Browsing Category

10 Questions With…

10 Questions With... Beer Biz Profiles Breweries

10 Questions With…Tadhg Campbell of Slack Tide Brewing Company

In this edition of 10 Questions With… I headed to Clermont, N.J. to talk to head brewer Tadhg Campbell of one of my favorites, Slack Tide Brewing Company.  Tadhg and his brother Jason opened up Slack Tide in December of 2015 with the intention of making high-quality beer from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. The Campbell brothers started brewing in their garages about 7 years ago. While the first couple batches were made from extract kits, they quickly moved to all grain where you have more control over the final product. The first year or so was rough, but with a great response from family, and friends they started thinking that they may want to make this more than just a hobby. So they brewed up 6 batches (most are still brewed today) bottled them up and gave them out to 48 people with an anonymous rating sheet in self-addressed envelopes. The response was extremely favorable. One of the 48 was actually a certified beer judge who got a couple of his judging buddies to taste the samples as well, and filled out a more detailed score sheet. The response was also very good, so they asked if he thought they should open a brewery which the beer judge replied, “I would”. So with Tadhg as head brewer, and Jason bringing his brewing knowledge and project management background in which he is very meticulous with the paperwork, things started to come together. Now you add Jason’s wife, Bobbie, with her marketing background, and Tadhg’s wife, Natacha, with her clothing background you have a great recipe for a successful business to go along with the great beer recipes. I highly recommend a trip to Slack Tide to get “unstressed”.

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

It was an extract kit called Dead Ringer IPA. It turned out as well as could be expected for the first time. It was drinkable, but not delicious by any means. Not sure if we did the recipe justice, but we drank it, and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

What is your favorite style to brew, and why?

That’s a tough one. We try to brew many styles here. I know some brewers may be hesitant to say it, but I’m going to have to say an IPA. It’s the most popular and sought-after style, and there are so many variations of it. The New England style is really popular and is a little more difficult to hit the target then the West Coast IPA.

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

It would be silly not to, but I wouldn’t say we look at them too much. The feedback we like, and enjoy, and take into account the most is the face to face contact-Whether it’s in the Taproom, or at a festival, or just out in public. We also trust the other local brewer’s opinions and do the same for them. It definitely does not affect our recipes.

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

It’s a big part of what we do here. Since we do live in the Garden State it’s nice to see farmers like Bad Cat Farms, and Rabbit Hill Farms starting to grow hops and malts. We brew with fruit from Hammonton, and sweet potatoes from Vineland, and Aronia berries that are harvested right down the street. What we do is local, and you always have to pay it forward local with the farmers whether it’s honey, fruit, vegetables, or even oysters.

What is the one tip you would give home brewers to make better beer?

When Jason and I started brewing in the garage we felt our beer quality took a huge step when we got a temperature controlled fermentation box. Dialing in the temperature made our beer more consistent, and a true reflection of what you got.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to open a brewery?

Do your homework! Be prepared to wait for a lot of the permits. The number one piece of advice is to calculate how much time you’ll need to spend at the brewery, and then double or triple that. Brewing is 90% cleaning and sterilizing.

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

I knew this question was coming, and I was debating on a few. I would have to say a big barrel aged Stout or Barleywine. The amount of time would be the expense, not so much the ingredients.

Looking back to opening day forward, what was the one thing that happened that surprised you the most?

I would have to say the way the community embraced us. Not just the customers who are some of the best, but the other local breweries as well. We all work hard, we all drink beer, and we all have fun. It’s just a great fraternity of people, and we all want each other to succeed.

Other than your beer, what is your go-to after a long day at the brewery?

Most of the time it would be a cold glass of water, but if not that it would definitely be something from a local brewery.

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

We are currently installing a 10 BBL system which is almost complete. It’s going to take a lot of outside work in sales, but we want to have it maxed out. Maybe tweak the Taproom hours. In 5 years we want to be canning a lot so we can get into the package good stores. Hopefully another expansion, and continue to grow organically.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite beer, other than yours?

