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12 Beers We Liked in 2018

We like to drink beer.  It is what we do.

We cover tons of South Jersey Beer stuff and we get to try a bunch of beer so we decided to talk about some of our faves from 2018.  When I was building this site I made a decision that we would not be rating beer on this site, and we still are not doing that.  What this list represents if some of our favorites that we tasted in 2018 and are listed in no particular order.  So please, before you troll us, understand that we drank a ton of great South Jersey beer last year but we wanted to recognize a few here that stood out for us.  So here is the list and some notes from Vic, Tom, and myself about each one!

Pinelands Brewing Company Evan John Porter

Vic:  An oldie but a goodie, this was one of the first beers served at the Little Egg Harbor brewery and it remains consistently delicious .  Dark beer with creamy head, the bitterness of the malt is offset by the whole vanilla beans pods they use.  Smooth, easy drinking porter! 

Icarus Brewing Kalashnikoffee

Vic:  A beautiful dark, rich Russian Imperial Stout is a coffee variant of the extremely popular Kalishnikov series.  This 14.5% ABV strikes such a nice balance of flavors that it is not boozy at all.  Coffee and pecan hit you up front, and it has a delicious creamy mouthfeel.  Icarus calls it “Breakfast in a Can” and we aren’t going to argue! 

Spellbound Brewing Brut IPA

Vic: My first Brut and it was sublime!  The skies opened, angels sang…it was magical!  Champagne like in appearance and carbonation, Spellbound dry hops it with  Nelson Sauvin  which gives it a fruity, grapelike quality.  They also use Hallertau hops,popular in many German style beers.  Nice dry finish, not much bitterness. Excellent job and unique twist on this relatively new style! 

7 Mile Brewery Barrel-Aged Trippel 7

Tom:  What happens when you put a Trippel Belgian in a Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel for about 120 days? You wind up with one of my favorite beers 2018. That’s exactly what 7 Mile Owner Pete Beyda was hoping for with his Barrel-Aged Trippel 7. Unlike a lot of barrel-aged beers, Trippel 7 does not have a strong boozy aroma or taste, but more caramel and raisin sweetness. Make no mistake, it still packs a punch at 12.5% ABV. Pete affectionately calls it a “finishing beer”, because once you start drinking it you’re finished doing anything for the rest of the day!

Atco Brewing Mr. McOat Pants

Tom:  The guys at Atco rolled out this juicy NEDIPA at The Glassboro Beer Festival, and it was love at first sip. This was their first crack at the NEDIPA haze craze, and I told them they could write the recipe in pen. Although it is smooth and delicious it’s a big boy beer coming in at 8.5%. In the hazy NE style craze this beer stood out for me in 2018

Slack Tide Brewing Company Avalon Amber

Tom:  Although 2018 wasn’t the first time this beer was brewed it has always been one of my favorites. My opinion was confirmed when it took home the Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in September. It’s also special to me because it was the batch I helped brew when I did my “A Day With The Brewer” article which actually turned into 2 days I had so much fun. It’s great to know I had a small part in brewing an award winning beer.

Tonewood DDH Fuego

Tom:  Tonewood has earned a reputation for making great beers, and this one is no different. They got this one in under the wire by releasing it on December 31st. They took their already great Fuego, and Double Dry Hopped it with an incredible 10lbs per barrel of Galaxy, Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops to make this Hop Head dream brew. These guys are always pushing for the next best thing, so it comes as no surprise this beer made the list.

Tuckahoe Brewing Company Arc of Visibility

John:  2018 was a big year for Tuckahoe and they released a few beers that I really enjoyed, but Arc of Visibility was at the top of my list.  First of all, this can features impressive artwork by local artist Mike Bell who has done many of the great pieces of artwork that Tuckahoe is using for their packaging.  But we know that the beer is why we are here.  This 6.5% ABV IPA brewed with a unique mix of Vic Secret, Hallertau Blanc, And Mosaic Hops and comes in at only 22 IBU’s to make this one of the smoothest drinking IPA’s I tasted this year

