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Our Top 5 South Jersey Beer Highlights of 2017!

Wow! 2017 was a great year for South Jersey beer and breweries.  The scene has certainly exploded!  What was once looked at as a “Millennial Fad” has taken root and become a big part of the South Jersey landscape.  We took a look back at 2017 and these are the top 5 highlights of the year.

1.  More Breweries

South Jersey saw the opening of 9 new breweries last year:

  1. Bucket Brigade Brewery in Cape May Court House
  2. Icarus Brewing in Lakewood
  3. Vinyl Brewing in Hammonton
  4. King’s Road Brewing Company in Haddonfield
  5. Manafirkin Brewing in Manahawkin
  6. Death Of The Fox Brewing in Clarksboro
  7. Zed’s Beer in Marlton
  8. Common Sense Brewing of Bordentown
  9. Hidden Sands Brewery of Egg Harbor Township (limited opening in 2017, full opening 1/12/18)

South Jersey now has 36 of the states 82 operating breweries and there are at least 8 more that are planning to open in 2018.  This is a great indicator of the health of the beer business in South Jersey and the ability of the market to support and sustain these local businesses.  The popularity of craft beer continues to grow across the state and there is plenty of room for growth.  New Jersey is 42nd in the country in the number of breweries per capita at 1.26.  Virginia, whose population is very similar to New Jersey’s, has 164 operating breweries (exactly twice the amount in NJ)  and a per capita index of 2.7 which puts it at 20th in the country.   This is a good comparison to where we are now and what we can expect to be sustainable going forward, leaving lots of room for additional growth.

2. Expansion of Existing Breweries

2017 saw major expansion for a host of breweries in South Jersey.  Just about every brewery in South Jersey had some sort of expansion in 2017.  Whether it was bigger systems, more fermenters, bigger tasting rooms, or additional brewing days, South Jersey Breweries have been growing bigger to meet the market demand which continues to grow.  This leads us to number 3:

3.  Increased Availability of Local Beer

In 2017, we saw a tremendous increase in the availability of South Jersey beer.  Distribution of beer to local restaurants increased exponentially this year with virtually every local restaurant, bar, and liquor store carrying local beer.  Kegs are a big part of this, but we have also seen a crazy increase in the number of local beers available in bottles and cans.  The number of breweries that are canning in South Jersey has skyrocketed.  Two of the oldest breweries in South Jersey, Cape May Brewing and Tuckahoe Brewing, both started canning their product this year after exclusively bottling for many years and several other locals have followed suit. Those of us who have been following craft beer for a long time see this as a game changer.  If you wanted a can option in a craft beer in the past, it was probably Oskar Blues or nothing else (although Yuengling is considered Craft by the Brewers Association rules, clearly more of a legacy craft beer).  The development and success of the Crowler by Oskar Blues and Ball showed that Craft Beer people would drink beer from cans if it was done properly.  Also, the ease and convenience of mobile-canning companies have made the ability to can much more accessible to everyone.

4.  Randalls, Randalls, Randalls Everywhere!

The Randall, an organoleptic hop transducer module developed by Dogfish Head has gained incredible popularity in South Jersey.  The Randall has a double-chamber filter that you connect to a tap of your favorite beer and fill with flavor-enhancing ingredients to create new flavor profiles.  Do you like your local breweries IPA?  How about they run it through a Randall of Jalapeno’s or pineapple to give you new flavors to explore. We have seen many inventive combinations at a bunch of local breweries.  Retailing at $298, it is a great way for brewers to showcase new flavors without incurring the cost and time of brewing up a completely new batch of beer.  If you have not yet tried this you need to!

