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Vic Sbailo

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.  

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! 

Events Home Brewing

South Jersey Home Brewing Clubs Face Off In A Breakfast Cereal Inspired Competition!

TRI COUNTY BREWING CEREAL COMPETITION CHAMPION 

Cereal…it’s not just for breakfast anymore! 

Members of the Brew Jersey, Ocean County Home Brewers Association and Monmouth County Home Brewers Association members set out to prove just that with their first joint competition. 

Final judging was recently held at Icarus Brewing and congratulations to Dorien Saunders of Brew Jersey who took home the top prize!   Dorien brewed a Cream Ale with the special ingredient being Pumpkin Spice Life cereal.  Dorien will not only have his beer brewed at Icarus, but the brewery will also donate $300 to the charity of his choice.  

Vince Feminella, MCHBA and I have collaborated on a couple of competitions in the past, so when we got together with Eric Schmel from Brew Jersey we discussed several options for a friendly competition between the 3 clubs.  Urged on by our EPIC 2 part South Jersey Beer Scene (episode 13 and 14) podcast we put out a message to our club members for suggestions. SMaSH (single mash, single hop), or everyone using the same grain bill, were a few of them, but then the breakfast cereal suggestion came from one of our members, (I won’t say who, but I KNOW who it is and I have the proof, hahah!) and it clicked! 

We committed to our clubs that we would use BJCP guidelines for the judging and the only stipulation would be that the brewer would have to declare a style and 10% of the grain bill would have to be commercial cereal.  Matching the style to the cereal was key, as the effect and taste of the cereal in the beer was 20% of the total judges score.

“The flavor of the cereal in the beer, really came through on the winning brew.” said Icarus owner and co-founder Jason Goldstein. “

The competition didn’t lack for creativity or style, as we had stouts, porters, brown ales, IPAs, Wheat beers, Hefeweizen all in the mix.  Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Shredded Wheat, were some of the cereals, as much variety as there are on the supermarket shelves. 

“I hadn’t been in the cereal game since middle school, so I didn’t even know that these different types of cereals were even made. “said our champ, Dorien.  “I walked down the cereal aisle and nothing jumped out at me. I was originally thinking some sort of chocolate cereal, but as I continued shopping I saw the Pumpkin Spice Life and knew I had to make the switch.” 

Dorien’s beer had a 38.75 average score amongst our judges who included, Jason, Matt and Mike from Bradley Brew Project and Mike from NJCB.  

Tony Scardaville, MCHBA, came in second with a score of 35.25 for his Brown Ale made with Honey Bunches of Oats and Chris Niedzwiecki, OCHBA, was just a shade behind at 35.00 with an American Porter brewed with Cocoa Krispies. 

Vince, Eric and I had a great time planning and organizing the event, so we look forward to doing more competitions, collaborations and work in the future.  Thanks to the judges and all the rest of the brewers who participated we hope you had a good time! 

Be on the lookout for Dorien’s beer in the tap room at Icarus.  We will make sure to keep you posted on the progress and release date. 

Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for our next story, Weird Beers.  Cheers, all! 

 

10 Questions With...

10 Questions With…Nick and Bert of Last Wave Brewing!

Days are getting shorter and nights are getting colder, but you can still hold on to that elusive endless summer at Last Wave Brewing Company, Point Pleasant Beach’s favorite craft brewery. Last Wave just finished up their second successful summer season and co-owners, Nick Jiorle, Bert Roling and wife Dani Roling continue to grow the business to keep up with the demand.    

“We went from 5 taps to 25 in a year.”, said brewer Nick Jiorle.  “We also will be getting a new mash tun in a couple of weeks that will enable us to double batch more efficiently and produce 3 – 4 more barrels per brew. 

I was able to catch up with Nick and his longtime brew partner Bert to ask our 10 Questions.

First Beer you brewed? How was it?

The first beer we made as home brewers was Red Sky, a red ale which is still on our tap list and is the original recipe.  So obviously it was pretty good!

Favorite style to brew and why? 

That’s hard to decide, we don’t like to put one beer over another.  I would say Spot Check Golden Ale. It is more challenging because there is nowhere to hide.  You can’t hide flaws so you really have to pay attention to the process. 

Do you look at rating on Untapped, Beer Advocate, Rate Beer and if you do how does it influence your recipes? 

We don’t really pay attention to it as far as influencing our recipes, but we do use it as a resource to see what some people think about them. We look for trends and don’t take it personal if someone says a beer is awful.   

