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Breaking News! Slack Tide Brewing Company and Village Idiot Brewing Co. Win GABF Medals!

Breaking!

Slack Tide Brewing Company of Clermont and Village Idiot Brewing Company of Mt. Holly both are bringing home hardware from the 2018 Great American Beer Festival!

The only 2 medals for NJ were brought home by 2 South Jersey Breweries!

Slack Tide Brewing Company won a Bronze in the American-Style Amber/Red Ale for Avalon Amber

Village Idiot Brewing Company won a Silver in the Belgian-Style Tripel

Congratulations to both of these breweries on this awesome achievement!

 

For a Complete list of winners vist the Great American Beer Festival Winners Page 

Beer Biz Profiles Breweries

Juggling Middle Management and Den Motherhood: The Life of a Tasting Room Supervisor With Kristen Wilson!

Juggling Middle Management and Den Motherhood:

The Life of a Tasting Room Supervisor

Before craft beer, my experience in the beverage industry was as front-of-house staff in various bars and restaurants throughout South Jersey.  The money was fast and there was little commitment; I tell everyone that if you can work in one bar, you can work in them all.  Being a ‘people person’ is a transferable skill that crosses all industries.  But what happens when you’re a people person, type-a, and painstakingly meticulous?  You end up in middle management!

Back in 2016, Eight & Sand Beer Co. posted to Facebook that they were hiring and my husband tagged me in the comments.  I studied the website and some craft beer blogs and nervously awaited my interview.  The tasting room was still under construction at this point, but I was assured that it was coming along quickly.  Despite swearing that I bombed my interview, I received a start date for training and I was pumped!  Our soft and grand openings came and went and the team was coming together.

As many places as I had worked prior, I had never opened a brand new establishment.  Getting to be part of a business as it grows has been really special.

I knew when I took the job that while both of my bosses had a wealth of knowledge and talent in their respective fields, they did not have bar/restaurant management experience.  I was so eager to learn and be a part of the process that I began offering to help, providing suggestions, and volunteering to take on more responsibility.  It was a few months later that myself and another server were officially promoted as Tasting Room Supervisors.  The role includes fairly standard supportive duties – opening and closing the tasting room, handling cash, and training staff, but it has been an ever-evolving position as we navigate the first years of business.

Fast forward to today.

Because we have a small staff and most of us have other jobs, all of our roles blend together.  Admittedly, this can be confusing, which is where my secondary, unofficial job title comes in: Den Mother.

Most of my week consists of communicating with everyone on some level.  This could be email, text, group chat, or Google Hangout.  It is usually all of the above, simultaneously, about different things.  I have a working knowledge of everyone’s position and act as a mediator across all levels, keeping track and collaborating with everyone.  I am responsible for scheduling our tasting room staff of about ten people, myself included.  That is ten different personal schedules and preferences, in addition to corresponding with the team for any reservations, on and off-site events we have planned – or that pop up last minute.  I often have reminders set to remind other people about things.

I am the gatekeeper of information.  The management team holds a weekly conference call to catch everyone up on the business.  It is then up to me to filter and disseminate information to staff, formally or informally.  This information-sharing goes both ways, as my staff confides in me things that need to be communicated to our bosses.  Part of this means advocating for staff on their needs.  If one of my staff members is frustrated or upset, it becomes my job to bring it to the rest of the team to figure out how to fix it.

Another layer of my role involves knowing non-work related things about my staff.  I know who is planning to have children, who definitely *does not* want to have children, I know who is getting engaged, and I know who needs tile work done in their bathroom.  If you were thinking that this sounds like normal friendship, I would say that you are absolutely right.  I can proudly say that I have formed friendships with everyone I work with on some level.  From my owners’ goal of having a successful business to my staff wanting to get more involved in craft beer, being a Den Mother means supporting everyone as they achieve their goals, whatever they may be and as much as they let me.

Some days are harder than others to carry the extra emotional labor that goes along with my role.  And while emotional labor is often an expectation of women in the workforce, this was not the case for me.  I nagged, badgered, and annoyed my way into this role because, 1) it is who I am as a person; and 2) because I believe in the value of being this person to an employer.  Any person with a high level of organization and empathy can help make a business successful.

