ISSUE #49 July 2000
BLUE COLLAR FEATURED SPEAKER ATJULY MEETING
DATE: Monday, July 31st
TIME: 7:30 PM
PLACE: Triumph Brewing, 138 Nassau Street
PHONE: (609) 924-7855
Steve Heck, one of the four brewers behind one of NJ’s newest micros – Blue Collar Brewing of Vineland. Blue Collar features about
Blue Collar is four, unpretentious, working-class guys, who got together to do something they love – brewing. True to its namesake, Blue Collar prices its craft beers for a working man’s wages, to compete with the domestics. They recently celebrated the official opening of the brewery on July 22, and had 600-800 people come through it – not bad for a locally sold beer!
Their beers include a Porter, Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Bavarian Lager, and Black and Tan, which are currently only available in Vineland and the surrounding area. This is a unique opportunity to sample the fruits of one of So. Jersey’s newest micros and talk with one of the guys who built it, and still kept his day job!
EDITOR & CLUB NEWSLETTER – MISSING IN ACTION?
You may have noticed the absence of a newsletter and club event in June. (And if you didn’t, just go back to your beer and ignore the distraction. Thank You.).
Call it a sabbatical, a summer vacation, pilgrimage to Mecca, whatever you like! And, what you ask, did I learn on my summer vacation? Here goes:
1. The beer in NJ is pretty good – as evidenced at the Garden State Craft Brewer’s Festival in Waterloo Village (Stanhope) this past June.
2. It’s really hot in Florida in July in Orlando.
3. It seems even hotter when you are trudging through the three major theme parks in Orlando with your 7-month pregnant wife, mom, sister, and niece and nephew.
4. It feels even hotter, when you realize that there really ain’t too much craft beer in Florida! Actually, there is a Big River brewpub on the Disney property near Epcot – not too bad! I tried a local brew called Ybor (Igor’s brother?), and maybe it was an old keg, but it was none too pleasant!
5. There isn’t a whole lot of craft brewing in Myrtle Beach either (although I did find one at Broadway on the Beach, which was OK)
6. Don’t go south if you’re looking for a wide selection of craft beer. Instead…go to Seattle!
7. Seattle has a lot of good beer, although I did have some duds. Seattle also has a really cool video arcade called Gameworks, which has a brewpub (extension of the Elysian brewpub) in it. (BTW, Sebbie the beer and food were great at the original brewpub!).
8. Even if the beer is really good, you can (or should) only drink so much, and 10-12 pints is probably more than that most people’s RDA.
9. Traveling a lot (business or pleasure) cuts into your brewing time, but also allows your bottled beer to age!
10. And the most important thing I learned during the summer – Beer tastes good when it’s hot out!
And now, some NJ AND NY beer news….
GARDEN STATE BREW NEWS
Approximately 15of NJ’s breweries and brewpubs poured their best (Stanhope) at the Garden State Craft Brewer’s festival in Waterloo Village this past June. Thousands of thirsty beer lovers sampled the fruits of the Garden State at its fourth annual festival while the mercury shot up into the triple digits.
Newcomer Heavyweight (Ocean) offered a quartet of its high-octane brews (the Lunacy being my favorite heat beater!), including its newly-anointed high priest of beverages – Two Druid’s Solstice Ale. This herbal, heady interpretation of traditional Gruit was strangely quenching as well (maybe that’s the mugwort talking though!).
At one point, festival goers must have felt that the heat was playing tricks on them, as two monks (a.k.a., ASN editor Tony Forder and Heavyweight Brewer Tom Baker) led a Gruit processional through the crowd.
Blue Collar (Vineland), scheduled to make their debut at the festival, cancelled out at the last minute due to additional insurance costs – too bad, as this was a great opportunity for those outside of the immediate Vineland area to sample their beers. (They’ll be making the rounds at other festivals in the area though, including the “Sippin by the River” event in Penn’s Landing, Phila. on Sept. 24).
The Ship Inn, NJ’s first brewpub, was absent for the first time at the festival. This may be something of a boycott, given the fact that owner Ann Hall was unhappy with a recent decision by the Garden State Craft Brewer’s guild to pay members an honorarium for serving as officers. According to Guild President, Tom Stevenson, the guild voted to do this as an incentive for volunteers. Stevenson notes that last year, there were no voluntary candidates for the four officer positions.
High Point (Butler) brought their classic Dark and Blonde Wheat beers, accompanied by their new Octoberfest beer – poured from a traditional wooden keg and a regular tap as well. Malty, but less sweet than one might expect, this fest beer was dry and crisp.
Flying Fish offered its IPA, Dubbel, and ESB; although the well-balanced malty, grapefruity Farmhouse Ale was the clear choice in the heat – one of the best batches I’ve had! River Horse, of course, served up its hoppy HopHazard, and its other best sellers.
