There are 114 miles of New Jersey’s beautiful shoreline to take in this summer. And, if Point Pleasant is on your list of stops, the family-run Frye Brewing is your destination for an ice cold pint to beat the heat. Frye Brewing, run by husband and wife duo Colleen and Mike Frye, is celebrating its first anniversary this month.
It’s been a year filled with flavorful brews. Blondes, IPAs, shandies and some traditional Irish styles, like their bestselling Red and The Dark Dry Irish Stout, all sit on Frye’s roster.
“I come from a large Irish family, so parties tend to have a lot of beer,” Colleen shared with a big laugh.
The Frye’s are lifelong Point Pleasant residents, having gone to high school together and raised their kids in the small beachside town.
After 30 years together and with the kids off on their own, the two wanted to start their own business in the town that means so much to them.
Frye Brewing Co.’s Beginnings
“The original plan was that we were going to open a bed and breakfast with a brewery attached to it,” explained Mike on a Saturday before the taproom opened. “A sort of B&B&B. In the end, we just focused on one B.”
Mike picked up homebrewing from his oldest son who was brewing in college.
“I found it fascinating, but I didn’t like having to bottle it at the end so I built my own kegerator,” he said. “I love the whole process and how much you can control.”
While driving their kids to faraway places for sports games and then to college, the Frye’s would search for local breweries to expand their beer knowledge.
All the while, they were making mental notes on what makes a good brewery, a comfortable tap room and what goes into a good beer. The travels inspired Mike to write his own beer blog.
After reading Brewing Up a Business by Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione and getting brewing advice from Gretchen Schmidhausler at Little Dog Brewing Co., Mike started piecing together what would be his “empty nest” plan, while Colleen was envisioning how she could set up a tap room.
“Out here, this is mine,” Colleen declared. She then pointed over to the brewing equipment and tanks. “Over there, that’s his.”
What’s On Tap?
While the Frye’s recognize that craft beer fans are always searching for the next best IPA, Mike enjoys traditional, straight-forward styles.
Red became their most popular year-round beer. Although it’s an Irish pub-based style because of its malty sweetness and smooth crushable feel, it’s shore ready and sessionable at 4.1% ABV.
The radler, or shandy, is a perfect match for the beachy lifestyle at the Jersey Shore. In its most basic form, it’s half beer, half lemonade. Frye brews a superior version that combines lemons, honey and coriander that can only be described as the Jersey Shore without the suntan lotion.
Also in the fruity beer category, the Frye’s whip up a Strawberry Blonde, which is a variation of their year-round Blonde.
To honor their daughter’s nuptials last year, they brewed an “I Do” Brew lager that’s good for weddings, births, graduations, anniversaries or any celebration that requires adult beverages.
For the taproom, Colleen found inspiration in a clock made from repurposed wood. She based the whole design around it.
“It’s a rustic, shore feel. The bar is a roof from an old barn. There’s exposed beams and ductwork above. We definitely wanted to make it familiar, comfortable and have it feel like you’re in our home.”
After bouncing around creative names, they made it easier for themselves to just self-title the brewery.
“When we figured we could say that it’s Frye-day, then we knew that we should just keep it simple,” remembered Colleen.
For their location, the Frye’s made sure that Point Pleasant was open to having a brewery and chose a location on Bridge Avenue (which was formerly an antique store) that was up to code.
When they started building the taproom, they discovered another brewery in town was opening the same month, Last Wave.
“We had just put the ‘Coming Soon’ sign up when a neighbor said that he learned of Last Wave,” Mike explained. “Likewise, they didn’t know about us.”
Since then, the two have built a great relationship and have collaborated on some speciality brews for the summer.
Though Ocean and Monmouth Counties are awash in craft beer, Frye is now a vital part of the NJ craft beer scene.
Frye’s First Anniversary
“It just flew by. Even when the winter came, we had steady crowds,” said Colleen.
“We tried different things – painting events, yoga nights and some winter-style beers,” said Mike.
According to the Frye’s, one of the best aspects of having a craft brewery is seeing your beer on tap at local establishments, including Jersey Shore favorites, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and Martell’s Tiki Bar.
“That never gets old. We’ve been going to those places forever and now we’re part of their business,” said Mike.
Besides getting free beer, the Frye’s enjoy meeting people from all over the place and being a part of the robust Jersey Shore craft beer scene.
“After 30 years, working our day jobs, raising kids and having grandkids, this brewery has strengthened our relationship. It’s a journey that we both enjoy equally,” summed up Colleen.
“We still have a lot of energy and we look forward to opening every weekend. It’s been a warm, loving experience.”
Name: Frye Brewing Co.
Location: Point Pleasant, Ocean County (2257 Bridge Avenue)
Standout Beer: Red
Know Before You Go: Taproom is open for pints, flights, growler fills and merchandise. Street parking available out front, around the block or the municipal parking lot a block away is free to use. Outside food allowed. No pets allowed. Check Facebook and Untappd for updated tap lists and events.
All Photos: © Chris Castellani / Best of NJ