Saturday, September 20, 2008


We’re off to the Central Jersey Beer Fest today. But before leaving, it’s worth taking a few minutes to point out what’s ’round the corner.

New Jersey Breweries book signing, with Lew Bryson and Mark Haynie
When: 5-7 p.m., Friday Sept. 26th
Where: Flying Fish Brewing, Onley Avenue, Cherry Hill
Wallet: Free, unless you’re buying a book, which you should if you don’t have it already (Here’s a thought, buy an extra copy, mail it to Governor Corzine’s office, slip in a note: Now is the time to revise New Jersey’s arcane laws concerning beer. Signed, New Jersey Craft Beer Drinkers.)

Last time we stopped by FF, they had their 2008 Oktoberfish on tap for the brewery tours. That’s reason enough to swing by. But, seriously, on the heels of Lew and Mark’s book (released last July), it’s a perfect time to embrace all that the Garden State has by way of breweries and brewpubs, and to lend a voice or show some solidarity in the hopes that the industry can continue to grow.

By the by, Lew and Mark will be signing copies from 1-3 p.m. at Borders on Route 73 in Marlton the next day. See Lew talk about the book here.

Oktoberfest in Philadelphia
When: 1-5 p.m. (special noon VIP tasting) Saturday, Sept. 27th
Where: 23rd Street Armory (in Center City)
Wallet: $45 for general admission. $15 for designated drivers. $75 for the VIP tasting

This event (see more details here) fills the void left by the city’s loss of the Oktoberfest at Ludwig’s, the German restaurant on Sansom Street. (It was sold. High Point Brewing was often a part of the festivities at Ludwig's.) Flying Fish will be among the 50-plus beers being poured at the armory event. Proceeds go toward Philly Beer Week 2009 (March 6-15), and the breast cancer research drive Mugs for Jugs. Get a Maßkrug and help out a good cause. Seems like mugs and jugs have long association with beer, something not lost on Frank Zappa. (Rest in peace, Frankie, you're very much missed.)

Basil T’s-Toms River
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3
Where: Basil T’s Brew Pub & Italian Grill, Hooper Avenue and Bay Avenue, Toms River
Wallet: $65, all inclusive, so you get food and brew
Music: Firehouse Polka Band

We had hoped to hit this last year, but had a work commitment that meant getting up with the chickens the next day, something that a night on the town doesn’t mesh well with. So we regrettably had to pass. This year, we hope to be there, to sample the Oktoberfest and catch the mädchen in dirndls.

The dinner is hosted by beer writer Kurt Epps and brewer Dave Hoffmann. As many people know, Basil’s-Toms River is Dave’s moonlighting gig, an easy trip down the Garden State Parkway from his mainstay of Climax Brewing in Union County.

River Horse Oktoberfest
When: Noon-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Oct.11-12
Where: Back lot of the brewery, 80 Lambert Lane
Wallet: Pay as you go event
Music: 519 South Band

Oktoberfest 2007 was the first event that Glenn Bernabeo and Chris Walsh had at their disposal to start selling the new image of River Horse. They’d only taken over a month before as the new owners. And they did quite a job.

And they’ve been on a roll since: new beer styles coming out of the brewery, more events, a bigger presence around the Garden State and in neighboring Pennsylvania.

Last year’s RH Oktoberfest drew a healthy crowd, as did the two-day festivities at the brewery during ShadFest. This year’s fall festival should be on your calendar. And, as always, when you’re finished on the Jersey banks of the Delaware, take a moment to hit Triumph's brewpub in New Hope. Locally made beer on two sides of the river within walking distance really makes this area a special treat.

Garden State Craft Brewers Guild OktoberFestival
When: 1-5 p.m., Sunday Oct. 19
Where: Newark Bears Riverfront Stadium, Newark
Wallet: $40 in advance; $45 day of festival. See Web site for details

First things first. Yes, this is on a Sunday during football season. But the Giants game will be on the Jumbotron at Bears stadium, so you won’t have to miss Big Blue. The Eagles have a bye week so you’re good there, too. The N.Y. Bretts, er, uh, Jets are on the road in Oakland, with a 4:15 p.m. kickoff, so that might be the only wrinkle with this fest being on a Sunday (unless you have tickets to the Giants game, like friend of the blog Tom E. does. Enjoy the game, Tom).

Anyway, we’ve run into a lot of North Jersey people (just last weekend, in fact) who mention they’d like to see a guild festival closer to their neck of the woods. Happily, here’s the answer. And if you noticed on the guild’s Web site, there will be cask ale, in addition to the Märzens. That alone might be reason to go.

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