Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another look at Newark's Port 44 Brew Pub

Port 44 Brew Pub continues to find its footing with the lineup of house ales it has been producing for three months now.

It can take a little while to find the sweet spot with the newly installed brewhouse, some time to nail down the efficiency of the equipment as far as mashing and hop utilization go.

But brewer Chris Sheehan (pictured at left) says he's getting comfortable with the results of his recipes for Port 44's flagship brews that include a golden ale, red ale, wheat beer and a stout named for New Jersey bootlegger Abner "Longy" Zwillman.

The wheat beer, Siren's Wheat, will help serve as a fundraiser for college scholarships for children of police, fire and EMS personnel. Chris says the inaugural batch had an unintended hop signature that overrode the wheat flavors, so some tweaking is order.

But he says his Goldfinch golden ale and Devil's Red have hit the mark. "I'm locked in on those recipes," he says. (A pomegranate wheat and a winter seasonal strong ale were among his brewing plans earlier this month.)

Port 44 opened back in the spring with guest beers on tap and began turning out house ales in August, figuring in the crowds that hit the nearby Prudential Center for concerts and New Jersey Devils and Nets games into its business model.

A few lingering things remain to get squared away, Chris says, such as setting up a Web site, purchasing an inventory of growler glassware, and acquiring a keg washer so serving tanks won't stay tied up too long by a single beer.

"It's still a work in progress," Chris says.

Chris plans to have the keg washer custom-made with the help of a metal fabricator from the city's Ironbound section. Then the brewpub's stock of 30 Hoff-Stevens kegs can stirred into the mix to get more house brews on tap. (Brews from Cricket Hill and New Jersey Beer Company are two of the guest brews that remain on tap for now.)

"We have eight taps here but I have five serving tanks," he says. "The other three taps I want to fill with my own beer instead of having guest beers."

In the meantime, Port 44's second-floor bar area has been pulling in private parties from the corporate crowd in Newark (Prudential and Verizon, for example), as well as students from Seton Hall law school.

"We've been doing a fair amount of business that way," Chris says.

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