132 Local Beers. Taste ‘Em All!*

*Enjoy and indulge, but bring a designated driver or stay the night at the Crystal Springs Resort, host of the Fifth Annual NJ Beer and Food Festival.

What better time to celebrate the growing number of craft beers made in New Jersey (and New York) than Father’s Day weekend, June 13-15?

Robby Younes, the resort’s vice president of hospitality, was inspired to create the festival after seeing a similar event advertised at the American Club Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, which, like Crystal Springs, combines excellent golf and food in a bucolic setting.

“We started with 60 beers,” says Younes. “Then we went to 80 beers, then 90, then 100 was the big number. This year we will have 132.”

New Jersey’s craft brewers, Younes says, “have big personalities.Their output is tiny compared to the big commercial ones, but they are so into what they are doing. They really believe in themselves.”

Independent of the festival, Younes commissioned Fairfield’s Cricket Hill Brewery (crickethillbrewery.com) to create a house beer for the resort. It is a 60/40 blend of ale and lager.

“We call it Lale,” he says. “It’s on the blondie side, to enjoy with food.”

The fun kicks off Friday night with a NJ Chefs & Brews walk-around reception from 8 to 11 ($75). Five chefs will serve food to be paired with five NJ and NY brews.

The chefs:

John Greeley of Crystal Springs (formerly of New York’s ‘21’)
–Michael DeNigris
of Stony Hill Inn, Hackensack
Carlo Carbonara of Bottagra in Hawthorne
–Andrew Rodriguez
of Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern
–Eric LeVine
of Morris Tap & Grill in Randolph

Special guest Steve Weatherford, punter of the New York Giants, will be present signing autographs.

Saturday afternoon’s Beer & BBQ Festival ($85) will feature 120 beers from 40 breweries including many  from New Jersey. The beers will be paired with sausages, pulled pork, jerk chicken, German potato salad and corn on the cob, served outdoors on the 9th hole of one of the golf courses.

A dozen types of pretzels will be available, including a pretzel necklace for hands-free snacking while sampling the brews.

The band Lima Bean Riot will play pop tunes all afternoon.

On Saturday morning, golfers can participate in the Brews & Birdies golf tournament on the resort’s award-winning Wild Turkey and Ballyowen courses. Two- to three-ounce tastings of craft beers will be available on six holes of each course ($195 for golf and beer tastings, includes entry to Beer & BBQ Fest).

New this year is the Kick the Keg FootGolf tournament and beer sampling on the Cascades 9-hole course, where participants will kick a soccer ball from one oversized hole to the next ($100 for FootGolf, beer tastings and entry to Beer & BBQ Fest).

On Sunday, the weekend will wrap with Crystal Springs chef Greeley and Top Chef Season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga restaurant in Philadelphia preparing a Father’s Day BBQ Lunch in the outdoor Chef’s Garden, full of herbs and vegetables used in the resort’s restaurants (Adults $70, Ages 12 – 20 $45, 4 – 11 $22, Under 4 Free).

Another Father’s Day option is the new upscale brunch at the intimate Latour restaurant. The petite ($55) and grand ($75) tasting menus include magnificent fresh house-made baked goods and jams, small dishes like kale salad with Serrano ham or mint and wild berries cooked in sangria, and main courses including a 45-day dry-aged strip steak with creamed spinach and a brie and Dungeness crab omelet. Fresh compound juices and exotically-flavored house-made sodas are complimentary.

Younes calls the weekend, “a nice combination. You have your beer aficionados and advocates taking notes; then you have another crowd who just like beer and the outdoors and bring their picnic blanket and a couple of chairs; and then there are families staying at the resort with their kids. It’s an amazing experience for everyone.”


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