Thursday, May 13, 2010

New beer in NJ for Craft Beer Week

American Craft Beer Week begins Monday, but there's an event Saturday that's a fitting gateway in the Garden State to what the stewards of the May 17-23 observance call the Mother of All Beer Weeks.

The Copper Mine Pub in North Arlington will help launch New Jersey Beer Company's entry into the market place, pouring the inaugural trio of beers from the brand-spanking-new brewery in North Bergen in Hudson County.

"We didn't plan it this way, but I can't think of a better time. What better way to celebrate American Craft Beer Week than by opening a brewery?" says Matt Steinberg, the founder and president of NJ Beer Company.

Matt has spent the better part of this spring working like a dog, overcoming some obstacles and minor delays here and there, to get up and running. So Saturday will indeed be a momentous occasion. (NJ Beer will do a roll-out the following weekend at the Iron Monkey in Jersey City.)

Brewery folks will be on hand as Copper Mine pours NJ Beer's freshly made flagships: Hudson Pale Ale, Garden State Stout and 1787 Abbey Single, paired with some appetizers, mini-entrees and a dessert closer, provided courtesy of a friend of the brewery.

NJ Beer began actual brewing on April 24th, and as of today, it has brewed 100 barrels of beer. Matt's happy with how the beer has turned out. "I really couldn't be more excited get them out there. They're exactly the way the way they should be," he says.

NJ Beer also has a fall seasonal in the pipeline, but Matt is keeping details of the beer under wraps for now. It's in "the lab being perfected," he says.

Right now, NJ Beer's brews are draft only. But the brewery's bottling line is expected to arrive from Canada around the end of the month.

This year, Craft Beer Week sees the ranks of Jersey brewers grow by three: NJ Beer, Port 44 Brew Pub in Newark and Iron Hill down in Maple Shade, which has been doing phenomenally well since opening not quite a year ago.

Port 44 is still serving brews under guest taps, while it awaits final brewing licensing from the state. It's been frustrating trying to cut through the red tape, but Port 44's owner, John Feeley, says a meeting with their legal folks today gave reason to be optimistic.

Bureaucratic waters can be choppy, but if things tilt Port 44's way, the pub could be pouring its house-made ales around mid-June. Cross your fingers for them. Just as NJ Beer has brought brewing back to Hudson County, Port 44 represents a connection to the past for Newark, which was once a major player in the brewing industry before things dwindled to just the existence of Budweiser.

(In fact, once Port 44 gets its license and begins to make beer, the brewpub will be the only American-owned brewery in Newark. As we know, Budweiser is in the hands of Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate InBev.)

About American Craft Beer Week
The observance was organized by the Colorado-based Brewers Association to celebrate small and independent craft brewers and highlight what Americans enjoy about craft beer.

A House of Representatives resolution, H.R. 1297, was introduced in April to recognize and support the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week, not to mention support the role that small and independent craft brewers play through community citizenry; the economic contributions (i.e. the 100,000 jobs in the industry); and a resurgence in the brewing industry unseen since before Prohibition.

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