Twin Elephant Brewing - Chatham, NJ
I had visited Twin Elephant Brewing a few weeks ago but decided to hold out on writing anything simply because I knew I hadn't tried everything this brewery from Chatham, NJ had to offer. Upon hearing that they would have a tap takeover at The Stirling Hotel on July 30th, 2016, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to marry the beers I hadn't tried in my previous visit along with the ones I had into a single review. I also wanted the opportunity to talk with at least one of the owners with one of the breweries that I believe has huge potential in 2016 for growth. Let's just put it this way, with tweaking and expansion of their brewing system, Twin Elephant is a brewery a lot of you will hear over and over about by 2017.
Like a lot of other breweries, the entrance is very unassuming, but who goes to a brewery for the beautiful front door aesthetics? It's all about the beer, right? But upon walking in, you glance right into a stunning space highlighted by wooden seating and standing areas that are further accentuated by the dark walls. It's extremely hard to miss the Twin Elephant logo as it dominates an entire wall and rightfully so.
The bar area is small but rather inviting. I can see how it could seem disorganized on too busy of a day with the "Order Here" right in the middle but from my experience at the brewery, it seemed to work out just fine. Twin Elephant will usually have between 3 - 6 beers on tap, and I'd love nothing more than for them to hit 5 or 6 consistently without fear of running out, especially now that I've been able to try quite a few of them. For someone, like myself, who has to travel just a little bit, it would be quite disappointing to come to the brewery and not be able to sample some of the finest brews they could possibly offer. Thankfully, they are very responsive to social media as well, so feel free to ask or give them a call just to make sure what they have available on tap.
Let's break down some of the beers from Twin Elephant.
- Loddy Doddy: Roasted coconut porter with a solid nose for a 4.7%. It is pretty thin mostly due to the ABV, coconut is very subtle. The beer claims to have sweet chocolate but it's not as sweet considering it boasts coconut and caramel. I'm not sure if my palate was off for this one, seeing as this was my first porter that day after a sea of IPA's elsewhere, so I will contend that my verdict on this one is still out. But for now, this was my least favorite of the offerings.
- Mr Pinkerton: This is nice. The description of a slightly tart wheat beer wasn't very appealing to me, but I do admit that I "cheated". I had already heard of this beer going in so I just had to try it. It definitely has the nose of a wheat beer. It's very smooth drinking for someone getting into sours. It is somewhat tart but in a good way, it's not overpowering. The great flavor is directly a result of the nelson sauvin hops and that smooth hibiscus scent.
- Rugged Snuggle: Twin Elephant's other Porter. I found myself wishing it was slightly thicker, but being a fan of big, heavy stouts will do that to you. If you like your porters to be a little on the lighter side, this is a good place to start. The flavor is definitely there and it's a great base so far. I enjoyed this one much more than Loddy Doddy.
- Fuzzy Duckling: As soon as I got a whiff of this beer, my first thought was "BANANAS". My second thought was "SUMMER". This was a great little beer, that drinked way easier than the suggest 5.1%. I would have easily ordered a pint of Fuzzy Duckling and then mowed my imaginary lawn.
- Juicy Busey: This saison is unique in that it is drinkable and has appeal to just about anyone. I didn't even know it was 7.5% until I started writing this whole article out. I drank it as if it were a 5%, a true testament to how drinkable this beer is despite the higher ABV. It's got a lovely color, a wonderful taste - disclaimer: I'm only now getting into saisons and this one was pretty enjoyable for me.
- Diamonds & Pearls: Dear god, I love this. This is their stout and it clocks in at an unbelievable 5.3%, yet it boasts that rich, chocolate flavor. I had this as my "cordial" after a wonderful feast at The Stirling Hotel and it absolutely hit that dessert spot I was craving for. I am legitimately worried for my well-being and palate if Twin Elephant does an Imperial Stout for the winter.
- Lil Shimmy Ye: If any beer deserves to be the flagship for Twin Elephant, it should be this one. Although they seem to shy away from the "flagship" model in order to continue to bring different, innovative beers - I really implore the owners to keep this one around. It really is a great pale ale. Clocking in at 6.4%, almost at IPA levels - it's easily drinkable and combines all of the best aspects of Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe along with the Belma hop. I recently wrote about it being one of my favorite summer beers in 2016. It's really THAT good.
For a brewery still in its infancy (less than 6 months!), the promise and potential coming from Twin Elephant is limitless. It's still a very small brewery and trying to keep up with a thirsty Chatham crowd along with out-of-towners such as myself. It's probably one of the smallest breweries I've been to in terms of brewing size. I can't say that I blame the ownership for this cautious approach. Even though breweries have almost doubled in the past two years, there is still plenty of growth and plenty of townships and counties demanding a brewery of their own. In other words, the market for breweries still hasn't hit the saturation point, especially in Chatham. Some are still feeling their way through the industry, some are causing waves and word of mouth has been staggering, and some will fall off the cliff of mediocrity into the vast abyss of nothingness until ultimately closing.
Which one is Twin Elephant Brewing Co? I believe they can reach a potential to be one of the best breweries in New Jersey. Riding on the success of such brews like Lil Shimmy Ye, Diamonds and Pearls, and Juicy Busey will surely put them on the map permanently and ensure them to be a mainstay and a clear beer contender ready to satiate the thirsts of many craft beer enthusiasts.
The beers are approachable, specially to craft beer rookies, but some of the offerings like Lil Shimmy Ye and Juicy Busey are surely brews that some of the veterans can truly appreciate. The team of Tim, Scott, and Cindy are ready to dial in and grow the brewery organically, a thought which excites me even further. I'm thoroughly glad I waited to for a second "visit" in order to fulfill a full review. Even if one or two of the beers weren't for me, the conversation had with Tim was enough to convince me of the rising star that Twin Elephant can be in the New Jersey beer landscape. After witnessing the turnout for the Stirling Hotel Tap Takeover and how well received Tim and Cindy were (and the beer, of course), I can honestly say they will be a fixture in Chatham. They are committed to bringing the best product possible to craft beer consumers. Give them some time, and hopefully the quantity will match the quality - rest assured you might see me there enjoying a pint of their beer.