5.  New Interpretations of Brewery Rules

One of biggest changes we have seen to South Jersey breweries this year is a looser interpretation of the archaic ABC rules that govern the industry here in New Jersey.  Although we have seen nothing official from the brewers, the NJ Brewers Association, or the State, clearly there has been a change in the way breweries are operating.  TV’s, something you never saw in a brewery, are on the walls.  Live original music has been seen, and a proliferation of food trucks has invaded South Jersey and can be found in parking lots near the licensed premises.  In speaking with a few brewery owners, it is not clear as to if this has helped business, but it gives them the option of deciding if they want to provide these activities.  There has been much debate in the beer community about the laws, and some concern over the new ABC director and his plans for NJ breweries, as well as some complaints from Bar and Restaurant owners who feel that the rules are being interpreted wrongly and should not be allowed to continue.  In speaking with brewery owners and employees,  our belief is that this change in the rule interpretation has not really changed the amount of revenue that the breweries bring in, and we have seen a lot of these activities tail off as the newness has worn off.  What it does do is put the Breweries on a similar, yet not equal, standing with the New Jersey Wineries, Distilleries, and the recent new rules for Cideries that are on the books.  We think a lot of this will be talked about in 2018 and expect to see some changes in legislation and from the ABC as well as the rules governing breweries.

 

Honorable Mention 1:  Festivals!

Nearly every weekend from March until November you can find a beer festival in the greater South Jersey area.  We are also lucky to have one of the biggest and best right here in our backyard, the Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival put on by the gang at Good Time Tricycle Productions at the AC Convention center.  This monster continues to grow every year and is recognized nationally as one of the must-attend events for beer fanatics.

Honorable Mention 2:  Continued Dominance of IPA’s

Once again this year IPA’s dominated the South Jersey beer market.  It is not uncommon to see multiple types of IPA’s on the board at local breweries, and it looks like the demand keeps growing.  We saw more variations of IPA’s than any other beer in South Jersey this year.  Also, the dry hopping, double dry hopping, and special versions of IPA’s seem to be released on an almost daily basis.  We expect this to continue into 2018 and beyond.

 

This list is by no mean’s the gospel on what went on this year in beer here in South Jersey.  Tell us what you think!  Comment or reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, or email.  We would love to hear what you think!

Here’s to a great 2017 and an even better 2018!  Cheers!

 

 

Breweries News

Talking Beer With Three 3’s Mike and Jon Geller

Last week Tom and I sat down with Mike and Jon Geller of Three 3’s Brewing in Hammonton to talk beer in anticipation of their big double-can release of Drenched and Bugg Juice at the tasting room on 12/8 at 3 pm. In addition, they will also be releasing Evolution Four as a taproom-only bonus!   Three 3’s has been killing it all over the state the last few months by taking 1st Place in the DIPA category at the Maloney’s Pub & Grille NJ IPA competition for Totally Drenched, being the winner of the Kick The Keg competition at the Mellow Mushroom in Toms River, and being named the 2017 IPA Smackdown Champion at Cork City’s blind taste test for Bugg Juice.  Although they are getting a reputation as one of the area’s best IPA brewers, they also have a full tap list of other really well-done beers.

Mike and Jon joined owner Dave Tomasello’s operation earlier this year and have not only helped in brewing Dave’s recipes, but have developed some of their own which they have been able to release.  “Most of the recipes that you see are Dave’s, a few have been mine or stuff that we are collaborating on.  You will start to see more collaborations, a little bit more of my stuff while working in some new IPA’s so we do something new every month”.  On the day that we visited Mike and Jon had just finished a day of commissioning their new 1-Barrel Pilot system with friends from Brotherton Brewing Company using local grains from Rabbit Hill Farms.  And after we interviewed the guys another collaboration was announced via Facebook with none other than Czig Meister Brewing, another great New Jersey Brewery located in Hackettstown.

Mike and Jon were homebrewing for a couple years and have transitioned from their 5 Gallon days to brewing on Three #’s 10 BBL system.  I asked Mike how hard it was to translate his homebrewing to such a big system and he told me “It’s definitely intimidating but at the end of the day your still trying to do the same thing right?  You are still steeping grain, you are still trying to add hops for your bitterness, and so the general principles translate.  Now how you get there and how you do it is very different, but yeah, the general idea is the same I think”.

 

What does the future look like for Three 3’s?  “Definitely cans regularly, different beers in cans, maybe something that we have never released before in cans exclusively.  We definitely have some new fun IPA’s and Pale Ales planned, and we have some fun collaborations that will be coming up that I am pretty excited about. All of them aren’t with breweries either, we have some other stuff in the works to work with different groups that do something different in the alcohol space.”

