Saturday, January 26, 2013

1-barrel brewpub in the works

The scenic top part of the Garden State is in line to get another brewpub.

Maryann and Dion Harris, owners of Tuscany Brewhouse, a restaurant-bar that already keeps its patrons' glasses filled with craft beers, plan to add a 1-barrel brewery setup to create their own line of house ales. (Nearby brewpubs in the area are Krogh's, nine miles west in Sparta, and Long Valley, about 30 miles south in Washington Township.)

Tuscany Brewhouse filed an application for a restricted brewing license with state regulators a little over two months ago. The application is among at least four pending with the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and one of three for licensing as a brewpub.

The year-old establishment (it celebrated its first anniversary last month) sits along Route 23 in Oak Ridge, a community that straddles West Milford in Passaic County and Jefferson Township in Morris County. The area is New Jersey's black bear country, hilly and picturesque with lakes and streams.

Tuscany Brewhouse is a place were you can find Jersey-made beers, such as High Point's Ramstein Winter Wheat doppelbock, plus regional brews like Victory's Hop Devil to go along with a surf-and-turf dinner or burger. 

"We have 16 beers on tap ... Ramstein, everyone loves Ramstein; Ithaca IPA, we sell a lot of that ... Cricket Hill over in Fairfield, beers from Vermont ... We try to put on a lot of local or regional beers," says bartender Tom Gilroy, whose mother owns the restaurant and is a longtime restaurateur. 

The idea to add a small brewing system in the restaurant basement is part business, part beer enthusiasm. It evolved, Tom says, from positive feedback on the homebrews (some IPAs and pale ales) he made and shared with family and friends. 

"It started off with the love of good beer and brewing your own beer," says Tom. "It didn't start off with the idea of making money." 

Keith Jennings, another Tuscany Brewhouse bartender, will share brewing duties with Tom. Production is targeted to be about 4 barrels a week. The restaurant is looking at equipment (including bright tanks) from Stout Tanks and Kettles.

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