Tuckahoe Brewing Company is one step away from joining the growing list of craft breweries making beer in the Garden State.
Matt McDevitt, Tim Hanna, Jim McAfee and Chris Konicki – the foursome behind what is poised to become New Jersey's newest brewery and Cape May County's second craft beer-maker – expect state regulators to swing by their site in Dennis Township next week for an inspection of their brewing setup and facilities.
Barring any hitches, Tuckahoe Brewing will be licensed, and thus, legally able to make beer on the 3-barrel system it has installed in the light industrial park building it shares with a coffee roaster company and a seafood market. (First up will be DC Pale Ale, Tuckahoe's flagship American pale ale, and Steelman Porter, a cold weather seasonal.)
Matt says all the brewery's equipment is in place, save a few odds and ends; a CO2 installation is set for this Wednesday, and a week from that, officials with the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will make their pass through the brewery, capping an almost-yearlong endeavor by the four to enter the craft brewing industry.
Tuckahoe will join Cape May Brewing as the two craft brewers operating in New Jersey's southern-most county. Cape May was licensed back in the spring and has been sending beer out its doors since July.
Meanwhile, the folks at Flounder Brewing, in Hillsborough in Somerset County, on Monday – the 78th anniversary of the 21st Amendment's ratification and consigning of Prohibition to history's ash heap – received word of approval for their federal brewer's notice. The notice is essentially the federal OK for commercially making beer.
The blessing from the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau clears the way for Flounder to concentrate on getting its state licensing. Jeremy Lees, one of the principals in Flounder Brewing, says he's optimistic the 1-barrel brewery will have the state ABC's approval, too, before the calendar turns to 2012.
Rivaling 1996, the year that several of New Jersey's now-established craft brewers got into the game, 2011 has proved to be a wildly busy year for brewery start-ups, a pace that hasn't gone unnoticed by some of those Class of '96 brewers, who note the time it's now taking to get licensed has become somewhat compressed.
Since the beginning of the year, four production breweries have been licensed, with, aside from Tuckahoe, two more waiting in the wings. And that doesn't even begin to count the handful of planned breweries, still more embryonic on the drawing boards, that have reached out to the Colorado-based Brewers Association, the craft beer industry trade group.
Nationally, the Brewers Association, citing a count from 2010 (its most current statistics), puts the number of breweries in the United States at 1,759, the most since the late 1800s. Of that figure, 1,716 were craft breweries, the beer industry trade group says.
Interestingly enough, the number of production breweries in New Jersey is about to pull even with, and even on pace to surpass, the number of brewpubs, which total 13. For a while in the state, brewpubs, which by law can only sell beer on their premises, have enjoyed a numerical edge over production breweries, which sell their beer through wholesalers.
One reason for the lag in brewpub start-ups (the most recent was Iron Hill's Maple Shade location in 2009) is the high cost of bar licenses in the state. Those licenses, tied to population, can run upward of six figures and are issued by municipalities, then subsequently held in private hands.
About the video:
From the Somers Point Beer Festival, interviewer Tara Nurin of the women's beer group, Beer for Babes, talks with Tim Hanna and McDevitt about Tuckahoe Brewing.