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Joe Moore

Breweries Road Trip

Exploring and Taste Touring South Jersey with Joe Moore

Cape May Zoo & Craft Beer Too

 

Cape May County Park & Zoo

The Cape May County Park and Zoo complex, located within Cape May Court House in Cape May County, is one of South Jersey’s hidden treasures.  Established in 1978, the zoo began as a county park and recreation area for natives of Cape May County.  It would later go on to house indigenous species of animals found throughout South Jersey and North America.  Finally, in 1989 the Cape May Zoo received official zoo accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (also known as the AZA).  

Today, the zoo is recognized as one of the top 25 zoos in the nation from a survey conducted by TripAdvisor in 2015.  The Cape May Zoo has a free admission policy but accepts and encourages donations in any amount upon entry.  With convenient free parking a short walk from the zoo’s entrance, this donation is a bargain for the wild experiences one is about to encounter within the zoo itself.  

As you exit the vehicle and walk through the dense paths made up of the scenic nature trails of Cape May County Park, the beach takes a backseat to wooded forests and also the high flying ziplines of the recently constructed Tree to Tree Adventure Park.  As you pass through the front gate, throw your donation in the donation bucket (or just politely hand that donation to the person volunteering their time at the front gate) and proceed within.  Some of the most notable attractions and exhibits within the zoo are the, now famous, Himalayan snow leopards, an intelligent pair of river otters and the entirely unique boardwalk safari.  The boardwalk safari allows guests to take a stroll on a classic South Jersey styled boardwalk to encounter wildlife that dominate both the North American and African plains.

If I were to recommend one exhibit at the Cape May Zoo, it would be the World of Birds enclosure house located just inside the entrance of the zoo.  Some of the more interesting and exotic animals reside within this exhibit, such as the American flamingo and a colony of Roseate spoonbills suspended above the house’s guest walkway.  The Cape May County Park & Zoo is open year-round with summer and winter hours that can be found on the zoo’s website (www.cmczoo.com).

Slack Tide Brewing Company

Slack Tide Avalon Amber

Founded in 2015 by two brothers and located just outside of Cape May Court House in Clermont, New Jersey, is Slack Tide Brewing Company.  The brewery’s tasting room alone is enough to get any beer enthusiast through the door to try Slack Tide’s beer but be warned, seating is first come first served.  

The beer selection itself is uniquely South Jersey in the naming and style.  The Angry Osprey, their flagship IPA, is an essential addition to any tasting flight or great as a pint on its’ own.  Tipsy Dipsy speaks for itself as a stand-alone Double IPA.  Fun twists on a classic stout and ample pale ale brew can be sampled in Monkey Face and 5 Fathoms flagship beers respectively.  Check out their tasting room in person or on the website (www.slacktidebrewingco.com) for new releases and seasonal brews.

The ‘crowler’ operation the brothers have going on at Slack Tide Brewing Company is at a different level with the option of 16-ounce pounder  four packs or 32-ounce crowlers poured and canned to go.  For those unaware, a ‘Crowler’ is just a giant can that is filled with either Angry Osprey, 5 Fathoms, Tipsy Dipsy, or many of the other brews on tap and then canned before your very eyes on the canning machine positioned just behind the tasting room’s bar.  Recently, Slack Tide has begun distributing cans throughout South Jersey.  Talk about canning around!

Country Club Tavern    

   

If sitting down with a pint and eating a hearty meal in a beer pouring establishment is more up your alley after conquering one of the county’s top 25 zoos, then Country Club Tavern located just off Route 9 in Cape May Court House will meet those very needs.

Only a few minutes’ drive from Cape May Zoo, the Country Club Tavern offers a wide range of local and not so local craft brews.  Slack Tide happens to have Angry Osprey on tap in this establishment, should their tasting room elude you.  Cape May IPA from also close by Cape May Brewery has a tap here as well.  The brewers of South Jersey are well represented at the Country Club Tavern.  Local breweries include: Glasstown Brewing, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Ludlam Island Brewery and 7 Mile Brewery all have rotating taps all year round with different selections from each one. 

 As for eating, I can personally recommend the burgers as I devoured a Hickory Burger when visiting this establishment. With a large and diverse menu, the Country Club Tavern can cater to anyone’s post adventure cravings.

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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.

