November 1999 Newsletter (2)

November, 1999

Who says you don’t get your money’s worth from newsletters? I received some more news items this month, and figured what the heck, let’s send out another issue. So, here goes.


It’s less than a few short weeks until the Hoppiest Show of Millennium competition on Dec. 4th at River Horse brewery in Lambertville. Many of you expressed an interest in submitting entries to the competition. Keep in mind that you have a little more than a week and a half to do so. And of course, it would help us with the planning process, etc. to get your entries sooner than later. I hope to see as many of you enter as possible. Again, the drop off spots are:

River Horse Brewing,
80 Lambert Lane,
Lambertville, NJ 08530
(609) 397-7776

Princeton Homebrew,
148 Witherspoon St,
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 252-1800

Hop & Vine
1271 U.S. Hwy 22
Lebanon, NJ 08833

In terms of staffing, we are doing pretty well with stewards, but could use some more judges. So if you are thinking of judging, or know someone that might be interested please contact:
Judge Director/Steward Coordinator
Steve Ashton

Competition Director
Kevin Trayner


Thanks to everyone who attended the Nov. 15th meeting at the Nassau Tap Room, which featured the wonderful Lunacy beer from Tom Baker of Heavyweight Brewing. Some other excellent beers were also featured, but I’ll get to them later

Tom was a very well-received speaker. He talked about his experiences brewing and why he decided to start up a “big beer” company, and fielded questions from the audience. Many felt a kinship with Tom, as we could see he was still very close to his homebrewing roots. I realized looking back on the evening that I neglected to introduce Tom’s lovely wife Peg, co-owner and partner in the brewery. One of the first things Tom mentioned to me when I talked to him about the brewery is that his wife Peg has been a source of incredible support (not to mention all the labels and packaging she’s done!)

We were some of the first in the world to taste Lunacy, since it had not be released to the public as of our meeting (it will be in stores by the end of the month – it is being distributed by Hunterdon Brewing, and I think Circle Liquors in Pennington will be carrying it). Everyone liked this beer! This Belgian Golden Strong Ale featured wonderful coriander/noble hops nose balanced by a nice malt sweetness. Good balance and decent alcohol at 7.8 ABV (although you couldn’t really taste it – a hallmark of a good beer IMHO!)

Tom did not bring his test batch of Baltus, the second, darker Belgian style brew to be marketed by. The reason being that the batch, while tasty, did not live up to his expectations. As we have all had beer from brewpubs or breweries that SHOULD have been dumped out, many praised Tom for his decision.

However, as I mentioned previously many other excellent beers were served – I refer of course to those beers brought by PALE ALES members. Barley wines, strong ales, scotch ales, Belgian barley wines, maple porter, and many others were sampled. I am also proud to report that Tom Baker mentioned twice that he didn’t have a bad homebrew that night, and that many of them were quite good. I also heard Tom Stevenson, Triumph’s brewer, who also attended, praising some of the homebrews as well. Thanks for coming Tom, it was great to have you there.

(Side Note to Tom Stevenson.: I just read an article in ASN which I must have missed last month about Gruet – pardon my spelling, written by the Sacred and Healing Beers author. Are you REALLY going to make a gruet? You realize it may cause Princeton to dissolve into anarchy – but, hey, that would be kind of cool.)

To reiterate though, the club should be proud of its high standard of brewing, brewers take a bow please and keep up the good work. Hmmm… it would be great to see some of these beers would show up at the competition (hint, hint)


On Nov. 27 (Sat. after Thanksgiving), Jim Anderson of Beer Philadelphia is sponsoring his annual Beer Geek of the Year award at the Dock Street Brasserie (18th & Cherry Streets,Philadelphia, 215-496-0413 ). The contest will run from 3-6pm. There is no cover, free munchies, and reduced-price brewpub beer

Anderson’s announcement follows…

Are YOU geeky enough to be crowned Beer Geek of the Year? It’s Beer Philadelphia’s 3rd-annual test of beer knowledge — both technical & trivial — to find out who’s the biggest Beer Geek of all!