The most memorable beer would be Red Dog. (laugh) When I played football in college the 1st team was the blue team, the 2nd team was the white team, and the 3rd team was the red team. Since I was a freshman I was on the red team, and we called ourselves The Red Dogs and drank a lot of Red Dog. Probably because it was like $5 a case. This is a hard question because I like different beers in different seasons. The answer would be Firestone Walker Brewing’s Wookey Jack, which is not in production anymore. It was actually the inspiration for our Knockdown Black IPA which took home the bronze medal at the Best Of Craft Beer Awards in Bend, Oregon.

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With…Torie Fisher, Owner, Backward Flag Brewing Company of Forked River

Staff Sergeant Torie Fisher was nearing the end of her military career and was looking to do something different. After 2 tours of duty in Iraq, deployed in 2004 and 2008, she proudly served her country but knew it was time for a change.  So Torie, being a home brewer, decided to combine her love of the craft with the love of her veteran community and the idea of Backward Flag was born. “I knew from the beginning that our brand would be geared towards veterans and law enforcement,” Torie said as we spoke at the brew house over a glass of Mission Continues, a limited edition Black Ale made with saffron.

Brewery Manger Jeff , Torie, and Head Brewer Melinda of Backward Flag Brewing Company

The ale is really a microcosm of the mission statement and vision for Backward Flag. The brew is named for Mission Continues, an organization that assists returning veterans in adjusting to life at home. The saffron is from Afghanistan and is supplied by a company called Rumi Spice, which was founded and is run by veterans of Afghanistan who fell in love with the country and wanted to give back. Other ingredients are Counterstrike Coffee and Micacao chocolate tea made from the shells of the cacao bean, again both veteran owned companies. And 50% of the profits from Mission Continues goes to non-profit veteran organizations.

Torie’s original plan was to open a brew pub, however, with no restaurant experience, she thought that wasn’t realistic, so she decided a brewery was a better option. She still worked at the Lakehurst Joint Base and wanted to remain nearby so she looked at various locations throughout Ocean County.
While bringing her daughter to a day care location in Lacey, she happened upon the perfect property right across the street and that Challenger Way location became Backward Flag Brewing Company.
Torie has held true to her initial commitment and Backward Flag is the site of many benefits and fundraisers to support our military and law enforcement community. Her nonprofit agency, Arms2artisans, will be up and running in January 2018.

Here are our 10 questions for Torie:

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

Stone Brewery Smoked Porter. It was awful… All smoke, no porter!

What is your favorite style to brew and why?

Stouts…my favorite beer to drink and as a brewer there is a lot of flexibility.

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

No….and Yes…We brew what we like to drink and if it sells that means the customer likes it. We do look at Untapped, etc for trends and quality control, is our beer under carbonated, too sweet, etc.

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

We try to work with a lot of businesses owned and operated by our veteran and law enforcement partners, which goes along with our mission statement. The Mission Continues black ale is an example of that. We also do work with The Fir Farm in Colts Neck for some of our hops and Rabbit Hill Farms in Shiloh is a maltster we could possibly be working with in the future.

What is one tip you would give home brewers to make better beer?

Source your information from books and other resource sites. You’ll learn so much more than trying to do it on your own.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to open a brewery?

Decide whether you want to work in a brewery or own a brewery. If you are an owner your brewing days are numbered. An owner has 20 different people that need your attention and help. I still write most of the recipes, but without my head brewer, Melinda Gulsever (National Guard and Black Hawk engine mechanic), we wouldn’t be able to produce what we do.

If there was a beer you could brew without regards to cost, production or sales, what would it be and why?

You’re drinking it now. Mission Continues is what I look for in a brew. It’s complex, delicious, most of the ingredients are from veteran owned companies and 50% of the profits go to veteran owned organizations.

Looking back from opening day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you most?

How quickly things can change! I started with 2 partners who were involved in the operation, now I have 2 new partners who mostly provide financial resources for the company. I am also surprised at how quickly we’ve grown.

