Artisan’s Brewery & Italian Grill
1171 Hooper Avenue, Toms River
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 AM to 11 PM; Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to 12 AM
Key Personnel: Dave Hoffman (head brewer); Petros and Peter Gregorakis (owners)
Flagships: Artisan’s Light, Red Ale, West Coast IPA
The man who launched the modern age of brewing in New Jersey by opening Roselle Park’s Climax Brewing in 1994 has a day job—as head brewer at Artisan’s, where he crafts West Coast-style IPAs, German Oktoberfests, Belgian ales, English brown ales and American seasonals. The menu features classic Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, as well as burgers. Aside from Hoffman’s creations, the bar stocks bottled imports and craft domestics. Mug club members pay $25 to $40 per year for benefits like 18-ounce beers for $2.95. For entrance to cigar lounge, even members need to shell out $10—or try telling the hostess, “Dave sent me.”
Basil T’s Brewery and Italian Grill
183 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 AM to 12:30 AM; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 AM to 1 AM
Restaurant opened: 1987; brewery added: 1996
Key Personnel: Mike Sella (brewmaster); Victor Rallo (owner)
Flagship: Maxwell’s Dry Stout
While it’s uncommon outside New Jersey to find an Italian restaurant that brews its own beer, the Garden State has two. Basil T’s six year-round and seasonal beer offerings could seem like an afterthought in a dining room dripping with bottles of vino, but judges at the Great American Beer Festival—the most prestigious beer competition in the U.S.—pumped up Basil T’s beer ego by bequeathing the Maxwell’s Dry Stout with three medals.
262 Wanaque Avenue (Rear), Pompton Lakes
Key Personnel: Brian Boak (owner)
Flagships: Monster Mash, Two Blind Monks, Double BW
Boaks is contract-brewed at High Point Brewing Co., so there’s no brewery to visit. Still, Boak’s keeps a high profile at any sizable festival in Central or Northern Jersey. A curious drinker just has to look for 6-foot-4 owner Brian Boak’s red head towering above the crowd. If that fails they can listen for his booming voice hawking a lineup of quirky selections, like the lemongrassy Double BW (Belgian Wheat) or the chocolaty and fruity Monster Mash Russian Imperial Stout.
Bolero Snort Brewery
65 Railroad Avenue, Ridgefield Park
Year established: 2013
Key personnel: Bob Olson (founder/operations); Andrew Maiorana (co-founder/brewer)
Flagships: Ragin’ Bull (amber lager), Blackhorn (American black lager)
After spending a year and a half on recipe development, Bolero Snort launched commercially in late February. It contract brews its beers out of High Point, crafting traditional and bold ales and lagers. Bolero’s philosophy is exemplified by its slogan: “No BS…Just Ragin’ Good Beer!”
Cape May Brewing Co.
1288 Hornet Road, Rio Grande
Winter hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 8 PM; Friday and Saturday, 12 to 8 PM; summer hours: daily 12 to 8 PM
Flagships: Cape May IPA, Honey Porter, Wheat
Key Personnel: Ryan and Bob Krill (owners); Chris Henke (owner/brewer); Mark McPherson (brewer).
Cape May’s success has stunned even industry types. The brewing team has already expanded its tasting room twice. They’ve now added live music to their portfolio of award-winning beers. Try the Centennial IPA, the locally sourced Honey Porter and the Cranberry Wheat, brewed with fruit from the Pinelands.
Carton Brewing Co.
6 East Washington Avenue, Atlantic Highlands
Hours: Thursday and Friday, 5 to 7:30 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 PM
Key Personnel: Augie Carton (owner)
Flagships: Boat, BDG, 077XX, Carton of Milk
Ferociously individualistic owner/recipe developer Augie Carton shuns accepted style definitions to brew what he likes to drink. Witness the brand-new GORP, a chocolate peanut-butter raisin porter. The 2-year-old brewery is the only one of the recently hatched micros to employ a full-time sales rep. Yes, she is a 25-year-old with long legs and a gorgeous smile. But she also knows her stuff. That Augie, he’s no dummy. No dummy at all.
Climax Brewing Co.
112 Valley Road, Roselle Park
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM
Dave Hoffman (brewer/owner)
Flagships: ESB, India Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Helles Lager, Golden Ale
As the oldest craft brewery in the state, Climax earned itself a photo in one of the legendary late journalist Michael Jackson’s definitive tomes on beer, and a visitor can expect owner Dave Hoffman to talk about it. “Climax … is the only brewery good enough to have it’s (sic) beers pictured in Michael Jackson’s books … but we don’t like to toot our own horn,” he writes unapologetically and without irony on the company’s website. There’s no official tasting room to relax over one of his style-adhering German lagers and English ales but a visitor can pop by and ask for a tour from Hoffman or his dad, Kurt, who has been brewing up barrels of the good stuff with his son since the beginning.