I love craft beer.  I love the people in the industry and the people who enjoy it.  I never imagined that I could be considered “a voice for women in craft beer” – I am so new to this and I am not an expert!  Opening my own brewery or even home-brewing in my garage is not in my future, but what I will do is keep tasting new beer, talking to people about it, and supporting others in their journey in the industry – because that is what a Den Mother would do.

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

 

 

 

 

Breweries News

Dogfish Head Launches A Cork-Finished Wild Beer Program!

Wouldn’t It Be Wild If Dogfish Head Launched A Cork-Finished Wild Beer Program?  Oh Wait, They Just Did With “Wooden…It Be Nice!”

Brewery producing America’s fastest selling sour beer, SeaQuench Ale, begins a wild beer program and hosts limited bottle release

 Milton, Del., September 12, 2018 – On an endless exploration of goodness, Dogfish Head is proud to be a craft brewery producing and celebrating sour and wild ales for over two decades and is excited to announce the launch of its brand new, funky wild beer program, “Wooden…It Be Nice!”  With three wild ales primed for a 2018 Milton-only release, and more releases to come in future years, the brewers at Dogfish have already hand-bottled over two-thousand cork and caged 375ml bottles, each one hand painted with a special stripe signifying its uniquely crafted touch.

“About fifteen years ago, we first started experimenting with sours, beginning with Festina Lente – a peach wild ale that won us a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in 2006 – then went on to produce SeaQuench Ale which is currently the top selling sour in America,” said Sam Calagione, CEO and founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.  “Now, we’re amplifying our wild beer program with Wooden…It Be Nice!, as it’s another step forward in our journey and evolution of goodness incorporating everything from herbs and spices, to local fruits, and of course, bringing it all together in wood.” Dogfish Head is the number one producer of the fastest growing beer in the fastest growing craft beer style in America – SeaQuench Ale, a session sour.*

So what makes a beer wild? It’s different from traditional brewing in that it’s fermented with wild yeast variations, like Brettanomyces and often times with bacteria like Lactobacillus or Pediococcus.  The yeast and bacteria are carefully introduced to the wood-aged beer, which can develop a wide array of flavors, including degrees of sourness, funkiness  and fruitiness.  Due to the untamable nature of the yeast, the beer can sit in barrels for months or even years till brewers deem it ready for consumption.  This  process can sometimes delay the release of the beer, but when it’s finally ready, it’s truly remarkable.  Isn’t that wild?

The “Wooden…It Be Nice!” program opens with the release of KnottyBits, a wild ale (8.2% ABV) aged on sweet and sour cherries and rhubarb, available beginning September 29 at 11 a.m.  KnottyBits was wood-aged for a year with Brettanomyces and then racked onto several hundred pounds of sweet and sour cherries and locally sourced rhubarb from Fifer Orchards at a rate of more than 2 lbs. of fresh fruit per gallon.  KnottyBits is bottle conditioned for an elevated carbonation resembling a ruby red colored sparkling wine of sorts.  Priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 2000 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.

Look for Wet Hop American Summer in early November – a Farmhouse Ale (7.75% ABV),  this beer was aged in freshly emptied Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces for over a year, before being racked onto freshly harvested and hand-selected whole leaf Citra hops, still wet from the fields.  The resulting beer has a great citrus aroma from the hops which is a perfect complement to the funky and rustic nature of the Farmhouse Ale base.  Wet Hop American Summer is priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 1500 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.

In mid-December, the brewery will release Eastern Seaboard, a wild ale (8% ABV) brewed with blackberries and beach plums.  After spending almost a year and a half aging in wine barrels, the liquid was met with several hundred pounds of blackberry and Eastern Shore beach plums, handpicked and selected by the brewers.  The jamminess of the blackberry and tartness of the plums perfectly pair with one another in this deceptively dry beer.  Eastern Seaboard is bottle conditioned to achieve champagne-like carbonation and is violet in color. Priced at $10/375ml bottle, approximately 2000 bottles will be available for purchase at the Milton Brewery.

For more information about upcoming “Wooden It Be Nice!” bottle release dates, visitdogfish.com and Dogfish Head social accounts: Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.