Other than your beer, what is your “go to” after a long day at the brewery?

Left Hand Milk Stout on nitro. Creamy and delicious!

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

We are excited that our new brew system will be here in October which will more than double our production to 10 barrels. In one year we hope to be able to meet the demand that comes with that expansion. We don’t really want to grow much more than that, so our future focus will be on social issues affecting our veterans and helping them as they transition to civilian life.

Visit Backward Flag Brewing Company on the web at www.backwardflagbrewing.com

Facebook @backwardflagbrewing

Instagram backwardflagbrewing

Twitter @BackwardFlag

 

Editor’s Note-Backward Flag Brewing Company will be celebrating their 2nd Anniversary on Saturday, September 16th at the brewery.  There will be special casks on tap as well as music, and a food vendor outside the licensed premises.  Also, Backward Flag will be presenting certificates and checks to the charity organizations they raised money for.  Congrats to everyone at Backward Flag on this milestone!

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With Shawn Grigus and Gayle D’abate Of Tomfoolery Brewing

In this edition of “10 Questions With…”  I traveled to Hammonton to talk with Shawn Grigus and Gayle D’Abate of Tomfoolery Brewing Company. The 7BBL brewery is located in the old bottling plant of Eastern Brewing Company of Old Bohemian fame, which is conveniently located near downtown Hammonton. As you walk in the door, you immediately know that this historic building was meant for one thing, beer! They have a canning machine and a small bottling machine which really adds to their versatility.

With backgrounds in biochemistry and electrical engineering, Shawn and Gayle make a formidable team that brews some great beer. As founders of the local homebrew club, Brew Jersey. and owners of Tap It Homebrew supply store, they definitely have what it takes to be a force in this emerging market. While talking with them I quickly realized why they are so well liked and respected in the brewing community. As with all the breweries in our area, I wish them the best of luck going forward. I sampled most of what they had on tap and found them all to be great and true to their styles. Today they will be moving into their new bigger and temperature controlled tasting room.  The Grand Opening will include a special limited draft release of Blood Orange Irish stout.

 

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

Shawn brewed an Oak Butt Brown ale which was a recipe out of John Palmer’s “How to Brew” book. It was drinkable, but it wasn’t very good. It was muddled with a lot of different flavors, but nothing popped. It just wasn’t a balanced beer. Gayle’s first beer was Shawn’s pale ale recipe, and it was obviously very good because of better equipment, and it was a proven recipe. Shawn added that his guidance didn’t hurt either

What is your favorite style to brew and why?

We actually have 2 answers for this question. First would be our pilsner. It’s a simple beer and a simple recipe, but not a simple beer to brew. The 2nd would be an I.P.A. We hate to even use that answer, but the reason is because of the aromas during the brewing process. The customers enjoy the smell as well, but the cleanup part is not easy due to the amount of hops.3.

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

We do monitor the ratings to get a general idea of what people want, and are thinking. You do need to dig a little deeper on some of the reviews to see how they rate other beers of a similar style. As far as influencing our recipes, that would be no.

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

Our blueberry beer doesn’t come out until the middle of July because we wait until the middle of June to get fresh blueberries. When it’s gone it’s gone until next year, because we will not use syrup or extract. We are also using a lot of grains from Rabbit Hill Farms. It seems more and more brewers are using grains from this farm in Shiloh, NJ which is awesome to see.

What is the one tip you would give home brewers to make better beer?

Don’t rush it to the glass. Take the time to let it ferment out, and age appropriately. Your beer will definitely suffer if it’s rushed out. You really want the flavor to pop in whatever style you are brewing. Make sure to treat the water to really push your home brew over the top.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to open a brewery?

The one thing we would tell someone to do is to go work in a commercial brewery, and get familiar and talk to the owner to find out what he had to do to get there. You must be committed to your passion. Be prepared to work hard and long for your dream.

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

This is a hard question since we pretty much brew what we want to brew. We will always try to brew something once to see how it turns out. We do 5-gallon experimental batches every Thursday where we can see what the consumer’s response is. If we had to pick one it would be a Brown Ale.

