- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION

I grew up in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, but it was as a college student in Southern California that I first learned about craft beer, thanks largely to the San Jose-based Gordon Biersch, which I first visited at its home base in the Bay Area before patronizing its Pasadena location shortly before graduation. It was the beginning of what (I hope) will be a lifelong love affair with craft breweries.

So it was with great pleasure this past weekend that I went back home to check out the recently opened Conclave Brewing in Flemington, New Jersey, the same town where I went to high school. Located in an industrial park just off of Rt. 31 in Raritan Township, Conclave now joins Ship Inn in Milford and yet another Flemington brewery on the way.

A weekend spot for beer aficionados, Conclave rotates out its taps, with some perennials available year-round. For my sampler I started with the Saison, a light, refreshing brew that made a drink in winter feel almost summerlike. The Hop Ritual wasn’t as hoppy as I’d expected, which was a good thing as my tastes tend to veer away from IPAs. Naturally, the next on the trek was the Legend IPA, which my palate found inoffensive despite my aversion to hoppier brews. Equinox Brown-In reminded me a bit of Newcastle. The Espresso Milk Stout was beyond me, as I am neither a fan of coffee nor stouty beers.

The most interesting perhaps — though one that will not appeal to all tasters — was the Mexican Morning, which packs a spicy bite at the back of the throat that sneaks up on you. When I say “interesting,” I wouldn’t necessarily order a pint of it, but I’m all about experimentation, and this particular brew was precisely that.

Conclave is open for tastings Friday from 5-7 p.m. and Saturday 1-5 p.m. Growlers are available for take-home.

Welcome to Hunterdon County, Conclave. May you be the next salvo in craft beer.

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