Dogfish Head:

Dogfish Head has proudly been focused on brewing beers with culinary ingredients outside the Reinheitsgebot since the day it opened as the smallest American craft brewery 23 years ago. Dogfish Head has grown into a top-20 craft brewery and has won numerous awards throughout the years including Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Brewery of the Year and the James Beard Foundation Award for 2017 Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. It is a 350+ coworker company based in Delaware with Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, an off-centered brewpub and distillery, Chesapeake & Maine, a geographically enamored seafood restaurant, Dogfish Inn, a beer-themed inn on the harbor and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, a production brewery and distillery featuring a tasting room and food truck.  Dogfish Head supports the Independent Craft Brewing Seal, the definitive icon for American craft breweries to identify themselves to be independently-owned and carries the torch of transparency, brewing innovation and the freedom of choice originally forged by brewing community pioneers. Dogfish Head currently sells beer in 43 states and Washington D.C. and will expand into additional states in 2018. For more information, visit www.dogfish.com, Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.

 

Breweries Road Trip

South Jersey Beer Scene Goes to Ireland With Vic!

Leprechaun: They are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief. ) (Thank you Wikapedia for the info) 

Some may say this describes me, but I am not here to debate my possible resemblance to a mythological fairy, but to talk about the beer, the brewers and the breweries I encountered on my recent trip to Ireland.  

So sit back, have a pint o’ Gat, a bag o’ chips and have a grand time reading this as South Jersey Beer Scene goes to Ireland! 

DUBLIN

They call New York the city that never sleeps, but I would nominate Dublin for the prize.  They love their soccer in Dublin town and celebrate joyously, heartily and loudly! Chanting, singing,  (in tune I might add!) and trumpeting at all hours.  Did they win? “We tied 1-1, but it was a good match!”  

Pubs galore, including O’Neill’s a classic establishment on Suffolk St., near Trinity College, with over 40 beers on tap!  Tip: Don’t get there at 9 AM for breakfast, as they don’t serve alcohol until 10:30! So it happens that the first beer I had in Ireland was not, in fact, a Guinness but a Dublin Blonde from the Irishtown Brewery which I enjoyed at Madigan’s Pub on O’Connell Street. A very nice, crisp lager. Here is my conversation with the barkeep

 “I’ll have a Dublin Blonde.” 

“My wife is off today, but I’ll give her a call!” 

A very welcome interaction on a rainy day, going on 24 hours with no sleep! 

Did I mention Guinness? The Guinness Storehouse (#1 tourist attraction in Ireland. Stop #13 on the hop on hop off bus) is an experience!  A little known fact, the largest Guinness brewery in the world is not in Ireland, it is in Nigeria, which is also the second largest market for consumption of the brew. So much for not drinking stouts in warm climates!  (FYI Great Britain is first, US is 5th)

In 1759, home brewer Arthur Guinness from County Kildare decides to leave his small ale brewery and make his fortune in Dublin.  He comes upon a dilapidated brewery at St. James Gate signs a 9,000 year lease for 45 Irish Pounds per year (that’s $66) and the rest is history.  

 

We made reservations for the Guinness Connoisseur Experience, which is a 90 minute presentation in a beautiful private bar on the 3rd floor of the Storehouse. Surrounded by portraits of the Guinness family, the beer tender introduces you to the rich history of the brewery and the brand, as you taste the original Guinness drafts as well as several other variants. These include the Extra Stout, West Indies Porter and the Guinness Citra IPA, made with American hops. I enjoyed the West Indies Porter, which is based on the original Guinness Porter recipe and is a tasty higher alcohol alternative. 

The Citra IPA is produced by Open Gate Brewery, an experimental offshoot of the main Dublin site. Open Gate has been in existence for over 100 years, but is now open to the public.  But man does not live by beer alone, so I didn’t have time to visit, however, the Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House in Baltimore just recently opened, so fresh Guinness experimental brews are now only a road trip away!   

On the top floor of the Storehouse is the glass walled Gravity Bar, where you can have your free pint and a spectacular 360 degree view of the city.   

P.S. If whiskey is your drink, you have Jameson, as well as Pearse Lyons and Teeling distilleries on the various bus routes.  

THE BURREN

Traveling across country we encountered The Burren, which is a beautiful stark landscape of limestone fields and cliffs, dotted with stone walls, sheep and castles.  In the northern end of this area, not far from the Cliffs of Moher, lies the little town of Lisdoonvarna (population 739). One of its most famous residents, Pete Curtin, is the proprietor of the gastropub, The Roadside Tavern.  Pete’s family has owned the tavern since 1893 and it is it is also home to the Burren Brewery, where Pete brews his classic Irish Red, Gold and Black beer, only available on premises.   

