10 Questions With...

10 Questions With…Jeff Greco of Heavy Reel Brewing Co

 10 Questions with Jeff Greco, Head Brewer, Heavy Reel Brewing Co

Winter in a resort town can be lonely and quiet as businesses close up for the season, the boardwalk goes dark and the parking meters go into hibernation. Not in Seaside Heights as Heavy Reel Brewing, after a fantastic summer season, continues to thrive. Heavy Reel is building a stellar reputation for creative and outstanding brews with some of the most thought provoking titles in South Jersey like Drowning Clown, Toonkish, and Paint it Black. Jeff just expanded to a 2.5  barrel system and hopes to be hiring an assistant brewer in the spring. 

Jeff and his wife Jessie were gracious enough to host our Ocean County Home Brewers Association meeting this month, so I got the opportunity to visit with them both. Over a delicious pint of The Wake of Isolation (Imperial IPA, 4.38 on Untapped, if you are wondering)  I got to ask Jeff the 10 questions.

What was the first beer you brewed? 

“Lagunitas IPA clone. Back then I thought it was good, but now…I don’t know how it would rate. It was all grain which I did from the start. I’ve never brewed with extract” 

What is your favorite style of beer to brew? 

“IPA, especially New England IPAs.  It’s my favorite to drink so naturally, it is my favorite to brew”

Do you look at ratings (Untapped, Beer Advocate, etc.)? Do they affect your recipes? 

“All the time! The ratings are not that far off of from what I think.   They don’t really change my mind about what I am brewing. “

How do you connect to the local area for ingredients?

“I’ve got the Atlantic Ocean a block to the east, Barnegat Bay a few blocks to the west, so  I use Barnegat Bay oysters for our oyster stout and Atlantic sea salt for our gose.” 

What is one tip for home brewers to help them make better beer?

“Keep messing up until you figure it out! Mistakes happen!” 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery? 

“Talk to actual brewers, brewery owners and work at a brewery first to see what it takes to operate on a daily basis.  Fill out your applications, federal and state, right away…don’t sit around waiting saying I’m going to open a brewery, do it. Assume it is always going to take longer than you anticipate!”   

If you could brew a beer, regardless of cost, what would you brew? 

“I do it every time I walk through that door.  That is an advantage of a small brewery, I brew what I want to brew” 

Since you have opened, what has surprised you the most? 

“The number of people who want to work in a brewery, but once they see what is involved, they don’t!”

Other than your own beer, what is your go to? 

“Bay Dreamer, our session IPA collaboration that we brewed at Icarus is one of my favorites, outside of that, I like anything funky or sour… the more sour the better!” 

Where do you see the brewery in a year…in 5 years? 

“Hopefully still in business!” he said with a laugh. “Really I’d like to have a larger staff and expand more so we can distribute our product.”   

In the near future, Jeff says to look out for some special releases and surprises for their April anniversary. 

Jeff, Bonus question: 

What kind of music do you listen to when you brew? 

Hard core!”  

Jeff turned up the volume and the voice of Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose sang us out into the foggy Jersey Shore evening.  

News

Cape May County Breweries Helping US Coast Guard Families During Shutdown!

Cape May County Breweries have once again stepped up to help their neighbors in need, this time helping Coast Guard families affected by the government shutdown.  With no money coming in, these families who have dedicated themselves to defending our coast and helping boaters in need are struggling to make ends meet.  With seemingly no end in sight for this shutdown, families are in need of anything you can contribute such as:

  • Diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Paper Towels
  • Non-Perishable Food
  • Baby Food
  • Money

Unlike other Military Branches, the US Coast Guard does not fall under the Department of Defense, but under the Department of Homeland Security and are not being paid during the shutdown.

Gusto Brewing Co and Cape May Brewing Company had fund-raisers and collections this past week, and 7 Mile Brewery, Slack Tide Brewing Company, and Bucket Brigade Brewing are helping as well.

  • Slack Tide Brewing Company is a local drop off site for anything that you want to donate
  •  7 Mile Brewery is donating $1 from every pint, flight, and takeout purchases as well as being a collection center for donations
  • Bucket Brigade is offering 50% off to all Coast Guard Personnel and their families at the brewery
  • Mudhen Brewing Co. is running an internal fundraiser amongst staff. The owners of Mudhen (the Sciarra Family) will match the total amount raised and will be donating to our local USCG TRACEN in Cape May, NJ. ,

Please consider donating to help these families!  The USCG is a big part of the South Jersey Community and have helped many during their time of need!

 

 

Breweries News

Icarus Brewing Anniversary Party Saturday 1/12 at the Brewery!

One of the fastest growing South Jersey Breweries in size and reputation is turning 2! 

Icarus Brewing 2nd Anniversary Party is this Saturday, January 12, noon – 11 PM. 

