December 2000 Newsletter

December 2000


DATE: Monday, Dec. 11th
TIME: 7-10pm
PLACE: Susan Paterson Center, Monument Dr., Princeton (in the Municipal Center at the junction of 206 and Nassau St.)

The club will hold its holiday party on Dec.11th at the Susan Paterson Center in Princeton. To kick off the festivities, Heavyweight brewer Tom Baker will debut his new Barleywine (Old Salty).

Some info on the Barleywine… Tom Baker brewed this beer with expert homebrewer and beer judge Bill Coleman, creator of the Salty Dog comic strip. Coleman, a big Belgian beer and vintage Barleywine fan, was delighted when Baker asked him to help brew a Barleywine.

The resulting beer has a 1.102 Starting Gravity, packs 75 IBUs, and displays a lovely amber color, according to Baker. Scheduled for release in December, the beer will be called “Old Salty,” in homage to Coleman’s comic strip character and be available in 12 oz. single bottles, which Coleman will design the label for.

Tom will also be bringing his Baltic Porter as well, which will be released in single bottles for the holidays also. And speaking of Porter, our club will feature the Christmas Porter on tap brewed at our Oct. meeting. I have tapped some – and it is tasting pretty good so far!

As always, club members are encouraged to bring and enjoy their own homebrew discretely. If you plan to attend please contact me at so that me can get an idea of how many people will be there. Thanks to the dozen or so of you who have responded already!

We are running this as a potluck event, so if you plan to attend you should plan on bring a dish (dessert, appetizer, etc.) Dave Albert, who did such a great job at the Papazian event, is coordinating the food items here. Contact him at

And with this being the season of giving, this is a great time to pay your dues as well. Your financial participation helps us sponsor and provide interesting events throughout the year for you. Someone will be on hand to collect dues. Happy holidays! I hope to see all of you there.


The Susan Paterson Center is located behind Princeton Borough Hall on Monument Drive, at the juncture of Rt. 206 and Nassau St. It is hard to miss, as there is a big stone monument/statue right at the entrance, and the Borough admin offices, police, etc. are located in the center.


1. Take the ALEXANDER RD. exit toward Princeton.
2. When Alexander Rd. ends, make a RIGHT on MERCER ST.
3. In about one minute, Mercer St. ends. Make a LEFT on NASSAU St.
4. In about one minute, you will come to another light. Going straight/bearing left puts you on Stockton St. (Rt. 206 So.). Turning right takes you on Rt. 206 North. BEAR LEFT/STRAIGHT to stay on Stockton St. (Rt. 206 South)
5. Right after you turn, you will see a set of buildings on your right, and a stone monument with a driveway that circles back out onto the road.
6. This driveway is MONUMENT DR. Turn RIGHT into MONUMENT DR.
7. Before Monument starts to curve back out on the road, you will see a parking lot on your right. Park there. Walk to the building behind the police station/municipal building. This is the Susan Paterson Center. (If you can’t find a spot, make a left to go back out on 206/Stockon and turn right on Nassau St. There is parking there.)


1. Take the exit for Rt. 206 NORTH. You will be on that road for about 15 minutes.
2. You will pass Edgerstone Rd., Elm Rd., then Library Pl. At this point, you are about a minute from the junction of Rt. 206 (actually, it is Stockton St. at this point) and Nassau St.
3. You will see a set of buildings on your left, and a stone monument with a driveway that circles back out onto the road directly BEFORE you hit the juncture of 206 and Nassau St. (It’s an “L” intersection, where making a left continues 206, while going straight and slightly right puts you on Nassau St.)
4. This driveway is MONUMENT DR. Turn LEFT into MONUMENT DR.
5. Before Monument starts to curve back out on the road, you will see a parking lot on your right. Park there. Walk to the building behind the police station/municipal building. This is the Susan Paterson Center. (If you can’t find a spot, make a left to go back out on 206/Stockon and turn right on Nassau St. There is parking there.)


Although we did not have a huge showing for November’s road trip to Flying Fish, everyone seemed to enjoy the tour and delicious beers. Although we did not get to sample the Grand Cru, which was less than a week old; we sampled ESB straight from the fermenter, Porter, Dubbel, and the delicious Blackfish (a uniquely brewed combination of the Pale Ale and Porter recipes).

All of the beers we sampled were of the excellent quality one would expect from this outstanding brewery. My personal favorite was the Blackfish, a well-balanced, delicious mixture of hops and malts, hard to put into words but easy enough to taste!

