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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.  

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With Bonsaw Brewing Company’s Brewmaster A.J. Stoll!

We finally made it to Bonesaw Brewing Company in Glassboro, N.J. to do our “10 Questions with the Brewer” Brewmaster AJ Stoll. If you are like us, you have been following construction of this Brewery over the last year or so. Bonesaw was one of the first breweries in our area to be built from the ground up and we were curious about what it would look like, and more importantly how good the beer would be. From the moment you pull into the parking lot, to entering into the massive taproom, to the first sip of beer, one word comes to mind:  Craftsmanship. What Dr. Rich DeVerniero, and brother-in laws David & Allen Doe, and Brewmaster AJ Stoll have created is a total sensory overload. From the custom light fixtures crafted by Dr. Rich himself to the impressive live edge bar, and wood work done by Randy P. Goodman of Random 8 Woodworks. All 4 owners were heavily involved with every single phase of construction. Bonesaw Brewing consists of a 17 BBL (20HL) brewhouse with 10-50 BBL (60HL) fermenters and 2-50 BBL (60HL) Brite tanks. He also has a few freshly filled barrels that I can’t wait to try.

Brewmaster AJ Stoll took the long way to get to N.J… He is originally from Orange County, California, where his brewing journey started at Seven Bridges Organic Homebrew Supply in Santa Cruz. AJ got the bug early, and the supply store gave him a way to stay in touch with it (Plus the discounts didn’t hurt either). While at Seven Bridges he actually worked with Tim Clifford and Jason Hansen who went on to open Santé Adairius Rustic Ales in 2012, and are really making some great beers. After college, AJ got an assistant brewer job with Seabright Brewery. After a short stint there, he moved on to his first Head Brewer job at Ukiah Brewing Co. From there he moved to Figueroa Mountain Brewing where his Imperial IPA Lizard’s Mouth was nominated for best new beer in 2014. Along with dozens of awards he helped Figueroa grow from 1,200 BBL to 20,000 BBL per year in production. 

Later on in 2014 AJ got the opportunity to go to Kerry, Ireland where he helped start-up Killarney Brewing Company which has become well-respected in the beer world. Although AJ joked that it only rains twice for 6 months at a time he was taken by the beauty, and the 40 shades of green. Something else that was surprising to him was that most of the 10,000 BBL they produced sold in just a 10 mile radius which confirms that the Irish love their beer. 

The time at Killarney lasted about a year, and it was time for AJ to come back to the states. In 2015 he found himself at Funky Buddha in Florida where he helped get their Brewhouse in order before it was sold to Constellation Brands. Then like the song say’s, I’m going back to Cali. When he got back to California he started working as a consultant with the plan to work with as many different breweries of all sizes to absorb as much experience as he could. He helped start new breweries, and helped tweak existing ones until he got the call to be the Brewmaster at Bonesaw.

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

It was an all grain Belgium double kit which I brewed twice before I wrote my own recipe for a Maple Buckwheat Brown Ale, and my love for brewing spiraled out of control from there. The first batch didn’t come out exactly like I hoped, but all the next ones came out good, and drinkable.

2. What is your favorite style to brew, and why?

I’m a chameleon when it comes to that. I like to brew darker beers because it makes the whole brewery smell good. Being from California I do love to brew IPA’s, but if I had to pick a favorite it would have to be Lagers. They are the hardest, and most transparent. If something goes wrong everyone knows it. I also like Pilsners for the same reason.

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

I do look at them from time to time just as a quality control check to see if there’s a problem. I’m really not looking to see if someone liked the beer, but more if they went into one of our accounts and got a beer that tasted funny. It does not affect my recipes at all. We have 16 beers on tap right now with all different styles, so if you can’t find something it may be you just don’t like beer.

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

That’s one of my favorite things to do everywhere I’ve been is to use local ingredients. We use local honey for some of our beers as well as malts from Rabbit Hill Farms which has been a nice recurring theme to this question. Our peaches, and pumpkins are all local, and our coffee is roasted right in Pitman. It’s not just the freshness, and quality, but supporting local businesses that support us.

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

Don’t be afraid to dump a batch and start over if you’re not happy with it. With all the books and internet it’s much easier to get it right the first time than it was 20 years ago.

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

Don’t assume that because you are a home brewer that you’re a brewer. I’m not saying you can’t make the leap to a 3 BBL system, but it would be a good idea to bring someone in who has big system experience. Try to get some professional schooling or an internship with a bigger brewery. Make sure it’s your passion.

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

I would probably brew a Triple IPA with some of the more expensive, and hard to get hops like Galaxy etc. I would also love to try an Ice Bock (Eisbock) which is where you freeze and remove a percentage of the water to increase the alcohol content, and turn it into a Triple Bock. I can’t legally do it in New Jersey because it’s distillation, but it would be pretty cool to do. A Stone Beer would be interesting to try also. It’s when you super heat rocks and put them in the kettle to get it to boil.

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

How many people showed up to drink beer, and support us. We obviously wanted to be successful, and built this place for the consumer, but the response was very humbling. We only had 2 beers for the first 2 weeks, but the place was packed, and we were extremely grateful for it.

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

I still love Yuengling. It was hard to get in California and Florida so it was a treat when I could get it.

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

We are planning on growth of course. Our taproom is our most important thing right now, but we want to expand out with our accounts to more of New Jersey and Philadelphia. We also have plans for a second building in the back lot where we can not only make more beer, but more interesting beer. We just filled our first set of barrels which is something we want to continue to do more of. In 5 years we would love to build another Bonesaw probably in South Carolina somewhere. Rich, Dave, Allen, and I really enjoyed building this one, and our fingerprints are on almost everything in here. We are not the kind of guys to stand around with clipboards, and would love to do this again.

