December 2001 Newsletter



We have compiled the results from this year’s Hoppiest Show on Earth held this past Dec. 1st at River Horse Brewery in Lambertville. The competition went off very smoothly thanks to the efforts of this year’s competition director, Judi Lewis, and judge director, Steve Ashton. And of course, none of this would have been possible without a great Admin support team – Andy and Laurie Koontz, Joe and Betty Scarlatta, Al Boccardo, Henry Stokes and others.

Also, a big thank you to all the folks at River Horse Brewing – Jim, Jack, and Tim Ryan for going that extra mile and being so accommodating to us – letting us use the office, giving us keys to open up, etc.

Did I mention the great beer also – I had my share of Harvest and Hop Hazard ales. Speaking of which, RH provided us with some
samples of a test beer they recently brewed – a Tripel. Malty, spicy, and warming, everyone who tried it agreed that it tastes like a winner. Mind you, this is a test brew, so don’t go looking for it in your beer stores yet!

Without further adieu, this year’s winners (including quite a few PALE ALES members) are:

Belgian Ales / Wheat Beers
Gold: Tom Paffrath – 1st place BOS
Silver: Kevin Trayner
Bronze: Mike Ultee

Strong Ales
Gold: Al Boccardo
Silver: Dave Albert
Bronze: Al Boccardo

Brown Ales / German Amber
Gold: Steve Ashton
Silver: Jeff Abel & Mitch Baland
Bronze: Dave Albert

Porters / Stouts
Gold: Bruce Millington
Silver: Dave Albert
Bronze: Joe & Betty Scarlata

Dark Lagers
Gold: Al Boccardo – 2nd place BOS
Silver: Dave Albert
Bronze: Keith Seguine

Light Lagers
Gold: Dan Schettler
Silver: Greg Mueller
Bronze: Bob Freeman

Fruit / Herb & Spice / Specialty
Gold: Dan Noon
Silver: George John
Bronze: Dan Noon

Gold: Al Boccardo
Silver: Steve Ashton
Bronze: Steve Ashton

Gold: Jeff Abel & Mitch Baland
Silver: Dan & Judi Schettler
Bronze: Steve Ashton

Bitters / Pale Ales
Gold: Al Boccardo – 3rd place BOS
Silver: Steve Ashton
Bronze: Tom Paffrath


Climax’s superb ales and lagers made for an outstanding holiday meeting. Hoffman also gave a great talk on the trials and tribulations of lager-making, replete with his trademark frankness. Former homebrewer and homebrew store owner, Dave started
producing lagers at Climax about a year ago.

Dave poured a Pilsener, Octoberfest, and Doppelbock – and they were all excellent. I was particularly impressed with the Pils, which tasted amazingly crisp (and dead on to style)despite it being nearly five months old. The Spaltz hops worked really well in this beer too. (The Doppelbock was smoo-ooth and sneaky at 8.5 ABV, and the Octoberfest had a luscious graininess to it). Interestingly, the smoothness and flavor of his lagers cannot be attributed to decoction, as Hoffman uses only a single-step infusion for his brews.

The lagers were followed up by ales, including wonderful English-style ESB and Nut Brown Ale, and a commemorative American
Red Ale brewed for Roselle Park’s Centennial celebration.

Dave mentioned that we will start seeing his brews in more local stores in the coming months, as he is working on greater distribution in our area.

The great beers were complimented by great homebrews (which received many compliments from Hoffman) and foods, ranging from Chinese dumplings, to kielbasa. In addition, we all had the chance to sample many of the excellent entries from the homebrew contest.

A great evening for all!


On a scale of 1 to 10, how intimidated would you be if you were asked brew a beer for the birthday bash of an industry icon, and a
host of other beer luminaries. A little bit? What if that person was the beer hunter himself, Michael Jackson? Sweating a little more now? Oddly enough, Rob Mullins of Trap Rock brewpub (Berkeley Heights) will be doing just that and he doesn’t seem to be sweating damn near enough in my opinion!

And of course, part of that is probably just Rob’s laid back personality, and the other (bigger) part is that he’s no slouch at
brewing either. Mullins (along with the Bob and Ellie Tuppers) created the recipe for Tupper’s Hop Pocket Pils, which won a gold
medal at this year’s GABF. Mullins also won a bronze medal for Trap Rock in the Münchner-Style Helles category for his Ghost Pony Helles. Of course, you don’t need to know any of that to know that Rob can brew – you only need taste pretty much any of his beers. A recent sampling of beers at the brewpub’s Octoberfest beer dinner yielded a smooth Octoberfest, malty Roggenbock, and a sweet Scotch Ale. (And oh yes, I would be remiss not to mention the guest beers of High Point – including this year’s delicious

Again, I’d feel a little better if Mullins was at least a little nervous about brewing for the beer hunter. Instead he has the temerity to say: “I’m really looking forward to this.” And what kind of beer will he brew for the king? Nothing too faint-hearted for sure. The plan is to create sort of a high-octane “Imperial” version of the Hop Pocket
Pils, in the 8-10 ABV%, Mullins said. And like the original Pils recipe, it will be a collaborative effort with the Tuppers. (Jackson’s party will be held in March at that D.C. bastion of beer, the Brickskeller, which has a long-time association with the Tuppers.)

