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Vic Sbailo

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions with Mike Frye of Frye Brewing Company!

Mike and Colleen Frye had always planned to start a business once their kids finished college. They knew they wanted to open the business in their home town of Point Pleasant Boro and there were several options they considered, including opening a bed and breakfast. However, when they realized the logistics of such an undertaking, their thoughts (like many of us in times of great decision) turned to beer!

So the overnight accommodation industry’s loss became the brewing world’s gain, as Frye Brewing Company was born in 2017 and will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary in June, just as the Jersey Shore starts to heat up

“Point Pleasant Boro has been our home for many years. Our kids grew up here, I know the people, the businesses, the area. I’ve also been home brewing here for over 10 years, so I know that the water profile was good for the styles I brew. Add all that together and we knew this is where we wanted to be!” The state of the art, 4 barrel electric system, enables Mike to do much of the brewing and kegging himself.

I also got a lesson in geography AND acronyms from Mike when we spoke. I knew there was 2 Point Pleasants, Boro and Beach. Frye is located in “Boro”… Beach is OTB…”Over the Bridge”.

“It is a different demographic in both towns”, said Mike. “Boro tends to be more of a local crowd.” Boro residents like their beer, but may not clamor for the latest IPA , which is reflected in Mike’s tap list, which has only a couple of NEIPA amongst, the blonde, stouts, reds and Belgians and he hopes to have a pilsner canned and ready for the 2 year anniversary.

Over a “Coffee in the Dark” I asked Mike the iconic, 10 QUESTIONS!!!

What was the first beer you brewed? How was it?

“A Black IPA….and it was a mess! I brewed it with my son and it was just awful, out of balance…aughh!!! When we opened the brewery, we actually adjusted the recipe and it was one of the first beers we made on this system and it came out good.”

What is your favorite beer to brew and why?

“I would say stouts. There is a lot of subtlety and more nuance than in some of the high abv or hoppy beers…at least that is my opinion!”

Do you look at ratings, like untappd, Beer Advocate, etc. and does it influence your recipes?

“Yes actually, our menu system is untappd, where customers can type in real time notes and comments about the beers they are drinking. Does it affect my recipes…not really. We have an older demographic at our brewery, so our top rated is probably the Summertime Blonde, our one of our specialty beers, Apple Pie Amber.”

How do you stay connected with local businesses in regards to sourcing ingredients?

“The coffee in “Coffee in the Dark” which you are drinking now is from Divi Tree Coffee, which is about a block from here. We have discussed working with some of the local maltsters and hop farms also, so we hope to do more of that in the future.” Mike also stays connected locally with his “First Fridays” where a dollar of each pint sold goes to the local First Aid squad or Fire Company.

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

“Take COPIUS notes! Write down everything, your successes and your mistakes!”

What advice would you give someone who wants to open a brewery?

“Do your research, talk to a lot of brewers and breweries. Luke from Pinelands was very helpful and spoke to me about location. Check with the town before you commit to a lease…what is their appetite for having a brewery, would they welcome the business. Being a long time resident of Point Boro, I was very familiar with the town and demographic, which was very helpful.”

If you were to brew a beer, regardless of production and sales cost, what would you brew?

“Hmm. I don’t have much more room here, but I would say start a barrel program. A barrel aged stout, definitely!”

From opening day forward, what has surprised you most?

“How hard it is to get a restaurant or bar to put your beer on tap….and to keep it on tap?”

Other than your own brew, what is your go-to drink after a long day (or night) at the brewery?

“Cape May Devil’s Reach! I love Belgians and this is a great example of the style, always consistent and delicious. Fat Tire is also a good everyday beer for me and I always try to support our local beers.”

Where do you see the brewery in 1 year…5 years?

“Let’s say 3 ½ years when my SBA loan is paid off! That will give me the freedom to transition to full time at the brewery and help increase our distribution. I had anticipated we be 65% of sales from the tap room and 35% distribution, but, because I am the brewer and distributor and have another full time job, we are at 90/10.”

BONUS QUESTION

What kind of music do you listen to when you brew?

