The Sweet 16: New Jersey’s Best Craft Breweries

Jersey’s best craft breweries, as chosen by our panel of experts.

Photo by Erik Rank

In any kind of boom the question always arises: who are the leaders, the trendsetters? We polled a panel of experts and came up with 16 stellar Garden State craft breweries. The 16 are celebrated below, alphabetically.

Bolero Snort Brewery, Ridgefield Park
Opened January 2013

What started as a hobby for Bob Olson turned into a vocation after he met his future partner in crime, Andrew Maiorana. Together, they opened Bolero Snort. Olson describes Bolero’s style as approachable, but with a “bold twist.” The brewery has doubled down on that promise, with limited releases like El Matador, an easy-drinking beer brewed with cilantro, lime and jalapeño, and the VariaBull series that offers different takes on the traditional IPA. Olson says Bolero aims to continue turning heads in 2016. Coming Soon: Javahorn; Rotatabull 003; Third Anniversary: La Taureau Tripel—CM

Brix City Brewing, Little Ferry
Opened May 2015

When Pete Reuther left the Army after four years, he didn’t know what the future had in store. His friend Joe Delcalzo faced a similar uncertainty. After home brewing together for a few years, the two made the jump to commercial brewing. That Brix City became a recognizable name on the Jersey beer scene before celebrating its first anniversary is nothing short of remarkable. But with 25 beer releases within the first year, from porters to a Belgian tripel, there is plenty to draw attention. Flagships: Porter Authority; Cheap Labor; Just Another IPA—CM

Cape May Brewery's Tasting Room.

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

Cape May Brewing Company, Cape May
Opened July 2011

No New Jersey outfit better exemplifies the breathtaking pace at which craft beer is growing here. Owners Ryan Krill, his father, Bob, and his friend Chris Henke have expanded their brewing capacity at least five times in less than five years. They now run a 30-barrel system and are dedicating a second facility to sour beers, along with brewing sodas and cold-brew coffee. This year they plan to expand distribution north of Long Beach Island from their current footprint in South Jersey. In 2015, they received national press for a beer they brewed in honor of the Pope’s visit, and were lauded by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and surfer/singer Donavon Frankenreiter. Krill, the president of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, attributes Cape May’s progress to “patience and determination.” Flagships: Cape May IPA; Coastal Evacuation; Honey Porter; Mop Water; Devil’s Reach—TN

Carton Brewing Company, Atlantic Highlands
Opened August 2011

Few U.S. breweries have attracted as much attention among aficionados as quickly as Carton. “Carton is about Boat,” says founder Augie Carton, referring to the hoppy session ale that put his brewery on the map. He enjoys the freedom to brew what’s never been brewed before. “It’s our calling,” says Carton. Cases in point: Gilded Lily, a white-truffle tripel; Decoy, a beer made to mimic the five-spice roast duck served at Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park; Intermezzo, a green apple and wasabi sour ale; and Digger, a clam ale. Boat may have put Carton in the conversation, but innovation made it roar. Our panel picked Carton as number 1 in the state in two categories: most creative use of ingredients and best branding and labeling. Fan Favorites: Boat Beer; 077XX; HopPun; G.O.R.P.; Regular Coffee—CM

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