Looking back to opening day forward, what was the one thing that happened that surprised you the most?

In unison, they both said, “The amount of work” which goes back to question 6. There is so much more to it than just brewing beer. Also, the great response from the public, and the comradery between the fellow breweries.

Other than your beer, what is your go to after a long day at the brewery?

A tall glass of ice water (laugh). A refreshing quality beer from another independent craft brewer. Victory Hop Devil or Yards Brawler are 2 beers that come to mind.

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

Next year you will see a huge increase in production. We have the infrastructure to expand and really start to push out beer. In 5 years we want everybody in this region to know our name and our beers.

Thanks to Shawn and Gayle and congrats on the new tasting room!

Follow Tomfoolery Brewing Company On Social Media!

Facebook: @tomfoolerybrewing

Twitter:  @tomfoolerybrew

Instagram: tomfoolerybrew

Find Tomfoolery Brewing Company on the Web:  www.tomfoolerybrewing.com

 

10 Questions With... Breweries Road Trip

Road Trip! 10 Questions With…Brett Cracco of St. John Brewers in The US Virgin Islands

Welcome to our “Road Trip” edition of “10 Questions With…”.  We go a little south of South Jersey for this one….well, actually WAY south, about 1,500 miles as we visit the beautiful island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands and the Tap Room at St. John Brewers.

St John Brewers tale starts in 2001, when 2 University of Vermont grads, Kevin Chipman and Chirag (Cheech) Vyas decided to leave the corporate world and move to the paradise that is St. John. Kevin and Cheech worked as waiters, bartenders and other jobs in the tourism industry to sustain them while they worked on their craft. After much experimentation, they arrived at what would be their flagship brew, a pale ale with island grown mango, a true local beer.

Serving as their own distributors, the beer exploded on the scene and the demand soon outpaced the production ability of the small brewery, so they reached an agreement with Shipyard Brewing in Portland, Maine to be their bottling and distributing partner. They also established what is now an island staple, the Tap Room. While the original Tap Room burned down in a fire in 2015, the partners soon rebuilt and a new 2 level Tap Room is expected to be ready soon, enabling the small 2 barrel brewery to more than double in size.

St. John Brewers beers are now available throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as in 4 states…including New Jersey!   Although the bottling and distributing are done in Maine, all the recipes are concocted, tested and approved on the island. All draft production is also done on the island.

Kevin and Cheech were not available when I visited, but I got the opportunity to meet with Brett Cracco, Sales and Marketing Manager. Brett was with the Tap Room a while ago, but recently returned to the island and is a brew industry veteran in his own right, having worked as Senior Brewer and Specialty Projects Manager at Heavy Seas Brewing in Maryland.

What was the First Beer you brewed? How was it?

Tropical Mango Pale Ale….brewed with mangoes right from the island. Outstanding!

What is your favorite style to brew and why?

A session IPA, drinkable with while still having some flexibility with your hops.

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

We haven’t a lot in the past but we are starting to now. Part of my job is partnering with Social Media and increasing awareness of our product.

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

Obviously our Tropical Mango was originally inspired and sourced from our local fruit, but we also just brewed a Passion Fruit Gose (sorry that was kicked just before you got here) and our Toasted Coconut will be ready next week (sorry you will be gone by then) and others that are only available in the Tap Room. The island is very small and very limited fresh water supply, which limits what we can brew.  We can’t grow the grain or hops on the island and we also have to import any outside yeast we use, so that creates some challenges. 

What is the one tip you would give to home brewers to make better beer?

Temperature control is key, consistency of process is also very important. Lastly, repeat and refine your recipes…master one before you move on to another. 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to open a brewery?

Don’t look to get too huge too fast. At least in the beginning, keep it in house, keep it small.

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

Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale by Boulevard Brewing Company. Just because it is my favorite beer. Fantastic!

Looking back on opening day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you the most?