Flying Fish has been expanding its business over the last few years, increasing its capacity steadily by one to two fermenters per year. They have won accolades from the Beer Hunter Michael Jackson himself, and won a gold medal at the prestigious Real Ale festival in Chicago (for the Blackfish). Flying Fish has been doing a lot of cask-conditioning events and is one of the few breweries that bottle conditions its beers in the US.

Thanks to Robin, one of the Fish’s founders, for being such a great host in Gene’s absence. For a non-brewer, Robin gave an excellent tour and answered all of our questions thoroughly. Check out the brewery’s web site for more info at Did I mention that the variety cases are a great way of sampling the brewery’s four products?

Afterwards we went to a great local bar in Phila. (right across the bridge) called the Standard Tap (recommended by Robin). A great selection of beers (including two on cask) and great, cheap food. Hop Devil in cask was one of the offerings! We also ran into none other than Tom Stevenson, brewer at Triumph. After dinner, some of us went to that famous Belgian bistro – Monks Café. All in all, a great day and night for beer.


Long Valley brewpub won its second consecutive gold medal for its Porter at this year’s GABF. “I think this is definitely a victory for NJ beer with us and Bitting winning this year,” said Yarrington, referring to the bronze medal J.J. Bitting of Woodbridge earned for its Octoberfest beer. Long Valley also brought home a Bronze medal as well – for its Bitter.

In total, the Garden State took home a total of three medals this year (one gold, two bronze) – quite an accomplishment considering that the state has not won any GABF medals in recent memory.

For Yarrington, the gold medal holds special significance: “It is the only recipe from my homebrewing days that we use in the brewpub, so it is pretty gratifying on a personal level to see it win.” he said.

Thousands of entries are submitted by breweries each year in the hopes of taking home that holy grail of beer awards, a GABF gold medal, but only 55 will win. Winning a GABF medal is a costly and challenging proposition for most, however.

Having your beer reviewuated by top-notch judges at America’s largest and most prestigious beer tasting is not cheap. Brewers must fork over $150 per entry for the Professional Panel Blind Tasting (PPBT). For example, Long Valley has entered on average of five beers each year for the past four years. With fees of $750 for just this year, those two gold medals have easily cost the brewpub $3000 in entry fees alone.

In addition, the first five beers entered into the PPBT must be entered into the general festival tasting (additional $300-650 fee), and the brewery must provide 10 cases of bottles or cans, or one half- barrel keg, of each beer to be served at the festival sessions. This doesn’t take into account any travel and lodging expenses of sending representatives to the festival.

Brewing a great beer isn’t enough either, entrants really need to understand the category descriptions and make sure that their beer is entered into the appropriate one. “It’s a very tough competition obviously, and the hardest thing is that it seems to change from year to year with regard to what constitutes a particular style,” said Yarrington.

For example, Yarrington points out that Sierra Nevada Porter was entered and won a Bronze medal in the Brown Porter category (sweeter Porters) rather than the Robust Porter category (hoppier, more bitter Porters), when Sierra Nevada’s hallmark is hoppy beers. “I asked the brewer (for Sierra Nevada) about it, and when he heard that they had won, he felt sure that the announcer had made a mistake (with regard to the category),” he said.

Packaging the beer is an issue as well, as only bottled beer is accepted for the blind tasting. As most brewpubs lack bottling facilities (“growlers” would not survive the two-week storage), brewers must often revert to hand bottling, which introduces other variables.

Last but not least, of course, the beer must be of world-class quality for the style and lacking in even minor flaws (even to win a bronze).

With regard to brewing philosophy, Yarrington aims for a balanced interpretation of style in his brews, more British than American in terms of recipe formulation. “I always strive for a balance, even in beers like an IPA or ESB, I try to balance the hops and malt,” he said, noting that he his beers have actually been marked down at the GABF for being too malty, or not hoppy enough.

In the end, what does winning a gold medal mean to a brewpub in the Garden State really? Mostly, it is the recognition and prestige, says Yarrington, which he admittedly loves. “The payoff is really
minimal,” he said, noting that although the medal may draw beer geeks and get regulars to try the beer, it does not greatly increase beer sales for the brewpub. Of course, part of the reason for that are NJ’s antiquated beer laws, which prohibit brewpubs from selling their beer outside of their doors.

The good news is, that if you do plan to make the trek to Long Valley (a right turn off Rt. 206 in Chester), the brewpub does always feature the Porter on tap. The Bitter (one of my favorites) is one of the rotating beers on the hand pump, which will be replaced by a Wee Heavy (also nice) in the winter. And while you are in the area, Krogh’s (NJ’s newest brewpub) is a quick 30-minute drive north to Sparta, and Lake Mohawk.