Compete individually or in teams of up to 4 players. Answer beerelated questions about style, technique, ingredients, history, entertainment, advertising & sports.

Plenty of big prizes, including the Grand Prize of a beer & pool party for 12 Geeks & Geekettes at Dock Street Brasserie!

Last year’s winner:
*Red Bell Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA
This Year’s Early Favorite:
*Malted Barley Appreciation Society, Brooklyn, NY
Check for more

FYI, the Malted Barley Appreciation Society will have a contingent there as well. Perhaps, we could get together a few of our own beer geeks and make a showing? What do y’all think?


Santafest at Sugarmom’s in Phila. (one of my favorite beer bars), on December 18, 12pm-6pm, will feature a selection of great holiday beers and a craft fair. Yes Virginia, you can drink AND do Christmas shopping!

This is yet another Beer Philadelphia-sponsored event. (I’m starting to like this Jim Anderson chap!) I’m pretty sure to be found at this event!

(For more info, call 215-925-8219 or check:

Brewery and Brewpub News in NJ


Christmas has come early to Tim Yarrington, brewer at Long Valley Pub. After submitting beers to the GABF for the past three years, Long Valley won a bronze medal for its Lazy Jake Porter in the Robust Porter category – the first medal for NJ as far back as I can remember.

“I’m surprised, but very happy,” said Yarrington. “I wasn’t really expecting this one to win,” he said, noting that he has entered it for the past two years in the same category, and hasn’t changed the recipe. Yarrington hopes the medal will draw in folks to try this under-appreciated style. Who knows, maybe the regulars will start clamoring for an Oud Bruin next? In other news, the brewpub will be bringing the beer engine back on, and will be doing a nitro-dispensed Oatmeal Stout and a hoppy Celebration Ale (7% ABV) for the holidays.


In brewery news, it looks like Barley Road Brewing will not be opening in Rockaway. Last time I talked to owner Eric Wentz in the summer he was still working on the plumbing and electrical permits, but seemed optimistic that the brewery would open in the fall. As of Oct. 13 though, Wentz’s 10-barrel system was up for sale on A lack of capital resources was one of the main factors behind the closure, according to Wentz. “It’s a tough market, and I’m not making any money yet,” he said. Wentz certainly had his work cut out for him in any case – setting up a keg-only brewer as a one-man show, handling both marketing and brewing.

Barley Road was initially to open as a keg-only brewery producing its flagship product Justice Pale Ale. Justice Pale Ale is still contract brewed in bottles by River Horse (Lambertville), and Wentz has not decided whether he will keep the bottled version going. Speaking of River Horse, if you are a craft-brew and hop lover, you owe it to yourself to check out the Hop Hazard Pale Ale, their latest beer (and in a new, artsy packaging). With great hop aroma, excellent hop flavor, and nice malt, this is not just another overhopped American Pale Ale – their best product yet, in my opinion.

In other news, the brewery will be hosting the Hoppiest Show of the Millennium homebrew competition, an AHA-sanctioned event, on Dec. 4th. The brewery will be open to the public during the event, sponsored by the PALE ALES homebrew club of Princeton.

Up North in Butler, High Point has just released their weighty Winter Wheat (9.6% ABV), a Weizen Doppelbock. Speaking of big beers, Dave Hoffman of Climax (Roselle Park) was brewing his draft-only Abbey Dubbel (est. 8 % ABV) as was talking to him. Brewed with a Trappist Ale yeast, it should be available at Antones, Andy’s Corner, Old Bay, and possibly the Shepherd and Knucklehead around Thanksgiving. Look for the Porter in growlers this winter as well.

Going South, despite packaging delays, Heavyweight Brewing (Ocean Township) will be on the shelves in November, according to owner Tom Baker. The 7.7 % ABV Lunacy will have a nice two-month conditioning prior to shipping! A great beer.

In Cherry Hill, Flying Fish recently brewed a new beer of sorts, the¬† BlackFish, a Porter/Extra Pale Ale blend. A Virginia bartender got the idea of mixing the Porter and Pale Ale and serving it, and it was dubbed “BlackFish,” according to President Gene Muller.

