Ocean County Home Brew Club

Halloween Boo'ze 'N Brew Festival, Cape May

2018 AC Beer Fest March 23-24th

10 Questions With... Beer Biz Profiles Breweries

10 Questions With…Tadhg Campbell of Slack Tide Brewing Company

In this edition of 10 Questions With… I headed to Clermont, N.J. to talk to head brewer Tadhg Campbell of one of my favorites, Slack Tide Brewing Company.  Tadhg and his brother Jason opened up Slack Tide in December of 2015 with the intention of making high-quality beer from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. The Campbell brothers started brewing in their garages about 7 years ago. While the first couple batches were made from extract kits, they quickly moved to all grain where you have more control over the final product. The first year or so was rough, but with a great response from family, and friends they started thinking that they may want to make this more than just a hobby. So they brewed up 6 batches (most are still brewed today) bottled them up and gave them out to 48 people with an anonymous rating sheet in self-addressed envelopes. The response was extremely favorable. One of the 48 was actually a certified beer judge who got a couple of his judging buddies to taste the samples as well, and filled out a more detailed score sheet. The response was also very good, so they asked if he thought they should open a brewery which the beer judge replied, “I would”. So with Tadhg as head brewer, and Jason bringing his brewing knowledge and project management background in which he is very meticulous with the paperwork, things started to come together. Now you add Jason’s wife, Bobbie, with her marketing background, and Tadhg’s wife, Natacha, with her clothing background you have a great recipe for a successful business to go along with the great beer recipes. I highly recommend a trip to Slack Tide to get “unstressed”.

What was the first beer you brewed, and how was it?

It was an extract kit called Dead Ringer IPA. It turned out as well as could be expected for the first time. It was drinkable, but not delicious by any means. Not sure if we did the recipe justice, but we drank it, and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

What is your favorite style to brew, and why?

That’s a tough one. We try to brew many styles here. I know some brewers may be hesitant to say it, but I’m going to have to say an IPA. It’s the most popular and sought-after style, and there are so many variations of it. The New England style is really popular and is a little more difficult to hit the target then the West Coast IPA.

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

It would be silly not to, but I wouldn’t say we look at them too much. The feedback we like, and enjoy, and take into account the most is the face to face contact-Whether it’s in the Taproom, or at a festival, or just out in public. We also trust the other local brewer’s opinions and do the same for them. It definitely does not affect our recipes.

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

It’s a big part of what we do here. Since we do live in the Garden State it’s nice to see farmers like Bad Cat Farms, and Rabbit Hill Farms starting to grow hops and malts. We brew with fruit from Hammonton, and sweet potatoes from Vineland, and Aronia berries that are harvested right down the street. What we do is local, and you always have to pay it forward local with the farmers whether it’s honey, fruit, vegetables, or even oysters.

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

When Jason and I started brewing in the garage we felt our beer quality took a huge step when we got a temperature controlled fermentation box. Dialing in the temperature made our beer more consistent, and a true reflection of what you got.

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

Do your homework! Be prepared to wait for a lot of the permits. The number one piece of advice is to calculate how much time you’ll need to spend at the brewery, and then double or triple that. Brewing is 90% cleaning and sterilizing.

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

I knew this question was coming, and I was debating on a few. I would have to say a big barrel aged Stout or Barleywine. The amount of time would be the expense, not so much the ingredients.

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

I would have to say the way the community embraced us. Not just the customers who are some of the best, but the other local breweries as well. We all work hard, we all drink beer, and we all have fun. It’s just a great fraternity of people, and we all want each other to succeed.

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

Most of the time it would be a cold glass of water, but if not that it would definitely be something from a local brewery.

Where do you see the brewery in a year? In 5 years?

We are currently installing a 10 BBL system which is almost complete. It’s going to take a lot of outside work in sales, but we want to have it maxed out. Maybe tweak the Taproom hours. In 5 years we want to be canning a lot so we can get into the package good stores. Hopefully another expansion, and continue to grow organically.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite beer, other than yours?

The most memorable beer would be Red Dog. (laugh) When I played football in college the 1st team was the blue team, the 2nd team was the white team, and the 3rd team was the red team. Since I was a freshman I was on the red team, and we called ourselves The Red Dogs and drank a lot of Red Dog. Probably because it was like $5 a case. This is a hard question because I like different beers in different seasons. The answer would be Firestone Walker Brewing’s Wookey Jack, which is not in production anymore. It was actually the inspiration for our Knockdown Black IPA which took home the bronze medal at the Best Of Craft Beer Awards in Bend, Oregon.

