Iron Hill Maple Shade is one of the first brewpubs to open in New Jersey in years, and is the most recent Iron Hill opening to date. (There is a new one scheduled for later this year in Chestnut Hill.) Offering up their staple house beers, along with signature brews, Iron Hill has been a welcomed addition to NJ; quickly becoming a local favorite.
Our Notable Guest
Our special guest this time around is Iron Hill Maple Shade’s Brewmaster, Chris LaPierre. LaPierre, who was previously at the West Chester location, has won multiple GABF medals for Iron Hill and is likely to win more with the consistently impressive beers he’s been putting out.
From The Scene
When not working, Ed Hughes (an avid craft beer fan of 10 years) is probably drinking a beer or at one of the great bars in the area. Ed often seeks the local beer choice when traveling and enjoys getting new beers and aging some of his favorites.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Hooker Blonde Ale is highly smooth, refreshing and approachable for both the veteran and novice craft beer drinker. Blonde is fermented at cooler temperatures, providing a subtle malty sweetness and delicate crispness. ABV: 5.1%
Chris: 3.5 – Pleasant bitterness, lightly malty. Light yeast
Ed: 3 – Light, refreshing, easy drinking. Nice beer.
Mat: 3.5 -Clean, light, refreshing. Great summer session beer.
Neil: 3.5 -Really nice and sessionable. Very mild & light sweetness.
Mel: 4- Sweet & light…like a blonde hooker? …Bad joke!
4 out of 5 stars
Victory describes its Headwaters Pale Ale as, “firmly crisp and aromatically arousing, integrating a softly supportive malt base with underlying streams of herbal hop complexity.” ABV: 5.1%
Chris: 3.5 -Intense black currant & pine hop aroma. Subtle bitterness, hop flavor much more restrained than the nose.
Ed: 4.5 – Very citrusy, great hop profile. Great pale ale and perfect session beer.
Mat: 4 – Great aroma, extremely solid pale ale.
Neil: 4 – Sweet in the nose and awesome fruity hops with slight, bitter finish.
Mel: 3 – Smells stronger than it tastes. A little bit of hops, but not even close to overwhelming.
Left Hand Stranger APA
Stranger’s initial impression yields floral hop aromas, followed by a malty sweetness that is complemented by spicy undertones. Left Hand recommends you get to know the Stranger, as it is “strangely satisfying.” ABV: 5.0%
Chris: 4.5 – Solid sessionable APA. Good balance & clean. Mild yeast fruitiness works with the hops.
Ed: 3 – Good Pale Ale, but the label is nicer than the beer.
Mat: 3 – A little simple, but good for a summer session beer.
Neil: 2.5 -Smooth, simple-not bad, but nothing pops. Slight hops.
Mel: 2.5 – Kinda boring, tastes pretty typical- not a bad beer, but nothing exciting.
Jolly Pumpkin iO Saison
One of the first releases from Jolly Pumpkin’s Baudelaire Series, created in the spirit of French poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire, iO Saison is brewed with rose hips, rose petals and Hibiscus. ABV: 6.8%
Chris: 4 – Fruity nose with a bit of Brett peeking through. Light on
Ed: 3 -Good aromas, dry, with just a slight sour finish.
Mat: 3 – Too one dimensional. Slight tartness, but not much else.
Neil: 3 – Beautiful color- light & refreshing but slight sour notes (not offensive).
Mel: 3.5 – Exciting color- a light sourness, with fruity sweetness.
Manayunk Biere De Mars
Brewed with a variety of malts and two unique strains of yeast, this has been dubbed Manayunk’s “most ambitious brew to date,” combining flavors of fruit and spice to create a distinct ale. ABV: 7.3%
Chris: 4 – Big, yeasty spice on the nose. Malty on the palate with
Ed: 3.5 – Malty and spicy. Easily hides the 7.3% alcohol.
Mat: 3.5 – Malty, spicy. Smooth. Very sessionable for 7.3% ABV. A solid, new offering from a reviving brewery.
Neil: 3.5 – Sweet & delicate with nice spice notes and a clean finish. Smooth for the ABV.
Mel: 3.5 – Malty, spicy, lots of interesting flavors.
3.5 out of 5 stars
An aroma of noble hops, pears and Belgian esters is followed nicely by flavors of a moderately spicy hop and Belgian yeast. The flavor comes off mildly spicy with a a nice, dry finish. ABV: 8.5%
Chris: 4.5 – Dry & tart on the palate. Great fruity and spicy nose.
Ed: 3 – Nice pour, good carbonation and lacing, dry and tart
Mat: 4 – Belgian yeast very dominate. If fresher, hop presence
Neil: 3.5 – Belgian purely on the nose- yeast and champagne
Mel: 3.5 – Sweet & tart, very light & drinkable.
