By David Schilpp
Walk into any bar or restaurant in New Jersey and you may notice a change behind the bar. The rows of tap handles that were once dominated by nationally known mass-produced beers are being invaded by homegrown microbrewery beers. A micro-brew is a beer made by a smaller brewery that produces only a certain amount of a specific beer and is usually much smaller and independently owned, the opposite of their counterpart macro-brews, like Budweiser, Coors and Miller.
For a long time, micro-beer, which is also referred to as craft beer, was mostly seen on the West Coast, primarily in San Diego and Seattle. Within the past few years however, the state of New Jersey has been rising in the craft beer community with a plethora of new microbreweries springing up throughout the state.
Some examples of these New Jersey breweries are Kane Brewing, based out of Ocean Township, New Jersey Beer Company, which is located in North Bergen, and the Flying Fish Brewing Company, which operates out of Somerdale. Flying Fish has such strong Jersey roots that they even have a series of beers based on exits of the New Jersey Turnpike and a Super Storm Sandy beer.
Flying Fish’s New Jersey turnpike series (also known as the “exit series”) have taken certain characteristics of specific areas and made beers of them. For example, Exit One is called Bayshore Oyster Stout symbolizing the Jersey Shore. Exit Nine is named Hoppy Scarlet Ale to salute Rutgers University. There are eight exit series beers in all. Flying Fish Brewing has also helped raise money for the Sandy Relief Fund with its Forever Unloved Sandy beer known as FU Sandy.
New Jersey Beer Company brews their beer close by in Hudson County and has been popping up in local bars in the past year. New Jersey Beer Company, like Flying Fish, names some of their beers in honor of their state. Hudson Pale Ale and Garden State Stout are featured in their beer line up. New Jersey Beer Company is not only on draft, but they also sell their beers at local liquor stores.
Kane Brewing’s founder Michael Kane started the brewery in 2011. They had a promotional “tap take over” at a local craft beer bar, The Copper Mine, located on Ridge Road in North Arlington, New Jersey. Copper Mine owner Vito Forte was very happy to be able to add beers brewed in the state that he was born and raised in.
“It is great that New Jersey is producing outstanding beers and using local ingredients. Customers also love to support products that they know come from right here in New Jersey,” Vito said
One friendly patron of the Copper Mine named Harry commented about the way that Kane Brewing operates.
“I think Kane is a great example of how a local brewery should operate. No gimmicks, they limit the number of different styles they produce so that they can focus on making constantly good beer. Being local to the area, this means we get to enjoy it at its peak freshness,” Harry said.
So the next time that you are at a bar, trade in a light, watered down, mass-produced beer for a full flavored, fresh, local beer and your taste buds will be rewarded. Kane, Flying Fish, and New Jersey Beer Company are examples of just three great microbreweries in New Jersey. There are in fact many others. More information can be found about these and all the other New Jersey breweries at www.Newjerseycraftbeer.com, a website dedicated to giving the public useful information about the local beer scene.
Always remember to drink responsibility and never drink and drive… Cheers!