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
The bottling line at River Horse Brewing.

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

River Horse Brewing Company, Ewing
Opened April 1996

Few Jersey breweries can be found in as many retail locations as River Horse. Though founded in 1996, things really took off when current owners Chris Walsh and Glenn Bernabeo, self-confessed former “finance geeks,” took over in 2007. Walsh describes River Horse beers—including favorites like Hop Hazard and Tripel Horse—as “super approachable.” His favorite part of the job is being part of something that people truly love. “It’s a business, but it’s a fun one,” Walsh says. Coming Soon: 20th Anniversary Barrel-Aged Tripel—CM

Spellbound Brewing Company, Mount Holly
Opened October 2014

Spellbound’s Palo Santo Wood Aged Porter earned co-owners John Companick, Mike Oliver and Scott Reading one of the state’s two Great American Beer Festival medals in 2015. Credit their will to experiment. The owners found some Palo Santo wood left over from a home brew three years prior. They added a few short sticks when making their porter. Fans cheered. Now it’s a year-round brew. The wood imparts the flavor of coconut and hints of black licorice. “Three little pieces of Palo Santo wood, and the craft beer community helped to win a medal at GABF,” Companick marvels. The team distributes to five Central and South Jersey counties. Flagships: IPA; Porter; Pale Ale—TN

Third State Brewing, Burlington City
Opened June 2015

Co-owner and head brewer Bill Pozniak once spent a week brewing at the famed Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic as a prize for winning a national pilsner competition. Last year, he joined friends and fellow home brewers Jay Mahoney and John O’Brien to open the tiny Third State in downtown Burlington. The trio will locally distribute limited quantities this year, with eyes on opening a larger facility in the future. (The current one will be used as a tasting room and pilot brewery.) “We started this through…a passion for brewing [and] a need for something to keep us busy when we retire from our day jobs,” Mahoney says. “But mostly, this dream came true due to a rare, momentary lapse of control on the part of our spouses.” Flagship: Boris the Younger Black Rye IPA—TN

Tuckahoe Brewing Company, Egg Harbor Township
Opened December 2011

At the end of 2015, Tuckahoe quadrupled its production capacity by moving into a 10,000-square-foot facility. With distribution already in the southern half of New Jersey, the expansion should take Tuckahoe statewide and beyond. But there’s good reason to visit the brewery itself: fermentation consultant Sean Towers adds to brewer Amanda Cardinali’s portfolio by using wild or mixed yeast strains to brew tart, sour and funky ales served only at the tasting room. “He isolated and propagated one of those strains from wild New Jersey blueberries,” says co-owner Matt McDevitt, who, like two of his three co-owners, still teaches at a local high school. Specialties include New Brighton Coffee Stout, blended with locally roasted cold-brewed coffee. Flagship: Dennis Creek Pale Ale—TN

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