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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! 

Breweries Events

Zed’s Beer Celebrating First Anniversary on 9/9/18 with a Party, New Beer and More!

ZED’S BEER MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY 

Celebration to include New Beer, Glassware and Giveaways 

MARLTON, NJ – August 27, 2018 – Zed’s Beer/Bado Brewing will celebrate its one-year anniversary on Sunday, September 9 with a party, a new beer and much more. The brewery located at 19 North Maple Avenue in Marlton will mark “One Down” and celebrate many more to come with a party from noon until 6:30 PM. 

To commemorate the occasion, founder and head brewer Geoff Bado will introduce a new beer inspired by the brewery’s namesake, great-grandfather Zed. A coal miner in Chop, Hungary, Zed was known as an amateur brewer who would throw a block party and share his beer with the entire village. 

“Zed’s in Chop-Original Marzen is the kind of beer Zed himself might have made,” said Bado. “While Zed’s original beer recipe is lost to time, I researched what he might have had access to. The grains are all European—Munich, Vienna, Pilsner, Melanoiden. The hops are all noble hops. I think he would have been able to produce something we would currently identify as an Austrian- Marzen.” The result is a malt-forward beer with a bit of a nutty flavor and a light sprinkling of bitterness. “It’ll be easy to drink, like a modern Oktoberfest, in keeping with our philosophy of bringing approachable craft beer to South Jersey,” Bado added. 

Since opening, Zed’s Beer has put 42 different beers on tap, not including 24 varieties of shandies. Zed’s in Chop—Original Marzen will be one of at least 12 beers available for the anniversary party. Others include top-selling Zed’s in the Universe—Pale42 and a reprise of Zed’s at the Party—Birthday Cake, which literally sparkles. Zed’s popular shandies, a blend of current beer varieties with homemade syrups or sodas, will also be on hand. 

In addition to the beer releases, the September 9 festivities will feature special “One Down” glassware, a limited-time offer with purchase of a pint for $10. The brewery will also offer swag giveaways throughout the day, every hour on the hour. 

“We’ve been amazed and delighted by the terrific reception from the community all through our first year,” said Zed’s Beer co-founder Lori White. “It’s clear people are as excited to have a local brewery as we are to educate them about the brewing process and serve new beers.” 

Zed’s Beer supports the local community by collaborating with as many local food producers as possible. The brewery sources all fruit and honey for its beers from Cheyenne’s Roadside Market—Evesham Township’s only remaining farm. Customers will be able to enjoy four beers featuring locally-sourced ingredients: Zed’s in NJ—Blueberry Blonde, Zed’s in the Orchard— Golden Peach and Zed’s in the US—American Brown with Honey. And Zed’s in Chillum— SMaSH gold is made with grain grown and malted in Shilo, NJ, by Rabbit Hill Malthouse. 

Zed’s clientele can expect more of those locally-inspired varieties in the coming year as well as a few surprises. “We have a lot of great things in store for year two that will keep people coming back for more,” said Bado. “Much of it is too soon to share, but safe to say there will be new beers, new swag and who knows? You’ll have to come back to find out.” 

About Zed’s Beer: 

Zed’s Beer is located in Marlton, NJ. Its mission is to create hand-crafted beers using locally- sourced and fresh ingredients wherever possible. Zed’s Beer offers a variety of approachable craft beers, centered on four core varieties and as many as eight additional rotating selections, each named after a particular region or location when possible. Patrons can enjoy beers in the tasting room by the pint or as flights; 32-ounce crowlers are available to-go. During the Summer, Zed’s tasting room is open Thursdays 4-9:30 PM; Fridays noon-10 PM, Saturdays noon-10 PM and Sundays noon-6:30 PM. The brewery hosts special events by request. To learn more about Zed’s Beer and Bado Brewing, LLC, visit www.drinkzeds.com. ZE

Breweries News

Attic Brewing’s Unique Approach to Building A Brewery and How You Can Invest!

When Laura and Todd Lacy decided to open a brewery they wanted to do something different.  They wanted the local community to be able to get involved and, at the same time, raise some capital to rhelp fund the dream of opening a brewery.

Laura and Todd’s Attic Brewing is taking a unique approach to opening their brewery in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.  They are looking for microinvesters on the crowdfunding site WeFunder, a site that is a little different than other crowdfunding sources.  Unlike Kickstarter or GoFundMe, WeFunder is a Public Benefit Corporation Platform that does more than give you the usual perks of T-Shirts, Mugs, and special openings, it also gives you a stake in the business and a chance to make some money off of your initial investment.  Investors are paid back through a revenue share in which 10% of the revenues that the brewery earns will be distributed quarterly until everyone receives their initial investment plus an addtional 50% of their investment on top.  Their are some variables in how long this may take and Laura told us, “If we raise $175K, based on the current revenue projections, investors will be paid back in 3 years”.  They have already met their original goal of $100K and the funding will close on 9/7/18 at 11 PM, so if you are interested you need to get on this TODAY!

