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Vic Sbailo

Breweries

Battle River Brewing Under Construction in Toms River!

Some big news coming out of Ocean County’s largest town, as Battle River Brewing (formerly known as Hops on Main) received delivery of  their brewing equipment in. The 7 barrel brewery will be the 3rd in Toms River, joining Rinn Duin and Artisan’s Restaurant and Brew Pub.  Battle River will be located in the downtown area and the location and configuration of the 100+ year old building required some creative problem solving skills for the delivery.

 

100 year old buildings don’t  have industrial size garage doors or forklift ready loading docks, so they actually had to remove the plate glass front of the former restaurant and bring everything in from the busy Main St. business area.   Once all the equipment was inside the challenge was to move much of the equipment to the lower level where the main brew house will be located. (You can see Head Brewer, Ian Barlet manning the crane in one of the pictures attached.

Still a lot of work to be done, but co-owner, Ray Carney, is hoping for a May-June opening.. Information about the brewery on social media can still be found under Hops on Main.

Stay tuned for further updates on their progress!

Editor’s Note:  We had Owner Gary  Morrison and Head Brewer Ian Barlet on our latest podcast taped live at Breaker’s Kitchen and Tap in Waretown!  Listen to it here!

10 Questions With...

10 Questions With…Kris Lewis of Oyster Creek Brewing!

One of our favorite things to do at South Jersey Beer Scene is to revisit a new brewery a few months down the road, talk about their experiences and generally see how they are doing. Oyster Creek Brewing opened to much anticipation in May of 2018 and their reputation has continued to grow! I got to sit down with founder/head brewer/salesman (a man with many hats!) , Kris Lewis and ask the iconic 10 questions!

What was the first beer you brewed and how was it?

First beer as a home brewer was an English Stout. It was an extract from a home brew kit I got as a gift. How was it? At the time I probably thought it was good, but I can imagine what I would think about it now. At the brewery the first one was the Simcoe IPA, which is my favorite hop. It’s still on our tap list.

What is your favorite style to brew?

My favorite is our coffee stout. It is the most complex recipe and I use local coffee from How You Brewin’ on Long Beach Island.

Do you look at beer ratings?

Yes, mostly Untapped. I look at general ratings, not necessarily the opinions expressed on there.
Some of the criticisms aren’t necessarily constructive, but just indicative of a beer style someone does or doesn’t like.

How do you connect to the local area for your ingredients?

I mentioned we source the coffee for our coffee stout from How You Brewin’ coffee shop on LBI .We also source our produce from a local farm, as well as our cranberries and beach plums.

What is one tip you would give to someone to help them brew better beer?

Clean and sanitize, clean and sanitize then do it again! (Kris was actually cleaning when I visited him this evening). It’s not romantic, but the MOST important part of the whole process.

What advice would you give someone that wants to open a brewery?

Build your business plan, get your finances in order….then double the amount you anticipated!

If you could brew any beer without regards to cost what would you make?

A big, 16-17% barley wine! Unlimited grain, a 9 hour boil, that would be fun!

From opening day forward, what has surprised you the most?

The grand opening rush was great and it actually continued through the summer! It slowed a little in the fall, right after school started but we picked back up again and are looking forward to a great summer!

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

Anything from Alchemist is great, I have Heady Topper and Focal Banger in my fridge now. (Like many Jersey people, Kris has got a guy!) I also love Icarus beers, always great!

Where do you see the brewery in 5 years?

I would like to increase our distribution so that we are throughout New Jersey. My short term goal is to add at least 5 new clients by the end of 2019.

BONUS QUESTION

What’s on the sound system when you are brewing?

Depends on the day, but mostly 80’s rock. Foo Fighters, Van Halen, Cake.

Kris, thank you for taking the time out of your busy evening to give us a few minutes. Here’s to Oyster Creek’s continued growth and success!

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!