I found Basil T’s Pyrotechnic somewhere between an IPA and Bigfoot Barleywine – a great place to be if you ask me! Triumph served up its well-aged Trippel (better each time I try it) and a nutty, mouth-filling Jewish rye beer – which I found oddlly refreshing in the heat. Trap Rock’s Hefeweizen was a wonderful melange of clove and malt flavors, and Gaslight’s creamy Cream Ale was a summer delight as well.
And let us not forget the many other brewpubs whose savory beers bear mentioning – JJ Bittings, Krogh’s, Pizzeria Uno, Tun Tavern, Long Valley and others. I am already looking forward to next year’s festival.
In a related story, the guild is looking at taking part in a “Brews, Blues and Barbecues” event at Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson) on Aug. 9-10. Plans are still tentative at this point according to guild president Stevenson. For more information, contact Great Adventure Special Events at 732-928-2000.
In other news, NJ Governor Christine Whitman officially proclaimed July “American Beer Month.” lauding the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild for their efforts to promote craft beer.
“Craft beer in New Jersey is sometimes overlooked by fans of good beer.” said Tom Baker of Heavyweight Brewing, who requested the proclamation. “The fact that our Governor took the time to recognize the value of our industry is gratifying and hopefully will raise our profile a little.”
The Governor’s proclamation was read on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on July 1 as part of the kick-off rally for American Beer Month. Brewers, suppliers to the industry and representatives of the beer press from as far away as Alaska gathered in the city that once boasted the largest concentration of breweries in the country.
Attention beer geeks! Beers International will host the Beer Hunter himself (Michael Jackson) on Sept. 28, marking his 13th annual NJ appearance. For more info, see www.beersinternational.com.
Blue Collar Brewing Co. (Vineland) celebrated its grand opening of the brewery to the public this past July 22. Also, look for Blue Collar and other NJ breweries (Flying Fish, High Point and Triumph to name a few) will be at the Sippin’ by the River event, held at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia on Sept 24. Check www.bluecollarbrewing.com for more info on the brewery’s beers and events.
Heavyweight (Ocean) continues to keep things interesting, releasing yet another new beer in early August. Turbidity Wheat Beer is loosely in the category of a strong weizenbier, according to brewer Tom Baker. Made with 96% wheat malt, and 4% smoked malt this beer will be available on draft only. Baker and one of the town’s fire chiefs smoked about 30 pounds of barley malt over Sugar Maple wood for the batch.
Look for this beer, and an ice-brewed version (chilled to crystallize the water and produce a more potent beverage) of the Lunacy Ale at Andy’s Corner Tavern (Bogota), and other discerning pubs.
Those at the Garden State Brewer’s festival were able to sample Heavyweight’s latest beer – the Two Druid’s Ale, a medieval Gruit style beer (7.3% ABV). This traditional beer is made with herbs – yarrow, mugwort, and bog myrtle, in place of hops (actually, a small amount of hops is used to satisfy ATF regulations). This beer is also available on draft and in limited edition 750 ml bottles in NJ and Pa.
And last, but not least, in August, Baker plans to brew his biggest beer yet – a Barleywine. This beer will be released in late fall, he said.
Flying Fish just added two more fermenters, bringing its total annual capacity to about 7500 barrels, according to president Gene Muller.
The need for the new tanks was driven in part by the hot-selling Farmhouse Summer Ale. The brewery did its last bottling run in late June for this beer, as they are completely out of packaging for it! So if you see a six-pack in the store, grab it, as it will be the last until next May (although the draft version is available through September).
In related news, Flying Fish has been invited to the upcoming Great British Beer Festival, the oldest and biggest celebration of traditional cask-conditioned “real” ales, for the second year in a row. The brewery will be sending traditional firkins of Farmhouse Summer Ale and Extra Pale Ale. For more info on the festival, check www.gbbf.org.
River Horse (Lambertville) has expanded distribution into Maryland, and the Hop Hazard has been well received there. Also, River Horse was a main sponsor of annual Anchor House Bike Ride for children, which raised $320K.
Going north, High Point (Butler) will be officially releasing its Octoberfest beer on Sept. 15th. The beer will be available in party kegs and two-gallon growlers. On Sept. 22, 7:30 pm, brewer Greg Zacardi will tap an authentic wooden barrel of the fest at the Hoffbrau house in the Atlantic Highlands. In other news, the brewery will hold tours on Aug 12th and Sept. 9th.
Trap Rock (Berkeley Heights) will be hosting its third “Beers of the Round Table Dinners Series” on Aug. 8, 6:30 PM, which will feature High Point’s wheat beers. The $45 event includes a four-course meal and six beers (three each from Trap Rock and Ramstein) and tour of the brewery. Contact 908-665-1755 or email@example.com for more info.
