It’s an exciting time to be a beer lover in the Garden State.
Thanks to the passage of the Craft Beer Bill in 2012, New Jersey’s beer scene has exploded in recent years, with local breweries sprouting up that offer incredible new recipes for your go-to favorites (like stouts and wheat beers) as well as seasonal fare.
Here’s a look at the New Jersey brewery trends for this spring.
More Breweries Opening Up
“The overall beer scene [in New Jersey] is growing rapidly,” Tom Zuber, owner of Demented Brewing in Middlesex, tells Best of NJ. “We are very happy to be amongst the other breweries in the state and we hope the market continues to grow.”
Currently, New Jersey has just under 50 breweries and this growth trend isn’t going to stop anytime soon. There are dozens of breweries on tap to open in the state in the coming year.
Two Ton Brewery recently opened and frequently hosts tastings at liquor stores featuring its chocolate vanilla porter. Pinelands Brewing Company in Tuckerton just celebrated its second anniversary with a host of featured brews like Birthday Suit, a Belgian Golden Ale.
Departed Soles Brewing Company opened in Jersey City last year and is proud to be the only craft brewery in New Jersey that produces two beers (soon-to-be three) with 100% gluten-free ingredients. Of course, it also offers a host of “definitely not gluten-free” selections, with plans for two more this spring: a honey blonde ale made with locally sourced honey and a hoppy, tropical, double IPA. (If you have a few minutes, check out the Departed Soles website and read the inspiration behind this new brewery. You’ll be glad you did.)
Third State Brewing Company, which opened just last year and offers creative brews like Peanut Butter Porter and Fire in the Belly Habanero Ale, is already wildly popular and has been credited with helping to revive downtown Burlington.
Garden State Beer Company in Galloway Township has plans to open mid-March and will start out featuring two varieties of an American wheat beer (blueberry and peach), a cream ale, an ordinary bitter, a porter, and an IPA.
Small Pours for Small Batches
Making small batches of a unique brew presents a problem. How does the brewery spread the wealth and allow the masses to sample it? The traditional beer pour is a pint glass, but now breweries are increasingly offering beer flights or small pours.
A small pour is simply a smaller glass of beer, so it’s cheaper and less commitment than a full-sized draft. Think of a beer flight like a sampler platter of appetizers…it’s a series of small glasses, each filled with a different beer so you get to sample several different kinds before committing to a full pint glass of one flavor.
Raritan Township’s Conclave Brewing offers 4 oz. pours or a flight of 5 for $9. You can choose from such beers as: Espresso Milk Stout, Hop Ritual Pale Ale, Mexican Morning Stout, and the newly-released Heart of Glass Blonde Ale.
Tomfoolery Brewing Company in Hammonton is no stranger to this trend. It hosts “Tap It Thursdays” and offers a new small batch brew in the tasting room every Thursday. It must be the luck of the Irish, because St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Thursday this year — and Tomfoolery is releasing two new beers that day: Irish Potato Beer and Irish Extra Stout.
One of Carton Brewing Company’s small batch beers this spring will be Cosmonaut, a classic Russian imperial stout with Neapolitan astronaut ice cream providing light aromas of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
A 13% ABV Russian Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels will be on special release at the end of March at Village Idiot Brewing Company in Mount Holly. Village Idiot is known as a “Main Street-style” brewery, because it sells the majority of its beer from the tasting room.
Demented Brewing, whose 7 Deadly Stouts series is finishing up this month, plans to launch a small batch single hop IPA series featuring a number of experimental hops for the spring and summer.
Emergence of Sour Beers
It used to be all about the IPAs. But are people getting sick of hops, hops, and more hops?
Recent months have shown a growing movement towards sour beers.
According to Andrew Brown of 902 Brewing Co., beer styles that were once considered risky (like sour beers) are gaining popularity. Brown believes that as beer drinkers are exposed to more styles, their palates become more refined. 902 Brewing, for now a bit of a nomad brewery, hopes to open Hoboken’s first tap room in early 2017.
You don’t have to convince Cape May Brewing Company that this style of beer is a hit. It recently opened a brand-new system that will be used strictly for the production of its line of sour beers.
For a brewery looking to gain increased recognition from the public, a collaboration with another brewery with another brewery is a win-win because it instantly doubles your beer’s audience.
And if you can collaborate with a giant in the beer industry, all the better! Flounder Brewing Company will be traveling to Boston to brew an as-yet-to-be-announced collaboration beer with Sam Adams at the end of May.
Cypress Brewing is currently producing a Belgian Quad in collaboration with Two Ton Brewing in Linden that will be aged in a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel from Alba Vineyards in Milford. Talk about a delicious New Jersey trifecta!
Double Nickel Brewing, which is releasing its Brickface Imperial Red IPA this month, will be brewing a beer with Briess Malting for the Craft Brewers Conference in May and is in the early stages of planning a collaboration with Manayunk Brewing Company for Philly Beer Week.
Special Events Will Draw Crowds
Another way to expand a brewery’s reach is to either host or participate in special events.
Flying Fish, which recently debuted its Exit 18 Baltic Porter, is hosting the third annual Tour De Fish on June 26 in Somerdale, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting ALS charities.
Double Nickel Brewing is hosting a beer dinner at UNO’s Pizzeria & Grill in Maple Shade on March 11 and will join “Beers on the Boards” at Martell’s Tiki Bar on March 19 to benefit the Point Pleasant Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Cricket Hill Brewery will also participate in Beers on the Boards, and will celebrate its own Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine Ale Release Weekend from March 24-26.
Of course, one of the biggest ways for breweries to gain exposure is to participate in beer festivals. The Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival will be held on April 8-9 and feature local breweries like Tomfoolery, Cricket Hill, Cypress, Double Nickel, and many more.
June 25 marks the Garden State Craft Brewer’s Guild Festival in Camden. Flounder Brewing will be there, most likely with its flagship beer, the Hill Street Honey Blonde Ale. “We launched with it, it was well-received, and we’ve been fortunate where many people who come to us to get their beer have made this beer their regular go-to beer,” Flounder’s Jeremy Lees tells Best of NJ.
So New Jersey beer lovers, rejoice! By all accounts, it doesn’t appear that the craft beer boom is going to be ending anytime soon.
And while every new brewery might not make it to twenty years like Roselle Park’s Climax Brewing Company, the state’s oldest microbrewery that is releasing its toasty Maibock lager in the coming months, we will gladly help them try.
New Jersey’s craft beer business is booming, so raise a pint in congrats — you have plenty of local brews from which to choose. Cheers!
Top (Hero) Feature Image Courtesy: ©eyegelb/Dollar Photo Club
Additional Body Images (In Order) Courtesy:
© Garden State Beer Co.
© Village Idiot Brewing Company
© Climax Brewing Company