“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been going to the Van Dyck since I was younger and have always enjoyed their food so I was really excited to learn that they were going to be starting up the microbrewery, Mad Jack. Since I’d never had these beers before, I was unsure as to which I would enjoy most, therefore, I ordered the 6 beer sampler. At the table is a beer list of which Mad Jack brews they have on tap, the waitress brought me a marker so I could label which I wanted to try and when they arrived, each beer was numbered so I could follow the list.

1- 2025 Hefeweizen: they describe it as “a German style wheat beer. The yeast is used to ferment this beer gives off a unique flavor profile containing cloves, banana and a hint of bubble gum (5.4%alc/vol).” I’ve had a few Hefeweizen’s before and I enjoyed them so I figured this was a good one to try out. The color is rather light, as to be expected by a wheat beer but if you relate wheat beer with something like a Blue Moon – you will be surprised by this flavor. The first thing I noticed was the smell of banana which surprised me even though I was warned by the description. I did taste the bubble gum flavor in the beer but nothing too overwhelming. Overall, I did like this beer but alone, I tried to drink it with food and the flavor didn’t seem to mesh well, in my opinion.

2- White Horse Pale Ale: they describe it as “a medium bodied pale ale with an American hop aroma.  Caramel flavors dominate, followed by hop bitterness (5.1% alc/vol).” To start this off, I will say that I already knew that I wasn’t fond of Pale Ales but each breweries make them differently so I figured it was best to give it a chance. I did taste the smoothness of the caramel they described but the bitterness of the hop aftertaste was slightly overwhelming which is usually the reason I tend to not like Pale Ales. Overall, I liked it better than the IPA but I don’t think I’d order a full pint of this- solely because I tend to not like the bitterness of hops, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a chance, it’s just my personal opinion.

3- Liberty Lager: they describe this as “a light, amber lager. Medium bodied with grainy and sulfur flavors and aromas, with saaz hops (6.0% alc/vol).” When I think of an American lager, my thought goes first to Budweiser but this was much better than any Budweiser I’ve had, though the same color and consistency. The flavor was a lot stronger and though they mention that it had grainy flavors, I didn’t taste them but I did smell the grainy aroma. Overall, I really enjoyed this beer, it’s was probably my second favorite. It went well both alone and with dinner & everyone at the table agreed that they enjoyed this one.

4- Poppy’s Irish Red: they describe it as “brewed with European ale yeast, with a more fruity aroma. The flavor begins sweet and bready, finishing with roasted notes (5.0% alc/vol).” This was my favorite beer of the 6 I tried. I tend to drink more Irish Red’s during the summer months, for whatever reason and this was one of the best I’ve had. I didn’t get a fruity aroma but the roasted notes they mentioned were there but not overwhelming by any means. I had this beer with dinner and it complimented the flavors of the wurst and kraut I ate.

5- Fightin’ Irwin IPA: they describe it as a “copper colored ale whose aroma in dominated by fruity American hops. The flavor begins with caramel and hop flavors that give way to a lingering bitterness (6.2% alc/vol).” This was my least favorite of the 6. In all honesty, I wasn’t able to smell the fruit aroma or taste much of the caramel because each flavor was just dominated by the bitterness of the hops which is just not something I personally enjoy. If you don’t tend to drink Pale Ale, get a small sample before you order it. It tends to compliment food very well, but on it’s own, not something I would order.

6- Tub’s Stout: they describe it as “lighter in color and sweeter than Guinness, the aroma is full of roasted malts with hints of alcohol. Hints of cocoa in the flavor (6.3%alc/vol).” This was my third favorite, I already enjoy stouts but this was very different from the Guinness I usually drink. Not only was this stout lighter in color and sweeter but it was also lighter in weight too. I was pleasantly surprised by the lighter body of this beer & intrigued by the hint of cocoa in the scent and taste,  almost like roasted chocolate – very enjoyable.

The beers that I was unable to fit in my 6 beer sampler was the Brodey O’Blonde (lightest offering with a slightly fruitycharacter), Big Deal Blueberry (brewed with wheat and pilsner malt with over 25lbs of blueberries in each barrel), Sir William’s English Ale (they were out or I would’ve included this one- red ale which is dry hopped using traditional English Hop varieties; Fuggles and Gouldings) and the Pinhead Porter (full bodied, full flavored dominated by its chocolate malt flavor and aroma).

For dinner, I figured it was only right with all this beer to order the Mad Beers and Brats. These were Oscar’s Brats simmered in Mad Jack brews with Sauerkraut and Bacon served with potato wedges. The menu didn’t mention that these brats were filled with cheddar which surprised me when I cut into them and they oozed yellow. I don’t really enjoy sauerkraut that much so I asked for it on the side to at least be able to taste it. The brats were fantastic and did pair nicely with all the beer I was drinking. I gave the sauerkraut a taste and even though bacon tends to be an overpowering ingredient, I didn’t taste it that much. My taste buds were too distracted by the overwhelming beer taste it had. I would definitely order that again, I was even able to save some or the brat for lunch the next day.

If you’ve never been to the Van Dyck, it’s definitely a place to eat, especially if you live around the Schenectady area. Look on their Facebook or website for various concerts they have and don’t forget to take a walk through the microbrewery in back, check out where all these beers are made!