Events News

Ocean County Homebrewers Vs. Monmouth County Homebrewers! Battle: American Porter

On Friday, September 26th, Icarus Brewing of Lakewood hosted the American Porter competition which The Ocean County Homebrewers Association faced off against the Monmouth County Homebrewers Association.  After Judges Jason Goldstein (Icarus Brewing), Torie Fisher (Backward Flag Brewing), and Joellen Ford (The Brewer’s Apprentice of Freehold) sampled the entries, the gold medal was awarded to the Ocean County team of Dave Menges and Patrick Scott.

Winners Dave Menges and Patrick Scott (Photo courtesy of Vic Sbailo)

“The clubs had a great time getting to know each other and trading ideas, so we will be planning more joint meetings and collaborations” our own Vic Sbailo, President of the Ocean County Home Brewers Association told us.

Ocean County Home Brewers Association President Vic Sbailo, along with former presidents Joe McCall and Brian Fischer (Photo Courtesy of Vic Sbailo)

Homebrewing is where most, if not all, of the brewers that I know, have gotten their start.  It is a great hobby enjoyed by many, but getting started can be a little bit confusing.  What to brew, how to brew it, and how much to brew are all considerations that need to be explored prior to becoming an amateur brewer and there is no better way to learn than going to one of the many homebrew clubs in the area and learn from the people who have done it.  Check out any of the organizations below to find out when they are meeting to join the fun.

Ocean County Homebrewers Association

Monmouth County Homebrewers Association

Barley Legal Homebrewers

Brew Jersey Home Brew Club

Cape May Brewers Guild

Also, remember to support your local homebrew stores!

Eastern Homebrew, Northfield

Keg & Barrel Homebrew Supply, Berlin

The Brewer’s Apprentice, Freehold


Here’s What’s On Tap This Week

Tuesday, October 3rd

Pinelands Brewing Company hosts Brew Days tonight at the taproom.  In October, 10% of all sales on Tuesdays between the hours of 6-9p will be earmarked for Hearts and Harleys.

Wednesday, October 4th

Flying Fish Brewing Co has Barrel Aged Wednesdays from 3- 6 pm every Wednesday during the year.  Join the gang at Flying Fish as the tap a new barrel aged beer every week!

Village Idiot Brewing Co is having an Acoustic Open Mic night w/your host Dave Murray tonight at the tasting room from 6-9 pm.

Death of The Fox Brewing Co will be having an Open Mic night tonight starting at 7 pm.

Eclipse Brewing has trivia night tonight at the tasting room along with as many as 17 beers on tap!

Thursday, October 5th

Garden State Beer Company will be having live music tonight from Mike Oregano and Pork Island BBQ will be there making some great barbecue!

Human Village Brewing Co is hosting an open mic night tonight hosted by Jacob Graff from 7-10 pm. Musicians are encouraged to come by 6:30 PM in order to sign up to play.

Zed’s Beer is open tonight from 4-9:30 pm.  Stop out and see Geoff and Lori, two of our favoritest people in the biz and try one of their fantastic offerings.  One of NJ’s newest breweries, Zed’s has a great tasting room and a beer for everyone!

Friday, October 6th

Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing will be having First Firkin Friday at the tasting room tonight starting at 4 pm.  This months firkin is their latest cocktail inspired firkin, “Peach Bellini” – our Funnel Cake conditioned with peaches and dried out with a champagne yeast!

Three 3’s will be pouring at the Oktoberfest Fundraiser for Partners in Learning, Inc. in Hammonton. Come and support this amazing organization that helps support children with autism/PDD disorders.

Vinyl Brewing will be open today at 4 pm.  Last weekend’s grand opening was a huge success and, if you didn’t stop by last week, you need to get here this weekend!  I am sure Jim has some interesting brews cooked up for everyone!

Tomfoolery Brewing will be having Fools’ Hour today from 3-6 pm with $1 off of full pours!

Lower Forge Brewery in Medford has Live Music tonight featuring Eric Schwank of Last Leaf from 7-10 pm in the tasting room

Saturday, October 7th

The Cape May Wine & Music Fest is from 12-6 pm today at Hawk Haven Winery in Rio Grande.   This event will feature live music from world-class performers, wine tastings from some of New Jersey’s finest wineries, a craft beer garden that will blow your hops off, and a variety of tasty street food vendors.  For tickets and information visit them on the web HERE

Pinelands Brewing Company will be having their Oktoberfest and the release of their brand new “Man’s Best Friend” Golden Ale.  Man’s Best Friend will be available in both draft and bottles, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Kimmy’s Safe Haven Rescue.

The Mad Batter in Cape May will host NJCB Night today starting at 3 pm.  They will have around 20 New Jersey beers on tap including at least 1 cask.  Also brewery reps, Mike and other Members from Team NJCB, specials on beer and food for NJCB Members and some giveaways perhaps too.

Nale House Brewing Co in Medford will be hosting Moocheeze, an amazing cheesey food truck tonight at 5 pm.