NJ lost one of its best and brightest beer luminaries when Richie Stolarz, beer lover and evangelist, passed away this past October. Richie was called home shortly after the celebration of one of the greatest beer festivals on earth – the Great American Beer Festival of Denver, Colorado.

Richie and his organization, Beers International, introduced many to some of the best craft beers in the world. A modern-day Gambrinus to the Garden State, Richie’s name was synonymous with great beers, great food, and great fellowship, and his praises were sung by the bards of the beer world from Kurt Epps to Michael Jackson. Raise your glass to beer great Richie Stolarz.

And although I cannot say for sure, Richie was happy to see his home state bring home three medals from the GABF! Long Valley brewpub won its second gold medal for its Lazy Jake Porter and a bronze medal for its Bitter.

J.J. Bitting’s brewer Brad Reninger had the following to say: “It was a big honor for me to win my first medal. And congrats goes out to Long Valley and Tim for his two medals. Its good to see Jersey beers on top!” The brewpub will feature a Holiday spiced ale in Dec. and its first Strong Ale (8.5% ABV), dubbed “OHHH BOY,” for New Year’s.

Going up north to Butler, High Point is releasing its infamous Winter Wheat seasonal (a Doppelbock) in bottles and on draft, ringing in at ABV 9.5%. In other news, Ramstein’s beers are now starring on a major network show.

Ramstein’s beers are regularly featured on the CBS show “That’s Life,” which airs on Channel 2, 8PM every Saturday. “I really could not believe the person from Parmount Hollywood that called me – saying that the NJ writer loves our beer and wants to feature it in a CBS show,” said an incredulous Greg Zacardi, head brewer and owner.

Diane Ruggerio, writer of the largely autobiographical show, is from the Butler area and liked Ramstein beer enough to want to feature it on the show. “That’s Life” tells the story of a thirty-something Jersey girl, who breaks up with her fiancé and decides to go to college (Mont Clair), much to the chagrin and incomprehension of her family and friends. The series stars Heather Paige Kent, Debi Mazar, Ellen Burstyn, and Paul Sorvino.

Going south to Roselle Park, Dave Hoffman of Climax Brewing has confirmed rumors that he will be brewing a Doppelbock for the holidays. Made with all German malt and hops and yeast, the Doppelbock is due out in January, and stylistically will be somewhere between Paulaner Salvator and Ayinger Celebrator, according to Hoffman. It will be available on draft only.

After a three-year hiatus, Flying Fish (Cherry Hill) will be releasing its Grand Cru in mid-December as a winter seasonal. In the style of a Belgian strong golden ale, the Grand Cru is brewed with two-row and pilsner malt, Belgian candy sugar, Styrian Goldings hops, and is fermented with two yeast strains. This ale will be available on draft only.

According to President Gene Muller, you can expect to see some interesting experiments with yeast strains in 2001, courtesy of their new yeast propagation system. In other news, for those indecisive drinkers Flying Fish is again producing its variety cases for the holidays, which include all four of their styles – Porter, ESB, Dubbel, and Pale Ale.

Heavyweight Brewing (Ocean township) is busy crafting bigger-than- life beers for the holidays. Weighing in at around 9.2% ABV, Heavyweight’s first Barley wine, called “Old Salty,” will be available in 12 oz. single bottles in December. “We are vintage- dating this one, so lay some down,” advises Baker. Previously available only on tap, Baker is also releasing Perkuno’s Hammer (an 8.5% ABV Baltic Porter) in 12 oz. singles, which should be available by the time you read this, and will be produced throughout the winter.

Baker will also be brewing his Gruit Ale again, hopefully in time for the holidays in draft, and possibly in 12 oz. singles. Also, the brewery has now officially opened for tours on last two Saturdays of each month, between 1-3 pm.

In beer journalism news, NJ now has its very own beerwriter’s association. The New Jersey Association of Beerwriters (NJAB) was formed on August 16 by professional NJ beerwriters. This organization (of which I am a proud member) was founded by my fellow writers, whose work has appeared in ASN, Celebrator News, and the Malt Advocate, too name but a few of the leading beer publications.

Founders of NJAB included Gary Monterosso, Mark Haynie, Jim Carlucci, Lew Bryson, and Kurt Epps. Our mission statement: “NJAB exists to promote quality craft beer brewed in New Jersey, and to encourage its responsible consumption through education.” For more information and NJ beer news, check out And, of course, you can look out for us wherever good beer is being poured.