Owner/Head Brewer Jason Goldstein, will be rolling out the barrel with a new bottle barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Legend. This big boy, aged in bourbon barrels for 8 months, weighs in at hefty  13.5%. Bottles will be available when the tasting room opens, but like most of Icarus’ bottle releases, the supply will go fast!   Consider it a winter warmer before the snow hits this weekend! 

Jason and the Icarus crew have been brewing 6 days a week preparing for the party, so there will also be 3 new can releases, as well as 8 or 9 “Best of” barrel aged beers on tap.  The festivities will finish up with 2 live bands Saturday night, so it promises to be an exciting day. 

If you haven’t been to Icarus yet, a great time to take the trip to Lakewood and see what the buzz is about! 

Podcast

Podcast Episode 27: Jason Goldstein of Icarus Brewing!

Icarus Brewing of Lakewood, NJ is getting ready to celebrate their 2nd Anniversary on January 12th and Rob, Vic, and Richard got to speak with Owner/Brewer Jason Goldstein taped live in Vic’s Palatial Bar!

Festivities at the brewery include special tap releases, Barrel-Aged Bottle Releases, and 3 Different Can Releases! Don’t miss this great party at one of the Region’s most buzzed-about breweries!

Breweries News

Gusto Brewing Company Keeping it Small and Weird in North Cape May!

Gusto Brewing Company in North Cape May is now open for business!  I visited with owner Zack Pashley and Head Brewer Dan Petela last week to talk about all things Gusto and was really impressed!  These guys have a passion for beer, and the brewery is a reflection of that.  Both of the guys were full of enthusiasm and are really excited to have finally opened the doors so that everyone can try the great beer that they are making.

Zack, who co-owns the brewery along with his wife Adriana, has chased this dream for about many years and was able to open the doors to the brewery right before Christmas.  Located in North Cape May, the brewery is spacious, filled with natural light that brightens the room from both the East and South windows.  A large bar fills one side of the room and faces the actual brewing area, and the room has ample seating with plenty of tables and chairs.

After Zack spent 6 years active duty in the United States Coast Guard, he settled back in Cape May County and started working on his dream of opening a brewery while working at Cape May Brewing Company and attending College on the GI Bill.  Zack had met Head Brewer Dan Petela at school (Dan mentioned that they played ping pong at ACCC), but really cemented their relationship at Cape May Brewing Company where Dan was working as the Assistant Tap Room Manager at the same time Zack was there.  They were both avid home brewers and both of them had aspirations of owning their own brewery. “That’s the dream, right?” Dan told us.

Zack always wanted to open the brewery in his hometown.  “What we wanted to do was create a brewery that serves a community and not a region, per se, and I just thought that this corner spot with all of the natural light, close to the ferry, in our hometown, was the only spot to do it and we had to make it happen.”

After settling on the location, Zack began to build the brewery.  One of the pieces of equipment he already had was a 1 BBL Brewhouse that he bought a while back.  “I actually bought it about 6 years ago on Kickstarter while I was in the Coast Guard when I knew I wanted to start a brewery” said Zack.  To finish the system, 7 2BBL fermenters and 2-2.5 BBL Brite Tanks that came from Strong Rope Brewery in Brooklyn were added.  “We double batch everything” Dan told us.  Zack and Dan also told us that they would love to upgrade the brewhouse to a larger system to allow them to brew the same amount of beer in half of the time, which would definitely give them more time to spend at home with their families.

Gusto’s tagline is “Keep It Small + Keep it Weird”.  I asked the guys to elaborate and Zack said “It is something that we want to live by.  Some of my favorite breweries I have ever been to are little holes in the wall, some only slightly larger than us”.  Dan added “and we are going to have some pretty weird beers coming up too!”

Gusto plans on having a constantly changing tap-list, rotating their selection and occasionally bringing some of the popular ones back.  I was suitably impressed with their beer list on the day I visited, 6 unique beers with some very interesting ingredients were available including a Zero IBU IPA, an ESB, a Saison, an Oatmeal Stout, a tasty Pale Ale, and an IPA.  It was great to see the varied styles and the originality that encompassed this well thought out list.

A few things that you need to know about Gusto:

  • Gusto will fill any 32 0z Growler for you to take off premise.  They offer growlers for sale, but if you bring your own make sure you have a lid just in case the ones they have do not fit.
  • They plan on being open from Thursday-Sunday in small 4-6 hour shifts. Be sure to check out their website at www.gustobrewco.com or their Facebook Page HERE while planning your visit
  • Gusto has a great selection of merchandise for sale in the taproom!
  • Gusto is kid friendly, but at this time you cannot bring your dog to the brewery

Congrats to Zack, Adriana, Dan, and everyone on the Gusto team on their opening!  It is great to see another brewery opening up here in South Jersey and yet another great group of people that are behind it.

 

3860 Bayshore Road, North Cape May, NJ 08204

Facebook:  @gustobrewco

Instagram:  gustobrewco