Rinn Duin Brewing celebrated its first anniversary (see video here) with a limited release, 365 Blackthorn, an 8.1% ABV Irish red spiked with some Belgian candi sugar, making it the Toms River brewery’s biggest beer. But the brewery has also added entering the Philadelphia market and a small part of New York City to the 2015 to-do list.
With traditional English and Irish ales as its signature styles, Rinn Duin opened its doors at the start of 2014. Its 25-barrel brewhouse made it the largest of a half dozen breweries in that first wave of openings after the law change in the fall of 2012. In the audio clip, owner Chip Town talks about the first year and what to look for from Rinn Duin this year.
Let’s be candid for a minute.
It’s an election year. Pallone’s on the ballot, and Atlantic Highlands is in his district. He’s a longtime incumbent and most likely a lock for re-election. Still, face time with constituents, even for a feel-good observance such as National Manufacturing Day, plays well. It’s a bonus if you can do it against a popular backdrop, and craft beer is still ridiculously popular. So, on one level, it’s smart campaigning to find that everyman niche, be populist.
But politics and cynicism aside, there are some important points to highlight off the Democrat’s talk with owners Augie and Chris Carton, cousins who launched the brewery at the Monmouth County bayshore three years ago.
Kane, probably best known for its popular IPAs Head High and Overhead, won a gold medal for its Night to End All Dawns barrel-aged imperial stout at the 33rd Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
Flying Fish, a 2009 gold medal winner with its Exit 4 American Tripel, the inaugural beer in the Somerdale brewery's Exit Series, won a gold this time for its Hopfish IPA and complemented that win with a silver medal for its assertively hopped red ale, Redfish.
The Iron Hill brewpub chain kept its 18-year streak of medal wins alive, this time thanks to its Media, Pennsylvania, and Newark, Delaware, locations, taking silvers for a rye brew and a Belgian tripel, and bronze for a Burton IPA. Iron Hill has 10 brewery-restaurants spread among Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Winners of the Brewers Association's annual competition were announced Saturday. Just over 5,500 beers commercially brewed beers from 1,309 breweries across the country were judged this year.
The IPA, brewed Sunday (Sept. 21), christened Spellbound's Premier Stainless brewhouse. A soft opening to coincide with Mount Holly's annual Witches Ball on Oct. 11 is planned (keep an eye on the brewery’s website and Facebook page for details); there's also a small-batch barleywine, aged in a Dad’s Hat Rye whiskey barrel, in the works for the brewery's 150-strong founders club membership.
“We had 150 people who saw the passion we had – a lot of them we don’t even know … people as far as Arizona,” John Companick, who co-founded Spellbound with business partners Mike Oliver and Scott Reading, tells Beer-Stained Letter. “We’re going to have barrels; we’re going to do all kinds of crazy stuff, our passion is going to be into that.”
Welcome to Brew Jersey
The pace of new brewery launches remains steady in the Garden State, and Spellbound actually gets eclipsed for the title of being the newest by Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing, which moved into Flying Fish Brewing's original home in Cherry Hill a year after Flying Fish relocated to Somerdale. (Forgotten Boardwalk folks didn’t respond to an email for comment.)
Forgotten Boardwalk announced on Friday it got the green light from the state and released a video that trumpets an Oct. 11 grand opening.
Spellbound's license came through the day before, making its host town, Mount Holly, a two-craft brewery town and an interesting case study into the economic power of craft brewing.
Oast House Hop Farm has its biggest harvest yet of the Columbus, Chinook, Cascade and Nugget cones.
Beau Byrtus, one of Oast House’s founders, gives a rundown in the video.
What you should take away from Oast House is not so much that it’s a working hop farm.
No, there’s a bigger take away: Oast House, with its annual harvest gathering of friends, is building on New Jersey’s craft beer culture.
You can easily imagine the harvests becoming, over time, like a small fair, with homebrewing demonstrations, a beer tent, and vendors selling Jersey fall produce and pies.
Or at least that’s the potential. Town hall and the state may think otherwise (this is where you should start looking at Oast House as a working farm, given some of the privileges the state allows for farms).
Two breweries are using Oast’s Jersey hops this year, and it’s a safe bet there will be loads of beer drinkers looking to see what Kane and Triumph Brewing did with fresh-from-the-farm cones.
It’s not just hops that Oast House is growing; it’s the Garden State’s craft beer culture, too.
Jersey brewer Gretchen Schmidhausler has been going to the Great American Beer Festival for the past 16 years, serving as a beer judge at the event for half as long.
But this year, when the festival kicks off its annual three-day run in Denver Oct. 2, Gretchen will be home in the Garden State, in fact, a few blocks from the beach in southern Monmouth County.
"I sent my regrets ... I let them know I wouldn't be able to make it this year," she says.
There's a good reason, and it has everything to do beer: Gretchen's just-licensed Little Dog Brewing Company will probably be opening around GABF time.
"It's not just a weekend,” she says of the annual Colorado trip. “I would have been out there for five days. I don't now how I would manage that.”
Because duty calls, with an exciting new chapter. There’s lots to do between now and October.
