Thursday, September 23, 2010

Woodbridge, Belmar & Iron Hill's

Turnpike Exits 4 and 11 figure big into the beer picture on Saturday, but the day has nothing to do with the Flying Fish Exit Series beers theme-brewed to those numbers.

Exit 11 on the turnpike is Woodbridge, where the 4th edition of the Central Jersey Beer Fest runs from 1-5 p.m. About an hour's drive south, in Maple Shade off Exit 4, Iron Hill brewpub will be hand-bottling and making available for sale some well-aged Flemish red ale.

On top of that, there's a worthy beer gig at the Shore where more Jersey beers will be poured.

Parker Press Park, along Rahway Avenue, just past the bend in Main Street, is once again the location for the JJ Bitting brewpub-sponsored Central Jersey Beer Fest. From its debut in 2007, this has been a charity event, and this year's proceeds will benefit a cancer-stricken mother of two from Woodbridge and American Legion Post 87.

Jersey brews at the event, according to organizer and Bittings owner Mike Cerami, will include brewpubs Harvest Moon (New Brunswick), Tun Tavern (Atlantic City) and host JJ Bittings; production brewer Cricket Hill (Fairfield); and Boaks Beer (contract brewed at High Point in Butler) and East Coast Beer Company (contract-brewed in New York). Rounding out the list will be beers from Brooklyn, Blue Point, Ommegang, Erie Brewing, Boston Beer, and Doc's Cider.

There will also be food vendors and live music.

Admission is $25, and $15 for designated drivers. Unlike last year, no tickets will be available at the gate (you can buy them at Bittings on Main Street).

If you were at last year's event, you may recall things got a little testy when the admissions outpaced the beer. In order to keep things running smoothly this go-round, ticket sales will cut off at 800.

The park is spacious, with plenty of shade trees. Plus you'll find picnic tables to relax and take a load off. Travel tip: There's construction planned to commence very soon on Route 9 in the area, so coming in on Routes 1 and 35 may be the best path. NJ Transit is a good bet, too, since the train station is a bottle cap's toss from the park.

Maple Shade
The folks at Iron Hill always have something up their sleeve. This time, it's a bottling party for a 9-month-old, barrel-aged Flemish Red tricked out with wild yeast and bacteria to give it a tang that's worth writing home about. (It's a pay as you go event.)

The brewpub will be tapping some (5.3% ABV, 20 IBU), as it's called, while it packages the beer (made in December 2009 and stored in Beaujolais barrels since the headwaters of this year) in corked and caged 750 ml bottles, labeled, signed and numbered by head brewer Chris LaPierre (who's a big fan of sour beer styles) and assistant brewer Jeff Ramirez.

Bottles will then be available for sale at the bar.

FYI: This deep red ale is a bottle-conditioned beer, so the bottle you buy must be stored until it carbonates naturally (Chris recommends a couple of months, or even letting it mature for years).

From Chris' note to mug club members: "This will be a couple of firsts for us: our first beer available in bottles and the first time we’ve done an entire batch of sour, wood-aged beer in Maple Shade."

With this festival, Beer on the Pier, look for Jersey brews from Climax (Roselle Park, go for Dave Hoffmann's well-regarded Oktoberfest and his IPA) and Artisan's brewpub (in Toms River where Dave is the hired consultant/brewer), Cricket Hill, River Horse, New Jersey Beer Company (North Bergen, makers of 1787 Abbey Single and Garden State Stout), and East Coast Beer Company and Hometown Beverage. Hometown, like East Coast Beer Company, is a shore-based contract brewer. East Coast is based in Point Pleasant Beach, while Hometown, the purveyors of New Jersey Lager (as well as New York Lager and Pennsylvania Lager), is based in Manasquan and closing in on a second anniversary in the beer business.

Both Cricket Hill and East Coast Beer are doing double duty on Saturday. Newly minted in the beer scene, East Coast is a co-sponsor of the event with BeerHeads and the borough of Belmar, and just brought its Beach Haus pilsner to market (it's brewed by Genesee in upstate New York) late last month.

"We actually sold through 650 cases in three weeks. We’re thrilled; we're just starting off and we're at the higher end of expectations," says East Coast founder John Merklin. Saturday's event is part of a marketing blitz that has seen the company hit nine craft beer events or tastings in those three weeks.

John says the company has message beyond the flavor and style of its beer, a pre-Prohibition pilsner. "This is not a summer seasonal. It's regional; it's a reflection of the region ... a direct reflection of being at the Shore. The analogy I'm using is the Beach Boys, (hearing them) you know what it's like to be in California," he says.

Beer on the Pier, Belmar Marina, Route 35.
VIP Tent: 1-3 p.m
. General Session: 2-6 p.m

$40 online; $50 Gate; $60 VIP (soldout); 
$10 designated drivers. (A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the Monmouth County Foodbank.)
Food from 10th Ave Burrito, Mr. Shrimp, Crab Shack, Jacks Tavern, Federico's Pizza.
More info (732) 681-2266


JessKidden said...

re:CJBF- "Rounding out the list will be beers from Eastern Brewing..."

The infamous Eastern Brewing Corp. of Hammonton is back brewing? I know the company was in business opened doing other beverage bottling etc., at least according to possibly out-dated internet listings but had thought they no longer were a licensed brewery.

This isn't "aged Old Bohemian Bock" is it?

Jeff Linkous said...

You're a good New Jersey beer historian. But no, it's not the Hammonton place. It was an error on the festival handout.

I did a Web search, too, and turned up Hammonton, and didn't think it was them; then I thought it was Eastern Shore, but with catching up on legwork for the post, I discovered in a call with East Coast Beer Co. folks it was them.