Manor House Brewing Cannonball Reserve: The Best Beer You Can’t Get

There are lots of folks who want to brew beer for a living.  For some it’s a pipe dream, for others it’s an organized goal.  For the folks at Manor House Brewing, it’s a calling.

This struck me like a ton of bricks when I sampled their Cannonball Reserve, a Belgian Strong Ale that absolutely blew my mind. It was brewed on a 15 gallon system in a garage, and it was one of the best beers I’ve had all year.  

The pour was inky black with an ambitiously fluffy head. The ale had a deeply seductive aroma of piny hops mixed with rich caramel and hint of Belgian funk.  Underneath was the faint scent alcohol, which blended nicely with the other aromas and promised that this beer would be a big-character toe curler.

And it delivered in spades.  The first sip revealed a dark malty character, which provided a sweet backbone to the firm hoppy finish.  There were hints of chocolate, caramel, and sweet dark fruits that played perfectly with the beer’s spot-on hop bite.  I could taste the alcohol as well, which contributed to the earthy, dark fruit character of the beer, and it warmed my chest without dominating the delicate dance that was happening in my glass.  This is a majestic beer.

It’s also a dangerous one, because it has a massive ABV (I’m not sure exactly how big, but it’s BIG!) but its smoothness makes it far too easy to drink.  I just kept taking pulls from the glass and marveling at the fact that this was made in a garage.  Thank god my wife was there to help me drink this stuff, because I would have gone through the entire growler myself. It’s by far the most polished brew I’ve ever had out of someone’s home.

But don’t call it a home brew, call it a prototype.  This is the kind of beer you could launch a brewery behind, and that’s exactly what the folks at Manor House are planning on.  They set out with the goal to open a brewery, and they’ve been industriously working to make their dream a reality.

Knowing Manor House Brewing now make it easy for me to imagine what it must’ve been like to know the Rolling Stones before they hit it big. With beers like the Cannonball Reserve and their amazing Kellerweis (hands down THE most refreshing beer I’ve had all summer), these guys and gals are well on their way.

And I can say I knew them when they were still jamming in the garage.

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Categories: Beer, Home Brew, review


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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12 Comments on “Manor House Brewing Cannonball Reserve: The Best Beer You Can’t Get”

  1. Don
    July 28, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Nice Jim, way to tease our readers! This sounds amazing. Maybe next time I’m out your way we can stop by the garage of my dreams…

    • July 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

      Perhaps Don. But by the time you stop by, we’ll probably be able to visit the brewery instead.

      • Don
        July 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

        Lets hope so! Fingers crossed.

  2. July 28, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Reading this makes me want to do what these guys are already doing.

    • July 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

      Well if your beer is as good as theirs, I think everybody wants you to be doing what these guys are already doing.

  3. Bill Bennett
    July 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Wow, Jim, thanks! unfortunately we are a bit tapped out on the Cannonball and wont have any for Saturday, but we did brew a batch this past Sunday that should be ready in about 10 weeks (maybe a bit more as it is very complex and needs time to come together fully). But that said, the Cannonball is our signature brew, we have about 3 different takes on it, the reserve being our not so Belgian, Belgian.

    See you Friday at the lake!

    PS you can collect your white envelope full of cash from my mailbox 🙂

    • July 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

      Remember, small unmarked bills, Bill. 🙂

    • July 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

      Actually, just keep my glass filled on Saturday and we’ll call it even.

  4. August 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    Also just read Scott’s write up of Manor House over at his blog BrewClub, and you all make this place sound amaaazing. All I can say is I’m jealous; hopefully their beers make it into distribution sometime soon so I can taste them too.

    Any idea what the ETA is right now?

    • August 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

      I think they are navigating the process wisely, but I’m not sure when they’ll make it official. My guess is 6 to 12 months, but it’s only a guess. I’m excited to see them open, too.


  1. It aint so bad living in New Jersey! | The Brew Club - August 2, 2010

    […] from Beer and Whiskey Brothers!  Jim has posting about  Manor House Brewing for some time now- you can read more about their progress over at […]

  2. What’s the Most Underrated Beer in the World? « Beer & Whiskey Brothers - September 3, 2010

    […] folks could only get a taste.  I think this goes for my pals over at Manor House Brewing and their Cannonball Reserve.  I can’t wait to get another taste of that […]

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