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Brew Jersey: Lunacy Brewing Co.

New Jersey’s craft beer boom has brought with it plenty of fun events, festivals and nights out on the town. From 5Ks and yoga to tastings and fundraisers, there’s an activity for beer lovers of all shapes and sizes. But there’s one activity that tops the list as our favorite of them all, and it’s a little thing called trivia night.

So, this week we’re kicking Brew Jersey off with a round of trivia on our featured brewery, Lunacy Brewing Co. in Haddon Heights. Here we go!

Where was Lunacy originally located? Answer: Magnolia.

Which website started Lunacy’s journey into brewery ownership? Answer: Groupon.

How did they get their name? Answer: One of the owners’ wives called them “lunatics” for starting their own business.

Co-owner Jay Macrina took some time out from Lunacy’s own weekly trivia night to share even more factoids with Best of NJ.

Lunacy’s Beer Introduction

The Camden native first discovered different types of beer before he was even legally able to drink in the US by traveling to Europe, where the legal drinking age is 18 in most countries.

“Our senior trip in high school (Camden Catholic) was to Italy, Austria and Switzerland. It was the first time I ever had Guinness,” he recalled. “Even though it was warm, it tasted so different.”

lunatic brewing

Macrina and his high school friend Ed Gledhill got into home-brewing in the mid-90s with a simple IPA kit.

“It turned out pretty good, but probably not up to the high standards that we brew now,” Macrina said.

About fifteen years ago, Macrina and Gledhill went in on a homebrewing Groupon deal with brothers Mike and Rick Lees. This partnership eventually led to the founding of Lunacy Brewing Co.

Lunacy Gets its Start

“At first, we just liked the end result that you can drink together while watching an Eagles game. Then, we just got really good at it so we could make our own recipes,” Macrina said.

The four of them geeked out over which hops to use in making IPAs. The self-described “hop heads” loved using different variations and techniques to extract that unique hop bite and aroma.

“With stouts and porters, you know how it’s going to taste. With IPAs, there’s so many different taste profiles. They can be fruity, malty, tropical, dry, sweet, very bitter, not so bitter,” he explained. “It’s a great style of beer to play with.”

This process spawned their signature award-winning beer, C3PA. The Star Wars fans thought it would be a good way to honor the ever-present character from the franchise with a trio of hops (Citra, Cascade and Columbus).

Every hop head knows that you need to have a New England-style IPA on the tap lists, so Brewtus Juice is theirs. It’s made with Mosaic, Cascade and Citra hops for a dense bite and slightly weighty 8% ABV.

It wasn’t until the idea of starting a brewery formed that the group branched out into other styles like Belgian blondes, stouts, porters and sours.

lunacy brewing

The Beer

Even though the warmer weather is winding down, you can enjoy the last few weeks of summer sun with a few light Goses. They’ve got a fruity and refreshing pineapple-infused Gose and a more traditional variety, which uses German ingredients with sea salt and coriander for a more tart profile.

If you can’t wait for football weather and autumn leaves, Lunacy’s dark and rich coffee porter or chocolate and cherry-infused stout will get you ready for dark beer season.

For those who think about Christmas year-round, their Belgian strong dark beer, entitled Mrs. Claus Draus, might put you on the naughty list with a 10% ABV.

In the fall, look for some fun Oktoberfest styles and the return of the Papal Pumpkin, which came about when the Pope visited Philadelphia in 2015.

All of these beers were born of a confidence that the Lunacy team gained from visiting other craft beer festivals. They knew that they could brew at that level, and decided to give it a real shot.

A Place to Call Home

“It was Mike Lees’ wife who yelled at us in the garage and called us lunatics for thinking of a brewery,” said Macrina. “We all thought, ‘Well, we have a name now.’ ”

Macrina travelled to San Diego often for work and admired how most of the breweries were located in warehouse areas along what is called the Hops Highway. He wanted that look and feel for Lunacy.

For Lunacy’s original location in Magnolia, which opened in December 2014, the team found a small place that could house their one-barrel system. They realized after running out of beer every weekend that they would need something larger.

lunacy brewing

With Lunacy 2.0 in Haddon Heights, they’ve upgraded to a 15-barrel system, which will allow them to pump out more IPAs.

It was also important to the four founders that they all be present at Lunacy to put a face to the beer.

The Lunacy Tradition

“We wanted to make sure people we knew from the Magnolia location would also come to Haddon Heights because they are extended family to us,” he said. “It’s also good for new customers to talk to somebody who had a hand in making the beer.”

For Macrina, an added bonus of being a brewery owner is seeing random people wearing Lunacy t-shirts out in public.

“I was wearing the t-shirt while I was out in Wildwood and the couple next to us started talking about how much they loved the beer, and they didn’t know that I was one of the owners. That’s pretty amazing,” he said.

Name: Lunacy Brewing Co.
Location: Haddon Heights, Camden County (1500 W Kings Hwy.)
Standout Beer: C3PA IPA
Know Before You Go: Taproom is open for pints, flights, growler fills and merchandise. Parking lot located next to brewery. Outside food allowed. No pets inside, but allowed outside the building. 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