Seven years after Cape May Brewing became the first production brewery at the Jersey Shore, the rest of the oceanfront has caught up. With craft breweries and brewpubs now dotting almost the entire Jersey Shore, it’s easy to sip local suds at the end of a sunny day at the beach.
Here are 22 Jersey Shore tasting rooms not to miss, presented from north to south.
Dark City Brewing
801 2nd Avenue, Asbury Park
To fulfill its mission to be unique and eccentric, Dark City’s formally trained head brewer and owner adorn their tasting room in murals and rotating artwork. Beers also come into sharp relief, especially the Wesley, a German-style Gose brewed with coriander and Himalayan pink sea salt and soured with local kombucha yeast infused with lactobacillus bacteria. Kombucha and nitro cold brew coffee add color to the draughtlines.
Asbury Park Brewery
810 Sewall Avenue, Asbury Park
Owned by rock music professionals, APB kicks it up to 11 with live concerts in their large space. Recycled pallet furniture, discarded corrugated metal, photos of rock stars drinking beer and lighting made from crate boards extend the rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Beers, on the other hand, are less cutting edge, with malt-forward traditional styles playing lead.
Bradley Brew Project, Bradley Beach
714 Main Street, Bradley Beach
The husband-and-wife team behind this tiny brewery craft what they call “approachable ales and lagers,” meaning you won’t likely find a high-alcohol or overly complex brew. What you could find when we checked in this summer was one stout, one hefeweizen, one low-ABV ale made entirely with New Jersey ingredients, and seven pale ales and IPAs, ranging from an unusual oatmeal pale ale and a hazy gluten-free agave and pineapple pale ale to the Pina Colada IPA brewed with pineapple and coconut. No dogs allowed in this lightly post-industrial tasting room.
Little Dog Brewing
141 Steiner Avenue, Neptune City
When she started brewing in 1996, Gretchen Schmidhausler became New Jersey’s first female brewer, and when she opened Little Dog in 2014, she became the state’s first female sole proprietor. In the brewhouse behind her cozy tasting room, Schmidhausler brews more German styles than do most American craft brewers. She rounds out her half-dozen taps with mostly classic interpretations of styles from around the brewing world.
Beach Haus Brewery
801 Main Street, Belmar
The Beach Haus boys waited approximately 10 years after launching their contract brewing company to build themselves a brick-and-mortar facility. In doing so, they revived the site of downtown Belmar’s circa-1950 Freedman’s Bakery, which had closed a few months prior. Wood salvaged from the bakery lives on in the tables and bartop and in the retail shop furniture. Bakery founder Herb Freedman lives on in Beach Haus’s Herb’s Rye, a tribute to his beloved rye bread.
Last Wave Brewing
601 Bay Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach
By decking out their storefront tasting room with broken surf boards, distressed wood and bright blues and greens, surfers-turned-brewers Nick Jiorle and Bert Roling have provided constant reminders that you’re at the beach. They enjoy their beers like their waves: big and bold, though they offer some shelter in the form of a few easy-drinking Belgians.
2257 Bridge Avenue, Point Pleasant
Most of the 11 beers on tap at this husband-and-wife brewery come in under 6 percent ABV and stick to traditional brewing styles, though owners Colleen and Mike Frye surprise patrons with fun one-offs like the red ale brewed with blood orange and Celtic sea salt; the pineapple pilsner; and the jalapeno stout. Prepare to mingle with like-minded strangers at the communal tables during a casual post-beach visit or a mellow live set of music.
Heavy Reel Brewing
613 Boulevard, Seaside Heights
A fish motif connects Heavy Reel to the ocean one block away. Wall-mounted catches, a bright blue undersea mural and photos of anglers bait guests to taste the salt in the air while they sip an oyster stout made in partnership with the Barnegat Oyster Collective, or a Jamaican coffee stout aged in an old rum barrel. Check Facebook before visiting; the brewery’s minuscule 2.5 barrel capacity (1 barrel=31 gallons) means all beers sometimes sell out before regular weekend hours are over.
Artisan’s Restaurant & Brewery
1171 Hooper Avenue, Toms River
One of New Jersey’s first brewpubs, Artisan’s has converted itself into an old-school Italian restaurant (with linen napkins and upholstered booths) that focuses on wine while continuing to brew beer in back. Winner of the New Jersey Monthly poll as best brewpub of 2015, Artisan’s serves six draught beers at a time – three standard staples (Light Ale, West Coast IPA and Irish Red Ale), plus three rotating seasonals. An impressive international bottle list expands the options.
Backward Flag Brewing
699 Challenger Way, Forked River
Army combat vet-turned-brewery owner Torie Fisher actively promotes the interests of veterans and first responders by hosting fundraisers, donating to related charities, running the Arms to Artisans job-training foundation and creating a comfortable space for vets and their families. As New Jersey’s first brewery owner or head brewer to earn a prestigious international Cicerone certification for her beer knowledge, she works overtime to make sure every curious drinker leaves her tasting room a more informed drinker. Expect to find beers made in tandem with other vets, like the STFU coffee pale ale brewed with veteran-owned Jersey Devil Java, based in the Camden County town of Berlin.