 “What are ye standing around for, take a seat?” was my invitation from the owner as we sat and talked about brewing, super humans and IPAs. It was an educational and very entertaining conversation. 

“You Americans are hop crazy with your double and triple hopped IPAs, 13% alcohol beers.  You drink one and you pass out!”  

But to be honest, there are very few commercial hop farms in Ireland so most have to be imported. Our American hops don’t grow well in the climate and soil of Ireland, so those that do grow are of the English or German varieties. 25% of the crop was lost in 2015, so there are various clubs and organizations springing up to encourage hop growing as a community project.   

The brewery recently added another beer to the menu. “I call this Euphoria, the happy beer, because when people drink it they are overjoyed!” and Pete poured us an ancient ale called a gruit which is flavored by herbs and botanicals, rather than hops. Euphoria is brewed with 6 herbs including lemon verbena and rosemary and 3 wild yeasts. I think it was good, but I only had a small sampling, as my wife, who doesn’t like beer, liked the gruit and drank the whole glass!

As we were talking about the bar, my son mentioned that vodka is his drink of choice, not beer. At which point Pete said, “He likes that high alcohol. The man is super human.”  

We talked a little more about the history of the tavern and the town and spent some quality time drinking beers with him. With my Guinness shirt and Irish flat cap on, I asked him if this Italian guy from Jersey could pass for Irish.   

“Nahh!” he exclaimed loudly and added a few other phrases that can’t be printed here!   Unable to top that, we bid Pete a fond farewell and continued on our way. 

DINGLE PENINSULA

One of my wife’s favorite movies is “Leap Year”, which takes place in the village of Dingle (at least in the movie it does) on the southwestern end of the island. The village is as pretty as the movie, a beautiful little seaside town with great shopping, views and a lot of great pubs. They have an extensive list of local beer selections, including Stag Ban Pale Ale from 9 White Deer Brewery in County Cork, Dick Mack’s Session IPA (an IPA sighting!) and Cul Dorcha an interesting, smoky dark ale from West Kerry Brewing.  This is the second excellent beer I had encountered from West Kerry, as we had picked up a couple of bottles of their Beal Ban Golden Ale at the local convenience store.  So we went on a quest to find the brewery, which was in the village of Ballyferriter, just a short distance from Dingle.  

We took the scenic route (there’s not really any other route to take when you are in Ireland) around skinny mountain roads, with sheep and cows (bunches of cows…you had to be there) guiding us, we came to Tig Bhric Brew Pub, home of West Kerry Brewery.  As with Burren, the tap list was not as extensive as our South Jersey breweries and included a dark mild cask conditioned beer. Contrary to what some say, they do NOT serve warm beer in Ireland. The cask is conditioned in a cellar, so is served at cellar temperatures which is 50 – 55 degrees, so warmth may be in the taste of the beholder.  

I had a great conversation with Adrienne Heslin, the first woman to own a brew pub in Ireland and the only woman pub owner and brewer.  Adrienne is a major voice and proponent for the Irish craft beer industry and currently serves as Treasurer of the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland. This association of 26 independent breweries advocates and lobbies for changes in the archaic laws governing the industry in Ireland.   (Sound familiar?) 

 

The group was instrumental in a recent law change which will allow craft breweries to sell their beer on premises. Previously they were able to conduct tours, but not able to sell their brew! 

Adrienne is also an accomplished artist and sculptor and uses many of the herbs in her garden (rose hips, elderberries, blueberries) in her beers.   She is also the only brewery in Ireland to sport a South Jersey Beer Scene AND an Ocean County Home Brewers Association sticker! 

IRELAND BEER SCENE

After some growing pains early in the 2000s, the Irish craft beer scene is on fire, with 500% growth over the last 5 years. There are 72 in operation now with more planned, each more adventurous and daring than the rest, so for you IPA lovers, the Irish Pliny the Elder may be just around the corner. Most of these smaller brews are not available right now in the US, but hopefully as the businesses continue to flourish we will see some of them hitting our shores. 

Hope you enjoyed the read and perhaps South Jersey Beer Scene will send me back to get an Irish web page started.  Thanks to my family for indulging my beer fetishes while in Ireland and for a great time and thanks to my buddy Kevin Riley, Philly Beer Trail, for the ideas and tips.  

Slainte, all!