We here at South Jersey Beer Scene love this model.  (Editors Note:  We did not receive any compensation from Attic Brewing for this article)  We love the community that a brewery brings to a neighborhood and the ability to be an active investor in it really is something that we have not seen.  The return on the investment is really generous, and they are also giving you perks in addtion to the cold, hard cash.

I asked Laura why people from South Jersey should invest and she told us, “People who live farther away should invest in Attic Brewing Co. because it’s an opportunity to become part of our brewery family and help build something amazing in historic Germantown. Our investors not only get a 1.5x return on their investment, but also really cool investor perks like brewery swag, private tours and tickets to our pre-opening party. We will be a destination brewery with a 3,000 sqft taproom hosting weekly live music and events. Making it the perfect spot to come visit for some great beer and a great time with friends!”

Oh, about the beer.  Attic doesn’t have plans on being a production brewery but will have many different styles of beer to appeal to everyone.  They plan on brewing classic styles including Brown Ale, Cream Ale, a Hoppy American Wheat, German Pilsner, and IPA’s that they will sell directly to the consumer.  They also will be filling in the menu with some Unique one-offs and seasonals.

Congrats to the Team at Attic Brewing Co. for reaching their initial investing target and we cannot wait to visit once the doors open!

LINKS

WeFunder Page

Visit Attic Brewing Company on the web at www.atticbrewing.com

 

Beer 101 Beer Biz Profiles Breweries

Beerworld! A Short History of Ponderlodge Golf Course and It’s Beer Connection!

Beerworld: A History

Deep in the Cape May County peninsula there was once a lodge on a non-descript golf course referred to as ‘Beerworld’.  Located in Lower Township, this mystical place was born out of the Ponderlodge Golf Course and built by William H. ‘Billy’ Pflaumer shortly after he acquired the land in 1976.

Ponderlodge would shortly be dubbed, Beerworld by locals of Cape May County chiefly because of Billy Pflaumer’s day job: owner of Christian Schmidt & Sons brewery in Philadelphia (more commonly known to many simply as ‘Schmidts’).  Once known as the 9th largest brewer in the country, Schmidts was an American beer icon for decades along with Pabst Blue Ribbon and Anheuser-Busch.

Pflaumer himself did not drink beer or play golf, but built the 16,000-square foot building within Ponderlodge Golf Course for friends and family anyway.  First, as a private 9-hole course and then in 1991, Beerworld was expanded to 18 holes and opened to the public for the first time.  Pflaumer’s family and Lower Township locals alike would play the course up until the crumble of the Schmidts beer empire, and a bankruptcy that would mark a sad end to Beerworld in 1997.  

Schmidt’s Logo Tiled On the Pool

Today, although you can no longer step inside Beerworld for a fresh draft before conquering the back-nine, you can walk the land it once stood on before the lodges’ eventual demolition in 2011.  After Billy Pflaumer lost the golf course in bankruptcy, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection bought the land and made plans to restore it into a wildlife management area (WMA).  

The Cox Hall Creek WMA makes Ponderlodge almost unrecognizable now in 2018.  The golf cart paths are replaced by nature trails.  Ponds once resembling course obstacles have turned into handicap accessible fishing hide-a-ways.  Migratory birds visit the lush grasses and woods that once held drunken golfers cursing a dismal shot in the rough.  

Beerworld is no more, but the lore lives on!  Throw those clubs in the back and let’s find somewhere that still pours a draft!

Cape May Brewing Company

Ah, yes.  New Jersey’s fastest growing craft beer brewer.  Located in the heart of Cape May County and quite literally so close to Ponderlodge/Cox Hall Creek WMA that if golf carts where still on site, one could make the trip to the brewery within five minutes.

Established in 2011, in what could be interpreted as rising from the ruins of Beerworld, the Cape May Brewing Company has gone on to dominate the region since opening its taps to the world.  With a full tasting room, newly renovated outdoor lounge, and nearly two dozen craftsmanship awards from around the globe – Cape May Brewery is a must see, sit, and drink location.

Whether you’re into tastings or pints (I’m a pint guy myself) there’s plenty of brews to try and even more options to take home in the company’s ‘Brewtique’ store (A+ on the creative name convention).  Cape May IPA is the brewery’s flagship beer, and was the very first draft the woman who would go on to become my wife and I tried on a sizzling late summer day in 2012 in a little place called Cabana’s Beach Bar on Beach Avenue in Cape May.  This also happens to be the historic first location Cape May Brewery placed kegs in and sometimes, I like to think we drank a beer from that first keg.  

