First things first, a great big tip of the cap to the community of Lambertville, NJ for putting together such a pleasant and wonderful weekend. Shad Festival or no Shad Festival, Lambertville is a fantastic town to spend a weekend in. In addition to being quite picturesque, the town has the added advantage of being supremely walkable - you can walk to anything in town, and you can also walk across the bridge to another town, New Hope, PA. So if you haven't been - go.
We were treated great everywhere we went. The folks at the Inn of the Hawke were great hosts, served up some quality grub, and had a pretty nice beer selection to boot. Mitchell's was a trip late on Saturday night with a pretty boisterous crowd.
As for the beer-angle this weekend, it was just mildly disappointing. Granted, I know that nobody could have possibly predicted high-80's this past weekend, but I was still baffled by the number of really big beers served up by both River Horse and Triumph. Sitting outside in the sun at 1PM on Saturday with a long day still ahead, I bypassed River Horse's 10% Belgian and 8% Weizenbock and went for the Lager and Special Ale. The lager is unfiltered and still a bit yeasty (think Kellerbier) while the Special Ale is a nice, light, flavorful English style mild. I had forgotten what a great beer the Special Ale is.
When I asked at Triumph why they only had four beers on tap, I was told that the brewery is "going through some growing pains". No idea what that means. Triumph is a great spot, and I don't recall ever seeing fewer than six on tap, so seeing only four on the board came as a great surprise. And it was a bit of a disappointment that only one was lower than 6.5% ABV. Looking around the bar, it seemed that almost every customer was opting for the Kellerbier, weighing in at about five percent. I did have the Uber Pils (a boozey, full bodied pilsner) and the IPA (seemed a bit easier to handle the heftier beers indoors than under the sun), while I also tasted R's Keller. Oh, and the food was great. And with a $6 bar menu, I completely retract my earlier comment about the menu being a bit pricey.
And not to end on a sour note here, but I'm afraid I have a bone to pick with River Horse. Before leaving, I had a seat with R in the gift shop to finish off our beers. They have this great table with little stools that swing out from underneath that we love to marvel at - but I digress. I was about to buy a t-shirt when R advised me to open it up and look at what's printed on the back. And I'm glad she prompted me to do that, because I found printed on the on the back the following; "New Jersey's Oldest Craft Brewery".
Unfortunately I can't wear a shirt that would turn me into a walking billboard for a falsehood - especially when it comes to craft beer, and especially when it comes to New Jersey's craft beer. A little research would reveal that Dave Hoffman's Climax Brewing is in fact two months older than River Horse. It's right there on both company's web sites, so perhaps the folks at River Horse could have done a bit more research before getting those shirts printed up.