In brewpub news, Trap Rock (Berkeley Heights) is hosting its fifth in the series of Beers of the Round Table Dinners on Tuesday, January 23. The featured guest brewery will be River Horse (Lambertville), and a rep will be on hand to answer questions.

The dinner pairs six beers (three each from the brewpub and brewery) with four courses and light hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $45 per person (tax/tip included). Tickets are selling incredibly fast, and are may be sold out by the time this reaches the press. For more info, call 908-665-1755. On tap at Trap Rock, is its Harvest Rye Ale, with a Porter soon to follow.

Gaslight (So. Orange) will be featuring a traditional British Christmas Dinner on Dec. 20th, which will pair their beers with selections from the B. United International portfolio, including an oak cask-conditioned J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. Upcoming on tap, the brewpub will feature a Hopfest and IPA, and of course every Thursday night is cask night.

Speaking of B. United, you can sample their new crop of fall/winter
imports, including De Dolle Special (20th anniversary brew), Harvey’s Christmas Ale, Burton Bridge Tom Syke’s Old Ale, George Gale Christmas Ale, in New Jersey at Gaslight, Old Bay (New Brunswick), Marlton Tavern, and other locations. Check for more information.

Harvest Moon (New Brunswick) and its newest brewer Barry Holsten have been brewing an interesting mix beers – from Blueberry Porter to Alt. The brewpub kicked off Octoberfest by brewing its first lager beer ever. You can find the latest beers on tap listed at the brewpub’s web site –

Basil T’s will be featuring its yummy Spiced Apple Wheat seasonal in Red Bank, while the Toms River location will feature a Pumpkin Ale. Look for a Raspberry Porter at both locations over the holidays.

Triumph (Princeton) is featuring a spicy, malty full-flavored Roggen
(Rye) Bock (great for that winter chill). For the holidays, you can
look for the Winter Wonder, a strong deep amber ale flavored with
cinnamon and orange peel, and the new Maple Porter. Triumph will also be bringing back its Gothic Ale, a medireview-style Gruit beer that uses herbs in place of hops and Imperial Stout.

Andy’s Corner Bar in Bogota will be featuring its usual great selection of winter beers, including the classic Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, Sierra Nevada Celebration, Otter Creek’s Winter Ale, Geary’s Hampshire Ale, Delirium Tremens Nocturnal and DT Noel, Victory Storm King Stout, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, Samuel Smith Winter Welcome, Ramstein Winter Wheat, Scaldis Noel and Wild Goose Snow Goose. Andy’s also recently featured a very successful Heavyweight Night last month, which featured no less than five Heavyweight beers on tap and cask.


Commonwealth Brewery brought home a gold medal for its Cherry Lambic in the Belgian and French Style Specialty Ales category of the GABF. Belgian beer geeks can purchase the award-winning Lambic beer in 750 ml bottles at the brewpub. Also available in the 750 ml size is the brewery’s Belgian Red (modeled after Rodenbach’s classic Flemish Red Ale). Both beers were bottle-conditioned for a full six months. Brewer Rob Mullin, who came to Commonwealth from Old Dominion Brewing (Ashburn, Va) knew that the beer was good, but didn’t necessarily expect to win a gold medal: “I did think it was a pretty good example of the style, and the aroma is dead on, but this is still a great honor.”

Ironically, the Lambic was not well received initially as the average customer was unfamiliar with the style and did not appreciate it, according to Mullin. “The shame of it all is that the beer did not sell that well on tap at all, and as a result we unfortunately had to pour a lot of it down the drain!” he said.

This is the brewpub’s first gold GABF medal, although the brewpub had won a bronze medal previously in the Cream Ale category for its Gotham City Gold. On tap for December, patrons can expect to see an Old Ale and London style Brown Ale.

Brooklyn Brewing has just put out its famous Black Chocolate Stout and Abbey Ale in time this past November. Look for the brewery’s Barleywine, the Monster 2001 to be released in bottles and draft in December, according to Head Brewer Garret Oliver. Look for a Weizenbock from the brewery in January available on draft only, added Oliver. In other news, the brewery won a bronze medal at the GABF for its Brown Ale, which has won several medals in the past for this beer.

Chelsea Brewing will be featuring some interesting seasonals in the coming months as well. Currently, the brewpub is featuring a Baltic Porter, appropriately named “The 7 % Solution” for its ABV. Look for a dry-hopped Sierra Nevada-esque Celebration Ale and a Russian Imperial Stout in December, and a Winter Wheat.

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Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society