Friday, June 20, 2008

Guild's got game

Where can you find practically all of what New Jersey brews on one stage? At the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild's annual festival, of course.

Yeah, that’s just a way of bringing up the fact that the 12th incarnation of the festival is scheduled for this Saturday (June 21st), once again at the Camden waterfront aboard the floating military maritime museum that is the USS New Jersey.

If you’re a newbie to the festival here are the quick facts:

• Breweries: Basil T’s of Red Bank, Cricket Hill, Flying Fish, Gaslight, Harvest Moon, High Point, JJ Bitting, Krogh’s, Long Valley, Pizzeria Uno, River Horse, Ship Inn, Triumph and Tun Tavern. (FYI: Krogh's, the brewpub in bucolic Sparta, NJ, is listed on the marquee, and they're a Guild member. But generally speaking, they have not ventured this far south to the festival, meaning it's possible they will be a no-show. We hope not.)

• It’s a rain-or-shine event from noon to 4 p.m. at the fantail of the battleship. Admission is 40 bucks and you get the customary souvenir taster glass and a self-guided tour of the ship, and it looks like online ticket sales have closed. The USS New Jersey’s website says tickets are still available at the box office, but it’s best to call ahead at this point. Here's the number: 856-966-1652 ext. 108.

• Music by the Cabin Dogs, who have sort of a residency with this event. The Dogs are pretty good, so give ’em a listen.

• Parking: Public parking (for a fee) is available over by Adventure Aquarium, with shuttle buses running from the garage to the battleship.

• Yes, there will be food vendors. Last year the food was a marked improvement from the year before. Ditto for the access to it. We’re expecting it to be at least the same this year.

•Weather: Nice for a festival, upper 80s. Let's hope the humidity stays reasonable.

NJ beer world, one year later

Some highlights of the New Jersey beer landscape since last year’s festival:

• Flying Fish in Cherry Hill topped 10,000 barrels in production, 10,511, according to figures we obtained from the Brewers Association in Colorado. (The top 5 NJ brewers are: Flying Fish, River Horse, Triumph, High Point and Cricket Hill.)
• High Point Brewing in Butler earned a spot at No. 7 in Beer Advocate’s rating of the top 25 breweries in the USA. High Point also picked up a top-10 accolade for its Oktoberfest beer from Draft Magazine. (Take it from us, High Point makes a killer Oktoberfest, and that beer will be coming around again very soon.)
• River Horse Brewing in Lambertville is closing in on the first anniversary of new owners. Chris Walsh and Glenn Bernabeo scored a hit with a new Belgian Double Wit a few months back that was part of a brewmasters reserve series they started. RH is promising to roll out more new beers and has struck a deal with Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to contract brew RH’s Penn Brook Lager (more on this soon).
• J.J. Bitting in Woodbridge successfully launched the Central Jersey Beer Festival last September and is planning a repeat event this year. That festival has room to grow, and we hope it does.