Ever since I started with the company, it has always amazed me that the entire community has supported St. John Brewers.  Through the past 13 years we have always had that support, so when the fire burned down our tap room in 2015, the owners knew it was only a speed bump and that they would be able to rebuild and still have the locals standing by our side the whole time.  That is why I love this island!

Other than your beer, what is your “go to” drink after a long day at the brewery?

Whatever someone wants to buy me!

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

Where do you see the brewery in a year? 5 years? 
A year…new Tap Room being opened for business. 5 years…with the success of the expanded brewery being able to supply more kegs to more bars and restaurants on the island. 

For more information on St. John Brewers, visit them on the web at www.stjohnbrewers.com

Visit St. John Brewers on Facebook @StJohnBrewers

Follow St. John Brewers on Instagram @stjohnbrewers

Follow St. John Brewers on Twitter @StJohnBrewers

 

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With…Jason Goldstein of Icarus Brewing

If you really want to get honest answers from a brewer, catch him in the midst of a double brew day. Jason and his crew were brewing 2 batches of Icarus NEIPA, Yacht Juice. The brew house was a scene of organized chaos, “We are a well-oiled machine at Icarus….no I swear, we are!” as Jason ran from fixing a leak in the glycol chiller to dumping a 100-pound bag of oat flakes in the mash tun.  The 10 barrel brewery just celebrated its 6 month anniversary and is continually expanding and working on new projects. These batches of Yacht Juice are earmarked for canning, the newest endeavor for Icarus.

Jason is an Ohio State alumni with a degree in food sciences and fermentation. When he graduated instead of going to graduate schools in the states, Jason applied for and was accepted to the Brew Labs at the University of Sunderland in England. “I didn’t want to do and learn the same things as everyone else, so this was an opportunity to expand my experience… do something different.” Jason had the opportunity to work at Darwin, Maxim, and Jarrow Brewing companies in the Newcastle area of Northern England and has applied that experience and knowledge to his work at Icarus.

What was the First Beer you brewed? How was it?

Caribou Slobber a brown ale and it was delicious!

What is your favorite style to brew and why?

I like to brew weird beers, different and challenging, like the Sunwalker Smoked Pilsner and the Pineapple Hindenburg (Habanero Pale Ale).

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

I look at the outliers, the bad reviews, that guy who gave my IPA zero stars. I want to find out what I did wrong, see what can be fixed and where Quality Control can be increased.

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

We are beginning to work with Fir Farm in Colt’s Neck to source some local hops. Grain is a little tougher, not that many maltsters in NJ, but that is something we hope to work on in the future. We believe it is also important to give back to the community, so we’ve raised money for the Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Department, Island Heights VFD and hosted fundraisers for Extended Arms of Toms River and local chapters of the Police Unity Tour.

What is the one tip you would give to home brewers to make better beer?

Write down everything!! Even your mistakes, keep a book, keep a journal…I still do.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to open a brewery?

Research everything, plan, over plan…and when you think you are done, research and plan some more!

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

That’s a great thing about having your own brewery, I am my own boss. I have no restrictions so if I want to brew a beer, I can.

Looking back on opening day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you the most?

I think being able to develop, produce and market such a large variety of beers in such a short time.

Other than your beer, what is your “go to” drink after a long day at the brewery?

You mean like today? This is my drink of the day today (he holds up a nearly empty, lukewarm gallon jug of water). Hard to say, I love rye, not exactly thirst quenching. Let’s say a spiked lemonade.

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

Brewing a lot more beer over the next year. Five years…our own canning system. That was the most recent project, it was well received so I’d like to expand on that.Do I get a bonus question?

Do I get a bonus question?

OK, why no big beard?

Volunteer fireman…giving back to the community!

 

Vic Sbailo is the newest contributor to SJbeerscene.com.  Vic is the President of the Ocean County Home Brewers Association and an avid home brewer.  We are looking forward to Vic’s insights on the Ocean County Beer Scene!  Check out his bio on our home page!  For info on Ocean County Home Brewers Association email Vic at ochomebrewers@gmail.com