Cricket Hill Brewery
24 Kulick Road, Fairfield
Hours: Friday, 5 to 7 PM
Key Personnel: Rick Reed (brewmaster/CEO)
Flagships: East Coast Lager, Hopnotic IPA
Rick Reed is one of the most politically involved brewers in the state. But don’t let that scare you. During his Friday evening tours and tastings, the Santa-esque elder of the state’s beer scene gives hilarious speeches that translate the art of brewing his traditional, low-alcohol German beers into terms everyone can appreciate. At Cricket Hill, what that really comes down to is one word: “Prost!”
East Coast Beer Co.
528 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach
Key Personnel: John Merklin and Brian Ciriaco (co-founders); Tom Przyborowski (head brewer)
Flagships: Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner, Beach Haus Winter Rental
Shore-goers have learned to enjoy East Coast’s easy-drinking Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner and Summer Rental Black Lager. The latest addition to the laid-back lineup is Kick Back Ale. Fans can enjoy them all over the state but they can’t drink them at the source; East Coast’s Jersey-centric brews are manufactured by contract in Rochester, New York.
Flying Fish Brewing Co.
900 Kennedy Boulevard, Somerdale
Key Personnel: Gene Muller (founder/general manager); Andy Newell (co-owner/sales director); Casey Hughes (head brewer)
Flying Fish just moved into new digs and its tasting room won’t be finished until later this year. We suspect it will be worth the wait. Already the state’s largest brewer, Flying Fish has tripled its production at the mammoth new facility, and tweaked its recipes to account for greater efficiencies afforded its ultra-modern equipment. So far, fans are happy with the results.
Gaslight Brewery Restaurant
15 South Orange Avenue, South Orange
Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 3 PM to 1 AM; Wednesday through Saturday, 11:30 AM to 2 AM; Sunday, 11:30 AM to 1 AM
Key Personnel: Dan Soboti, Jr. (co-owner/brewer)
Flagships: Bulldog Blonde, Pirate Pale Ale, Bison Brown, Perfect Stout
Patrons who develop malt fever after sampling the brewpub’s eight brewed-to-style beers can run upstairs to the second-floor homebrew-supply shop to buy everything they need to launch a home-brewing hobby faster than they can down a pint of brewer/owner Dan Soboti, Jr.’s Perfect Stout or Pin-Head Pilsner. But if they’d rather save themselves the expense and mess of a homebrew habit, they can keep coming back to Gaslight for its elaborate seafood appetizers and hearty German, Italian, American and Cajun/Creole food. And of course, the beer.
Harvest Moon Brewery/Cafe
392 George Street, New Brunswick
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11:30 AM to 2 AM
Key Personnel: Kyle McDonald (head brewer)
Flagships: Moonlight Kolschbier, Elmes’ Mild Manor, Jimmy D’s Firehouse Red, Full Moon Pale Ale, DIPA
Harvest Moon offers an oasis for craft-beer lovers amid downtown New Brunswick’s college sports bars, fast-food chains and high-priced wine bars. This is where you’ll find a few dozen Belgian, German and American beers on eight revolving taps.
High Point Brewing Co.
22 Park Place, Butler
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 6:30 PM; Saturday, 1 to 4 PM
Key Personnel: Greg Zaccardi (founder/president); Alexis Bacon (head brewer)
Flagships: Ramstein Double Platinum Blonde Hefe-Weizen, Ramstein Northern Hills Amber Lager, Ramstein Dunkel Hefe-Weisse
After working as a brewer in Germany, Greg Zaccardi returned to the States to open the nation’s first all-wheat brewery, where he produces the Ramstein family of beers using ingredients imported exclusively from Germany. He must be doing something right. Zaccardi’s beers have garnered superlatives from top beer professionals and magazines, and in December, esteemed food/drink blog First We Feast named his Double Platinum Blonde the best beer in New Jersey.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
124 East Kings Highway (Rt. 41), Maple Shade
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 AM to close
Key Personnel: Kevin Finn (founding partner); Kevin Davies and Mark Edelson (co-owners); Chris LaPierre (head brewer)
Flagships: Vienna Red Lager, Pig Iron Porter
Though this branch of the Delaware-based brewpub chain and a new location to open soon in Voorhees occupy real estate in South Jersey, expect to see a wider geographic range in coming years. Ocean Township native Mark Edelson says now that New Jersey has increased its brewpub limit from two to 10 locations per owner, he’ll likely look to keep Iron Hill’s third site south of Trenton then explore options elsewhere around the state for future installments. That should give him more wall space to hang the brewery’s dozens of Great America Beer Festival medals.
