch presence was definitely within the beer, giving it a nice oaky vibe to go with hints of vanilla. Definitely worth the try!
Although the board above has the Mexican Morning Stout listed, I was able to enjoy the Cherry Chocolate Stout before it ran out. Once I let this beauty of a stout warm up a bit, the cherry notes began to be a little more present and played nicely with the chocolate. One thing I've really not enjoyed in the past year or two is the overwhelming amount of beers using fruit in their beers to the point of being overpowering. This is not what happens in the Cherry Chocolate Stout. It's very well done without being too balanced to the point of being muted flavors. The cherry is subtle enough to be enjoyable and mingles well with the rest of the stout.
One of my favorite beers of 2016 was Conclave's IPA: Gravitational Waves. As soon as I heard that there was to be a triple dry-hopped version of one of my favorite beers, I knew I had to come back for a visit and see how it measures up to the original. The first obvious difference is the color of the beer. I remember the original being hazier, which means that the darker hue is in part to the triple dry-hop process. The beer loses none of the original flavor and is instead, enhanced. The hue of this beer is very deceiving. It's more of a golden color without any of the heavy malt backbone of a brew that color. Whether it's the original version or this "G3" version of it, definitely worth the trip if you are a hophead.
Samples were served, beer was had, growlers were filled, and Conclave merchandise came home. This was another excellent list that made me wish beer had 0 calories. Coming to Conclave Brewing and enjoying the full spectrum was well worth that early morning gym routine that left me craving for quality beer. I'm still upset that Tim & Carl have yet to invent a teleporter that could just materialize me into the brewery on certain Fridays and Saturdays but as long as they keep making their sweet, sweet beers... I'll forgive them.