For the past decade, friends Scott McLuskey and Tim Besecker have been mastering the craft and science of homebrewing. However, this thirst-quenching hobby soon became a side venture; as friends and family asked the pair to supply their signature suds for parties and events.
First, the duo brewed approximately 110 gallons comprising 16 different styles for Besecker’s 2014 wedding to Cindy DeRama; after that, the idea of pursuing the art as a new career path was fully fermented.
While searching for the ideal location to open Twin Elephant Brewing Company, the trio, who grew up in Berkeley Heights, discovered exactly what they were looking for at 13 Watchung Avenue in Chatham.
“We are very familiar with the Chatham, Summit, New Providence, Berkeley Heights area. The preference was for us to find something close to that region so we could put a focus on the community and stick to our roots in a way,” DeRama says. “We found out that the town had just pushed forward a re-zoning effort to bring more commercial and retail businesses in that area that is primarily industrial. That fact that we would be somewhat of a hybrid of manufacturing and retail made us a perfect fit.”
Homebrewers to Craft Brewers
The homebrewers are targeting mid-December opening; in fact, they will feature five to six styles at first; before working toward offering eight to 10 different brews in the future.
“Lagers will be available once we add some extra fermentation space down the road,” head brewer McLuskey explains. “We realize hops currently rule, so a few of those beers will certainly be hop forward. As beer drinkers, we enjoy many sour and wild styles and as we grow will incorporate a barrel program. Plans are to get some red wine, white wine, rum and whiskey barrels.”
In addition, as craft brewers, the duo experiment with different fruit to great success; so they look forward to serving up some fruit forward beers as well.
“With our smaller brewing system we can continue to create a variety of styles, source local ingredients when possible, and offer our customers a wide range of flavors. Our goal is to appeal to taste buds and give people varying experiences with each beer we produce,” McLuskey says.
Of the 3,750 square foot space, approximately 1,400 square feet will make up the contemporary yet rustic tasting room, which will be open, with tours optional, Fridays 4pm – 10pm, Saturdays 12pm-10pm, and Sundays 12pm-6pm.
“We want to keep the feel that we are manufacturing beer, but at the same time keep it warm and welcoming,” DeRama explains.
A Man of Many Talents
In addition to his brewing talents, McLuskey is a second-generation carpenter within his family-owned and operated construction company, McLuskey Construction, specializing in conscious renovation, preservation and remodeling of a wide-range of residential homes and properties in Northern New Jersey.
“We like the idea of incorporating items with history or a story. For example, the barn wood we reclaimed is from an old barn from the turn of the century; that was on our friend’s family’s property for over 100 years,” DeRama notes. “We want to also feature artisanal craft work in different aspects of the design; such as the light fixtures, tap handles, and furniture.”
Legally, Twin Elephant is not allowed to serve food in its brewery. Instead, it will have a BYOF (bring your own food) policy and hopes to partner with nearby establishments to complement its portfolio of hand-crafted brews.
“There are so many amazing local restaurants and catering businesses we would love to support,” says DeRama. “Some have even reached out to us in anticipation of being able to work together in one way or another and we’re very excited about the different possibilities.”
Twin Elephant’s Grand Opening
To prepare for Twin Elephant’s opening, DeRama, who holds an MBA from Rutgers University as does her husband Besecker, took a part-time gig as a server/bartender at the Stirling Hotel, a local craft beer bar and restaurant, to learn more about the industry.
“This is all dependent on when state and federal licensing is issued to us,” McLuskey notes. “Understandably there is a lot of paperwork and items for them to review; so it is difficult to get a timeline of when those will be issued.”
Fans of small batch ales and lagers mindfully brewed with quality and locally-sourced ingredients should visit Twin Elephant. You can also stay in the loop by following the brewing company on Twitter or Instagram.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Alexandr Vlassyuk / Dollar Photo Club
Additional Photos courtesy: Twin Elephant Brewery