Bonus: What’s the best beer you ever had?

I have a couple ones. I would have to say a Rodenbach Grand Cru for sure. I had a 10 year vertical of Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada that was really good. It’s also an experience that makes a beer the best one. If I really had to pick one it would be the Augustiner Helles’ Lager I had sitting in the Augustiner Beer Hall in Munich.

Bonus 2: What do you listen to when you’re brewing?

I have to have music playing when I’m brewing. I’m all over the place when it comes to music. The other day I listened to The Killers all day. Some days I listen to older country music, or I’ll get on a Peter Gabriel or Genesis kick. You can never go wrong with 80’s heavy metal either.

I would like to thank AJ, Rich, Dave, and Allen for being such gracious hosts, and taking time out of their day to sit down with me. One other thing I noticed was that the entire staff was extremely friendly and knowledgeable which was the cherry on top of the whole experience. Do yourself a favor and stop by if you’re in the area. They also have nitro cold brew coffee on tap as well as homemade sodas for you non beer people.

                        As Always

                     Enjoy Your Pour!

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!

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With…Ingrid Epoch, Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Company

I recently sat down with the new Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Co. Ingrid Epoch to talk about her past, and present with Tuckahoe Brewing. Ingrid started out her professional brewing career with Devil’s Creek Brewing in Collingswood in the spring of 2016. In September of 2017, she brought her skills to Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing where she brewed until April of this year when she became Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Co. Although I only had a short time to interview Ingrid due to a rigorous brewing schedule, I got the impression that this is going to be a good fit. While she will continue to brew our favorite recipes we have enjoyed over the last 7 years, she will also bring in some new styles for us to enjoy. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Tuckahoe Brewing. To learn a little more about Ingrid I asked her our 10 questions which is one of my favorite assignments because of the great tips and knowledge they produce.

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

After reading “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Charlie Papazian AKA “The Bible” to most homebrewers I knew I was going to love to brew. I started out more ambitious than most and made an all grain Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout. It had some off flavors and didn’t come out as I had hoped, but my friends liked it. They were not as experienced at the time with craft beer so they were not as critical as I was.

What is your favorite style to brew, and why?

Although I really love to brew Belgium beers there is such a broad range of answers to that question. I love brewing all the seasonal beers for the variety. I love a great Quad in the winter, and a good Saison in the summer, but my favorite time is fall when my first run of Stouts start to come out.

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

More than I really should. I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I know what I want from my recipe better than someone who is reviewing it. In the end, I want to make beer that I like to drink, and it seems most people like to drink it as well. I do like it for legitimate concerns like bad draft lines, and if there is any out of date kegs floating around out there. The best piece of advice I got was to lose my Untapped account.

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

Great question right at this time. We are using malts from Rabbit Hill Farms in a collaboration beer with Slack Tide Brewing that will be out soon. We try to get local hops to do small wet hop collaboration batches. Even more local I’m trying to grow hops on the side of the building. Of course, we are using some blueberries for a Saison that we are making, and we use local produce in the Firkins we do every 3rd Thursday.

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

Get the right equipment to measure things properly. Do not rely on the old school eyeball method for anything. Although cleaning is the biggest part,  monitoring your recipes should not take a back seat. The one thing that helped me make the jump from a home brewer to a professional brewer was keeping good records. I have sheets that I write down every possible thing so I can consistently hit those marks every time. Repeatability is the difference between home brewing and professional brewing.

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

Save up twice as much money as you think you will need. Also, you need to realize you will need at least 6 months from the time you brew your first beer to the time you sell your first beer. What has become a common answer in New Jersey is be prepared to wait for permits, licenses, and whatever else comes up. Have your brand, know your brand, and understand it. There are a lot of great breweries making really good beer so you need to know how you’re going to sell it, and who you’re going to market it to. That needs to be part of your package from day one. The label on the outside is just as important as the beer on the inside.

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

I would do a high ABV Scottish Export Stout, but barrel age it in Oloroso Sherry Barrels that they use for scotch. It would be a Scotch on Scotch. The barrels are extremely expensive, and the grain bill I have written up for it is prohibitively expensive too.

Looking back at your first day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you?

Having an insane amount of good, knowledgeable help was great. Everyone was so into the program I wanted to put into place. A lot of time when a brewer leaves everyone follows, but that wasn’t the case here.

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

Not to sound cliché for the area, but Tonewood’s Fuego. It’s so great, and I only live a couple blocks from the brewery so it’s easy to pop in and fill my growler.

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

We want to double the capacity by adding 2 more 30 BBL fermenters, and 2 additional 30 BBL Brite Tanks. In 5 years I would love to see us distributing in all of New Jersey, in Philadelphia, and beyond. I want us to be in Delaware, and possibly the eastern shore of Maryland.

Bonus 1: What was the best beer you ever had?

 It was a Foudre Aged Sour Saison from Stone Brewing that I had at a dinner they hosted at The Blue Monkey in Merchantville.

Bonus 2: What do you listen to when you brew?

Almost always listen to 36 Chambers by Wu-Tang when I boil because the album is about an hour so it’s a mental focus thing since I know when the end is coming. Other than that we self DJ and someone puts on an album and we rock and roll.

Join us at South Jersey Beer Scene in welcoming Ingrid to Tuckahoe Brewing, and stop in to say hi, and have a beer. I’m really excited to try one of her recipes. 

And, As Always, Enjoy Your Pour!