J.J. Bitting Brewing Co.
33 Main Street, Woodbridge
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11:30 AM to 12 AM
Key Personnel: Mike Cerami (owner)
Flagships: Victoria’s Golden Ale, JJ’s Raspberry Wheat, Avenel Amber, WHALES IPA
Nestled in a turn-of-the-century grain depot constructed of brick and timber, J.J. Bitting pairs American grill cuisine with a low-alcohol assortment of mostly American-style beers, including the WHALES (American) IPA, brewed by the homebrew club that calls J.J.’s home. Named second-best brewpub in the U.S. by highly regarded BeerAdvocate.com
Kane Brewing Co.
1750 Bloomsbury Avenue, Ocean
Hours: Friday, 4 to 7 PM; Saturday, 12 to 5 PM
Key Personnel: Michael Kane; Glenn Lewis
Flagships: Head High (IPA), Overhead (Imperial IPA), Single Fin (Belgian Blonde)
This highly regarded newcomer sticks chiefly to American and Belgian styles brewed whenever possible with local ingredients. Most brews show up on draft throughout the state, recognizable by their tap handles handcrafted by Kane employees and fashioned from old-growth pine reclaimed from old barns and industrial buildings.
Krogh’s Restaurant & Brew Pub
23 White Deer Plaza, Sparta
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30 AM to 2 AM; Sunday, 12 PM to 2 AM
Restaurant opened: 1991; brewery added: 1998
Key Personnel: Carl David Cooper (chef/brewmaster)
The Tudor-style building that Krogh’s occupies began its life in 1927 as a tea room and gift shop serving vacationers at Lake Mohawk. These days, the brewpub retains that old-world charm while it pours boutique martinis and cooks chicken, pasta and Mexican-American entrees. True to form, it blends old and new with a mix of traditional European and nouveau American beers.
Long Valley Pub and Brewery
1 Fairmount Avenue, Long Valley
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 AM to 12 AM; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 AM to 1 AM; Sunday, 11 AM to 11 PM
Key Personnel: Joe Saia (head brewer)
Flagships: Hookerman’s Light, German Valley Amber, American Pale Ale, Lazy Jake Porter
One of the state’s most honored breweries occupies an historic barn at the foot of rustic Schooley’s Mountain. In warm weather, the staff opens up the patio for dining and live music in the country air, making it a perfect spot for sipping brewer Joe Saia’s line of balanced ales. In winter, a soul-warming choice is the Lazy Jake Porter, winner of two Great American Beer Festival medals.
New Jersey Beer Co.
201 Tonnelle Avenue, North Bergen
Hours: Friday, 5 to 9 PM
Key Personnel: Paul Silverman (chairman); Kevin Napoli (COO); Brendan O’Neil and Dave Manka (brewers)
Flagships: Garden State Stout, 1787 Abbey Single Ale, Hudson Pale Ale
NJ Beer Co.’s tap handles are easy to spot: they’re shaped like New Jersey. Hudson County’s only brewery furthers its Jersey pride with beers named Hudson Pale Ale, Garden State Stout, Weehawken Wee Heavy and 1787 Abbey Single, which doubles as a history lesson for those who don’t know New Jersey became the third state on December 18 of that year.
River Horse Brewing Co.
80 Lambert Lane, Lambertville
Hours: Friday through Sunday, 12 to 5 PM
Key Personnel: Chris Walsh (co-owner); Chris Rakow (head brewer)
Flagships: Tripel Horse, Hop Hazard Pale Ale, Special Ale, Hop-A-Lot-Amus Double IPA
Two burnt-out finance guys took over River Horse six years back and brought renewed relevance (and, according to fans, better flavors) to the brand, which is sold all over Jersey and in three other states. A guided tour of the brick, riverside brewery is a staple of any weekend visit to Lambertville, where hop-heads get their fix on pale ale and double IPA. You can also celebrate the moment with a rotation of five seasonals and, if you’re lucky, a sip of the latest from the Brewers Reserve Series.
The Ship Inn Restaurant and Brewery
61 Bridge Street, Milford
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 12 PM to close
Head Brewer: Lea Rumbolo
Flagships: Golden Wheat Light, Extra Special Bitter, Best Bitter
Not only was the Ship Inn the first brewpub to open in New Jersey since Prohibition (the state lifted the law that banned brewpubs in 1993), it’s also one of the only local breweries with a woman as head brewer. Lea Rombolo quietly brews English ales according to tradition, giving them a less fizzy or cold character than the one to which we Yanks have grown accustomed. The state’s only current Brewster (female brewer) toils in a restored 1860s bakery that became an ice cream parlor and speakeasy later in life. Today, it retains some of its Victorian feel and serves eco-conscious English and American pub fare over a bar salvaged from a bowling alley that once occupied the storied space.