We really had a great time with Mike and Jon.  They are dedicated to making great beer and both are hard working guys that are a great hang.  After sitting down and talking with these guys for about 5 minutes you feel like you have known him for your entire life!   Their passion for beer and for Three 3’s is really contributing to the success of the brewery, and I really look forward to what Dave, Mike, Jon and the rest of the staff will be coming up going forward.

Follow Three 3’s On Social Media!

On the Web at www.three3sbrewing.com

Facebook @Three3sbrewing

Twitter @three3sbrew

Instagram Three3sbrewing

 

 

Beer Biz Profiles News

We Did The Jersey Beer Guys (and a Girl) Podcast! Episode Out Today!

A few weeks ago I got to sit down with Rob, Amy, Eric, and Ian to record an episode of the Jersey Beer Guys and A Girl Podcast to talk South Jersey Beer.  First of all, if you are a fan of South Jersey beer you need to start listening to this podcast.  Rob does a great job hosting the podcast, Eric and Ian are there to add their insights, and then there is Amy.  Amy is the wild card, the  1o.5% Unfiltered IPA of the group who asks the questions that we all wish we could and adds a great amount of hilarity to the show.  Amy is learning about Craft Beer on the show and is the perfect foil to Rob, who is a very knowledgeable beer guy.  I really enjoyed my time with them and cannot wait to get back to sit with them again.

 

To listen to podcast follow the link HERE or click the picture below!

You can reach the Jersey Beer Guys at jerseybeerguys@gmail.com

Follow Jersey Beer Guys on Facebook @jerseybeer.guys

Follow Jersey Beer Guys on Instagram  jerseybeerguys

Breweries News

Ludlam Island Brewery Announces New Name for Lamplight IPA, Double Dry Hops It For 12/2 Release!

Ludlam Island Brewery was tasked to find a new name for Lamplight, their Juicy American IPA, when another brewery nicely asked them to avoid confusion with their brand.  The search for a new name was not easy and many suggestions were made by Ludlam’s dedicated fans as part of a contest to find a new name.  In the end, after much debating among the staff, the new name has been found.  The beer formerly known as Lamplight will now be called:

To celebrate the new name, a new batch was made that they double dry hopped with mosaic.  Assistant Brewer Brad told us it is “literally double the amount of the normal dry hop”.  Ludlam will be pre-filling about 300 Crowlers and they will go on sale this Saturday, December 2nd.  After this release, there will be no takeout of this double dry hopped version of “Let It Shine”, and it will only be going to a select few bars.

Check out Ludlam’s Facebook page for more information regarding the release!

News

What’s On Tap TV Show Goes on Hiatus, New Radio Show Announced

SNJ TV’s “What’s On Tap” Television show will go on hiatus following the  November 9th episode.  Citing high distribution costs, host Gary Monterosso also announced on Facebook that the show will be moving to radio on Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT in Vineland in the near future:

What’s On Tap” viewers: After this Thursday’s episode, we will be going on hiatus. In the meantime, we will be moving to Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT in Vineland, NJ. Listen for us Sundays from 5-6p beginning very shortly. We will announce the date of our premiere episode soon.

Gary also announced that SNJ TV will be producing a documentary called “Still Crazy After All These Beers”, which will showcase the history of the show and relive some of it’s best moments.

On a personal note, I was lucky enough to be a guest on the show and watched it religiously.  Gary along, with co-host Tara Nurin, do a great job showcasing the burgeoning beer scene here in South Jersey and the show will surely be missed. I learned a ton about beer from watching the show and the friendship that I have cultivated with Gary and Tara after appearing on the show is something that I value highly. Gary and Tara were responsible for giving our site it’s first major exposure and have continued to support us as we cover South Jersey’s Beer Scene.  Anytime I have reached out to either Gary or Tara they have always been more than accommodating in helping me with the site.  Whether it is Journalism Ethics or just to chat about beer they have never failed to help guide me when asked.  For this, I will forever be grateful!

As for the new show, I can also announce that Gary has asked me to take a more active role in the new show.  I am really excited to be a part of the new show and cannot wait to get started!

Keep an eye out here for updates on the launch date of the new radio show!