July 11, 2014 by Justin Roczniak
It was a dull summer weekend. The living room was unbelievably hot, the roof deck scalded your feet the moment you set foot on it and the daytime television was best left unmentioned. My roommates and I went for our standby channel-of-last-resort, Tango Traffic Philadelphia, to watch the seven-hour Oslo-Bergen railway YouTube video. Then my roommate, Mel, asked, “You want to go to Delaware?” The rest is history.
So we went to Delaware from Pennsylvania to pick up beer made in New Jersey. The beer I am reviewing tonight is Exit 4, from Flying Fish Brewing.
Exit 4 (New Jerseyish for “region”) is brewed in Cherry Hill Township (New Jerseyish for “town”) in Burlington County (New Jerseyish for “Bucks County, but with a functioning education system”), N.J. It is a Belgian tripel, brewed in America, which, if you were following the World Cup, should leave you with mixed emotions. It also weighs in at 9.5 percent ABV.
Flying Fish, of course, is the local brewery that likes to keep its distance. Like Victory’s weird half-brother, it hangs out in the New Jersey suburbs, producing excellent beers that simply go unnoticed because let’s face it, it’s (ugh) New Jersey. Also, Flying Fish is easy to confuse with Dogfish, a Delaware brewery, and Bonefish, a Florida-based national chain restaurant. Despite this, its beers are fairly easy to find on tap around the Philadelphia region.
Today’s beer, Exit 4, is named for Exit 4 of the New Jersey Turnpike, one of the great achievements of New Jersey-kind and one of the “Seven Wonders” of New Jersey, up there with the Linden Cogeneration Plant, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Rapid Transit, and Atlantic City.
Alright, let’s get to the review. Purchased at Total Wine, Claymont, Del. (Remember kids, transporting liquor across state lines is illegal.) Poured into a tulip glass, the color was a deep gold, hazy at first but cleared rapidly. The smell was incredible: what hits you first is the hop aroma, very atypical for a Belgian-style beer. It’s not just hoppy, it’s hoppy in a very peculiarly American way. Citrus notes abound. The taste was very similar, but with a faint but noticeable alcohol taste. At 9.5 percent, I would expect so. I drank most of it on the deck with the roommates on a Monday night, talking about effective 401(k) and individual retirement account strategies, because we are old people.
I noticed, as the glass slowly drained, that I was giving notably worse investment advice. By the time I was halfway through, I said, “Apple stock just split 6-for-1, invest today!” though they had actually split 7-for-1, and a full month earlier. Five sips later: “Take your money out of Comcast, antitrust law will get them someday!” though that’s specious at best and straight-up naive at worst. By the end of the night I was raving, “Invest in gold today!” and thank God that was rock-bottom, or I would have started extolling the virtues of bitcoins.
Clearly, this is an effective beer.
I bought it from the “build your own six-pack” section of Total Wine. I do not believe that it is sold in cases at University City Beverage, so those seeking an efficient beer should stick with malt liquor or its craft beer cousin and our good local friend, Golden Monkey. However, I for one, as a former Golden Monkey fan, shall be seeking out Exit 4 at all future times and beer distributors, because it quite simply blows the Victory Brewing option out of the water. Golden Monkey simply cannot compare with this uniquely American Belgian tripel.
Exit 4 is a hoppy, dense and heavy Belgian tripel with a noticeable American flair. To blend two nations’ styles doesn’t make sense and is completely irrational, and the product is beautiful and intoxicating. Enjoy one today, but please be responsible, and don’t log on to E-Trade while you are doing so.