Trap Rock Restaurant & Brewery
279 Springfield Avenue, Berkeley Heights
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11:30 AM to 11 PM
Key Personnel: Charlie Schroeder (brewer)
Flagships: Ghost Pony Helles Lager, Hathor Red Amber Lager, JP Pilsner, Kestrel IPA
Longtime brewer Charlie Schroeder crafts mostly German lagers and English ales to match the European ski lodge atmosphere of the brewpub, which is one of six properties run by Harvest Restaurants. The balanced beers and cozy ambiance set a comfortable stage for the seasonal American entrees. The menu highlights local growers and changes daily. In 2001, Ghost Pony Helles brought home a bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival in the Munchner-Style Helles category; several years before that, the New York Times gave the restaurant an “Excellent” rating.
Triumph Brewing Co.
138 Nassau Street, Princeton
Hours: Monday though Thursday, 11 AM to 1 AM; Friday and Saturday, 11 AM to 2 AM; Sunday, 12 PM to 12 AM
Key Personnel: Tom Stevenson (brewer)
Flagships: Honey Blonde, Amber Ale, Bengal Gold India Pale Ale
Triumph’s striking post-industrial building in downtown Princeton provides sanctuary to beer lovers in a town that’s long on charm but short on suds. Patrons of the sole New Jersey location of the three-link chain can sample five year-round beers and two rotating seasonals while they dine on hearty American meals and listen to live music every Friday and Saturday.
Tuckahoe Brewing Co.
9 Stoney Court, Oceanview
Hours: Saturdays, 12 to 4 PM
Key Personnel: Tim Hanna, Matt McDevitt, Chris Konicki, Jim McAfee (owners)
Flagships: Dennis Creek Pale Ale, Steelmantown Porter
Founded by three teachers and an architect, Tuckahoe makes plain its mission to benefit the community through its active support of local charities. Part of the proceeds from one of its beers, New Brighton Coffee Stout, brewed in partnership with a nearby coffee shop, benefits the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. The brewery’s four year-round beers and one rotating seasonal are available on draught at bars and liquor stores throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Camden and Gloucester counties. Fans elsewhere can visit the rural riverfront brewery to buy beers and admire and learn about the nearby geographic and historical features that give those beers their names.
Tun Tavern Restaurant & Brewery
2 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City
Hours: Sunday through Tuesday, 11:30 AM to 12 AM; Wednesday through Saturday, 11:30 AM to 2 AM
Key Personnel: Montgomery Dahm (owner); Tim Kelly (brewer)
Flagships: TunLite, Irish Red, Devil Dog Pale Ale, Leatherneck Stout, All American IPA
Until recently, this was the only place in Atlantic City to serve a variety of craft beers. Thanks to the recent addition of some beer-savvy bars and restaurants, that’s no longer the case. But that doesn’t diminish the value of saying hello to brewer Tim Kelly and sampling his All American IPA, which gets its characteristic aroma from hops grown in New Jersey.
Turtle Stone Brewing Co.
1940 S.W. Boulevard, Bldg. D, Vineland
Key Personnel: Ben Battiata (co-owner/brewer); Becky Pedersen (co-owner)
Flagships: Red Rye, American Stout, Flor Roja, Filboid Stout, Green Snail, Oktuberfest, Chocolate Milk Stout
When brewer Ben Battiata pours drinkers his Filboid Stout, he often stops and waits for their reaction – not to the beer itself but to its literary name. “Most people have no idea what Filboid means,” he says of the stout whose title is taken from a Vonnegut novel that references an earlier short story by the British writer who used the pen name Saki. Battiata doesn’t stop at tempting followers with his intellectual approach to branding; he pours the same esoteric spirit into recipes for Flor Roja (brewed with hibiscus flowers) and Green Snail jasmine green tea ale. For now, the only place to get Turtle Stone is at festivals and a few places in and around Vineland. The sprawling industrial-park brewery is still very much a work in progress.
Uno Chicago Grill
61 US-1 South, Metuchen
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 AM to 1 AM; Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 AM to 12 AM
Key Personnel: Chris Percello (brewer)
Flagships: Bootlegger Blonde Ale, Ike’s IPA, Gust-n-Gale Porter, Stationhouse Red, 32 Inning Ale
The Metuchen Uno’s has the distinction of being the only link in the national pizza chain to brew its own beer, and now that New Jersey brewpubs can sell their product to other bars, we should expect to see brewer Chris Percello’s five year-round and two rotating seasonals popping up at Uno locations around the state.
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