“Oh, I’m all over the place. Bush was on when you came in, Jack Johnson playing now. I have a Dick Dale (the late king of surf guitar) album that we play in the summertime.”

So if you are visiting the Jersey Shore, before you go OTB to the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk, stop in the Boro and have a beer at Frye Brewing!

Breweries

Battle River Brewing Under Construction in Toms River!

Some big news coming out of Ocean County’s largest town, as Battle River Brewing (formerly known as Hops on Main) received delivery of  their brewing equipment in. The 7 barrel brewery will be the 3rd in Toms River, joining Rinn Duin and Artisan’s Restaurant and Brew Pub.  Battle River will be located in the downtown area and the location and configuration of the 100+ year old building required some creative problem solving skills for the delivery.

 

100 year old buildings don’t  have industrial size garage doors or forklift ready loading docks, so they actually had to remove the plate glass front of the former restaurant and bring everything in from the busy Main St. business area.   Once all the equipment was inside the challenge was to move much of the equipment to the lower level where the main brew house will be located. (You can see Head Brewer, Ian Barlet manning the crane in one of the pictures attached.

Still a lot of work to be done, but co-owner, Ray Carney, is hoping for a May-June opening.. Information about the brewery on social media can still be found under Hops on Main.

Stay tuned for further updates on their progress!

Editor’s Note:  We had Owner Gary  Morrison and Head Brewer Ian Barlet on our latest podcast taped live at Breaker’s Kitchen and Tap in Waretown!  Listen to it here!

10 Questions With...

10 Questions With…Kris Lewis of Oyster Creek Brewing!

One of our favorite things to do at South Jersey Beer Scene is to revisit a new brewery a few months down the road, talk about their experiences and generally see how they are doing. Oyster Creek Brewing opened to much anticipation in May of 2018 and their reputation has continued to grow! I got to sit down with founder/head brewer/salesman (a man with many hats!) , Kris Lewis and ask the iconic 10 questions!

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

First beer as a home brewer was an English Stout. It was an extract from a home brew kit I got as a gift. How was it? At the time I probably thought it was good, but I can imagine what I would think about it now. At the brewery the first one was the Simcoe IPA, which is my favorite hop. It’s still on our tap list.

What is your favorite style to brew?

My favorite is our coffee stout. It is the most complex recipe and I use local coffee from How You Brewin’ on Long Beach Island.

Do you look at beer ratings?

Yes, mostly Untapped. I look at general ratings, not necessarily the opinions expressed on there.
Some of the criticisms aren’t necessarily constructive, but just indicative of a beer style someone does or doesn’t like.

How do you connect to the local area for your ingredients?

I mentioned we source the coffee for our coffee stout from How You Brewin’ coffee shop on LBI .We also source our produce from a local farm, as well as our cranberries and beach plums.

What is one tip you would give to someone to help them brew better beer?

Clean and sanitize, clean and sanitize then do it again! (Kris was actually cleaning when I visited him this evening). It’s not romantic, but the MOST important part of the whole process.

What advice would you give someone that wants to open a brewery?

Build your business plan, get your finances in order….then double the amount you anticipated!

If you could brew any beer without regards to cost what would you make?

A big, 16-17% barley wine! Unlimited grain, a 9 hour boil, that would be fun!

From opening day forward, what has surprised you the most?

The grand opening rush was great and it actually continued through the summer! It slowed a little in the fall, right after school started but we picked back up again and are looking forward to a great summer!

Other than your own beer, what is your go to drink?

Anything from Alchemist is great, I have Heady Topper and Focal Banger in my fridge now. (Like many Jersey people, Kris has got a guy!) I also love Icarus beers, always great!

Where do you see the brewery in 5 years?

I would like to increase our distribution so that we are throughout New Jersey. My short term goal is to add at least 5 new clients by the end of 2019.

BONUS QUESTION

What’s on the sound system when you are brewing?

Depends on the day, but mostly 80’s rock. Foo Fighters, Van Halen, Cake.

Kris, thank you for taking the time out of your busy evening to give us a few minutes. Here’s to Oyster Creek’s continued growth and success!

