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Breweries Road Trip

Road Trip: Berwick Brewing With Tom

On our camping trip over the 4th of July holiday, we decided to escape the madness of the Jersey Shore, and head to Ricketts Glen State Park. We stayed at Whispering Pines Camping Estates, which I highly recommend. They are located within 20-30 minutes of plenty of hikes, and attractions. They even had their own fireworks display that could be viewed from our campsite and lasted almost an hour. Our main reason that we stayed at Ricketts Glen was to hike the Falls Trail which brings you by 22 named waterfalls that are really awesome. After the mildly difficult 3 hour hike on the Falls Trail, we were hungry and thirsty, so it was time for us to sit down and grab a beer and something to eat.

Whenever we go camping I’m always on the lookout for a brewery nearby that serves food, which is something you can’t find in New Jersey. While Turkey Hill Brewing was the better-known brewery we opted for the lesser known Berwick Brewing.   Tom Clark, who was previously the owner of the now-closed Red Bank Brewery in Red Bank, NJ, brought his great recipes and food menu to the banks of the Susquehanna River in upstate Pennsylvania when he opened up Berwick Brewing in late 2007.  The inside of the Brewery could easily seat 100 people, and the outside Bier Garten could easily accommodate another 100. With at least 20 beers on tap at all times, there is something for everyone. For someone who is new to the craft beer scene, the Berwick Lager would fit the bill.  Speaking of Bills, the Grumpy Bill’s Porter was extremely good and represented the style admirably. Although I tried almost everything in our 2 visits the one I enjoyed was the Berwick IPA, and the Front Street Wheat. Berwick IPA was very good with not much bitterness on the back end. Wheat beers are probably my favorite style, and Front Street Wheat did not disappoint and went down smooth. The one beer that seemed to go over well with our camping group was the West End Pale Ale. It had everything you want in a Pale Ale with good aroma and a sweet finish. In addition to great beers, Berwick has a great menu. Who doesn’t like fried cheese curds? They were a big hit with our group! What really stood out the most was the incredibly delicious pizza. The crust was sweet and tasty while the cheeses Tom used were definitely high quality. Our first trip was so good that we had to plan to go back the next day. Berwick Brewing is a great brewery with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. I can’t wait to go back to the area camping again, have some more great beer and pizza. It was also a nice surprise to see some local breweries stickers on the wall!

Berwick Brewing is definitely a place you should stop at if you are ever in the area.  They have a great room, great food, and fantastic beer.  For more information on Berwick Brewery follow them check out the links below!

Enjoy Your Pour!

Visit Berwick Brewing on the web www.berwickbrewing.com

Follow Berwick Brewing on Facebook  HERE

Follow Berwick Brewing on Instagram berwickbrewing

Follow Berwick Brewing on Twitter @BerwickBrewing

 

10 Questions With... Breweries Road Trip

Road Trip! 10 Questions With…Brett Cracco of St. John Brewers in The US Virgin Islands

Welcome to our “Road Trip” edition of “10 Questions With…”.  We go a little south of South Jersey for this one….well, actually WAY south, about 1,500 miles as we visit the beautiful island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands and the Tap Room at St. John Brewers.

St John Brewers tale starts in 2001, when 2 University of Vermont grads, Kevin Chipman and Chirag (Cheech) Vyas decided to leave the corporate world and move to the paradise that is St. John. Kevin and Cheech worked as waiters, bartenders and other jobs in the tourism industry to sustain them while they worked on their craft. After much experimentation, they arrived at what would be their flagship brew, a pale ale with island grown mango, a true local beer.

Serving as their own distributors, the beer exploded on the scene and the demand soon outpaced the production ability of the small brewery, so they reached an agreement with Shipyard Brewing in Portland, Maine to be their bottling and distributing partner. They also established what is now an island staple, the Tap Room. While the original Tap Room burned down in a fire in 2015, the partners soon rebuilt and a new 2 level Tap Room is expected to be ready soon, enabling the small 2 barrel brewery to more than double in size.

St. John Brewers beers are now available throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as in 4 states…including New Jersey!   Although the bottling and distributing are done in Maine, all the recipes are concocted, tested and approved on the island. All draft production is also done on the island.

Kevin and Cheech were not available when I visited, but I got the opportunity to meet with Brett Cracco, Sales and Marketing Manager. Brett was with the Tap Room a while ago, but recently returned to the island and is a brew industry veteran in his own right, having worked as Senior Brewer and Specialty Projects Manager at Heavy Seas Brewing in Maryland.

What was the First Beer you brewed? How was it?

Tropical Mango Pale Ale….brewed with mangoes right from the island. Outstanding!

What is your favorite style to brew and why?

A session IPA, drinkable with while still having some flexibility with your hops.

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

We haven’t a lot in the past but we are starting to now. Part of my job is partnering with Social Media and increasing awareness of our product.

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

Obviously our Tropical Mango was originally inspired and sourced from our local fruit, but we also just brewed a Passion Fruit Gose (sorry that was kicked just before you got here) and our Toasted Coconut will be ready next week (sorry you will be gone by then) and others that are only available in the Tap Room. The island is very small and very limited fresh water supply, which limits what we can brew.  We can’t grow the grain or hops on the island and we also have to import any outside yeast we use, so that creates some challenges. 

