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A Look Back at South Jersey’s Biggest Beer Stories of 2018

2018 was a very interesting year for South Jersey Breweries.  We once again saw a rise in the number of breweries that are operating and expansions of many of the breweries that are making beer here in South Jersey.  This was also the year that the business made front page news with all of the changes that were made, then rescinded, by former ABC Commissioner Rible.  Here is our list of the top 5 news stories of 2018.

1.  The ABC Changes, Then Reverts Back To Current Brewery Rules “Pending Further Review”

We had been hearing rumblings for years about the impending brewery rule changes and was not quite sure when they were going to happen and, when they did, what actually was going to be changed.  Well, on September 21st we found out, and the changes were sweeping (You can read our article about it HERE).  Public outcry was incredible, with most people backing their local breweries in fear that they would not be able to operate in the way that would allow them to continue to be profitable.  The Independent Craft Brewers of NJ, a cooperative partnership formed by a group of New Jersey Brewers in the late Summer of 2018, collected a petition with over 30,000 signatures from state residents in the days following the ruling which, in addition to several state and local politicians voicing their opposition, no doubt was a factor in the suspension of the ruling.

2.  Governor Murphy Nominates James B. Graziano as new ABC Director effective November 26, 2018

In another stunning turn of events in the continuing saga of the ABC, David Rible “stepped down to pursue other opportunities ” and a new ABC Director was named.  James B. Graziano assumed the role on 11/26/18 and we have not had any changes to the brewery rules that are currently being followed.  We expect more news on this in the very near future.

3.  More New Breweries!

  • 13th Child Brewing, Williamstown
  • Bonesaw Brewing Company, Glassboro
  • Cross Keys Brewing Company, Williamstown
  • Gusto Brewing Company, North Cape May
  • Heavy Reel Brewing Company, Seaside Heights
  • Hidden Sands Brewing Company, Egg Harbor Twp.
  • Oyster Creek Brewing Company, Waretown
  • Mudhen Brewing Company, Wildwood
  • Westville Brewery, Westville

We already have had an opening this year (Coho, Cape May Court House) and several in various stages of development so this trend should continue.  By our count, 53 of the states 99 breweries (excludes brewpubs) are located in the Southern Half of the State.  This is a tremendous turn of events over the last 3 years where South Jersey trailed the northern part of the state in the number of operating breweries.

4.  The Increased Availability of Local Beer in Cans, Bottles, and On Tap in the Region

We have seen a tremendous increase in the amount of locally brewed fresh beer in cans and bottles available not only at the breweries, but in local liquor stores and bottle shops.  Several breweries entered the self-distribution of cans and bottles this year and we have also seen the expansion of the OG canning and bottling breweries with more releases and greater availability of their brand.  It is rare to go into any liquor store and not be able to find at least a few types of local craft beer available for takeout.  It is also become very rare to go to a bar or restaurant and not have a few selections of locally brewed beer on tap.  In the past, it was hard for local breweries to get a tap handle if the bar/restaurant already had a few local selections on.  It is still a challenge, but the popularity of local beer has made it a little bit easier.  Bars and Restaurants are actively marketing local brands and we have even seen many that have added lines to accommodate them without taking one of their big beer selections from the tap.

5.  Continued dominance of IPA’s and the Introduction of a New Style, Brut IPA

Once again IPA’s ruled the roost this year.  The dominance of this style is so strong that we don’t see when it will end. Whether it is DDH, Single Hop, DIPA, Lactose IPA, Milkshake IPA, etc, it is still #1 in the sales category, and the most sought after by Craft Beer drinkers.

The Brut IPA craze hit us in late Summer and just about every brewery made a version of it.  This new style was “invented” in San Francisco, at Social Kitchen & Brewery.  Brewmaster Kim Sturdavant had been using amyloglucosidase on his triple IPA to help tamp down the sugars found in that beer.  He decided to use the enzyme on a traditional IPA and the result was a 0° Plato, bone-dry, super-aromatic, slightly hazy but still bright, IPA. He immediately knew he had something new and different and was going to call it “Champagne IPA”, but settled on “Brut IPA” after talking to one of his wine friends.  The brewing industry went crazy and South Jersey was no exception.  Some brewers feel that this is a game-changer as it will be a beer that will appeal to people that have an affinity to Champagne or Extra Dry Wines.

Honorable Mentions

  • Festivals were everywhere again last year, although we did see a decline in attendance to some of them.  We think the trend of festivals will continue again this year, but they have become so common that we may see the attendance fall off at some of the smaller, newer events.
  • The sheer amount of brands of beer available in New Jersey has exploded.  We saw many sought-after brands hit New Jersey this year including Bell’s, Omnipollo, Prairie Artisan Ales, Hoof-Hearted, Evil Twin, Mikkeller, Alesong, and The Ale Apothecary to name a few.

