Friday, January 25, 2013

NJ craft beer goes bullish with Bolero Snort

Two brews down, and many more to go. 

But if Bob Olson and Andrew Maiorana had their way, Ragin' Bull and Blackhorn would have been flowing from New Jersey bar taps a year ago, if not earlier. 

As things stand, though, the two lagers are now in fermenters at High Point Brewing Company, the contract-brewer for Bob and Andrew's Bolero Snort Brewery, based in Bergen County. 

After six months of planning and a year of dealing with regulatory paperwork, the developing craft beer enterprise that has been widely followed and anticipated by a lot of beer enthusiasts across North Jersey is beginning to take its place in New Jersey's growing craft beer scene. 

Last week brought the brewing of Ragin' Bull, a sessionable (5% ABV) amber lager that Bob says would beckon the likes of a Bud or Coors Light drinker to something fuller in flavor; the more-assertive Blackhorn (6.5% ABV), an American black lager, was brewed on Tuesday. 

"For the craft beer enthusiast, Blackhorn would be right up their alley from day one," Bob says.

Like a lot commercial beer-makers, Bob and Andrew come to the industry as accomplished homebrewers, with the laurels of finishing in the winner's circle at homebrew contests to boot. Bob, 29, has a day gig as a construction industry consultant. Andrew, 27, is a CPA at JP Morgan Chase.

Bolero Snort (the name is Robert Olson anagrammatized) got off the ground not unlike the Boaks Beer route. Brian Boak founded his beer business through a contract-brewing arrangement with Greg Zaccardi's High Point Brewing in Butler, the makers of the Ramstein lineup of German wheat brews and lager beers, like the top-rated Ramstein Munich Amber Lager (Oktoberfest), a wheat doppelbock that yields the brewery's Icestorm eisbock. 

Like Brian, Bob and Andrew bought a fermenter and had it installed at High Point in December to ensure the brewery had capacity to accommodate their contract brews. (Brian had a tank installed at High Point in April 2009.)

But unlike Brian, Bob and Andrew intend to takeover production in their own brewery. Siting and construction for that are calendared for next year, barring any planning hiccups.

In the meantime, the agreement with High Point guarantees monthly brews of Ragin' Bull and Blackhorn. The early going will see draft-only brews, but March and April are being targeted for bottling.

Bob and Andrew will self-distribute in North Jersey but plan to tease their beers in South Jersey in April at the Atlantic City beer festival, the state's biggest craft beer festival stage.

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