Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brewing with Wheat ... and High Point

When you put wheat beer in the name of your brewing company, you most surely separate yourself from the rest of the pack. And when you earn a reputation for delivering great wheat beers, you become a natural stop in the exploration of those distinct and distinguished brews that use malted barley's cereal grain cousin.

Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer takes you on a global journey of discovery of those beers in Brewing with Wheat, and makes a stop in Butler, N.J., home of High Point Wheat Beer Company and the Ramstein brand.

Stan, whose other titles are Brew Like a Monk: Trappist, Abbey and Strong Belgian Ales and How to Brew Them, and The Beer Lover's Guide to the USA, interviewed High Point founder Greg Zaccardi about a year ago for a section in the book.

Now called High Point Brewing, a shortened name that makes room for the lagers and pale ales that have been added to the Ramstein banner, the brewery once lay claim to a one-and-only title in the US beer industry (excerpt):

When Zaccardi began selling the Ramstein brand beers in 1996, High Point was the first, and only, all-wheat brewery in the United States since before Prohibition, when weissbier breweries were tiny and made something that tasted more like wheat beers from Berlin. He since has begun brewing a variety of barley beers under contract, accounting for more than one-third of production. "We couldn't survive brewing wheat beer alone," he said.

Followers of High Point know those additional brews these days include a well-received maibock and Oktoberfest, Vienna lager and a imperial pilsner initially brewed for restaurants in New York City, not to mention a Belgian red for the Harvest restaurant chain that owns Trap Rock brewpub in nearby Berkeley Heights.

Another excerpt, courtesy of Stan:

Now that he has made a variety of styles under contract, such as a Belgian-style dubbel and a German-style Pilsener, Zaccardi remains convinced wheat beers present the greatest challenge for a brewer. "Brewing consistent wheat beer is the hardest thing to do," he said. "You have to control something that is uncontrollable, the yeast."
You can get a glimpse of what's in Brewing with Wheat here. The book's available through Beertown, Beerbooks and Amazon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NJ Beer Co. update

If you follow Matt Steinberg's Twitter activity, you spotted this already.

If not, here's the link to shots of his New Jersey Beer Company brewery taking shape in North Bergen.

Good luck, Matt.

The ranks of New Jersey craft brewers grows again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

NJ brewers at AC beer fest

Atlantic City's beer fest, Celebration of the Suds, features loads of beer from all across the country, but draws just a handful of brewers from the Garden State.

This year saw River Horse, Boaks Beer, Cricket Hill (their first time) and Flying Fish.

Also this year, The Press of Atlantic City and the Tun Tavern teamed up for a dunkelweizen – At the Shore Dark Wheat – that was pretty popular among festival-goers.

By the by, the chap pictured in the colorfully loud shirt is friend of the blog Mark Haynie, the Jersey columnist for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

Casking call

Pizzeria Uno's cask event is this coming Saturday (March 27) at the brewpub along Route 1 in Metuchen. As of this writing, the lineup of brews is still taking shape.

But Uno brewer Mike Sella today offered a taste of the list for this pay-as-you-drink nod to real ale: Uno's Gust N Gale porter and Scotch ale are the host offerings, joined by a nut brown ale from Climax Brewing. (Climax, just up the Garden State Parkway in Roselle Park, has been part of the lineup since Uno began what has become a twice-a-year event back in 2008.)

You can also expect a couple of brews from Weyerbacher, as well as at least a half dozen other brands, if Uno's past cask events are any measure. The taps start flowing at noon.

Uno is located at 61 Route 1 in Metuchen, along the southbound side of the highway. The phone number is (732) 548-7979.

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Brewers Association board of directors

Jersey beer has a seat on the board of directors for the trade group that champions craft brewing in the U.S.

Mark Edelson, of Iron Hill brewpub, is serving as secretary/treasurer of the Colorado-based Brewers Association. Mark also chairs the organization's finance committee.

The Brewers Association announced its new board of directors last Friday.

Of course, Iron Hill is based in Delaware and expanded into Pennsylvania before opening a location (its eighth) in New Jersey last summer. But the company was founded by Edelson and two other Jerseyans, Kevin Finn and Kevin Davies.

So, yeah, Jersey beer can make a claim on this topic. Here's an interview with Mark from last year's Garden State Craft Brewers Festival. (Mark appears about halfway into the video.)