If you have any doubt about the popularity and growth of the New Jersey craft beer scene, take the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge from Philadelphia, or a jughandle from Rt. 73, and visit Double Nickel. Since opening in 2015, the brewery has increased its output, expanded its taproom, won awards in Philly and refreshed its branding. More importantly, they’ve created a series of seasonal and barrel-aged beers for the true connoisseur.
The brains behind the operation is Haddonfield-born head brewer and co-founder Drew Perry. Fresh from celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, where Double Nickel gave out free drafts of the Vienna Lager after both the big game and the victory parade, Perry talked about the long road from hauling cases of beer on a factory floor to being one of the brightest faces of the New Jersey beer scene.
Perry originally intended to become a physical therapist when he went to Ursinus College.
“I quickly came to the realization when I started working that I didn’t like working with patients,” he said with a big laugh. “That’s a problem.”
While working at an office, Perry took a part-time job at Flying Fish, one of New Jersey’s original craft breweries, in 2006. There, he learned the ins-and-outs of brewing and operating equipment from Gene Muller.
“I just walked in and asked for a job. I was cleaning tanks, operating valves and packing cases on the bottling line, and I loved it,” he recalled.
“I discovered that I just loved working with my hands. There’s something gratifying about producing something that’s really labor intensive while being a quality-made product.”
He decided to ditch grad school for beer school at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont.
Perry returned to Flying Fish to help grow the business into the largest craft brewery in the state and create great beer.
At first, striking out on his own wasn’t at the top of his mind.
“Maybe for the five years before started I Double Nickel, I knew I could do it but I just didn’t have the resources or the means to make it happen,” he said. “That first step is always the scariest.”
After helping to build a contract brewery in Virginia, he gained enough confidence to do his own thing. Perry lined up a group of local investors (including a handful of doctors) to finance his endeavor.
Having worked in the beer industry for almost a decade, Perry knew that he didn’t want to make trendy New England IPAs, but would rather appeal to a mass market by producing consistently high-quality beer.
“Making a new beer is easy, but brewing something that people will buy again and again is the hardest part of my job,” he explained.
By design, he created five straight-forward flagship beers that forgo cutesy beer puns. Double Nickel’s best-known beer is the Vienna Lager, which uses Vienna malts for a bready, sweet malty taste while maintaining a fairly hazy color.
The Session IPA, IPA and Double IPA give you an ABV and hop and citrus bite range that can appeal to everyday drinkers and hardcore hop heads.
For those who just want to drink a beer, the Pilsner is comparable to other beers on the market but with much more flavor and balance. Since opening, a Belgian Golden ale was added to the flagship line that’s spicy, floral and sweet with a refreshing bite.
Perry and his investors found a large space (once a spa and gym) in the shadow of the Tacony-Palmyra on Rt. 73 in Pennsauken. The location inspired their name, Double Nickel, which was a CB radio term used when crossing the bridge used to be a nickel both ways.
Since opening in 2015, it’s been nothing but growth for Double Nickel. While maintaining their flagship beers, Double Nickel draws beer geeks back to the taproom to try their DNA (Double Nickel Auxiliary) series of fun beer styles like a boysenberry berliner weisse, wet hop IPAs and “juicy” IPAs.
For those who need a boozy beer, their barrel-aged series of coffee stouts, chocolate porters, tripels, quads and red rye beers will make your taste buds happy.
Besides expanding their tap room and bottle offerings, the biggest leap was a complete branding redesign from Helms Workshop in Austin,Texas, known for working with breweries like Boulevard, Modern Times and Austin Beerworks.
“While we loved the look of the bridge design, we wanted to appeal to outside of the Jersey nucleus,” he said. “The new look is clean and simple, but still has a timeless retro look to it.”
With the new look, Double Nickel is poised to become one of the major players in not only New Jersey, but the Delaware Valley and Northeast.
All of the success makes Perry a recognizable face in the beer world.
“It’s a little weird, but I get stopped on the street by random strangers telling me how much they love the beer,” he said. “They see me or I’m wearing a Double Nickel t-shirt and want to talk my ear off about the beer.”
Name: Double Nickel Brewing Co.
Location: Pennsauken, Camden County
Standout Beer: Vienna Lager
Know Before You Go: Taproom is open for pints, flights, growler fills, bottles & cans to-go and merchandise. Located on the eastbound side of Rt. 73, take right side exit when you see the sign for the Double Nickel parking lot. Check Facebook or Untappd for updated tap lists and upcoming events. Food is allowed. Pets allowed in tap room. Party room available for rental.
Don’t forget to check out the entire Brew Jersey series here.