Review: Peeper Ale

Today’s been a beer day for me for some reason.  That may be because last night I discovered that Netflix had the cancelled Discover Channel show “Brew Masters” available for streaming.  The show, released in 2010 only had a 6 episode run before being cancelled.  Some say that the show was cancelled because in following around Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, the network had brought down the sound and the fury of the big brewers.  Regardless of what happened it was a decent show, and I binge watched the whole series today.  That made me thirsty.  Fortunately, stashed away for such a thirst is a bottle of Maine Beer Companies “Peeper Ale” APA, which brings me to today’s post.

This beer came to be in my fridge because my dad had purchased it based on some scuttle-butt about how great it was, and being the generous man he is, he bought it for me.  What first struck me about the bout is the very simple aesthetic.  From Riverhorse’s awesome hippos to the Ralph Steadman work on Flying Dog’s label and beyond it seems that craft beer marketing has brought label art to great new places, and I think that Maine Beer’s understated label for Peeper Ale, clean typography and a little stick frog, is just as striking.  It reminds me of Picasso’s drawing of Don Quixote.  Perhaps I’m going too far into this, but I think the label is a metaphor for what lies behind it: a clean and simple beauty. Peeper pours a hazy lemon yellow with a beautiful head that leaves an equally elegant lacing.  The flavors are crisp and light, a bit of biscuit from the malts and a very balanced hop profile that starts out with a tiny bit of lemon and finishes with a slightly bitter floral taste reminiscent of lavender.   This is a perfect beer for a summer day, or a summer night when the peeper’s it draws its name from chirps out its brief bliss. This is a simple, elegant APA that will wipe the sweat from your brow.  Weighing in at 5.5% this would make a fine session beer to get you through a hot day, if you afford to do that.  Unfortunately, this review probably comes at the wrong time as the brisk winds just blew into New England warning us that winter is coming with a vengeance, and with it the season of porters and stouts, but with the woodstove cranked up I still need refreshment.  So tonight Peeper Ale is my last nod to the mild beginnings of fall, and I couldn’t have picked a finer beer to do it with.


Brewpub Chronicles: Triumph Brewing

Triumph Brewing is a brewpub of the traditional style, in house brewing for in house consumption—beer to enjoy with classic grub.  I’ve been to two of the three locations of this establishment, in Princeton, NJ and New Hope, PA.  Today we’ll focus on Princeton, because that visit occurred more recently.  The visit came as the conclusion to a busy day in Princeton with my wonderful lady companion. This included a brief sojourn to Washington’s Crossing to contemplate a winter night in 1776, an exploration of the gothic grounds of Princeton University, a fruitful record store raid, and a visit to a bookshop.  All these explorations therefore worked up a thirst in us, so off to our cause, Triumph. We are not alone in seeking Triumph; my girlfriend has also arranged to meet several coworkers for a brief goodbye of sorts before she finishes her working season.  Of course you’re reading this because you want to hear about beer, not puns of the places name, so let me slake that thirst.  We started out with a sampler, always a nice way to meet a new brewery, and found a rather standard selection of styles—a nut brown, a pale ale, an Irish dry stout, a pils and an IPA come to mind.  All pretty standard fare.  No outlandish ingredients, no sour beers or beers aged in massive barrels made out of used furniture and heated with rocks*.  Now the beer geek in me wants these crazy things, and while all these beers are balanced and okay examples of their style, nothing is whacking my palate with hops or some unusual flavor or mouth feel that excites me.  Then, our waiter kindly delivers our cheese fries (an off menu order that perfectly hit the spot).  Here’s where it dawns on me—this is eating beer.  All these are very reasonable beers that are made, not to stock a beer bar, but to stock a restaurant. They’re there to compliment the food—they want you to say, “this burger is incredible,” not “this Frappuccino Schwarz bier is insane!”  Also, please don’t make a Frappuccino Schwarz bier, please. Now, my memory and a friend who shall not be named as a manager at the aforementioned establishment have told me that the New Hope location has better beers.  I seem to remember some bigger beers, dessert-like Belgians and barrel-agers, and perhaps that’s more intriguing, more in tune with your idea of a “brewpub.” But the Triumph in Princeton is a good restaurant, with good service, that happens to make and serve a bunch of solid beers at a good price.  And I like that.  All in all, I had a great time at Triumph.  The employees went out of their way to help us when the place was packed, I had great company, I got a pleasant buzz (their IPA was my favorite, by the way,) the bill was reasonable, and I didn’t have to pay it.  There’s a good ending for a great day.




*Though I’m not sure anyone makes barrels out of used furniture, there are beers made using super-hot rocks, such as the traditional German steinbier or that beer I had that one time at Equinox brewing last summer.