They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, the same might be true when it comes to brewing the perfect pint. That’s one of the inspirations behind Human Village Brewing Co. in Pitman. When Megan and Richard Myers started their storefront brewing operation in 2016, the idea was to create beers with a story behind them.
Whether it be a saison brewed by 18th century Belgian farmers or a porter brewed in Colonial times, owner/brewer Megan likes to tell the who, the where and the why behind Human Village’s beer selection.
Craft Beer Introduction
Megan’s introduction to craft beer came from an unlikely location – Napa Valley, CA.
“My father lives near the wineries [in Napa] and a lot of vinters will do homebrewing on the side to mix things up,” she shared on a Saturday afternoon in their taproom.
“When I started home brewing on my own, I really got into all these unique flavors. I realized beer wasn’t just a glass of bread.”
Her college degrees in International Relations and Middle Eastern studies didn’t give her the necessary tools to pursue a career in beer, but as she said, “I spent a lot of time in hot places and you do need a cold one now and again.”
On the other hand, Megan’s husband Rich is a nuclear scientist.
“He knows how to boil water,” she joked.
“I have a strong research background and he knows the science behind brewing, so our home brewing was a good way to combine our knowledge,” she explained.
“We would find a craft beer we’d really like and descontruct it to see how we can do it differently. It became more of a passion than a hobby.”
Human Village Gets Its Start
The idea of starting a brewery began as a flippant comment that became a running a joke and, eventually, a tangible idea.
“Sometimes, we would make a really amazing beer and other times we would say to ourselves, ‘Let’s pretend this didn’t happen,'” Rich said.
Megan and Rich originally brought in friends, Emily and Phil Barnes, to help with their brewery plan, but today the Myerses run Human Village.
The idea was to create beer from centuries-old recipes through Megan’s research of out-of-print books. One such beer is the Harlem Shake, a bock beer from the Netherlands that dates back to the 1400s.
“Our concept was to explore why beers were made a certain way and what was the original intention,” Megan explained.
“While we’re always excited about the flavors of beer, we’re equally excited about the stories behind them. We have a lot of stories to tell.”
A Place to Call Home
While they had a concept and aesthetic in mind for Human Village, everything changed when they decided to move into the space formerly occupied by the Bus Stop Music Cafe in Pitman.
The performance space was popular with local musicians and artists for their open mic nights. When owner Vic Martinson decided to retire, the brewery idea fit with the community atmosphere of the space.
Much of the interior remains, including the vinyl records, concert posters, murals and other music memorabilia on the walls.
The kitchen is where Megan now brews the goods. Similar in set-up to Village Idiot Brewing in Mt. Holly, the Human Village taproom is the only place (besides local beer festivals) to sample their wares.
The beers that were originally planned have since morphed into more of a musical theme, while keeping the storytelling and history angle.
“We were going to emphasize the historic nature of the brewing process from the ancient Sumerians through ancient Egypt to now, but music is still part of the human experience,” she said.
As beer geeks know, IPAs are king in the craft beer world. Human Village prefers to stock a variety of styles, but tends to have one IPA on tap – the Abbey Road IPA.
“We get so many people coming in and telling us, ‘Thank you for not having all IPAs,'” Rich shared.
“We like balance and traditional beers because that feels true to our hearts. With our small batches, you’ll get the true essence,” Megan added.
The Beers and The Bees, a Belgian Blonde, is a favorite in the taproom for its use of local wildflower honey.
For more traditional Belgian ales, Les Champes Elysee saison is crisp, funky and wildly enjoyable on a hot day. Also, on the lighter side, is the Light Shade of Pale.
If one there’s one thing that Human Village has plenty of, its clever names for beers. A sample included Folsom Prison Brews lager (suggested by the local police force), I’m Bringin’ Hefe Back hefeweizen, Apricot Fields Forever, Smoke on the Porter and A Beer With No Name strawberry cream ale.
Two years on from their 2016 opening, the Myers continue to write the Human Village story.
“It’s been an insane two years. There’s a Japanese curse – may your life be interesting. That’s how we feel,” Rich said with a smile.
“We understand that now as a good joke. You end up meeting so many interesting people while learning the value of patience. It’s just been an incredible experience. I would take my worst day here over my best day at my day job.”
Name: Human Village Brewing Co.
Location: Pitman, Gloucester County (148 S. Broadway)
Standout Beer: Beers And the Bees Belgian Blonde
Know Before You Go: Taproom is open for pints, flights, growler fills and merchandise. Parking available on the street and in lot across the street. Outside food and pets allowed. Check Facebook and Untappd for updated tap lists and events.
All Photos: © Chris Castellani / Best of NJ