Friday, April 6, 2007

Shore bet

Good news for beer drinkers along the Jersey shore who have discriminating palates.

Fairfield brewer Cricket Hill, purveyors of a quite quenching American lager, have added bottle and draft distribution to Monmouth and Ocean County. As Jersey beer fans, we hope this helps further turn the tide toward the side of taste and choice.

It’s been a month-plus since Cricket Hill widened its reach with its East Coast Lager, amber American Ale and Hopnotic India Pale Ale, the latter being a very enjoyable session IPA (so don’t go looking for the hop hammer to come slamming down. Instead, it's a cumulative hop taste balanced with a not-too-filling full body. No problem standing up two or three of ’em.)

Because of some distribution overlap, Cricket Hill may have already been available in bottles to some shore drinkers. So that means the best news here is the availability of Cricket Hill on draft, which we advocate as the preferred way to have any beer.

You won’t get an argument from Rick Reed, Cricket Hill’s founder, either. Bottling, he says, tends to beat up a beer. The extra handling that bottling necessitates can rough up a beer and change some of its character.

So on that advice, sign up for the draft. And hopefully some savvy and supportive bar owners will help you out.

About Cricket Hill
Founded about five years go, the brewery operates from a former welding shop in an industrial park in Fairfield (Essex County).

Capacity: 3,000 barrels, producing about one-third of that now, with healthy year-to-year growth.

Beer lineup:
Besides its lager, American Ale and IPA, Cricket Hill produces the seasonal Paymaster’s Porter (draft only), Colonel Blides Altbier (with plans to bottle that German style offering) and a Belgian summer ale (draft) that’s looking to find it’s way out of the bright-beer tank soon and into a glass.

Name game:
Cricket Hill actually has less to do with the insect that stars in the brewery’s logo and more to do with the game cricket. The name is a reference to a vantage point for watching cricket matches in Australia. The cricket hill is the equivalent of the bleacher seats, but the spot where the social atmosphere and camaraderie is more inviting.

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