Saturday, June 1, 2013

Guild collaboration brew set for Sunday

How many Jersey brewers does it take to make 20 gallons of beer for a summer festival?

As many as can fit around a Tippy brew set-up at Carton Brewing on Sunday.

The Atlantic Highlands brewery, in conjunction with Kane Brewing from nearby Ocean Township, will brew a throwback IPA that echoes Ballantine India Pale Ale. 

The beer will be served at the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild Festival on June 22. 

Planned to track toward maltiness, the beer is also targeted to finish out at 8% ABV, with Bullion hops walking point. 

Joining the two Monmouth County breweries will be guild members Trap Rock brewpub (Berkeley Heights) and Uno's (Metuchen), and possibly some others. 

Philly Beer Week sees FU Sandy return

Flying Fish sales rep Mary Grace
Hodge pours FU Sandy Friday night
FU Sandy, the hurricane fundraiser beer brewed by Flying Fish, made its return at the opening-night festivities of Philly Beer Week Friday.

The next stop for the hybrid wheat-pale ale (6.5% ABV), brewed with experimental hops, is in its home state of New Jersey in a couple of weeks, in draft and bottles.

"It's back; it's strong. It's Jersey strong," says Andy Newell, Flying Fish's director of sales. "We're ready to go. We're really excited to be releasing it in 750 (milliliter) bottles. We wanted to get people excited about it. It's a great opportunity for all the people who didn't have a chance to taste it (previously)."

Philly Beer Week's Opening Tap, the kickoff event for the 10-day beer week, marked the first pour of the brew's second round. FU Sandy was initially released in February in a limited run of 50 barrels. Flying Fish brewed 200 barrels for the second installment of FU Sandy. Fifty barrels will be kegged, while the rest will be bottled.

The initial run raised $45,000 for three charitable organizations doing storm relief work. That figure represents all proceeds from the beer. A portion of the proceeds from the second batch will be steered to aid relief efforts from last October's hurricane-nor'easter hybrid storm.

"It won't be set up like it was before, as a straight-up, 100 percent fundraiser," Andy says. "But we're going to continue to build on the efforts we've made already. We're excited about that as well."

Friday, May 31, 2013

Pinelands Brewing buildout underway

Jason Chapman outside Pinelands' brewery space

Pinelands Brewing has its buildout under way at a small business park in southern Ocean County.

Owner Jason Chapman has been working in the margins of his day job at Stockton State College to get things moving at his 3-barrel brewery in Little Egg Harbor Township. 

Cutting piping
"We're just starting construction. The main thing is we've got our floor drain in. There's a little bit of cosmetic work, a couple bits of plumbing," Jason says. 

"We're looking at some time in August to get open. We've talked with the state, and they're pretty much waiting for us to get done with the buildout so they can come in and inspect." 

If all goes without a hitch, Pinelands will be one of at least three new breweries joining the ranks of Garden State beer-makers this year. Iron Hill brewpub took delivery of its brewhouse for its Voorhees location – its 10th and second brewery in New Jersey – last week and expects to open in August. Rinn Duin, a planned production brewery in Toms River (also in Ocean County), installed its brewhouse in late April and projects a July launch.

Jason says officials from Little Egg Harbor Township have been supportive. 

"Some towns, you say you want to open a brewery, even though it's a nano brewery … they don't know what that is. They think we're opening Anheuser-Busch," he says. "We communicated to them the scale we're doing, and they pretty much said, go ahead so long as everything is up to code."

Right now, plans call for launching with an IPA called Evergreen, and an American pale ale, Pitch Pine, a nod to the most prevalent species of tree growing in the expansive Pinelands National Preserve that envelopes a huge chunk of South Jersey. 

Floor drain plumbing 
Jason is also considering a wheat beer and either a black saison or a honey saison. Draft accounts in his hometown of Hammonton have expressed interest in Pinelands' beers, as have some in Atlantic City.

Situated at the southern tip of Ocean County, the coastal town of Little Egg Harbor is known regionally for clamming in the bay waters. It's also historically notable for a skirmish during the American Revolution in which a ragtag Colonial force under the command of Polish Count Casimir Pulaski were ambushed by the British.