The ink on Little Dog's state brewing license is still fresh: Just a week ago (Aug. 28), New Jersey regulators inspected Little Dog and gave Gretchen the green light to join the state's growing roll call of craft breweries. The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s visit capped a half-year buildout that transformed a defunct coin laundry along Steiner Avenue in Neptune City into an ale brewery with a tasting room.
Teaming up with the Oast House for a third year, Kane Brewing will make a wet-hop brew using Nugget and Cascade cones from the Burlington County hop farm.
The Jersey-grown-hops IPA is on the Ocean Township brewery's production schedule for Tuesday (Aug. 26) for a 20-barrel batch. About 145 pounds of hops were dropped off at the brewery on Monday.
"We're curious. We've never done a 20-barrel all wet-hop (brew)," owner Michael Kane tells Beer-Stained Letter. "When I was a homebrewer, I used to do 10-gallon all wet-hop."
The beer is expected to finish out around 7.5% ABV. Oast House, located in Wrightstown, is expected to deliver another load of hops in about a week that will be used for dry-hopping.
This summer was the farm’s third growing season. In addition to Cascade and Nugget, Oast House has also grown Chinook, Columbus and Centennial cultivars.
In the two years prior, Kane Brewing has been limited to using Oast House's harvests for dry-hopping, and on a smaller scale. A much larger yield this year has afforded the opportunity to use the hops in the kettle, for bittering, flavor and aroma.
"This year they really ramped up. It's the third year, so the plants are coming in better," Michael says.
The first Saturday in September brings a second festival for 2014 by the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild.
Brews By the Bay, set for Sept. 6, is also a bistate affair, with consecutive four-hour sessions at the ferry terminals in Cape May and Lewes, Delaware, and, depending on which event ticket you opt for, ferry passes that allow you spend your day sampling Jersey-brewed craft beers and those made by our neighbors across the bay.
What makes this event rather cool is, it’s a sendoff for summer that fits nicely in plans for a post-Labor Day weekend getaway in either state. Or you can go the far simpler route and just enjoy some craft beer sampling, à la festival.
Brews By the Bay is a spinoff of a festival on the Delaware side that has seen a good turnout over the two years it’s been held. To craft beer industry folks in both states, reshaping the Delaware fest into a bistate event seemed like a great way to build on the initial momentum. (It also gives the Garden State brewers guild a follow-up event to its annual June festival aboard the USS New Jersey on the Camden waterfront.)
To that end, Cape May Brewing co-owner Ryan Krill has been working with folks from Dogfish Head (and the Delaware Brewers Guild) who have run the Delaware event.
The result, Ryan says, is a fest where you can tailor your experience.
“You can buy a ticket for just one side – you can go to just Delaware or New Jersey. Or you can do both,” he says. “And how that works is, it includes a roundtrip foot-passenger ferry ticket.”
(It’s 60 bucks for both sessions; otherwise, it’s $40 for either the Jersey or Delaware sessions. Find tickets here. The Jersey-side event starts at noon, 4 p.m. in Delaware. As with festivals, the lineup can change. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry is also a sponsor.)
A sufficient number of ferries will be sailing during the hours of each session. So, catching a ride back to whichever side of the bay you need to be on shouldn’t be a problem. And there’s a good chance that at least one of the ferries will feature something craft-beery to do besides dolphin watching during the 17-mile, cross-bay cruise.
“We haven’t worked out the details of what we’re going to do on the boat yet, but we’ll probably have an event,” Ryan says.
A quick update from startup brewery Spellbound in Mount Holly ...
The brewery's equipment has been in for a while and now awaits power. Electricians will be on site for a couple of weeks, and an order of cans for packaging has been placed, says co-founder John Companick.
The tasting room is in the finishing-up stage, and John says he and co-founders Mike Oliver and Scott Reading are now looking at opening some time in September, a little later than originally forecast, but delays are not uncommon with any construction project.
Getting oriented in the 10-tap tasting room: The far door on the right is the entrance; the dark door on the left, just off the bar, leads to the brewery area. Windows that look out on the brewhouse are behind the bar. (Photo courtesty of Spellbound Brewing)
Trinity Smoked Scottish 70 is Toms River brewery Rinn Duin’s first beer to go into 12-ounce bottles and six-packs.
Rinn Duin christened its bottling line last week with a run – 235 cases – of Trinity (4.0% ABV, 18 IBU) done over a couple of days. The startup brewery plans to bottle two more flagship brews, St. John’s Irish Red (4.9%, 20 IBU) and Sandpiper English Brown (5.1%, 23 IBU), beginning next week.
“St. John's is in the fermenter now; (it) will be our second set of bottles. Sandpiper will be the last flagship, and our next seasonal, English Half-Wit, will be the first seasonal bottled,” says Jacqui Town, who opened Rinn Duin with her dad, Chip Town, last year.
Half-Wit is a wheat ale made with orange spice tea to give it an English slant. (Rinn Duin brews English and Irish-style ales.) Rinn Duin’s other seasonals are River Toms English IPA (6.8%, 55 IBU) and Pota Caifé (5.1%, 30 IBU), an Irish dry stout with coffee.
A sort of postcard-like look for the entrance to High Point Brewing.
Every Monday enjoy half price wings* and $1 off all craft beers**, along with $3 featured craft drafts at the Washington Township location of The Village Pub. *Dine in only, to-go orders not included. **Some