Beer 101 News Road Trip

Exploring South Jersey with Joe Moore-Lucy the Elephant: A South Jersey Staple

Exploring South Jersey with Joe Moore

Lucy the Elephant:  A South Jersey Staple

Scattered around South Jersey are micro craft breweries that many of us have come to know, love, and even enjoy frequently.  Another lesser-known but equally important aspect of South Jersey is the rich history the lies here.  The premier way to enjoy both magnetic aspects of this beloved region is to mix them.  An example?  

Well… Did you happen to know South Jersey is home to the ‘World’s Greatest Elephant’?  A safe bet might have been wagered that most outsiders and even some lifelong South Jersey residents did not.

Lucy the Elephant 

Originally built as a novelty attraction in 1881, Lucy the Elephant is a unique structure that stands six stories high, and at one time, towered over everything along the Atlantic County coastline.  When first erected by James Lafferty in the late 19th century, Lucy was situated in what was known then as South Atlantic City.  

Outwardly modeled after the Asian elephant, Lucy stands east facing the Atlantic Ocean and has served in the past as a hotel, a personal residence, and among other things, a tavern that nearly caused the structure to burn to the ground due to a visiting drunkard in 1904 (we all know one or two or those).  Lucy continued as the face of Southern New Jersey as she changed hands from various owners until finally being donated to the city of Margate (present-day South Atlantic City) in 1970.  The city, along with a newly formed conservation group dubbed the Commission to Save Lucy, together would face the elephant’s most difficult challenge to date: the physical movement of the entire six-story building.

The city of Margate and the commission decided that the damage from the building sitting so close to the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean while also sitting on prime South Jersey beachfront real estate would serve as Lucy’s end if the pachyderm shaped structure was not moved just over two blocks down the shoreline road to a vacant lot purchased by the Commission to Save Lucy and the city of Margate.  This major engineering feat was completed in under 30 days to relocate Lucy the Elephant to her new home, where she still welcomes tourists and locals today.  

Lucy was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and was converted into a museum where guests can tour the inside of the world’s greatest elephant and enjoy beautiful views of both the Atlantic City skyline and the Atlantic Ocean.  

Seeing this magnificent elephant costs a minor fee of $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 to 3 years old with children under the age of 2 touring for free.  Lucy the Elephant is open all year-round providing limited hours during the winter and spring months and longer touring schedules during the warmer months.  Check out LucytheElephant.org for seasonal touring schedules, for donations to the Save Lucy Commission, and the Lucy Gift shop, which stocks more things elephant than the average could be imaged.  The website dives deeper into the history of Lucy as well as serving as the primary source from which information was gathered for this article.

Atlantic City: In & Out of the Casinos

Whether you tour the inside of Lucy the Elephant, walk beneath the belly of this larger than life structure or merely admire her from the parking lot, there is only one more thing left to do from here: find a cold beer.

Out: The Back Bay Ale House

If you would like to continue your outdoor adventure, then the Back Bay Ale House located in the Gardener’s Basin section of Atlantic City should be the first and only stop.  The Gardener’s Basin section of Atlantic City is the spot locals and tourists without the urge to gamble largely find themselves in. 

Nestled between the Marina District casinos and the world famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, the Back Bay Ale House offers an entirely different vantage point, this time from within Atlantic City, while offering an impressive list of local craft beers including two brews from Flying Fish Brewery; the Back Bay Sunset Ale and the Back Bay 1858, both brewed specifically for the Back Bay Ale House.  The latter of the two was inspired by the year in which the mason jar was created and the beer, as well as all cocktails, come in a 16-ounce mason jar.  Other local craft beers on tap sample from other local breweries such as Cape May Brewing Company’s Cranberry Bog, and Dogfish Head’s flagship 60 Min IPA.

 

In: A Dam Good Sports Bar

If crowds and casinos are more your scene, then there is no other finishing point to an adventure, than A Dam Good Sports Bar located on the third floor of The Quarter in the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, just a short drive from Lucy the Elephant.

It comes as clear convenience that A Dam Good Sports Bar happens to be housed within the casino closest to Lucy, but there it is and offers many delectable craft brews on tap.  Some of the local craft options on tap are Glasstown Brewing Company’s 609 IPA, Ludlam Brewing Company’s Island Big Dirty Double IPA, and Dogfish Head’s 60 Min IPA.