We were blown away that someone in South Jersey had created an IPA to challenge all IPAs, and even beat out quite a few of our favorites.  On our next visit we went to see this brewery for ourselves and where not disappointed.  Now we find ourselves making the trek down from Camden County as often as summer traffic and hectic schedules allow.

Cape May Brewery has grown a lot since 2011, but you can still purchase as much Cape May IPA as you can carry and so many beers since then.  Coastal Evacuation DIPA is one of my personal favorites while my wife enjoys the taste bud tingle of Corrosion Sour IPA.  

Photo Credit: Cape May Brewing Company

Other flagship beers include Devil’s Reach and Honey Porter.  The latter of the two is made with local honey that is certified Jersey Fresh by the state.  Sign up for the newsletter and check out what’s on tap often from One Off Wednesday’s (week to week one-time brews) to seasonal brews such as Follow The Gull and the much coveted Apple Bomb.

Breweries Events News

Big Happenings at Dogfish Head Brewery with 3 Beer Releases!

I know that we focus on South Jersey, but would there be a Craft Beer Scene in South Jersey if not for pioneers like Sam Calagione?  They had me at Bourbon Barrel-Aged 120 Minute  IPA!  Thanks to Dogfish Head for being a sponsor of the What’s On Tap Radio Show that I get to co-host with Gary Monterosso and Tara Nurin!

 

‘Labor of Love’ Hand-Bottled Beer Release Kicks Off Labor Day Weekend at Dogfish Head Brewery

Brewery unveils Grisette About It!, Bourbon Barrel-Aged 120 Minute IPA & the Fall release of 120 Minute IPA

Milton, Del., August 20, 2018 – Dogfish Head will celebrate Labor Day weekend with a lineup of three beer releases at the Milton Tasting Room (6 Cannery Village, Milton, Del., 19968) on Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1. The trio of beers – Bourbon Barrel-Aged 120 Minute IPA, 120 Minute IPA and Grisette About It! – are truly ‘labors of love,’ involving loads of time, attention and care to brew and bottle.  In fact, both Bourbon Barrel-Aged 120 Minute IPA and Grisette About It! were hand-bottled and numbered by Dogfish Head coworkers.

Friday, August 31

To close out the last day of August and cheers to the start of a new season, Dogfish Head will begin shipping its Fall release of 120 Minute IPA in late August. Guests that visit the Milton Tasting Room between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. can stop by for a beer and enter for a chance to win a limited-edition 120 Minute IPA poster – only 250 prints available.  120 Minute IPA will be available in 4pk/12oz bottles.

Dogfish Head will also release 250 (750ml) bottles of Bourbon Barrel-Aged 120 Minute IPA in the Tasting Room at 11 a.m. Full-bodied and complex, this beer takes the fan-favorite 120 Minute IPA to the next level, aging it in bourbon barrels for seven months and then dry-hopping it with a boatload of high-alpha American hops. Clocking in at 17% ABV, it’s jam-packed with barrel notes, and boasts an abundantly fresh hop flavor and aroma. Priced at $30 each, bottles will be sold on a first come, first served basis, and guests are limited to two bottles per person.

Saturday, September 1

Dogfish Head will release 200 (750ml) bottles of Grisette About It! at 11 a.m. Brewed with heirloom oats and raw organic einkorn – one of the earliest known varieties of cultivated wheat – Grisette About It! gets its subtle nuttiness and soft spiciness from a blend of noble Czech Saaz and fruity German Hallertau Blanc hops. Fermented with two strains of Belgian yeast and aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels for two months, this 3.5% ABV brew is pale and hazy with notes of toasted oak and soft vanilla.

The Wall Street Journal, who recently described Dogfish as a brewery who’s ‘won a reputation for some of the wildest beers around,’ recently caught up with Dogfish Head founder and CEO, Sam Calagione to chat about low ABV beer trends among millennial beer consumers. Calagione shared, “We wanted something really malt-forward but super refreshing…” Ranked in The Wall Street Journal’s list of ‘5 Beers Lower in Alcohol and Calories, Full of Flavor and Character,’ they write, Grisette About It! “is an old French style redone in heirloom malts, wine barrels and warm-fruit hops.  Like a chewy oatmeal cookie with rum-soaked raisins.”  Priced at $18 each, bottles of Grisette About It! will be sold on a first come, first served basis, and guests are limited to two bottles per person. It will also be on tap in the Tasting Room while supplies last.

For more information about Dogfish Head’s Labor Day weekend events and off-centered ales, please visit dogfish.com.

About 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 kitchen. 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 dogfish.com, Facebook: @dogfishheadbeer, Twitter: @dogfishbeer, and Instagram: dogfishhead.