4 out of 5 stars
THIRTEEN is Ithaca’s Double Hoppy Wheat Anniversary Ale, with Citra & Sorachi Ace, spiked with an addition of orange and lemon peel, and fermented with American Ale yeast. ABV: 8.9%
Chris: 5 – Big Citra nose right off the bat. Zest comes in on the back end & mixes with the Sorachi.
Ed: 4 – Great aroma- nice hops, good carbonation. Solid beer.
Mat: 4.5 -Nose of a Harvest Ale. Great blend of hops & wheat.
Neil: 4 – Sweet citrusy nose- loving Sarachi Ace. Buttery and grapefruit like citrus.
Mel: 2.5 – Smells hoppy….lot of sediment throughout. Citrusy bitter, I’m not crazy about it.
Dogfish Head Aprihop
This American IPA has a rich flavor featuring both bitterness and sweetness from undertones of the apricots. You’ll find this popular, seasonal Dogfish Head offering on shelves through May. ABV: 7.0%
Chris: 4 – Dangerously refreshing for a 7% ABV beer. Apricot character mingles nicely with the hop character.
Ed: 3.5 – An IPA with Apricots? Seems less hoppy than most DFH beers, but a good beer.
Mat: 3.5 – A shockingly mellow Dogfish beer.
Neil: 3 – Fruit complements hops nicely. Smooth & not overwhelming.
Mel: 3 – Light, fruity, hoppy- not my style, but very drinkable.
Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA
This IPA is dark in color and character, with caramel notes highlighted by a bold hop bitterness and citrus aroma, as well as complexities brought about by the roasted barley. ABV: 6.0%
Chris: 5 – Subtle roast that does not dominate the hop or let you
Ed: 3.5 -Very balanced, hoppy, malty with a slight mocha finish.
Mat: 3.5 – Amazingly clean finish. Nice roast & chocolate flavor.
Neil: 3 -Nice- roasty but great hops balance. Clean finish.
Mel: 2.5 -Roasty. If you like IPAs- this is far from a typical one.
4 out of 5 stars
A citrus dominated India Pale Ale, its immediate impression is soft and smooth, yet builds to a crescendo of massive hoppiness accentuated by honey. An enduring, bitter finish. ABV: 5.9%
Chris: 4 – Dry with an assertive, but enjoyable bitterness. Not over
Ed: 4 – Great IPA- Hoppy with a nice finish & at 5.9% ABV, very drinkable.
Mat: 4.5 – Definite abrasive hop presence in middle that really
Neil: 3 -Hazy, unfiltered color- really interesting hops, but a bit soapy midway for just a moment, but then clean.
Mel: 3.5 -Very drinkable and approachable- an awesome starter IPA.
4 out of 5 stars
Extreme black beer whose nose goes towards pepper, vanilla, ashes, tobacco and fresh hops. It reaches the palate all in softness, but quickly becomes intensely bitter, though not very dry. ABV: 10.28%
Chris: 4 – Classic Russian stout nose. Sharp roast on palate to cut the sweetness.
Ed: 3.5 -Creamy, roasty- good imperial stout.
Mat: 4 – Very interesting. Black pepper is mild, but black tea comes in finish. Complex RIS.
Neil: 3 – Spice on the nose- dark fruit- molasses- a little spice.
Mel: 3.5 – Can definitely taste the 10% ABV. Heavier, vanilla & dark fruits.
4 out of 5 stars
Brewed with copious amounts of roasted and chocolate malts and is then aged on oak chips to provide even more depth to this RIS. Its flavors of dark fruits, chocolate, coconut, sandalwood and hints of vanilla make it a smooth and complex offering. ABV: 9.5%
Chris: 5 – Classic dark fruit Russian Stout nose. Very pleasant alcoholic warmth on the palate without being hot.
Ed: 4.5 – Pours a deep black, great aroma- great imperial stout.
Mat: 4 – I think I like it more un-barrel aged, but aging does add some unique characteristics.
Neil: 3.5 – Pour is awesome-like motor oil- really nice mouthfeel. Sweet, but well balanced roasty- nice all around.
Mel: 3.5 – Lots of body, coats the glass. Sweet, caramel nose, dry finish.
The Final Picks
Chris’ Final Pick: Excelsior THIRTEEN. The definition of “complementing.” You can’t tell where the hops end and the actual citrus begins. The zest bitterness adds another layer of complexity.
Ed’s Final Pick: Weyerbacher Riserva. Victory Headwaters Pale Ale. My new go-to beer for the summer. Great hops and very refreshing.
Mat’s Final Pick: Thornbridge Jaipur IPA. Tough pick, but in the end, I would buy a case of this to drink on a regular basis.
Neil’s Final Pick: Excelsior THIRTEEN. Really awesome and dynamic, not overwhelming in any one way. An extreme lawn mower beer.
Melissa’s Final Pick: Hooker Blonde. Pete (our photographer) pointed out I always pick blondes but they are so good! Especially Hooker’s.