Mullins plans to brew a seven-barrel batch of the brew at Trap Rock, which will sell whatever the Brickskeller does not buy. So, in any case, Trap Rock regulars will get to sample it.

How will the Tuppers and Rob do their arduous research and brainstorming for the recipe? “The way we’ve worked in the past. Sit down and taste a bunch of beers and figure out what we like and don’t like,” said Mullins. What did you expect from a guy who doesn’t sweat?

On to regular brew news. Speaking of the beer hunter, Jackson paid a surprise visit to Andy’s Corner (Bogota) tavern on his return from the GABF. And who could blame him, with its frequent beer promo nights throughout the year featuring Victory, High Point, Heavyweight, and countless others, Andy’s Corner has probably the fullest beer calendar of any NJ establishment. Recent promos have included Heavyweight, Old World Brewing, Otter Creek, and others. Check out for more info.

I’d like to give a shout out to one of my fellow NJ beerwriters, Gary Monterosso, who won silver medal for in the Quill and Tankard Awards. (It’s pretty much like the Emmys for us beerwriters!) Gary is the voice of So. Jersey beer, and has written for ASN, Mid Atlantic Brew News,, and, not to mention the fact that he does a weekly radio spot on beer on Ed Hitzel’s Table for One.

Flying Fish had originally planned to produce 2000 cases of its Grand Cru Winter Reserve, but has wound up producing an extra
1000 cases, according to President Gene Muller. Tasters have made reference to Duvel, which, as Muller notes “is a nice comparison.” (Actually, I think it is more assertive than Duvel.) Spicy, malty, with a slight sourness, it is a great beer to ward
off the winter chill, and in my opinion, one of their best beers to date. (Hmm… I wonder what a half and half with the Dubbel would
taste like?).

Also, with the holidays approaching, check out the Flying Fish holiday gift four-pack with a special “Best Fishes for the Holidays
2001-2002” etched pint glass. Big beer aficionados tasted Heavyweight’s latest beer – “Cinderbock” (and many others)
at the brewery’s open house/tour tasting this past month. This malty Bock lager is assertively flavored with about 50% German smoked malts and lagered for five weeks. Tom’s artwork for the proposed label is a hoot – depicting a goat with a cigarette butt hanging out of the corner of its mouth. In addition, to his regular line of beers, Tom also broke out some of his great tasting Stickenjab as well (a sticke/alt style beer), and a surprisingly flavorful blend of Perkuno’s Hammer Baltic Porter and the Two Druid’s Gruit, which he dubbed a “Medieval Hammer.” Next beers up for release are new versions of Baltus, a dark Belgian-styled ale and a real big version of the Old Salty Barleywine (11% ABV) for the holidays. With the holidays coming up, beer is always a good gift (at least that’s what I tell my
wife!). Two beers I am looking forward to! (NEWS FLASH: The barleywine has just been released according to Tom Baker.)

Up North, High Point (Butler) and Climax (Roselle Park) have released their seasonals – a Winter Wheat (doppelbock) and a lightly spiced Holiday Ale, respectively. As part of New Hope/Lambertville’s annual Winter Festival, River Horse Brewing will host a Chili-Cookoff on Sunday Feb. 3, from 12-4pm. The $15 donation at the door gets you a commemorative glass, beer, and chili. For more info on the festival check
Gaslight (East Orange) is pulling out all the stops for its annual Victorian Beer Dinner on Dec. 12th, featuring Victorian foods, ciders, wines, and beers. Special beers will include draft Anchor Christmas, Ramstein’s Winter Wheat, and the brewpub’s Satan Claws Old Ale and cask-conditioned Hoppy Holidays ale. The $75 admission includes seven-course dinner & beverages, tax and tip. Call (973) 762-7077 for more info.

In Woodbridge, J.J. Bittings will be bringing on its spiced Winter Warmer and Rat Pack Pilsner in December, with the Smiling Reninger in Jan. This is a big ale at a little over 8% ABV, which brewer Brad Reninger entered in this year’s GABF and got good marks on.

At Triumph (Princeton), recent offerings include a Pumpkin Ale, a pumpernickely Roggenbock, and Snakebite, an tart ale/cider hybrid (6.5%ABV). For the holidays, the brewpub will be tapping its Gothic Ale, a medieval-style gruit on the handpump, and the spiced Winter Wonder. Long Valley brewpub will feature its regulars, including last year’s GABF winner, Porter; and one of my fave’s – Willie’s Wee Heavy, a strong Scotch Ale.


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Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society