Ludlam Island Brewery Thunder Jacket

John: The first thing I think of when I think of Thunder Jacket is a picture of Brewer Joe, then Assistant Brewer Brad, and Owner Billy dressed in Cow suits (See Pic HERE)  and sitting on lawn furniture in a promo pic for the beer.  Let’s just say it lived up to its hype.  This Dessert Beer, an Imperial Milk Stout, made with Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Malt, Roasted Barley, and Lactose then finished with Madagascar Vanilla Beans, is full of big flavor and proved to everyone that you could make a delicious beer float!  Perfectly pairs with desserts, but also great to drink all by itself

Eight & Sand Beer Company Bad Hombre

John:  This 2017 Great American Beer Festival Silver Medalist in the Chili Beer Category continues to amaze me with its balance and how its flavor profile changes as it warms up.  To top that off, Burke threw a bunch in Tequila Barrels this year and, once again, it was terrific.  The way Brewer Burke balances the Cinnamon, Peppers, Vanilla, and Coffee keeps me coming back for more

Kelly Green Brewing Company Pecher American Wild Ale

John:  Kelly Green has been one of the leaders in Saison development in South Jersey and this ale fermented and aged in oak barrels then fermented again on whole peaches was funky, sour, and delicious.  The peach flavor was subtle, not overpowering the beer, adding to the complexity of the ale. Looking forward to the 2019 incarnation

Glasstown Brewing Company The Big Breakfast

John:  When I first started visiting local breweries this was immediately one that made me see just how good local craft can be.  This Maple Coffee Porter is always a welcome sight when found on tap, and now you can find it in cans.  Perfectly balanced, with hints of maple syrup, coffee, and roasted malt, it will always be one of the beers that started me on this craft beer journey.

 

Beer 101 Breweries News

A Look Back at South Jersey’s Biggest Beer Stories of 2018

2018 was a very interesting year for South Jersey Breweries.  We once again saw a rise in the number of breweries that are operating and expansions of many of the breweries that are making beer here in South Jersey.  This was also the year that the business made front page news with all of the changes that were made, then rescinded, by former ABC Commissioner Rible.  Here is our list of the top 5 news stories of 2018.

1.  The ABC Changes, Then Reverts Back To Current Brewery Rules “Pending Further Review”

We had been hearing rumblings for years about the impending brewery rule changes and was not quite sure when they were going to happen and, when they did, what actually was going to be changed.  Well, on September 21st we found out, and the changes were sweeping (You can read our article about it HERE).  Public outcry was incredible, with most people backing their local breweries in fear that they would not be able to operate in the way that would allow them to continue to be profitable.  The Independent Craft Brewers of NJ, a cooperative partnership formed by a group of New Jersey Brewers in the late Summer of 2018, collected a petition with over 30,000 signatures from state residents in the days following the ruling which, in addition to several state and local politicians voicing their opposition, no doubt was a factor in the suspension of the ruling.

2.  Governor Murphy Nominates James B. Graziano as new ABC Director effective November 26, 2018

In another stunning turn of events in the continuing saga of the ABC, David Rible “stepped down to pursue other opportunities ” and a new ABC Director was named.  James B. Graziano assumed the role on 11/26/18 and we have not had any changes to the brewery rules that are currently being followed.  We expect more news on this in the very near future.

3.  More New Breweries!

  • 13th Child Brewing, Williamstown
  • Bonesaw Brewing Company, Glassboro
  • Cross Keys Brewing Company, Williamstown
  • Gusto Brewing Company, North Cape May
  • Heavy Reel Brewing Company, Seaside Heights
  • Hidden Sands Brewing Company, Egg Harbor Twp.
  • Oyster Creek Brewing Company, Waretown
  • Mudhen Brewing Company, Wildwood
  • Westville Brewery, Westville

We already have had an opening this year (Coho, Cape May Court House) and several in various stages of development so this trend should continue.  By our count, 53 of the states 99 breweries (excludes brewpubs) are located in the Southern Half of the State.  This is a tremendous turn of events over the last 3 years where South Jersey trailed the northern part of the state in the number of operating breweries.

