Reporting on NJ Breweries Since 2007
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Augie-Pallone
Congressman Frank Pallone paid a call on Carton Brewing last week, taking a tour of the Atlantic Highlands brewery and sampling the beers as part of an observance of National Manufacturing Day.

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.

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Barrels-Tasting-Room
A big win for Kane Brewing's barrel-aging program, and a return to the winners circle for the Garden State's largest craft brewer, Flying Fish.

Barrels-Inner-WallKane, 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.

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ScottMikeJohn-SpellboundSpellbound Brewing in Mount Holly got its state brewer's license last week and didn't waste any time before brewing a pilot batch of imperial stout and a 20-barrel batch of a flagship IPA.

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.

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Homebrewer-Rally
The first-ever American Homebrewers Association rally to be held in New Jersey drew a healthy crowd to Flying Fish Brewing Sunday for a membership-drive mixer over craft beers, brewhouse tours and hobby banter.

Coming on the heels of the AHA’s annual national conference, at which a couple of Garden State homebrewers claimed prize medals, the rally served as a way to keep the drumbeat going for the growing hobby and the beer camaraderie it inspires.

Homebrewer-Rally3The crowd pulled predominantly from the South Jersey and Southeast Pennsylvania areas. But that’s something you would expect, given Flying Fish’s host town, Somerdale, is a Philly ’burb.

Nonetheless, the event was an opportunity for members of homebrew clubs from around the region to meet, catch up, and for those who went, to share tales from Mashing in Michigan, the 36th Annual National Homebrewers Conference, held the the weekend prior in Grand Rapids.

But there’s another takeaway from the rally: New Jersey’s craft beer profile gets a boost, a bit of recognition. The AHA is part of the Brewers Association’s extended family, so the Garden State enjoys a moment on the radar of the folks who champion craft brewing on the pro and amateur levels.

And that’s a good thing.

Shout-outs
Congrats to Jim Fish of Brooklawn (pictured above), a Barley Legal Homebrewers Club member whose Flanders red took a first place in the sour ale category at NHC, and Doug Bellingeri, who won a second place in the German wheat and rye category.

FF-Homebrewer-Rally6-22-2014

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Forgotten-Boardwalk-Brewhouse
Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing has released an image of their completed 30-barrel brewhouse.

In an email to people who signed up with the brewery’s member-benefits group, called the “Refuge Society Club,” Forgotten Boardwalk also indicated the brewhouse equipment has been tested and the only thing standing in the way of making beer – so far an IPA and Belgian wit have been announced – is a licensing inspection by state regulators. The brewery indicated it did not have a date for inspection.

Forgotten Boardwalk's email provided no other details. 

Among New Jersey growing number of start-up breweries, Forgotten Boardwalk is probably best known for taking over the Cherry Hill business park space where Flying Fish, now New Jersey's largest craft brewery, began making beer in 1996. Flying Fish moved 10 miles south to much larger space in Somerdale two years ago. 

 

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Forgotten BoardwalkDavid Bronstein, a brewer for Sly Fox who got his start in craft beer on Flying Fish’s bottling line, has been named head brewer for startup Forgotten Boardwalk in Cherry Hill.

Owner Jamie Queli announced the hiring on Wednesday. 

“David started his young career in 2005 as a bottling line worker in our space, which was formerly occupied by Flying Fish,” Jamie says. “He now gets to return to the space with a completely new vision, new equipment and new identity with the highest title.”

David is expected to start the third week of April. He spent more than seven years at Sly Fox Brewing in Pennsylvania, the last four years as lead brewer. He was part of the brewing team that won five Great American Beer Festival medals, including two gold and two silver. At Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing, he and a yet-to-be-hired assistant will work on a 30-barrel brewhouse. 

“I am excited for the freedom to experiment and make some great beers that showcase the passion and curiosity that were sparked during my first batch of homebrew,” David says.

Last summer Forgotten Boardwalk leased the Olney Avenue business park unit in Cherry Hill where Flying Fish Brewing launched in 1996 and operated until moving to Somerdale in 2012.

FB-KeyForgotten Boardwalk is still in its buildout phase; brewery equipment is due toward the end of the month. The grain silo, gycol unit and coldbox are in. Wednesday’s announcement of a brewer projected a May opening for the brewery.

 

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FB JQ Jan2014
A glimpse inside start-up Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing’s takeover of the Cherry Hill building that was Flying Fish’s founding location.

Last week, concrete pads for Forgotten Boardwalk’s brewhouse and fermenters were poured, while work on the brewery tasting room buzzed away on the other side of a wall.

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Forgotten BoardwalkForgotten Boardwalk Brewing introduces its company logo and offers a slice of long-lost lore from the boards.

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Monday, 30 September 2013 18:43

Morristown beer fest, a pictoral

Big Brew 1

 A smoother trip this time for the folks who put on this year's beer festivals at the armory in Morristown. Their fest early in the year was troubled by long lines to get into the venue and for the restrooms. It made for some unhappy people, and it didn't reflect well on the promoters. However, the return engagement, The Big Brew Beer Festival, staged this past Saturday (Sept. 28) ran smoothly. If you saw some long lines, it was probably for food, and those lines moved rather fast. New Jersey breweries there included Beach Haus, Bolero Snort, Cricket Hill, Flying Fish, High Point, River Horse and Tuckahoe. These images (taken by Beer-Stained Letter) are from the events early session. Click above to launch the gallery.    

Published in News
Monday, 05 August 2013 14:35

When your love affair with beer sours

MagritteCraft beer tends to pivot off what the next big thing is – bright shiny objects, if you will. Double IPA, black IPA, Belgian IPA, ryePA, imperial this or that … They've all been on the hit parade as styles evolve, if not outright collide sometimes to form hybrids to grab craft fans' attention.

It's an ongoing thing, which is why you may have heard some people in your beer circles declare they're over the hop bombs, over IPAs. "I'm into sours," they say.

Sours may be the next stampede, never mind that they've been part of the beer mosaic on the store shelves for a long time (how could they not be with Belgian brews being so popular?). If they are indeed next in the spotlight, then it's a logical choice. They run the gamut of pleasantly tart to oh-my-god funky. And for acceptance, they demand a little effort on your part.

To run through the list of Garden State craft brewers who have made sours is to name-check probably half the breweries in the state.

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