Popularity has been such that the brewery decided to mix up a batch of it. However, it turned out to be too much effort to clean tanks and hoses, and shuffle the two beers around, so they decided to brew a batch by combing the recipes together. Also, Flying Fish has hired another brewer, Ted Briggs, former head of Alcatraz brewpub (Michigan) and assistant at Manayunk brewpub, bringing their full-time brewing staff to four. Lastly, look for the mixed Fish case for the holidays.


Starting up north, Krogh’s (Lake Mohawk) will feature its 5th annual songwriters festival on Dec. 9th, 9 p.m. ($10 cover). Over 40 local songwriters will perform at this event, and all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. Reservations are recommended – call (973) 729-8428 for more information.

In other music news, the brewpub features Richie Havens on Jan. 16th. In brew news, the brewpub will be making a Celebration Ale for the holidays.

Trap Rock (Berkeley Heights) will host a beer dinner on Jan. 25th, 7 P.M. The brewpub will pair three of Flying Fish beers with their own for a four- course meal ($45).

Plans are to do one beer dinner per season in 2000, according to Brewer Scott Cetera. One idea is to have a Scottish-beer dinner, he said. The brewpub should have a Weizen Doppelbock (8%) and a spiced Winter Warmer on tap for Dec.

In Bernardsville, the Stone Tavern will be brewing an IPA-style¬† celebration ale to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the building. Look for an Alt beer and Scotch Ale in December, and a Millennium Beer for the New Year. Speaking of New Year’s, the pub will be hosting a comedy show with three comedians.

In other news, Stone Tavern has a new head brewer, Aaron Endean (assistant to the previous head brewer Steve Kattan), and a new assistant brewer, August Lightfoot, from Seattle.

J.J. Bittings (Woodbridge) has tapped a spiced Winter Warmer, Pilsener, and will likely feature a Doppelbock or Bock in January. Jersey Jim’s (Hillsborough) is serving a nice chocolately Dunkelweizen, a great winter tonic.

Going across to New Brunswick, after a long hiatus, both beer engines are back on line at the Old Bay, according to Manager Kevin Williams. Williams has been pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction to the hand pumps, which have been featuring cask-conditioned British beers from the B. United portfolio.

At Triumph in Princeton, Brewer Tom Stevenson has been presenting some interesting, traditional German beer styles. I had a great sour, fizzy Berliner Weiss beer, authentically served with Raspberry or Woodruff syrup. The Rauch beer (80% Bamberg Smoked Malt) was wonderfully smoky, but not completely overwhelming. In Dec., look for spiced Pumpkin ale (made with 200 pounds of pumpkin) and the Winter Wonder.

Going west, the Ship Inn (Milford) is sponsoring a homebrew competition for Dec.2. The First Annual Best Our Bitter homebrew competition challenges homebrewers to make a bitter style beer from the pub’s Ringwood yeast. The winning entry will be brewed and served at a special party at the Ship Inn for the winner and 20 friends.

Basil T’s (Red Bank and Tom’s River) is adding a dash of fruit to its seasonals. This month, the Red Bank location will tap “Ong’s Hat Cranberry Barleywine,” described as a strong, reddish-amber Barleywine mashed and aged with 100 lbs. of NJ cranberries.
What is Ong’s Hat, you ask, and why would you want to drink one? Ong’s Hat is an old, abandoned Pine Barrens community that now consists of only the crumbling remains of a tavern. It is supposedly named for Jacob Ong’s Hat (which was thrown high up in a tree and never retrieved), according to brewer Bob Hettmansperger. The cranberries are from a nearby bog.

For Christmas, Basil’s (both locations) will feature a Raspberry Porter – a robust chocolatey porter fermented with pure Oregon raspberry puree. (For those who scoff at such a combo, you’ve obviously never had Weyerbacher’s Raspberry Imperial Stout). And if that’s not enough fruit for you, the spiced pumpkin ale, made with real pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove should still be on as well.

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