Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Turtle Stone entering home stretch

Turtle Stone Brewing next week expects to collect the public financing it obtained recently with the support of its host city of Vineland.

In addition to closing on the low-interest loan and banking the $50,000 from the city's Urban Enterprise Zone program, the brewery also anticipates approval of its brewer's notice from federal regulators in a few days. The notice, of course, is one of the big governmental hurdles to be jumped.

Ben Battiata, who's launching the brewery with his girlfriend Becky Pedersen, says the two have found some kegging equipment, a key piece of hardware they have been shopping around for that the UEZ cash will help fund. The brewery will initially be turning out draft beer only, but Ben says they're still scouting for bottling equipment to widen Turtle Stone's market reach.

About the video:
At the Somers Point beer festival, Becky and Ben talk to interviewer Tara Nurin, of Beer for Babes, about the timeline for launching Turtle Stone Brewing and the beers, made with some locally sourced ingredients, that the drinking public can expect.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New site for planned Pinelands Brewing

nother one
in the Cape May County area in deep South Jersey ...

Pinelands Brewing, an in-development 1-barrel brewery, is getting its project back on track, scoring a new location and making plans to push the paperwork through federal and state regulators.

Founder Jason Chapman says money has been put down as rent on the new spot in Belleplain, a location in the northern Cape May/Cumberland County area perhaps more familiar to the Garden State's camping, fishing and hunting crowd who flock to the state forest there.

Plans right now call for a spring opening, and Jason says this winter will be spent securing federal, state and local approvals.

Pinelands opted for the Belleplain location after a site in Egg Habor City in Atlantic County, once home to the now-gone Cedar Creek Brewing, fell through. If successful with the new location, Pinelands will join Cape May Brewing and Tuckahoe Brewing as beer-makers in the Cape May County area.

About the video:
Jason and his partner, Luke McCooley, explain more to interviewer Tara Nurin, of the women's beer group Beer for Babes. Pinelands had an informational stand at the Somers Point Beer Festival back at the end of October, pouring some homebrewed beers made from recipes on which their commercial offerings will be based.

Time to retire the nano label

Shakespeare famously mused about what's in a name, in flowery Elizabethan prose, suggesting that a name is merely packaging, not contents.

Given that, it's probably apt to send the descriptor nanobrewery packing. It's a small point, but one worth making.

Sure, the label has served a short-term purpose, speaking to a growing craft beer industry circumstance. Lots of folks have been jumping into commercial brewing via the very small scale, not because they're so enamored with their brewing sculptures that to part with them would be sweet sorrow when they began making beer for sale.

Rather, the driving force has been the fact that start-up costs are more attractive to get licensed making 1 or 2 barrels of beer at a time – more affordable steel, more affordable building.

But then we're accustomed to labels.

used to be beer-speak as much for "I don't drink Bud any more" as it was to describe the approach for making the beer that some of us older drinkers were giving up Bud for.

And lest we forget, yesteryear's micros came in varying sizes.

Bell's Brewery in Michigan (alas, not distributed here in New Jersey, but in Pennsylvania by the case) started on a half-barrel set-up almost 30 years ago. Bell's has come quite a long way, now brewing almost 1,000 times its first-year production of 135 barrels.

Climax Brewing here in New Jersey started at 4 barrels, small – by two-thirds or more – compared with several other craft breweries that launched in the Garden State around the same time. But Climax has ably grown, and founder Dave Hoffmann has more growth in store for his Roselle Park brewery.

So therein lies Rub No. 1.

Brewers who start very small don't do so to stay very small. Sounds obvious, but it seems like that point gets lost in the nomenclature shuffle, as if nanos will be nanos. It's a safe bet they intend to grow as large and quickly as their successes will provide. Success meaning people drinking the beer.

Which brings up Rub No. 2, what Shakespeare said, contents vs. package.

There is, and will be, good beer coming from breweries that make 1 barrel at a time, just like there is from breweries making 10 or 20 times that.

And you can judge that in ways big and small, by the pint in fact.

So bye-bye nano. Big of you to move on.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tuckahoe planning for ABC inspection

Tuckahoe Brewing Company is one step away from joining the growing list of craft breweries making beer in the Garden State.

Matt McDevitt, Tim Hanna, Jim McAfee and Chris Konicki – the foursome behind what is poised to become New Jersey's newest brewery and Cape May County's second craft beer-maker – expect state regulators to swing by their site in Dennis Township next week for an inspection of their brewing setup and facilities.

Barring any hitches, Tuckahoe Brewing will be licensed, and thus, legally able to make beer on the 3-barrel system it has installed in the light industrial park building it shares with a coffee roaster company and a seafood market. (First up will be DC Pale Ale, Tuckahoe's flagship American pale ale, and Steelman Porter, a cold weather seasonal.)

Matt says all the brewery's equipment is in place, save a few odds and ends; a CO2 installation is set for this Wednesday, and a week from that, officials with the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will make their pass through the brewery, capping an almost-yearlong endeavor by the four to enter the craft brewing industry.

Tuckahoe will join Cape May Brewing as the two craft brewers operating in New Jersey's southern-most county. Cape May was licensed back in the spring and has been sending beer out its doors since July.

Meanwhile, the folks at Flounder Brewing, in Hillsborough in Somerset County, on Monday – the 78th anniversary of the 21st Amendment's ratification and consigning of Prohibition to history's ash heap – received word of approval for their federal brewer's notice. The notice is essentially the federal OK for commercially making beer.

The blessing from the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau clears the way for Flounder to concentrate on getting its state licensing. Jeremy Lees, one of the principals in Flounder Brewing, says he's optimistic the 1-barrel brewery will have the state ABC's approval, too, before the calendar turns to 2012.

Rivaling 1996, the year that several of New Jersey's now-established craft brewers got into the game, 2011 has proved to be a wildly busy year for brewery start-ups, a pace that hasn't gone unnoticed by some of those Class of '96 brewers, who note the time it's now taking to get licensed has become somewhat compressed.

Since the beginning of the year, four production breweries have been licensed, with, aside from Tuckahoe, two more waiting in the wings. And that doesn't even begin to count the handful of planned breweries, still more embryonic on the drawing boards, that have reached out to the Colorado-based Brewers Association, the craft beer industry trade group.

Nationally, the Brewers Association, citing a count from 2010 (its most current statistics), puts the number of breweries in the United States at 1,759, the most since the late 1800s. Of that figure, 1,716 were craft breweries, the beer industry trade group says.

Interestingly enough, the number of production breweries in New Jersey is about to pull even with, and even on pace to surpass, the number of brewpubs, which total 13. For a while in the state, brewpubs, which by law can only sell beer on their premises, have enjoyed a numerical edge over production breweries, which sell their beer through wholesalers.

One reason for the lag in brewpub start-ups (the most recent was Iron Hill's Maple Shade location in 2009) is the high cost of bar licenses in the state. Those licenses, tied to population, can run upward of six figures and are issued by municipalities, then subsequently held in private hands.

About the video:
From the Somers Point Beer Festival, interviewer Tara Nurin of the women's beer group, Beer for Babes, talks with Tim Hanna and McDevitt about Tuckahoe Brewing.