Deadlifts and Drafts, Push-ups and Pints, or Biking and Beers – no matter how you shape up, we can agree that grabbing a cold one is an excellent way to recover from a grueling workout. That’s how we found Kelly Green Brewing co-owner and co-founder Justin Fleming, replacing some fluids and carbs with a pint after getting in some reps.
“Don’t mind me. It’s going to be brutal today,” Fleming said on a 100+ degree Saturday morning in the Kelly Green tap room.
The Pitman craft brewery was the first to open in Gloucester County, which now boasts eight breweries with more to come. What sets Kelly Green apart, besides it’s love of all things Irish and Philadelphia Eagles, is producing an up-and-coming style of beer, the jelly beer.
Kelly Green’s Beginnings
Fleming has always been into physical activity and working with his hands. When an injury set him back and he couldn’t do either, Kelly Green came to be.
The Pitman-native, who grew up two blocks away from the tap room, swung a hammer on construction sites and worked at the nearby Salem Nuclear Power Plant before becoming a full-time brewery owner.
His best friend and Kelly Green co-founder/owner Dave Domanski took up homebrewing as an excuse for them to hang out.
“We started on our stove top and eventually we went to a $200 system brewing out of our driveway,” Fleming recalled. “He liked creating the recipes while I like the labor involved. We keep it that way now. I clean, keg, brew and repeat every week.”
After severely injuring his shoulder running a Tough Mudder-type race, he was unable to work for almost a year.
“I was going nuts being at home by myself, so I had time to brew five days a week,” he said. “When I was able to get back to work, I dreaded going back since I was working the overnight shift, 6:00 pm to 6:00 am. That’s when I thought I should do this full-time.”
Gloucester County’s First Brewery Opens
Fleming and Domanski were determined to be the first brewery in Pitman and all of Gloucester.
After a year of negotiating with the township and finding a decent location, they settled on a small storefront on Broadway that had been vacant for five years.
The Kelly Green name honors Fleming’s Irish heritage.
“I’m super Irish,” he said with a laugh.
While the moniker side steps any potential NFL copyright infringement, it acknowledges his love for the Super Bowl champs. His late dad’s beloved Reggie White No. 99 jersey hangs in the tap room.
When it came time to create a beer lineup, the two wanted to satisfy their IPA cravings, but acknowledged that craft beer people seek variety.
“We asked people around us about what we should brew and we figured that we’ll try to have to different styles and flavors and see what people will respond to,” he explained.
The Beer Lineup
Head Movies is their go-to IPA that clocks in at 6.8% ABV. Other IPAs that go in and out of rotation include a cloudy New England IPA called Riverwards, a triple IPA called This, That and the Other Thing and a sly jab at the rival New York Giants, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants IPA.
While the brewery doesn’t have a flagship per se, their Teets Milk Stout series is something that they always have on tap in some form. A milk stout is a sweeter version of your traditional dry Irish stout because of the addition of lactose (thus the cow reference).
Kelly Green have separately infused batches with peanut butter, peppermint and orange for an added layer of flavor.
The Metric System Extra Special Bitter is a pub style beer that even the Irish and British would drink during the hot and steamy months.
For those who want to get down and dirty, Jean-Quad Van Damn! Is 10.5% ABV Belgian quad that will make you feel like the “Muscles from Brussels.”
What gets Fleming excited are their series of jelly beers, entitled Slick Licks. They tend to sell out within a couple of hours once they are canned and available for purchase.
Not to be confused with the beer jelly that’s used to spread on bread, in its basic form, it’s a lactose-infused sour beer made with a whole lot of fruit.
“We love playing around, but we like seeing a tap list that has colors from light to dark,” Fleming said.
In the next few months, look for a wheat beer called, appropriately enough, Reggie Wheat.
Looking to the Future
When Kelly Green opened in 2016, demand was intense with lines around the block on opening day.
“We had to give people 45 minutes to try their beer, then we shuffled them out,” he remembered.
The demand for all things Kelly Green led to a lack of space to keep up with people’s thirst. As a result, the operation will most likely move to a larger location sometime soon.
“It can be a nightmare in here. When it’s three people brewing, working and serving, we’re tripping over each other. Plus, we’re maxing out our three-barrel system,” he said.
“Towns are desperate for a brewery so we’re entertaining our options. It will be exciting to expand to a new space and get larger equipment. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
Having been open for two-and-a-half years, Fleming points to his grey hairs when asked if the time has flown by.
“I can BS, talk beer and Eagles all day, it beats working 12-hour nights five days a week. I like to can in the morning while blasting heavy metal with the door open and I don’t have to answer to anybody. As long as the local ABC and Feds are off my ass, I’m as happy as can be,” Fleming joked.
Name: Kelly Green Brewing Co.
Location: Pitman, Gloucester County (154 S. Broadway)
Standout Beer: The Teets Milk Stout
Know Before You Go: Taproom is open for pints, flights, bottles and cans to-go, 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.
Don’t forget to check out the entire Brew Jersey series here.
All Photos: © Chris Castellani / Best of NJ