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

Temperature control is key, consistency of process is also very important. Lastly, repeat and refine your recipes…master one before you move on to another. 

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

Don’t look to get too huge too fast. At least in the beginning, keep it in house, keep it small.

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

Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale by Boulevard Brewing Company. Just because it is my favorite beer. Fantastic!

Looking back on opening day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you the most?

Ever since I started with the company, it has always amazed me that the entire community has supported St. John Brewers.  Through the past 13 years we have always had that support, so when the fire burned down our tap room in 2015, the owners knew it was only a speed bump and that they would be able to rebuild and still have the locals standing by our side the whole time.  That is why I love this island!

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

Whatever someone wants to buy me!

Where do you see the brewery in one year…five years?

Where do you see the brewery in a year? 5 years? 
A year…new Tap Room being opened for business. 5 years…with the success of the expanded brewery being able to supply more kegs to more bars and restaurants on the island. 

For more information on St. John Brewers, visit them on the web at www.stjohnbrewers.com

Visit St. John Brewers on Facebook @StJohnBrewers

Follow St. John Brewers on Instagram @stjohnbrewers

Follow St. John Brewers on Twitter @StJohnBrewers

 

Road Trip Tours

Road Trip: Commonwealth Brewing of Virginia Beach with Tuckahoe Brewing’s Rob Callaghan

When the camper gets hooked up it is vacation time, and my favorite thing to do on vacation is to visit other breweries. The trip to Virginia Beach is one of my favorites. I have made this trip many times with my wife and our dogs and it never disappoints. We always stay at First Landing State Park and, I have to say, Virginia State Parks are outstanding. I love this particular state park for 2 reasons. First, the campsites are a walk over the dunes to the Chesapeake Bay and, second, its close proximity to breweries! Within 12 miles of our campsite, there are at least 7 breweries including Back Bay Brewing, Pleasure House Brewing, Reaver Beach Brewing, Young Veterans Brewing, Green Flash Brewing, Smart Mouth Brewing, and my personal favorite Commonwealth Brewing Company!

The last 3 times I have been to Virginia Beach I have ended up at Commonwealth. They have excellent beers and the all-around vibe of the brewery is terrific. The brewery is located in an old firehouse in the Chic’s (or Chick’s) Beach section of Virginia Beach. The tasting room is located in what was the garage section of the old firehouse and houses a 30’ bar with 28 taps. The room has communal tables with a beer rail along the wall. There is a great view of the brewery on the back wall. The garage doors are glass and allow you to get a look at the outside patio which, when it is nice out, are left open. Tucked in the back of the brewery is the brewhouse and a barrel aging room. The barrel aging room is also used for private events for up to 70 people.

Now let’s move on to the beer! Let me start by saying I am already looking forward to our next trip back! Commonwealth has many standout beers which, I believe, has to do with the brewery’s mantra described on their site by owner Jeramy Biggie as “a tight-knit band of like-minded people who believe beer should be adventurous, diverse, extremely drinkable, and defy boundaries”. They nailed it! We sampled a flight on this trip which consisted of 6 beers, 5 oz. each served on a holder made from a barrel. They did not disappoint!

The first beer we sampled was Big Papi, a Double IPA checking in at 8% ABV. It is the big brother of their IPA, Paps Chulo. It is a hazy, fruit forward beer with low bitterness. It was my favorite of the flight rating an A+.

Next up was Marvolo, an Imperial Chocolate Stout checking in at 8.5% ABV made with cold brewed coffee, toasted coconut, and Dutch cocoa. All of these flavors blend together creating a bold and dark beer that is so easily drinkable it could be dangerous! It is by far my wife’s favorite and was a close second for me. I would rate this an A.

The third beer was The Wealth, a blond saison at 5.1% ABV, with notes of fruit, spices, and bread. Another excellent, highly drinkable beer that I would rate a B+.

We then sampled Burgundy, a Belgian Dubbel checking in at 8.4% ABV. This beer is made with 3 different types of Belgian candi syrup and open fermented, with notes of ripe fruit and rich malt. This beer reminded me of our Fete Du Roi, a beer we brew at Tuckahoe Brewing Company. I graded this as an A.

Our next sample was Sophrosyne, an aged saison that checked in at 5.8%. It is a 100% folder fermented beer aged 6 months, then blended with their house Solera. I would describe it as tart, light, and funky, exactly how a sour should be. I rated this a solid B.

The final beer of our flight was Trishna, a Gose with hints of blood orange, lemon, lime and Buddha’s Hand, a Chinese fruit. It has a strong forward flavor that dissipates over time. The beer was an excellent finish for me and rated and A.

I really feel the Commonwealth Vibe runs through all the selections we had, and I am sure if you were to visit you would feel the same way!

If you get a chance to Virginia Beach, take it! It is a beer lover’s paradise with excellent breweries, terrific restaurants, and beautiful beaches. It is also in close to Norfolk which is also home to some awesome breweries, but I will save that for the next Road Trip article! Sitting here writing this has me longing to head back!

Cheers!

Rob Callaghan

 

Rob Callaghan is the Sales Manager for Tuckahoe Brewing Company.  

Follow Rob on Instagram @iselltuckahoebeer

Follow Tuckahoe Brewing Company on Twitter @tuckahoeco

For more about Tuckahoe Brewing Company, visit them at www.tuckahoebrewing.com