Spellbound Brewing will be having Scary Suds in the tasting room in celebration of the Witches Ball in Mount Holly.   They will be featuring Blood Orange Chocolate Brown Ale, Peanut Butter Chocolate Porter, and Ghost Pepper Mango Pale Ale for all the adults needing a Halloween treat!

Sunday, October 8th

Manafirkin Brewing Company will be having Firktoberfest 2017 from 2-8 pm at their Manahawkin tasting room. There will be live accordion music, commemorative beer Steins, bratwurst vendor, special pricing on merchandise, raffles and giveaways and the release of this years Pumpkin Beer.




Breweries Events

Vinyl Brewing Opening Their Doors on 9/29/17 at 4 PM!

The much-anticipated opening of Vinyl Brewing in Hammonton is set for this Friday, September 29th at 4 PM.   The brewery, Co-Founded by Jim Sacco and Tom and Susan Puentes, is the 3rd brewery to open in Hammonton and is the first in the downtown district.  “There was never any other option for us but to be here in Downtown Hammonton on Main Street.  We are all born and raised here and we wanted to help move the downtown area further past the railroad tracks” Jim Sacco, who is also the Head Brewer of Vinyl told us.  The location is fantastic, situated just west of the railroad tracks on 12th St, right across Bruni’s Pizza, one of South Jersey’s best-known Pizza Shops.  The tasting room is spacious highlighted with a large bar surrounded by booths and tables.  Glass garage doors line the front of the tasting room and can be opened when the weather is agreeable. The room is decorated with album covers and large photos of Rock Legends including John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen.  “My Uncle (Co-Founder Tom Puentes) built everything here.  Everything that you see is pretty much his hard work”.

Why the name Vinyl Brewing?  Jim told us “I grew up in the punk rock scene collecting vinyls and I was in punk rock bands for the majority of my life, so I wanted to take the two passions that I have and kinda mold it into one.  My Aunt and Uncle are big fans of music too”. Album covers from such varied bands as Black Flag, Journey, The Descendants, and REO Speedwagon decorate the walls of the tasting room, “You can probably tell which ones are mine” Jim said as I rattled off the names.  Being a notorious music snob myself, it was great to see all of these music styles melding to create an atmosphere in the room that truly exemplifies the spirit of creativity.  I believe brewers are as much of an artist as any painter, musician, or sculptor and after sitting with Jim for a short while, it is clear that he is not just a brewer, but an artist whose palette is hops, malt, yeast, and water.

Jim started brewing around 12 years ago in his parent’s kitchen, and his first beer that he brewed was a Stout from an extract kit.  Back then, Jim and his friends thought it was pretty good but, in looking back Jim said,”we thought it was great, but now I know it wasn’t (laughing)”.  He also remembers it “took like three hours to get it to boil because we were using an electric stove top”.  At first, he would go a couple of months in between brew days, but as he started really getting into it Jim started brewing every weekend.  One day Jim told his wife, “This is it!  I am focusing, this is my goal, and I am gonna do it”.  Jim continued to brew until he was hired as a brewer at Three 3’s, another Hammonton Brewery.  After some time, Jim started to think about his dream and started to formulate a plan to have his own brewery.  “It felt that it was time to go out on my own creatively…I think that when you are a creative person you reach that point where you have to do your own thing or it will eat you up inside”.   Luckily, Jim’s Aunt and Uncle (Tom and Susan) were interested in joining Jim in fulfilling his dream.  They signed a lease in January 2017, got town approval in April of 2017, and now they are ready to open the doors.

Vinyl Brewing is going to specialize in a Small Batch brewing philosophy.  The 3 BBL brewhouse has 6-3BBL fermenters along with a brite tank.  Jim also plans to use his 1 gallon and 5 gallon systems to brew unique beers such as sours.  He plans on rotating the taps pretty frequently keeping the selection fresh, but will bring back favorites every few months.  ” We are not going to be brewing the same thing all of the time, we are going to have constantly rotating taps, it lets us be experimental to see what people like” Jim explained, “We are going to switch it up as much we can”.

At the Grand Opening, Vinyl will have 6 beers on tap including 2 IPA’s, a Kölsch, a Belgian Blonde, a Stout, and a Guava Saison.   Flights (they have a great flight paddle design!),  pints, and  32 oz growler fills will be available.  They plan on offering 64 oz growlers and crowlers in the future.  Merchandise with the Vinyl Logo (designed by fellow Hammontonian Elena Lombardelli) will also be available at the tasting room.

Congrats to Jim, Tom, Susan and everyone at Vinyl Brewing on their Grand Opening!

Follow Vinyl Brewing on Social Media!

Facebook:  @vinylbrewing

Twitter:  @vinylbrewing

Instagram: vinylbrewing

On the Web:  www.vinylbrewingnj.com





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