Beer Minute: From Monster to ghost

It's over for Brooklyn Brewery's outsized barleywine, Monster Ale.

The brewery announced via its blog on Thursday that the 10.3% ABV, three-mash winter seasonal has been discontinued.

Like a lot of barleywines, this big beer ages well, the brewery says, so those who still harbor some in their beer holds should let it age gracefully until there's an occasion special enough to pour it.

– The Beer Minute is a quick-read round-up of notable events or news about breweries from elsewhere that distribute in New Jersey.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Philly Beer Week: Let the taps flow

Friday has three words for you: Philly Beer Week.

Let's toss in a fourth: collaboration, because collaboration beers will abound in Philadelphia over the coming days. 

The curtain on the 2013 Philly Beer Week observance lifts at 7 p.m. this Friday with opening-tap festivities inside and outside the Independence Visitors Center. 

A spotlight will be on a Belgo-American Dubbel (7.5% ABV) named Manneken-Penn, brewed at Brasserie de la Senne by Yvan De Baets, with an assist from Weyerbacher's head brewer Chris Wilson, Monks Cafe owner Tom Peters and Matt Hohorst, winner of this year's annual PBW raffle of a trip to Belgium. (The beer's name and label are a mash-up of the William Penn statue atop City Hall and Brussels' famed fountain whizzer statue, Manneken Pis.)

The devil's in the details, so here you go: The beer features American Calypso hops, European Slovenia, Aurora and Styrian Goldings woven through a grain bill accented with oats and molasses. 

Last year's brew born of the Philly Beer Week Belgium trip was Sp├ęciale Belge, a smoky amber ale brewed by Brasserie DuPont's Olivier Dedeycker in conjunction with Iron Hill Maple Shade.

As a beer city, Philadelphia has major mojo; it's gravitational pull from finding, creating and serving world-class craft beers tugs inescapably on the Garden State. Even beer enthusiasts across farther-away North Jersey get caught under the spell. 

"Until recently, if you lived in New Jersey and wanted a great beer, chances are you had to shell out a few bucks to the DRPA and visit Philly. But South Jersey bars are finally catching on … and it's gotten a helluva lot easier to find not just local crafts, but exotic imports and West Coast micros throughout the Garden State," says Don Russell, PBW's executive director. "That's why you'll increasingly find solid Beer Week events across the Delaware in New Jersey."

You'll also find some New Jersey hands involved in Brotherly Suds 4, the beer whose tapping outside the visitors center gets things rolling for the 10-day soiree that launched the national trend of city beer weeks six years ago.

The English summer ale is a collaborative effort by Gene Muller of Flying Fish in Somerdale and Mark Edelson of Iron Hill brewpub in Maple Shade; Philly's Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing; Bill Covaleski from Victory Brewing; and Gordon Grubb of Nodding Head brewpub.

Don credits Flying Fish and Iron Hill for breaking down some barriers that had slowed the Garden State's progress in the craft beer industry.

"I heartily encourage the good folks of New Jersey to charge up their E-ZPass and visit the city during beer week. They can do a bit of bragging while they're at it, because our Brotherly Suds 4 collaboration brew, available on draft throughout the week, was partly the work of Muller and Edelson," Don says. 

There's some more Jersey in PBW: River Horse Brewing, which is on the cusp of exiting Lambertville and taking up their new digs in Ewing, will also be pouring at Opening Tap. (By the way, the brewery's production bids its founding location in southern Hunterdon County adieu with a final brew of its Tripel Horse Belgian ale on Friday. But RH will have some lingering business – think tasting room – in Lambertville until late June.) 