Oyster Creek Brewing
529 U.S. Route 9, #5, Waretown
Gluten-sensitive beer lovers can find sanctuary at this months-old one-room storefront brewery. Home brewer-turned-pro Kris Lewis crafts gluten-reduced recipes for non-standard beers like habanero double IPA, vanilla porter and black IPA. Deep red walls and an exposed ceiling make this a commonplace taproom, leaving space for patrons to focus their attention where it belongs – on the glass.
ManaFirkin Brewing Company
450 E Bay Avenue #2, Manahawkin
With about three dozen beers on draught, ManaFirkin may win the award for having the widest taproom beer selection in the state. Sample them while surrounded by a beachy vibe denoted by exposed wooden ceiling beams, surfboards and a helpful sign showing how many steps it takes to get to the bar, bathroom, etc.
Ship Bottom Brewery
830 N. Bay Avenue #23, Beach Haven
You might feel like you’re walking into a trendy waterfront restaurant rather than a 2-year-old craft brewery when you climb the steps to Ship Bottom’s spacious second-level brewhouse and tasting room in Long Beach Island’s touristy Bay Village. Smell the sea breeze wafting in through the large open windows and “washing” the wooden walls with ocean character while you jam to live music featured several times a week. Beers span the spectrum, from a Mexican-style pale lager brewed with Barnegat Bay sea salt and lime to a rich coconut porter.
Tun Tavern Brewery & Restaurant
2 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City
As the only brewing facility in Atlantic City, this 20-year-old brewpub attracts hoards of conventioneers, shoppers and beach-goers who want a beer and a bite a few blocks from the casinos. As such, beer styles cater chiefly to the uninitiated but any visitor can expect a solid meal and memorable experience. Pro tip: it’s best to visit when there’s not a lunch or happy hour crowd spilling over from the convention center next door.
Ludlam Island Brewery
9 Stoney Court, Ocean View
When Ludlam Island launched in 2016, it came out strong with an impeccable New England IPA. Two years in, IPAs dominate almost half of its eight-tap list, though low-ABV English and German styles hold their own, too. The brewery rents private space for parties at a low fee and opens every day to the public from noon to 8 p.m.
Avalon Brew Pub
7849 Dune Drive, Avalon
This year-old brewpub offers safe harbor for the yacht-club crowd. Nestled into a corporate beachfront resort, this beer-centric restaurant is differentiated from most other brew pubs by its carpeted floor, leather chairs, cloth napkins and tables set with wine glasses. Though brewers make five approachable year-round beers, craft snobs may shy away from the macro- and safe-craft bottle list. Open for breakfast, with wine and cocktail menus available.
Slack Tide Brewing
1072 New Jersey Route 83, Cape May Court House
Owned by two affable brothers, Slack Tide fills up quickly, thanks to its skillfully brewed beers and its smallish tasting room filled with high-top communal seating. Like most Shore tasting rooms, faux-weathered wood dominates the décor and marine-related names take over the tap list. Try any number of riptide double IPAs (i.e. Thermocline) or pull into port with the Avalon Amber.
Bucket Brigade Brewery
205 N. Main Street, Cape May Court House
Calling themselves “thirst responders,” two firefighting identical twins started this brewery last year with an aim to honor firefighters along with the region’s history. They adorned the tasting room – inside a former auto parts store built in 1949 – with artifacts from old local businesses. Mostly traditional European styles take on firefighting names.
7 Mile Brewery
3156 Route 9 South, Rio Grande
Clean lines and a lack of visual clutter define this function-over-form, sea-blue tasting room, whose seating space is enhanced by an outdoor beer garden. Listen to live music on weekends while sipping on a seasonal pear wit or an uber-bitter IPA that adds hair to your head with 100 international bittering units on a scale of 100. Open daily.
127 W. Rio Grande Avenue, Wildwood
It’s possible to find a dish to suit every palate at South Jersey’s newest brewpub. With tremendous varieties of salads, seafood, barbecue, N’awlins specialties, mac and cheeses, tacos and of course burgers, one could nearly forget that head brewer Tony Cunha makes an almost equally long list of stylistically accurate beers, from lagers to saisons. Need more reasons to go? Try live music, televised sports and weekly corn-hole contests.
Cape May Brewing
1288 Hornet Road, Rio Grande
The first production brewery at the Shore, Cape May has expanded what seems like a zillion times since opening in 2011. In its latest iteration, visitors can chillax in the Brewtique gift shop or large tented beer garden after taking a self-guided or guided tour of the sour brewery or the main production floor, located in a nearby building on the grounds of Cape May airport (free, daily). With 12 beers on tap at all times, almost anyone can find something to like. Open daily.
Cold Spring Brewery
733 Seashore Road, Cape May
Can we talk? It’s common knowledge among South Jersey beer drinkers that the beers here won’t win any awards. Despite that, we encourage you to visit Historic Cold Spring Village’s 4-year-old brewery, which interprets 19th-century recipes on a glorified homebrew system to (theoretically) raise operating capital for the non-profit open-air living history museum. Well-intentioned brewers do the best they can with what they’ve got, and it’s definitely fun to explore the circa-1804 barn that houses their rudimentary workspace.