4.  The Increased Availability of Local Beer in Cans, Bottles, and On Tap in the Region

We have seen a tremendous increase in the amount of locally brewed fresh beer in cans and bottles available not only at the breweries, but in local liquor stores and bottle shops.  Several breweries entered the self-distribution of cans and bottles this year and we have also seen the expansion of the OG canning and bottling breweries with more releases and greater availability of their brand.  It is rare to go into any liquor store and not be able to find at least a few types of local craft beer available for takeout.  It is also become very rare to go to a bar or restaurant and not have a few selections of locally brewed beer on tap.  In the past, it was hard for local breweries to get a tap handle if the bar/restaurant already had a few local selections on.  It is still a challenge, but the popularity of local beer has made it a little bit easier.  Bars and Restaurants are actively marketing local brands and we have even seen many that have added lines to accommodate them without taking one of their big beer selections from the tap.

5.  Continued dominance of IPA’s and the Introduction of a New Style, Brut IPA

Once again IPA’s ruled the roost this year.  The dominance of this style is so strong that we don’t see when it will end. Whether it is DDH, Single Hop, DIPA, Lactose IPA, Milkshake IPA, etc, it is still #1 in the sales category, and the most sought after by Craft Beer drinkers.

The Brut IPA craze hit us in late Summer and just about every brewery made a version of it.  This new style was “invented” in San Francisco, at Social Kitchen & Brewery.  Brewmaster Kim Sturdavant had been using amyloglucosidase on his triple IPA to help tamp down the sugars found in that beer.  He decided to use the enzyme on a traditional IPA and the result was a 0° Plato, bone-dry, super-aromatic, slightly hazy but still bright, IPA. He immediately knew he had something new and different and was going to call it “Champagne IPA”, but settled on “Brut IPA” after talking to one of his wine friends.  The brewing industry went crazy and South Jersey was no exception.  Some brewers feel that this is a game-changer as it will be a beer that will appeal to people that have an affinity to Champagne or Extra Dry Wines.

Honorable Mentions

  • Festivals were everywhere again last year, although we did see a decline in attendance to some of them.  We think the trend of festivals will continue again this year, but they have become so common that we may see the attendance fall off at some of the smaller, newer events.
  • The sheer amount of brands of beer available in New Jersey has exploded.  We saw many sought-after brands hit New Jersey this year including Bell’s, Omnipollo, Prairie Artisan Ales, Hoof-Hearted, Evil Twin, Mikkeller, Alesong, and The Ale Apothecary to name a few.

Of course, this is just one man’s opinion.  Let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 

Breweries News

Gusto Brewing Company Keeping it Small and Weird in North Cape May!

Gusto Brewing Company in North Cape May is now open for business!  I visited with owner Zack Pashley and Head Brewer Dan Petela last week to talk about all things Gusto and was really impressed!  These guys have a passion for beer, and the brewery is a reflection of that.  Both of the guys were full of enthusiasm and are really excited to have finally opened the doors so that everyone can try the great beer that they are making.

Zack, who co-owns the brewery along with his wife Adriana, has chased this dream for about many years and was able to open the doors to the brewery right before Christmas.  Located in North Cape May, the brewery is spacious, filled with natural light that brightens the room from both the East and South windows.  A large bar fills one side of the room and faces the actual brewing area, and the room has ample seating with plenty of tables and chairs.

After Zack spent 6 years active duty in the United States Coast Guard, he settled back in Cape May County and started working on his dream of opening a brewery while working at Cape May Brewing Company and attending College on the GI Bill.  Zack had met Head Brewer Dan Petela at school (Dan mentioned that they played ping pong at ACCC), but really cemented their relationship at Cape May Brewing Company where Dan was working as the Assistant Tap Room Manager at the same time Zack was there.  They were both avid home brewers and both of them had aspirations of owning their own brewery. “That’s the dream, right?” Dan told us.

Zack always wanted to open the brewery in his hometown.  “What we wanted to do was create a brewery that serves a community and not a region, per se, and I just thought that this corner spot with all of the natural light, close to the ferry, in our hometown, was the only spot to do it and we had to make it happen.”

