DERAILED BLACK CHERRY ALE

Last week I checked out a new bar in Jersey City called Barcade and it turned out being as awesome as the dissected name would make you imagine. It is most certainly a bar, offering 24 craft beers on tap and sometimes on cask. I wouldn’t necessarily call the food offered “bar food” (appetizers included smoked trout & pub cheese on crackers and sandwiches like curry tuna with coconut potato and mint) but it is still finger food and not substantial enough to deem the place a restaurant. The arcade part of the name can’t be mistaken since the entire bar has its walls lined with video games. While this may conjure up images of Dave & Buster’s in your head, you actually need to time warp your thinking back a few decades. All the games found here are from the 70’s to late 80’s, the golden era of coin-operated gaming. Titles that include Asteroids, Frogger, Tapper, Q-bert, Rampage and dozens more, all original stand-up cabinets that still cost only 25 cents to play.

The night before I was there, Barcade hosted a Brooklyn Brewery night and, lucky me, there was still plenty of beers I had never had left on tap. I could’ve easily picked one of these beers and told you how much I liked it but many of them are small batch beers that will most likely never see the light of day except for other Brooklyn events or the brewery tasting room. For this reason, I have chosen a beer I drank that night made by a different company that you may actually be able to find in your local beer store.

For this week’s review I have chosen Erie’s Derailed Black Cherry Ale. Although I didn’t have this one until my forth or fifth beer of the night, it had caught my eye and my interest in the first minute I walked into the bar. I imagined a nice balance of tart and sweetness in a crisp, dry-finishing ale and couldn’t have been more excited. A friend of mine and I both ordered a pint of the Derailed at the same time, while our girlfriends stuck with the Langunitas Lucky 13’s they were drinking (good move on their part). The bartender handed me the two pint glasses of Derailed and I brought them back to our table. The bar is rather dimly lit but I was still able to make out a copper color with a reddish/pinkish tint to it. It had a minimal carbonation which led to a very thin white head that dissipated before I even reached the table. The smell coming off the beers as I walked was overpoweringly black cherry. It reminded me of the C&C Black Cherry soda I buy every time I get anything from JJ’s hot dog truck in Newark. After sitting down and taking a good sniff of the beer I could detect some minor malts and grain in the background but it is clearly dominated by cherry. I was hoping the taste wouldn’t be as one-sided but I was immensely let down. I was so overwhelmed by the sweet/tart of the black cherry that I couldn’t even taste any usual beer flavors. No malts, no hops, no yeast, nothing. The black cherry didn’t even taste natural, but more like a flavored syrup that left my tongue feeling coated and sticky. If I had to compare it to something it would fall somewhere between a carbonated cough medicine and a less-carbonated black cherry soda. I don’t know if it was because of my excitement and anticipation for this beer that made the disappointment that much stronger but it was a let down nonetheless. I am in no way trying to dissuade anyone from trying this beer. It might really taste great to someone else. I just prefer my beer to have some sort of beer taste to it.

I may have unfortunately found the first beer made by Erie that I wouldn’t highly recommend but I can take comfort in the fact that I found a new bar that I will be directing a lot of business to. One last thing I want to mention about Barcade is their dedication to running an energy efficient, green bar. This is something I have not adopted in my own life but I take notice and respect when others do. The first example of what they are doing to reduce consumption and waste is the absence of bottled or canned beers. By only serving keg or cask beer, these vessels can be returned to the brewery, rinsed and refilled for a future batch. While bottles and cans can be recycled, that is still a time, energy and money consuming process. Some other tactics include electricity being provided by local wind farms, 100% compostable and sustainable drinking and stirring straws, and bamboo cocktail skewers. This is just a commendable effort on their part happening behind the scenes at an already highly regarded bar. Yung sing!

Chris Wecht