Thursday, July 17, 2008

Central Jersey Beer Fest 2.0

We popped up to Woodbridge for a chat with J.J. Bitting Brewing owner Mike Cerami and his brewer, August Lightfoot (pictured below), for a handful of reasons, one being to enjoy a Best Bitter on the handpump (it’s got this creamy, dense head that clings to the sides of the glass, a great beer for English ale fans like us).

But the headline on our mind was an update on plans for a second Central Jersey Beer Fest, the Indian summer answer to the state’s more widely known craft beer event held in June, which seems to be anchored on the decks of the USS New Jersey in Camden, something that’s made a few beer drinkers north of Interstate 195 flinch at the travel distance and say, “Pass.”

The folks at J.J. Bitting got the Central Jersey festival rolling last year with the blessing of Woodbridge town hall, attracting two other brewpubs (Atlantic City’s Tun Tavern and Pizzeria Uno in nearby Metuchen) and production brewer Climax Brewing (Roselle Park) to pour with them at the event. Turnout at Parker Press Park was great (see video from last year here), and those in the crowd were quite appreciative to have a festival not too far away.

Version 2.0 of the festival is set for Sept. 20 at the park, which is within walking distance of the NJ Transit train stop. The lineup right now looks like Climax, Cricket Hill, River Horse and Pennsylvania brewer Weyerbacher, as well as J.J. Bitting. Mike says he’s still doing some follow-up on invitations to other brewers, so hopefully more will follow suit.

Note: The festival on the battleship is sponsored by the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, while the Woodbridge soiree is organized independently of that group (although J.J. Bitting is a guild member). Still, the Central Jersey fest has a lot of promise as a craft beer event (the town itself worked the festival into its lineup of Main Street happenings) and is worth the trip. And yes we know the guild has an October festival planned for Newark. We're saving that for a future post.

Jersey Date
While we’re talking about J.J. Bitting, Lew Bryson and Mark Haynie will hold their first Garden State signing party for their just-released New Jersey Breweries book on Aug. 1, from 5-8 p.m. (the kickoff is July 27th in Philadelphia), right around happy hour. Salut!

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