16 May New Beer Garden in Arena District Lures Professionals and Politicians with Sweet Summer Brews
By Josh Frank, Newark Inc.
Redd’s Biergarten, an American craft beer bar with a German accent, just opened its newest location between Market Street and Edison Place, across the street from the Prudential Center, and we at NewarkInc. couldn’t be more pleased.
It’s easy to forget that Newark has a rich and storied past as a beer mecca, with the Ballantine Brewery, Krueger Brewer, and Anheuser Breweries all calling the city home and one point.
Now that the craft brewery revolution that’s swept the West Coast has finally spread to New Jersey, it’s heartwarming to see a place like Redd’s pop up to bring the good news to a population accustomed to Bud Lite Lime.
I went to the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Redd’s to hear comments from Mayor Ras Baraka, Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, NJ Devils Chief Revenue Officer Adam Davis, and a host of other local dignitaries – including Redd himself, who had to be helped out of his chair to rise to the podium to receive a special Devils jersey with his name on it.
But, of course, the REAL reason I was there, and the reason you’ll be there too, is the beer. So, I behaved incredibly irresponsibly so you don’t have to – tasting samples from their collection of more than 60 beers from around the world and selecting only the best for NewarkInc’s loyal readers. You’re welcome.
FOR THE LADIES: Lindemans Framboise Lambic (Vlezenbeek, Belgium), 2.5% This is one of those beers that doesn’t taste like beer, so it’s perfect for helping the cocktail drinkers feel more included at your Friday night business party. It pours a deep burgundy with a very thick pink head, almost like an uncooked strawberry meringue. The beer’s crisp and light body keeps the strong, sweet-tart raspberry palate from becoming too cloying or sticky, and its low alcohol content means you can pound these away and still have the coordination to stumble home without falling into a pothole on Market Street. Just make sure you brush your teeth afterward.
FOR THE GUY WHO JUST GOT FIRED: North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout (Fort Bragg, CA) 9% This legendary Russian Imperial Stout is surprisingly easy drinking for a brew that’s almost 20 proof. Old Rasputin will hit you like a drunken Bolshevik if you’re not careful to sip it, but the huge explosion of malt & coffee flavors almost make the hangover worth it. Light carbonation, delicate burnt-popcorn aromas and a big, chewy body make this beer a filling and pleasant way to wash down your cheeseburger – and wash away your pain.
FOR THE CHEAP DATE: Franziskaner Hefeweissbier (Munich, Germany) 4.9% We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a German beer in our review of a German biergarten, and this Hefeweizen stands out and delivers everything you want in a wheat beer: clean and subtle flavors, crisp body, light carbonation, and a sensual fresh-baked baguette aroma, a not-at-all intrusive hoppy bite, flying through to a smooth, clean finish that’s floral and not bitter. It’s undeniably refreshing for the hot and humid summer days that are just around the corner, and a natural fit for bar snacks.
FOR THE WINE LOVER: Rodenbach Grand Cru (Roselare, Belgium) 6% This unique sour beer from Belgium has billions of live and active Saccharomyces bacterium (the yogurt bacteria) in every bottle. We can’t say it’ll help digestion or cure cancer, but we can say it’s a very distinctive brew that perfectly marries creamy chocolate malt flavor with a nice sour kick like a really good 3rd grade soccer player. The slight vinegariness may turn up some noses, but it’s a great stepping-stone from wine to beer for your annoying friend who refuses to give up the Cabernet.
FOR THE WILD AT HEART: Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel (Somerdale, NJ) 7.2% Winner of the Silver Medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival, the folks at New Jersey’s own Flying Fish must have had a little help from above when crafting this knockout Belgian-style dark ale. Beautiful red color with minimal head or lacing gives way to staggering complexity – flavors of brown sugar, raisin bread, cinnamon and maple syrup all coexist harmoniously on the palate and finish. A superb brew that’s both accessible and flavorful.
FOR THE IPA LOVER: NJ LBIPA (North Bergen, NJ) 7% A west-coast IPA from New Jersey? I was skeptical too, but for your inner hop-head, this beer is as smooth as Snookie’s freshly-waxed backside. Light enough to play well with pretzels or mozzarella sticks, but with enough flavor and body to stand up to a blue cheese burger or rack of ribs. A lower boil temperature before brewing gives this beer a bit more citrus tartness than its competitors. Eminently satisfying.
FOR THE WHISKEY DRINKER: Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter (Frederick, MD) 9.2% Smokier than a four-alarm fire! Imagine black espresso and rich tobacco flavors and you’ve got the picture. A strong backbone of Warrior and Cascade hops, combined with a touch of fire-roasted dark malt, enhances the campfire smokiness on the palate and lengthens the finish. Be careful when ordering another round – like a wild dog, the alcohol in this one sneaks up on you.