Of course, this is just one man’s opinion.  Let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 

Breweries News

Gusto Brewing Company Keeping it Small and Weird in North Cape May!

Gusto Brewing Company in North Cape May is now open for business!  I visited with owner Zack Pashley and Head Brewer Dan Petela last week to talk about all things Gusto and was really impressed!  These guys have a passion for beer, and the brewery is a reflection of that.  Both of the guys were full of enthusiasm and are really excited to have finally opened the doors so that everyone can try the great beer that they are making.

Zack, who co-owns the brewery along with his wife Adriana, has chased this dream for about many years and was able to open the doors to the brewery right before Christmas.  Located in North Cape May, the brewery is spacious, filled with natural light that brightens the room from both the East and South windows.  A large bar fills one side of the room and faces the actual brewing area, and the room has ample seating with plenty of tables and chairs.

After Zack spent 6 years active duty in the United States Coast Guard, he settled back in Cape May County and started working on his dream of opening a brewery while working at Cape May Brewing Company and attending College on the GI Bill.  Zack had met Head Brewer Dan Petela at school (Dan mentioned that they played ping pong at ACCC), but really cemented their relationship at Cape May Brewing Company where Dan was working as the Assistant Tap Room Manager at the same time Zack was there.  They were both avid home brewers and both of them had aspirations of owning their own brewery. “That’s the dream, right?” Dan told us.

Zack always wanted to open the brewery in his hometown.  “What we wanted to do was create a brewery that serves a community and not a region, per se, and I just thought that this corner spot with all of the natural light, close to the ferry, in our hometown, was the only spot to do it and we had to make it happen.”

After settling on the location, Zack began to build the brewery.  One of the pieces of equipment he already had was a 1 BBL Brewhouse that he bought a while back.  “I actually bought it about 6 years ago on Kickstarter while I was in the Coast Guard when I knew I wanted to start a brewery” said Zack.  To finish the system, 7 2BBL fermenters and 2-2.5 BBL Brite Tanks that came from Strong Rope Brewery in Brooklyn were added.  “We double batch everything” Dan told us.  Zack and Dan also told us that they would love to upgrade the brewhouse to a larger system to allow them to brew the same amount of beer in half of the time, which would definitely give them more time to spend at home with their families.

Gusto’s tagline is “Keep It Small + Keep it Weird”.  I asked the guys to elaborate and Zack said “It is something that we want to live by.  Some of my favorite breweries I have ever been to are little holes in the wall, some only slightly larger than us”.  Dan added “and we are going to have some pretty weird beers coming up too!”

Gusto plans on having a constantly changing tap-list, rotating their selection and occasionally bringing some of the popular ones back.  I was suitably impressed with their beer list on the day I visited, 6 unique beers with some very interesting ingredients were available including a Zero IBU IPA, an ESB, a Saison, an Oatmeal Stout, a tasty Pale Ale, and an IPA.  It was great to see the varied styles and the originality that encompassed this well thought out list.

A few things that you need to know about Gusto:

  • Gusto will fill any 32 0z Growler for you to take off premise.  They offer growlers for sale, but if you bring your own make sure you have a lid just in case the ones they have do not fit.
  • They plan on being open from Thursday-Sunday in small 4-6 hour shifts. Be sure to check out their website at www.gustobrewco.com or their Facebook Page HERE while planning your visit
  • Gusto has a great selection of merchandise for sale in the taproom!
  • Gusto is kid friendly, but at this time you cannot bring your dog to the brewery

Congrats to Zack, Adriana, Dan, and everyone on the Gusto team on their opening!  It is great to see another brewery opening up here in South Jersey and yet another great group of people that are behind it.

 

3860 Bayshore Road, North Cape May, NJ 08204

Facebook:  @gustobrewco

Instagram:  gustobrewco

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breweries News

Dogfish Head Invites Craft Beer Drinkers to Join Their New Year’s Initiative JanuQuenchy

Dogfish Head invites fans to join along on JanuQuenchy – a month long quest to kick off the New Year drinking craft beer, being active and eating healthy

Milton, Del., December 27, 2018 – Is there anything more magnificent than a New Year’s resolution centered around drinking a deliciously crafted beer for a month? No. There isn’t. So join Sam Calagione, founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, for the ultimate, beer-centric New Year’s quest known as JanuQuenchy. With a goal of kicking off 2019 right, Calagione and a boatload of Dogfish coworkers pledge to only drink the low-calorie SeaQuench Ale for 31 days while eating sensibly and doing something active.

