Friday, December 2, 2011

Time for a second round?

Could New Jersey Breweries, the guidebook to the Garden State's craft brewing scene, be in line for a second edition?

Maybe so.

That idea is being floated to the publisher, Stackpole Books, says Mark Haynie, who with co-author Lew Bryson, wrote the 148-page region-by-region look at the pub and production brewers of the state.

With good reason.

A lot has changed on the state's beer landscape since the book landed on the shelves during the summer of 2008. Not only have the ranks of homegrown craft brewers swelled, but industry trends have shifted, with the notion of small-batch brewing taking on a new meaning, and growlers of take-home beer no longer existing as the province of brewpubs and breweries. Then there's the matter of the state's bar owners gravitating to and embracing craft beer in general, adding taps and putting on beers that were unimaginable a few years ago.

At the time New Jersey Breweries hit print, the Garden State had just under a dozen and a half craft breweries, with the newest one being Krogh's, the Sussex County brewpub that began teaming house-brewed beers to its restaurant offerings back in 1999. Now, the brewery count numbers closer to two dozen.

The change began as a trickle, then a gush.

In 2009, Iron Hill brewpub, the Delaware-based restaurant and brewery company started in 1996 by a trio of Jersey guys, ended a decade-long drought of new breweries opening in the state. It was a homecoming that saw Iron Hill launch its eighth location in Maple Shade. (Iron Hill is poised to open its ninth location in Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. A second New Jersey location is also in the works.)

New Jersey Beer Company followed suit a year later as a production brewery based in North Bergen in Hudson County. This year alone, there have been three new production brewers – nano beer-maker Cape May Brewing became licensed in May, with Kane Brewing and Carton Brewing doing likewise over the summer. Meanwhile, Turtle Stone Brewing, an in-development production brewery in Vineland, is targeting a late 2011 or early 2012 opening.

Speaking of nanobreweries, the industry trend of tiny breweries serving local niche markets, took off big in the Garden State in 2011. Besides Cape May, Great Blue in Somerset County became licensed, while Flounder Brewing in Hillsborough and Tuckahoe Brewing continued to wend their way through the regulatory maze, and also looked to open soon.

But wait, there's more.

Flying Fish, the state's largest craft brewery and a Cherry Hill fixture for all of its 15 years, bought a new building in nearby Somerdale and made plans to triple its production capacity. In 2009, Flying Fish also began a well-received lineup of specialty beers. The Exit Series was referenced in New Jersey Breweries as part of the brewery's plans.

Elsewhere, Climax Brewing in Roselle Park, the state's first production craft brewer, began packaging in 12-ounce bottles in six-packs, retiring the signature half-gallon growler jugs that had long given its ales and lagers a presence in the state's bottled beer market.

Speaking of growlers, the jugs most often associated with brewpubs, started showing up as offerings from taverns and those packaged goods stores lucky enough to have licensing held over from the days of when they included a bar under their roofs.

Indeed, the Garden State is a different place for beer now, even from just three years ago.

About the videos:
Above, Mark Haynie talks with interviewer Tara Nurin, of the women's beer group Beer for Babes, about growth in the New Jersey craft brewing industry. Below from 2008, New Jersey Breweries co-author Lew Bryson talks about the book's release.

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