Old Bay (New Brunswick) will be sponsoring a bus trip to the opening day of Stoudt’s Annual Summer Beer festival on Aug. 6th. A private tour of the brewery, commemorative mug, the first three drafts, a German buffet featuring the “wurst of the wursts”, music by Walt Groller (Oompah), and beers and snacks on the ride to and from the brewery are included in the $40 price.
The restaurant will also feature a Cigar, Bourbon and Beer Dinner on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6, at 6 PM. The $80 ticket includes bourbon cocktails, beers, cigars, a six-course dinner, and all taxes and gratuity. For more info, try 732-246-3111.
Basil T’s (Toms River and Red Bank) tapped its first-ever Lager – Amber Waves, a Pennsylvania-style Lager brewed to celebrate American Beer Month. J.J. Bittings (Woodbridge) will brew its first California Common (a.k.a., Steam Beer) and a Vienna Lager in August. And of course, the Octoberfest will be on tap in Oct., but will lagered an additional month this year.
Long Valley brewpub will be holding its Caribbean-themed “Seize the Summer” party on Sept. 9, 12-4 PM. Look for the cask-conditioned Bitter and the Festival Ale (American Red Ale) in August, and the Octoberfest ale in Sept. Triumph (Princeton) is tapping its Hefeweizen, an American Lager, Milk Stout, and Nut Brown Ale. Following up the Hefeweizen will be a tart Berliner Weiss, a British Pale Ale on the hand pump, Pilsner, and Irish Stout.
NEW YORK BREW NEWS
Brooklyn Brewing will be releasing its first Octoberfest beer ever in August. It will be available both in bottles and on tap in NJ and New York.
Why brew an Octoberfest? “I think it’s a style not produced that well in the United States,” according Garret Oliver, Head Brewer at Brooklyn. “Often people will make a lager with Amber malt in it, and call it an Octoberfest, but it’s not.”
For Oliver, it is the German malt character and long lagering time that truly define this style. And true to tradition, the Brooklyn version was made using only German malt, yeast and hops, and will undergo an extensive 10-week lagering. Brooklyn will also be releasing Post Road’s Pumpkin Ale seasonal at the end of August.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, the brewery will host its annual Beerfest, featuring over 100 beers, both international and local. The event is sponsored by Totalbeer.com and the Craft Brewers Guild, and runs from 1-7pm. The $20 fee buys all the beer you can sample. (Food is sold separately). For more information call 718-486-7422.
Garret Oliver is also involved in several food and beer events in the coming months at the James Beard house (167 W. 12th St). Indian-inspired food and beer will be paired with a five-course dinner for the “Brewer’s Banquet” on Aug. 29th. Food will be prepared by Floyd Cardoz, chef of Table, a three-star NYC restaurant. “While it is difficult to match wine with this cuisine, there is a natural affinity with beer,” said Oliver of his inspiration. (Being a lover of spicy food and beer, I would have to agree – Vindaloo and IPA anyone?). Tickets will be in the range of $80-$110, he said.
On Sept 28, Oliver will present the “Wide World of Beer,” a 12-beer tutored tasting of the best beers from around the world. The tasting will run from 6:30-8:30 PM, and will be $40. Contact the James Beard Foundation at (800) 36-BEARD or check out www.jamesbeard.org for more info on these events.
Also in Brooklyn, Park Slope will be celebrating the release of its draft-only Marzen-style Octoberfest Lager at the brewery on Sept 23rd. The brewery has also just released a California Steam beer, available in bottles and on tap.
Chelsea Brewing features a “Brew Cruise” every Monday night during the summer. The Paddlewheel boat leaves the pier at 7:30 PM and cruises around the harbor for two hours. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $35 at the door and can be purchased from Ticketmaster at 212-307- 7171. Beer and wine on the cruise are included in the price. In tap news, look for an IPA and Cream Stout from Chelsea.
Commonwealth Brewing is getting in touch with its light and dark sides, serving both a traditional, unfiltered Hefeweizen and a Munich Dunkel on tap. To be followed up by an Octoberfest beer at the end of September.
Made from spices and honey-roasted pumpkin, Heartland’s fall seasonal, the Smiling Pumpkin Ale, will be tapped in late August. The Smiling Pumpkin will be traveling all the way to Colorado, according to brewer Jim Migliorini, who is entering the beer in the GABF this year. Also on tap at the pub, will be Indian River, an American Ale made with orange and coriander.
Up in Suffern, Mountain Valley, makers of Ruffian, will be releasing their seasonal Rasperry Wheat beer in August, and an Octoberfest in Sept. Beer lovers with an interest in homebrewing are encouraged to stop by the brewpub on Wed. night, where the Ruffian Homebrew Club meets on alternate weeks. “It’s a lot of fun,” said brewer Neill Acer, noting that the club has about 40 members. How into homebrewing are they? “Three or four of our members have conical fermenters in their basements,” he joked, noting that this is the same equipment many commercial brewpubs use.