Friday, June 25, 2010

Beer events, east and west

Saturday plays host to a pair of beer events: the 2010 edition of the only beer festival in New Jersey to feature exclusively Jersey-made beers, and the first mug club dinner for the rebranded Artisan's brewpub in Toms River.

Once again aboard the USS New Jersey at the Camden waterfront, the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild holds its 14th annual festival, from 1 to 5 p.m. (Call 866-877-6262, ext. 107 for ticket availability; price is $40. The event is rain or shine, and there's parking available at the garage opposite the aquarium, but be prepared to pay.)

New blood
The guild festival features only Jersey-made beers, and the profile Jersey beer is rising. Last year saw the addition of Iron Hill to the lineup, and this year will see another new brewer – New Jersey Beer Company. Plus, Trap Rock Brewery and Restaurant in Berkeley Heights has rejoined the guild, so look for brewer Charlie Schroeder's beers to be served as well.

Check out past festivals here, here and here.

A quick heads-up about the weather ...

Saturday is going to be scorcher in the low to mid-90s, with some upwardly creeping humidity.

Plus, it gets hot on the deck of the ship. So the rules of drinking beer in the heat apply: keep a bottle of water handy, and not just for rinsing your sampler glass. Stay hydrated. (It could be worse. Last year, it rained nearly the whole time.)

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the state in Toms River, Artisan's Brewery & Italian Grill holds its 2010 mug club dinner, featuring a flight of brews from Dave Hoffmann and a buffet prepared by Chef Steve Farley. (Things kick off about 6 p.m.)

Last year, Steve served some killer fried chicken à la the lemon-brined chicken recipe made famous by Thomas Keller and his Napa Valley, California, restaurant Ad Hoc. Steve also plated some great Italian sausage sans the casing. You can expect another satisfying spread on this year's buffet.

Beer-wise, Dave has an über-banana hefe-weizen on tap. You can catch the banana aroma from 20 paces on this brew. It's quite tasty, and it's joined by a dunkel weizen on tap. Backing up those are a red ale and West Coast IPA.

The 2010 mug club dinner marks a change for Peter and Pete Gregorakis (pictured).

Back in January, the brothers rebranded their brewpub Artisan's, retiring the old name, Basil T's, and putting to rest some of the confusion that ensued after the Original Basil T's in Red Bank spun off the Toms River location many, many years ago.