Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pouring beer at Port 44 in Newark

Port 44 Brew Pub is pouring beer at 44 Commerce Street in Newark.

The long-awaited brewpub, whose name is derived from its address amid Newark's bustling professional offices district, opened to patrons at 4 p.m. today with catered food and a range of guest taps that included New Jersey brewer Cricket Hill's Nocturne, a dark lager that the nearby Fairfield brewery also recently released in 22-ounce bomber bottles.

Although New Jersey's newest brewpub is open, it's not serving house-brewed beer yet. Port 44 brewmaster Chris Sheehan says there's still some finishing touches to be done (namely electrical wiring) to the pub's own brewing system and the awarding of a state brewers license. Those items are expected to be taken care of very soon. And Sheehan expects to strike a mash on Port 44's inaugural brew, Gold Finch Ale, about mid-May. When that happens, Newark will have its first craft brewery and another brewery besides Budweiser for the first time in ages.

"We have six or seven folks drinking right now. We're literally starting this puppy up. We're actually open right now for the first time ever, filling the draft lines with beers from Peerless (Beverage Distributors)," Sheehan said by phone about a half-hour after Port 44 threw open its doors.

Besides Nocturne, one more Cricket Hill brew, Colonel Blides Ale, will go on tap tomorrow. Rounding out the guest taps is a lineup that includes Ommegang Abbey Ale, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Franzikaner Hefeweizen, Yuengling Lager, Spaten Lager and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

The latter brew was the choice of bar patron Jim, who says he heard today was Port 44's opening day and managed to be the first person through the door at 4:05 p.m. "This place is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. This is gonna be novel for this city. The whole downtown is coming back," said Jim (who declined to give his last name).

Port 44 owner John Feeley said the brewpub's kitchen awaits a final inspection but is expected to begin serving food next week. So, today's patrons were welcomed with a catered spread. All in all, Feeley sounded relieved, if not a little bit rushed, to be open after more than a year's worth of effort to see the brewpub to realization.

And Sheehan, who came over to Port 44 from Chelsea Brewing at New York City's piers under an open-ended arrangement that would have allowed him to help launch Port 44 and return to Manhattan, says he'll be staying on in Newark.

Gold Finch Ale, Sheehan added, will be a golden session ale (about 4.5 percent ABV) named for New Jersey's state bird and created with the idea of "introducing people to beer with a little more character, beer that is fresh and pure."

1 comment:

JessKidden said...

Coincidentally perhaps, but an early 1990's NJ contract brew was called (somewhat oxymoronically) "Goldfinch Amber", brewed by The Lion in Wilkes-Barre, PA and marketed by the Goldfinch Brewing Co., out of Mt. Laurel.