Technology execs John Merklin and Brian Ciriaco created the East Coast Beer Company in order to bring New Jersey its signature beer.
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The Green Mountains of Vermont have Long Trail ale, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado have Fat Tire amber, but what does that long, low, sandy natural wonder, the Jersey Shore, have when it comes to a signature beer?
Back in 2007, when they began considering the question, technology execs John Merklin and Brian Ciriaco realized the answer was, well, nothing—and what a shame. Since nobody else was volunteering, Merklin and Ciriaco, high school and college buddies who grew up in Brick, decided to right the situation by creating the East Coast Beer Company, headquartered in Point Pleasant Beach, near where they live.
In August 2010, after three years of development with minority partner and head brewer Tom Przyborowski of Mountainside, including tastings in Merklin’s garage, East Coast introduced Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner. Based on a style developed by German immigrant brewers in America in the late 1800s, Beach Haus is light in alcohol (5.3 percent) with a refreshing hoppiness and a creamy mouth-feel. “It’s a hard style of beer to make,” says Przyborowski, “because you don’t have any hard heavy grains to mask mistakes.”
In its first six months, the head brewer says, the company sold 1,500 barrels of Beach Haus, much of it in pubs and taverns along the Shore. It’s now distributed throughout the state, at retail and also on tap at places including Edgar’s in Manasquan, Frankie’s in Point Pleasant Beach, Dive! in Sea Bright, the Court Jester in Freehold and Aberdeen, the Rusty Barrel and the Bulldog, both in Egg Harbor City, Ducktown Tavern in Atlantic City and Atkinson’s Courthouse in Cape May.
Beach Haus is brewed in Rochester, New York, by a company that also produces Magic Hat and Genesee and imports Labatt’s. Przyborowski and East Coast’s founders are developing a fall seasonal beer and a pale ale for next spring that will be, the brewer says, “accessible but flavorful and won’t wipe you out.”
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