Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Turtle Stone becomes 2nd NJ licensee for 2012

Three beers for Turtle Stone Brewing.

That comes after three cheers for the Cumberland County brewery, licensed by New Jersey regulators eight days ago.

Owner Ben Battiata jumped straight to brewing after the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control made its customary inspection of the Vineland brewery and gave the thumbs-up on March 13th.

Using a 1-barrel pilot system, Ben turned out a half-batch of a milk stout, and full batches of an American stout and a red rye ale, the latter of which is destined to be the house beer at the Old Oar House Irish Pub in nearby Millville, a bar that's been one Ben's haunts for a while and in recent times has been working craft beers onto its 30-plus taps.

"It's the bar I've been going to since I've been allow to go to bars," Ben says.

Turtle Stone's 15-barrel brewhouse is still being set up. Thus, Ben cobbled together the small pilot system to get some beer produced to ensure the brewery had a presence at the Atlantic City beer festival March 30-31. "We didn't want to lose out on that exposure," he says.

As a vision, Turtle Stone goes back about six years. As brewery startup, things started coming together more seriously three to four years ago, with the acquisition of brewing equipment and scouting a location. Ben and his partner, his girlfriend Becky Pedersen, saw the pace quicken last year with federal regulators signing off on the project and brewery construction taking place through the fall and winter. Last week's visit by ABC inspectors was the breaking of the finish-line tape to what had become a bit of a marathon. Despite that, there are still a few more details to get in hand, such as bringing the 15-barrel brewhouse online and adding a tasting room. (Ben hopes to have that taken care of by summer.)

"I've been waiting for things to settle down so I could get some rest. It hasn't worked out that way," says Ben, who still works full-time for Viking Yachts in Bass River. He brewed the three inaugural ales over four sessions (two batches of red rye ale), sometimes working until 4 or 5 a.m.

With the red ale, Ben says to look for a stronger rye presence. The 6% ABV brew was made with caramel malts and an ample amount of rye, and hopped and dry-hopped with Cascades, although future versions are likely to include Amarillo hops. (Right now, Amarillo is hard to get, but Ben hopes to lock in a supply at some point.)

"I really like rye beer, so I pushed that up a little more," he says.

The milk stout (5.2% ABV), Ben says, was Turtle Stone's first batch as a licensed brewery and comes from his recipe file built up from over a decade of homebrewing. It was done in a smaller batch because he was still getting a feel for the pilot system. He plans to take a couple of sixtels of the milk stout to the AC beer fest, but more of the two other brews.

The American stout (6% ABV), a beer that has always been part of the launch plans for Turtle Stone, also features Cascade hops, plus the Zythos blended hop. The grain bill includes some oats to give the beer a silky body.

Coming six days after the approval for Flounder Brewing in Hillsborough (Somerset County), Turtle Stone is the second production brewery licensed by the state this year, nudging up the tally of New Jersey craft breweries to 24.

The two additions come on the heels of five licensees in 2011, and the exit from New Jersey's craft beer scene of just two startup breweries since 2010 (Port 44 Brew Pub in Newark and Great Blue Brewing in Franklin Township, Somerset County).

1 comment:

Nern said...

I work with Ben @ Viking and am an avid home-brewer.

Looking forward to visiting the brewery and giving them a hand brewing a batch.