Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Central Jersey Beer Fest 2.0

It’s back, it’s bigger, and yeah, as all promos for sequels boast, better than ever.

The Ws and the H
What: Second Annual Central Jersey Beer Fest
When: 1-5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20th (Rain date is the 27th)
Where: Parker Press Park in Woodbridge
Why: It’s for charity; plus it's one of Woodbridge's Main Street events
Weather: As of now, the forecast is picture-perfect: sunny in the mid-70s
How much: Twenty bucks. Tickets are limited (Phone number is 732-634-2929)
What you get: A souvenir glass and unlimited sampling (which means, you can enjoy small pours of the brews; however, don’t get drunk or be dickish. That will get you – rightfully so – shown the door. The 2007 event was family friendly and commendably free of bad behavior; help keep it that way)
Hungry? Yes, there will be food vendors (plus live music)

Last year’s inaugural drew 650 people, depsite only four featured breweries: JJ Bittings (the event organizer), Climax Brewing (Roselle Park), Pizzeria Uno (Metuchen/Woodbridge) and the Tun Tavern (Atlantic City). It was a crowd pleaser, answering a thirst for a fall beer festival in the Garden State. (Watch video of the 2007 fest.)

This year, the lineup has doubled, with Jersey brewers Cricket Hill (Fairfield) and River Horse (Lambertville) and Boak Beverage (Pompton Lakes), joining the returning 2007 lineup.

Brian Boak, a familiar face and volunteer at High Point Brewing (Butler), started Boak Beverage on the strength of winning top honors in the New Jersey State Fair homebrew contest a few years back and the fact that plenty of people liked his beer. High Point contract brews for Brian, and he self-distributes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This is his first festival, and he'll feature his core brands, Monster Mash Imperial Stout (the state fair winner) and his Belgian turn, Two Blind Monks.

Rounding out the beer lineup are Weyerbacher Brewing (Easton, Pa.) and Hunterdon Distributors, which will bring draft and bottled beers from out west: Lagunitas, Boulder Brewing, Stone, Rogue and Flying Dog, and Smuttynose from the Granite State.

Point of order
That latter part of the list raises the question, is this a Jersey brewer fest? Yes and no. Yes, in that the foundation of the festival is made up of Jersey-based brewers, and no, since this fest is independent of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild (although five of the home state brewers are guild members). The guild will hold a fall festival at the Newark Bears stadium on Oct. 19th (that’s a Sunday; more about that one soon).

OK enough parsing. The bottom line is, version 2.0 of the Central Jersey Fest grew, fattened up and looks to easily outdo the inaugural version.

We chatted briefly with August Lightfoot, brewer at JJ Bitting brewpub (which is a stone’s throw from the park), who said he’s bringing his 2008 Märzen (it's not on tap at the pub yet, hint, hint), an imperial IPA inspired by the WHALES homebrew club, his raspberry wheat and a standby keg of porter.

Some more styles to expect: Tim Kelly of the Tun Tavern plans to bring a Belgian wheat, possibly a pumpkin spice ale (it was being filtered on Tuesday), and an IPA dry-hopped with Jersey-fresh Cascade and Nugget hops (grown by Tim’s friends, Ray Gourley and Kathy Haney).

See you there.


Tom E said...

SUNDAY OCTOBER 19TH!!!! WHAT?!?!?! Don't they know it's football season? Oh well, I have Giants tickets that day. This is a huge, huge bummer.

Jeff Linkous said...

Yeah, Sunday, not a good choice of days at all. Could cut into attendance.