Here's some more on the PBW lineup (get PBW's mobile app):

  • Dock Street Trappiste Pale, a Trappist-style IPA inspired by Orval, brewed by Dock Street, Scott Morrison, Tom Peters and George Hummel (Home Sweet Homebrew), fermented with saccharomyces in the primary fermentation and brettanomyces in the secondary fermentation for a moderate sour character, plus Sonnet and East Kent Golding hops for grassy, citrusy flavor. (Available in 750 milliliter bottles from Dock Street exclusively during PBW.)
  • Johnny Berliner, brewed by Dock Street and Johnny Brenda’s, a Berlinerweiss.
  • Standard Pale, the sixth collaboration between Sly Fox’s Brian O’Reilly and Standard Tap’s William Reed, an American pale ale brewed with new hop varietal Calypso, which will be tapped by the Hammer of Glory when it makes its way past Standard Tap on the HOG Relay, en route to Opening Tap, and poured for free until the firkin is empty.
  • DNA UK, from Dogfish Head and Charles Wells, a transatlantic collaboration that brings together the “DNA” of Dogfish Head’s famed 60 Minute IPA and a strain of yeast from Brit brewer Wells. DNA is making its debut at PBW.
  • Brewvolution II, a collaboration between Prism, Evil Genius and Boxcar that is a hard root beer drawn from Lancaster County’s Amish community and infused with root herbs and spices for all the character of a root beer with none of the saccharine sweetness.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beer Minute: NJ says 'can't' to new Sly Fox can

Here's another way New Jersey plays stick in the mud when it comes to craft beer, and it's a bit ironic, too, given that the Garden State takes credit for introducing canned beer in the first place.

The new Sly Fox cans with the lift-off lid aren't allowed in the Garden State. 

Yep, the ones the Pennsylvania brewer introduced in April as the "360 lid." Sly Fox's canned beers are still widely available here in New Jersey, just not in that attractive innovation that turns the can into more of a cup.

Getting blocked at the Delaware River goes back to a 1970s litter law that prohibits any detachable metal from the can. The law was a response to the pull-tabs introduced in the early/mid-1960s that consigned church keys to the collectibles bin. The pull-tabs were replaced in the mid-1970s by the stay-tabs everyone is familiar with now (pull tabs, by the way, are still in use in China).

Tim Ohst, Sly Fox's brewery operations manager, says the ban is disappointing, for a few reasons: The 360 lid is 100 percent recyclable (it, like the can, is aluminum); the lid passed safety tests for sharpness; it requires less metal to make the lid than a bottle cap, which is metal that detaches from a beverage container; the lid is no more of a potential litter menace than that metal bottle cap or a plastic cap from a bottle of Poland Springs. 

By the way, New Jersey, where canned beer became a new frontier for U.S. consumers nearly 80 years ago in Newark a la Gottfried Krueger Creme Ale and Krueger's Finest Beer, isn't alone with the buzz kill. New York state has a similar law.
Troegs has released its stripped-down version of Mad Elf again. The Pennsylvania brewer announced Naked Elf's return on its website on Wednesday. You won't taste the chocolate malt, cherries and honey that are some of the hallmarks of Mad Elf in this 7.8% ABV brew that's among the brewery's Scratch Beers, because, well, it's naked compared with that 11% holiday seasonal. Still, the folks at Troegs describe the stripped-down version as an "unfiltered golden beauty that displays a pronounced yeast flavor that made the Mad Elf famous." That's a dressed-up way of noting Naked Elf's munich and pilsner malts and Belgian yeast. The hops are cinnamon spice-like Czech Saaz and earthy German Northern Brewer. Naked Elf is available in draft and six-packs at the brewery.

Here's one that probably mostly interests the light beer-drinking crowd: Brewers can now add nutritional information, such as calories and carbohydrates per serving, to their beer labels. The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the folks who will have the final say over brewers' labels, issued a ruling Tuesday green-lighting "serving facts" statements. Such information also includes the number of servings per container, plus fat and protein content, which given that it's an alcoholic beverage, that zero-fat content can become fat on you after you drink it, depending upon your metabolism. The ruling is essentially a modification of a position the bureau took nine years ago with regard to liquors, wines and malt beverages. The bureau's rather densely worded ruling can be read by following the link off the press release found here. Singing the Miller 64 song from the commercial will probably be considered a violation among your craft beer friends.
– The Beer Minute is a quick-read round-up of notable events or news about breweries from elsewhere that distribute in New Jersey.