How do you stay connected with the local area in relation to sourcing ingredients?

We’ve started using Port Coffee Roasters in Point Pleasant.  Nick doesn’t drink coffee but likes using it in their recipes.  Port Coffee Roasters website states that craft coffee roasting is a priority, so easy to see what the connection is.

One tip you would give to home brewers to make better beer? 

Temperature control! Particularly your fermentation temperature that is so important to the process. And write everything down! 

One piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to open a brewery. 

Don’t have any other social obligations! Work on consistency. Perfect your craft, start with 3 or 4 beers and make them well.  Also, remember when you own a brewery, 25% is making beer….75% is everything else that goes along with being a business owner.

If there were a beer that you could brew, with no regard to cost, production or sales, what would it be? 

Definitely an Oktoberfest. We don’t have lagering capabilities right now, so that’s something we would like to do.  We also brewed a wee heavy called Winter Warmer, which was actually our highest rated beer on Untapped.  It would be great to produce it more often, but it is very expensive to brew, as it includes fresh maple syrup and pecans.  

From opening day forward, what surprised you the most? 

Every day brings new surprises!  Really, the biggest surprise has been how welcoming the other business owners and everyone else in town has been. We were welcomed with open arms from day one and that hasn’t changed! 

Other than your own brew, what’s your  go to drink after a long day at the brewery? 

After a long day at the brewery?  Nice cold water…you mean beer?  Whatever beer someone wants to bring us! 

Where do you see the brewery in one year…five years? 

We want to still be in Point Pleasant Beach, we love this town! We would also like to    continue to expand our reach and cover new markets. 

Bonus Question:  What music do your listen to when you are brewing? 

Wow, that’s tough. Wide range we could be listening to Jamiroquai one day, Modest Mouse, or Soundgarden.  

      

Eclectic music, eclectic beers…the Jersey Shore is beautiful in fall and winter so check out Last Wave!

Breweries Events

Backward Flag Brewing Celebrating Their 3rd Anniversary 9/15/18!

BACKWARD FLAG CELEBRATING THEIR 3RD ANNIVERSARY THIS WEEKEND! 

Backward Flag Brewing Company in Forked River celebrates their 3rd anniversary this week with good beer, food, music and special guests. 

The Celtic Knot, a favorite at local breweries, will be on hand with their delicious fish and chips and will be joined by ElemeN7ts by NitroGirl who will be creating frozen confections and ice cream with different flavors of BFBC beer. The soundtrack for the day will be provided by Ty Mares Music.     

 However, as we have seen, the foundation and mission of Backward Flag has always gone deeper than just the brew, so there will be no new releases for the festivities. 

“We want this anniversary to be less about the beer and more about the people”, said owner Torie Fisher.   The people are the organizations, non-profits and charities who collaborated with Backward Flag over the past year. Each month BFBC employees choose a charity and a portion of the proceeds go to the organization. The anniversary party is an opportunity to honor, recognize and present the proceeds to the organizations. 

Some of the beneficiaries are the Forked River Volunteer Fire Department and the NJ State Elks Army of Hope, which was created to assist families who have a member called to active duty with the National Guard or military reserves. The Captain Buscio Foundation, named for Captain Dominick Buscio of the Jersey City Fire Department,  and  created by his widow after he died of a heart attack at the too young age of 39.  It provides complimentary pulmonary and cardio examinations through Deborah to fire fighters and first responders is another beneficiary.    

The DV Farm, operated by vets and created to help combat veteran homelessness will also be recognized at the event.  DV Farm is a service of Dysfunctional Veterans one of the largest online vet communities. 

Arms 2 Artisans, a non-profit created by Backward Flag earlier this year will be represented by one of the first graduates, Lizz Devenny, who will  be speaking about her experiences. 

As part of the festivities this week BF also did a collaboration brew with Backpacks for Life, who provide backpacks filled with toiletries and other every day essentials to vets and families who cannot provide these for themselves.  The brown ale will be called Rugged Road, so be on the lookout for it at the brewery and in cans. 

We invite you to check out the links listed below to find out more about these great organizations. The party is this Saturday, 9/15, 12-9 PM and it promises to be a great day, so don’t miss it! 

For more information on the charities that Backward Flag supports, click the links below!

Backpacks For Life

The DV Farm

Dysfunctional Veterans

Arms 2 Artisans

The Captain Buscio Foundation