After settling on the location, Zack began to build the brewery.  One of the pieces of equipment he already had was a 1 BBL Brewhouse that he bought a while back.  “I actually bought it about 6 years ago on Kickstarter while I was in the Coast Guard when I knew I wanted to start a brewery” said Zack.  To finish the system, 7 2BBL fermenters and 2-2.5 BBL Brite Tanks that came from Strong Rope Brewery in Brooklyn were added.  “We double batch everything” Dan told us.  Zack and Dan also told us that they would love to upgrade the brewhouse to a larger system to allow them to brew the same amount of beer in half of the time, which would definitely give them more time to spend at home with their families.

Gusto’s tagline is “Keep It Small + Keep it Weird”.  I asked the guys to elaborate and Zack said “It is something that we want to live by.  Some of my favorite breweries I have ever been to are little holes in the wall, some only slightly larger than us”.  Dan added “and we are going to have some pretty weird beers coming up too!”

Gusto plans on having a constantly changing tap-list, rotating their selection and occasionally bringing some of the popular ones back.  I was suitably impressed with their beer list on the day I visited, 6 unique beers with some very interesting ingredients were available including a Zero IBU IPA, an ESB, a Saison, an Oatmeal Stout, a tasty Pale Ale, and an IPA.  It was great to see the varied styles and the originality that encompassed this well thought out list.

A few things that you need to know about Gusto:

  • Gusto will fill any 32 0z Growler for you to take off premise.  They offer growlers for sale, but if you bring your own make sure you have a lid just in case the ones they have do not fit.
  • They plan on being open from Thursday-Sunday in small 4-6 hour shifts. Be sure to check out their website at www.gustobrewco.com or their Facebook Page HERE while planning your visit
  • Gusto has a great selection of merchandise for sale in the taproom!
  • Gusto is kid friendly, but at this time you cannot bring your dog to the brewery

Congrats to Zack, Adriana, Dan, and everyone on the Gusto team on their opening!  It is great to see another brewery opening up here in South Jersey and yet another great group of people that are behind it.

 

3860 Bayshore Road, North Cape May, NJ 08204

Facebook:  @gustobrewco

Instagram:  gustobrewco

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breweries News

Dogfish Head Invites Craft Beer Drinkers to Join Their New Year’s Initiative JanuQuenchy

Dogfish Head invites fans to join along on JanuQuenchy – a month long quest to kick off the New Year drinking craft beer, being active and eating healthy

Milton, Del., December 27, 2018 – Is there anything more magnificent than a New Year’s resolution centered around drinking a deliciously crafted beer for a month? No. There isn’t. So join Sam Calagione, founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, for the ultimate, beer-centric New Year’s quest known as JanuQuenchy. With a goal of kicking off 2019 right, Calagione and a boatload of Dogfish coworkers pledge to only drink the low-calorie SeaQuench Ale for 31 days while eating sensibly and doing something active.

So how do you join along? From January 1 through January 31, share images of your JanuQuenchy journey on Instagram using #JanuQuenchy #DogfishEntry. Dogfish Head will follow along to see how you’re doing and might just reach out to repost your progress to their Instagram page. You will also be entered for the chance to win a Dogfish Head SeaQuench themed trucker hat during the JanuQuenchy challenge.  There will be one winner, per week.  For official JanuQuenchy rules, click here.

“I am committed to only drinking SeaQuench Ale in January, as well as avoiding french fries and cheesesteaks – probably two of my favorite foods – and doing something healthy with my body every day,” said Calagione. “That’s it – eat sensibly, do something active and drink only SeaQuench Ale for 31 days…who’s with me!?”

SeaQuench Ale (4.9% ABV) is the most thirst-quenching beer ever made at Dogfish Head and it’s only 140 calories, 9g carbs, 2g protein and zero fat. Brewed with lime juice, sea salt and black limes, it’s the best selling beer in the fastest growing craft beer style (sours) in America thanks to its super flavorful and approachable profile.

For more information about Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, SeaQuench Ale and JanuQuenchy, visit dogfish.com.