10 Questions With...

10 Questions With…Jeff Greco of Heavy Reel Brewing Co

 10 Questions with Jeff Greco, Head Brewer, Heavy Reel Brewing Co

Winter in a resort town can be lonely and quiet as businesses close up for the season, the boardwalk goes dark and the parking meters go into hibernation. Not in Seaside Heights as Heavy Reel Brewing, after a fantastic summer season, continues to thrive. Heavy Reel is building a stellar reputation for creative and outstanding brews with some of the most thought provoking titles in South Jersey like Drowning Clown, Toonkish, and Paint it Black. Jeff just expanded to a 2.5  barrel system and hopes to be hiring an assistant brewer in the spring. 

Jeff and his wife Jessie were gracious enough to host our Ocean County Home Brewers Association meeting this month, so I got the opportunity to visit with them both. Over a delicious pint of The Wake of Isolation (Imperial IPA, 4.38 on Untapped, if you are wondering)  I got to ask Jeff the 10 questions.

What was the first beer you brewed? 

“Lagunitas IPA clone. Back then I thought it was good, but now…I don’t know how it would rate. It was all grain which I did from the start. I’ve never brewed with extract” 

What is your favorite style of beer to brew? 

“IPA, especially New England IPAs.  It’s my favorite to drink so naturally, it is my favorite to brew”

Do you look at ratings (Untapped, Beer Advocate, etc.)? Do they affect your recipes? 

“All the time! The ratings are not that far off of from what I think.   They don’t really change my mind about what I am brewing. “

How do you connect to the local area for ingredients?

“I’ve got the Atlantic Ocean a block to the east, Barnegat Bay a few blocks to the west, so  I use Barnegat Bay oysters for our oyster stout and Atlantic sea salt for our gose.” 

What is one tip for home brewers to help them make better beer?

“Keep messing up until you figure it out! Mistakes happen!” 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery? 

“Talk to actual brewers, brewery owners and work at a brewery first to see what it takes to operate on a daily basis.  Fill out your applications, federal and state, right away…don’t sit around waiting saying I’m going to open a brewery, do it. Assume it is always going to take longer than you anticipate!”   

If you could brew a beer, regardless of cost, what would you brew? 

“I do it every time I walk through that door.  That is an advantage of a small brewery, I brew what I want to brew” 

Since you have opened, what has surprised you the most? 

“The number of people who want to work in a brewery, but once they see what is involved, they don’t!”

Other than your own beer, what is your go to? 

“Bay Dreamer, our session IPA collaboration that we brewed at Icarus is one of my favorites, outside of that, I like anything funky or sour… the more sour the better!” 

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

“Hopefully still in business!” he said with a laugh. “Really I’d like to have a larger staff and expand more so we can distribute our product.”   

In the near future, Jeff says to look out for some special releases and surprises for their April anniversary. 

Jeff, Bonus question: 

What kind of music do you listen to when you brew? 

Hard core!”  

Jeff turned up the volume and the voice of Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose sang us out into the foggy Jersey Shore evening.  

Breweries News

Icarus Brewing Anniversary Party Saturday 1/12 at the Brewery!

One of the fastest growing South Jersey Breweries in size and reputation is turning 2! 

Icarus Brewing 2nd Anniversary Party is this Saturday, January 12, noon – 11 PM. 

Owner/Head Brewer Jason Goldstein, will be rolling out the barrel with a new bottle barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Legend. This big boy, aged in bourbon barrels for 8 months, weighs in at hefty  13.5%. Bottles will be available when the tasting room opens, but like most of Icarus’ bottle releases, the supply will go fast!   Consider it a winter warmer before the snow hits this weekend! 

Jason and the Icarus crew have been brewing 6 days a week preparing for the party, so there will also be 3 new can releases, as well as 8 or 9 “Best of” barrel aged beers on tap.  The festivities will finish up with 2 live bands Saturday night, so it promises to be an exciting day. 

If you haven’t been to Icarus yet, a great time to take the trip to Lakewood and see what the buzz is about!