Dave Hoffman, founder and brewmaster of Climax Brewing, is shouting at me. But, then again, he shouts at everyone – so used to the whir and din of equipment at the brewery. And, he’s a bit pissed off, thank you very much, as after 16 years he’s tired of the government red tape and the fickle distributers and growing craft beer competition from brew pubs, nano – brewers an other newbies that haven’t paid their dues.
But, at the same time, he apologizes, as it’s Friday afternoon and he’s already brewed and bottled and it’s hot. So, maybe he’s a bit cranky, but – as he will gladly tell you – he “doesn’t do anything half way”.
In fact he happily explains that he “hates Belgian beer” – he dislikes the “funk” and “phenolics”. (“I only like clean, balanced beer – and I don’t drink anything else – scotch and bourbon make me want to hurl” he exclaimed.) Then I saw a case of Climax “Belgian Sour” called “Incompetent Scholar” in the corner – what gives?
“I don’t like that beer – but I made it cause all the beer papers make a big fuss over Belgian beers and Belgian breweries… What’s wrong with American breweries?” So he made it, but put a jackass on the label – cause that’s how he can show his contempt for those people who only like Belgian brews…
I also spied a case of “Tuxedo Imperial Stout” with a picture of a cat on the label. Just then on cue the 17 year old cat (deaf and blind) tiptoed out from behind a fermenter. As I was about to walk into her, Dave deftly scooped her up and said – “can you believe these people just dumped her when they left their house over there? Now she’s been here all 16 years we’ve been here. What’s wrong with people?”
Dave’s beers are hard to find out of Jersey, but worth the effort. Clean and memorable, but not over the top. “I don’t want to make a beer so strong and hoppy that you drink a third of it and put it down. I want to make a beer that makes you want to drink ten of them!”
I’ll bet all BeerAppreciators that sample Climax’s great beers (I tried the “Gold”, a delicious and surprisingly non-clovey “Hilarity Hefeweizen” and the aforementioned Sour) would be happy to try for ten in a row too!