So how do you join along? From January 1 through January 31, share images of your JanuQuenchy journey on Instagram using #JanuQuenchy #DogfishEntry. Dogfish Head will follow along to see how you’re doing and might just reach out to repost your progress to their Instagram page. You will also be entered for the chance to win a Dogfish Head SeaQuench themed trucker hat during the JanuQuenchy challenge.  There will be one winner, per week.  For official JanuQuenchy rules, click here.

“I am committed to only drinking SeaQuench Ale in January, as well as avoiding french fries and cheesesteaks – probably two of my favorite foods – and doing something healthy with my body every day,” said Calagione. “That’s it – eat sensibly, do something active and drink only SeaQuench Ale for 31 days…who’s with me!?”

SeaQuench Ale (4.9% ABV) is the most thirst-quenching beer ever made at Dogfish Head and it’s only 140 calories, 9g carbs, 2g protein and zero fat. Brewed with lime juice, sea salt and black limes, it’s the best selling beer in the fastest growing craft beer style (sours) in America thanks to its super flavorful and approachable profile.

For more information about Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, SeaQuench Ale and JanuQuenchy, visit dogfish.com.

 

Beer Biz Profiles Breweries

New Tun Tavern Brewmaster Brad Judge Crafting Great Beer in Atlantic City!

Last week, Tom, Vic, and I had the chance to meet with Brad Judge, the new Head Brewer at the Tun Tavern Restaurant & Brewery in Atlantic City, at the Whitecap Barrel-Aged Stout Release Event.  This collaboration between Tun and Atlantic City’s Little Water Distillery really impressed! We also had a chance to try some of the new beers that Brad had made and were just as impressed. we tried at one of New Jersey’s oldest Brew Pubs.  If you have not beenTun in a minute, you should come back now.

Brad and the team from Little Water Distillery!

The Tun Tavern was established in Atlantic City in 1998 as one of the first operating Brew Pubs in the state and gave many people their first taste of handcrafted craft beer.  Located across from the Atlantic City Convention Center, the Tun quickly became one of the hottest spots in AC, especially among conventioneers and locals who had started to hear about this “craft beer” thing.  Tun has always had a really good food menu and the beer they made was unlike most people had ever had before.  I can remember my first trip there right after opening, trying my first actual craft beer that was actually made right in the place I was eating.  This set the hook for me, it was an exciting new world of beer.  The beer that was made at the Tun Tavern was different, more flavorful, heavier, and had flavors that I had not ever had.

As time went by, people stopped looking at the Tun Tavern as a brewery, which was .  Not that they weren’t brewing beer, but sometimes the OG’s get overlooked by all of the shiny new breweries that were opening all over the area. They had continued to brew their staple of beers but, in the times we live in, you need to change it up.  Fast forward to now.  Tun Tavern is all in on the beer.  And Brad is the guy who is getting them there.

Brad began his brewing career a long way from Atlantic City on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua in the town of Popoyo.  Brad and his girlfriend (now wife) moved to Nicaragua 7 years ago to Surf and operate a Bed and Breakfast.  Brad and his expat buddies would often sit down and drink one of the local beers and talk about how it would be nice to have something different.  The solution was that Brad, who grew up in Voorhees and was an avid home brewer, was going to bring back the ingredients to make beer the next time that he went to the US.  He started brewing 5 Gal batches of IPA’s and they were a hit.  The next logical step was to build a brewery, right?  Brad and his partner Chris Harrison built a 3 barrel brewery and became quite popular amongst the bars, restaurants, and tourists in the area.  It was unlike anything else that was brewed there, very similar to the Tun Tavern’s roots.  Fast forward to today, and Brad, his wife, and kids are back here in the US and he was able to step in to the Tun Tavern’s role as the previous brewmaster was leaving for another opportunity.  Sometimes timing is everything.

In speaking with Brad, you can hear his eagerness to bring new flavors and styles to the Tun’s rotation of beers.  Brad loves IPA’s and we got to try his South Pacific Hop IPA, a 6.5% Hazy IPA that is brewed with Galaxy and Motueka hops.  Hopped in the kettle, then dry hopped after, this beer was really done well. We also got a preview of his Lager (this will be dry hopped as well) and a Pale Ale. Both were home runs and brings something to Tun’s taps for Craft Beer aficionados as well as casual beer drinkers visiting the tavern.

In addition to the great beer, Tun Tavern is offering great food, a full bar, and a really great VIP Program.  This VIP program is free for anyone that is local (within 75 miles of AC) and offers great discounts every day of the week.  More info on the program can be found on their www.tuntavern.com.

Thanks to Brad, Diane, K, and the rest of the staff for their hospitality!  Their enthusiasm for the restaurant is amazing and we loved just hanging out, hearing Brad’s story, and enjoying some great beers!

So run, don’t walk, to see the new beers that Brad is making and revisit one of the places that help blaze the craft beer trail here in South Jersey.  We think you will come back.