October 2000 Newsletter

ISSUE #51 October 2000

DATE: Sunday, Oct. 22
TIME: noon
PLACE: Princeton Homebrew
PHONE: (609) 252-1800

ED NOTE: I apologize for the late notice, but I have been practicing being a dad. My wife had a baby boy on Sept. 28, our first child – Griffin Hugh Trayner, 21 inches, 8 lbs. 20 years, 11 months, and 7 days till his first legal beer!

This announcement will be short but sweet, folks. The next club meeting will be this Sunday at Princeton. The purpose is to make a big batch of beer for the club holiday party. We would also like to try and hold the first round of the BYHB for 2000 as well.

Hope to see you there.


New Jersey and the beer world mourn the loss of beer luminary, Richie Stolarz. Richie Stolarz, founder of the NJ-based organization Beers International, was known for his love of beer and outstanding beer events and tours.

Stolarz’s events featured great beers, personalities, food and camaraderie. Stolarz was the only one in the United States to host the beer hunter Michael Jackson for over a decade. (In fact Jackson made his 13th annual appearance for Beers International this past Sept. 28th.)

Returning from the Great American Beer Festival on Oct. 9th, Stolarz took ill as his plane to New Jersey was leaving the gate in Denver. Beer writer Kurt Epp wrote a lovely eulogy, which you can read at his site www.pubscout. To paraphrase Kurt, perhaps it was fitting that Richie would be called back home after one of the great beer events of the world.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to:

Tomorrows Children’s Fund
Don Imus/WFAN Pediatric Center
Hackensack Medical Center
30 Prospect Avenue
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601

You may wish to note on your check that the gift is in memory of/in thanksgiving for the life of Mr. Richie Stolarz.


At our last beer meeting, we celebrated those great beers that had suffered an untimely demise. One of the beers we celebrated was that most amazing of strong lagers – Samichlaus (Swiss for “Santa Claus”).

The last vintage of Samichlaus made was 1997, and traditionally, this beer was brewed on St Nicholas’ Day, December 6, and matured for nearly a year.

When Feldschlösschen bought the Hürlimann brewery, makers of Samichlaus, discontinued it. According to a recent article by Michael Jackson, Feldschlösschen has reached an agreement with the Eggenberg Castle brewery, of Austria, to resurrect this beer. (Eggenberg’s Urbock 23 is fantastic BTW, if you haven’t tried it) Jackson goes on to say that the revived Santa Claus will be launched at the brewery on Oct. 20, and that it will be available in the US.

And now, some NJ AND NY beer news….


In GABF news, two NJ brewpubs won honors at this year’s festival. JJ Bittings of Woodbridge won a Bronze medal for its Marzen/Oktoberfest beer “Bad Boy. Nice job Brad Renninger and co.

For the second year in a row, Long Valley won a gold medal for its Lazy Jake Porter. As if that’s not enough, the brewpub also won a bronze medal for its Best Bitter! Kudos to brewer Tim Yarrington.

In a tropical twist, River Horse Brewing in Lambertville has established a relationship with a “sister” brewery in Bermuda of all places, according to Mike Quinn, co-owner of River Horse. This will encompass contract brewing the sister brewery’s beers, cross-marketing products, and possibly brewing and distribution of River Horse in Bermuda (and vice versa), according to Quinn. It all started with a group of investors acquiring Bermuda’s defunct Triangle Brewing, and re-opening it as Bermuda Brewing. However, the investors were completely unfamiliar with marketing and producing a beer, much less running a brewery.

Fortunately, some of the investors were familiar with Mike Quinn, one of the owners of River Horse brewery, and the River Horse products. Quinn, who is friends with some of the investors, travels to Bermuda three to four times a year, and always brings River Horse beer with him.

River Horse served as consultants on the venture, offering marketing advice, inspecting the brewery, etc. This included helping Bermuda Brewing hire its brewmaster – Jason Cook, a brewer from Colorado with 10 years of experience – and training the General Manager of the brewery, Marc Betschart, for two weeks at River Horse.

Why have River Horse bottle the beer for a brewery all the way across the Atlantic though? It makes sense for several reasons, according to Quinn. As Triangle sold the bottling machinery before the investors came in, the cost of bringing in and setting up new machinery would be too great, he said. Also, the cost of importing bottles and labor would be costly as well.

On Aug. 1st, Bermuda Brewing opened for business with its Bermuda Pale Ale. The brewery is located in the So. Hampton parish and has a 60-barrel capacity (double that of River Horse). At first, it will only sell draft beer, with River Horse contract brewing the bottles in starting in 2001 and shipping them to Bermuda. Quinn sees several possibilities for cross-marketing and production as well. “They [Bermuda Brewing] might brew Hop Hazard there, and we might brew their specialty beer here.” he said. “We also hope to do some cross promotion between us as well.”

Rumor has it that River Horse personnel will now be required to wear Bermuda Shorts and loud Hawaiian shirts, and ride mopeds to work, although no one at River Horse could confirm or deny this. (Writer’s Note: Might I add that as a beer judge and expert on NJ beer that I would be an excellent candidate to help out as a taster at the Bermuda plant?)

Going south to the land of big beers… In his latest joint brewing effort, Heavyweight brewer Tom Baker has brewed a Barleywine 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.

In other beer news, Heavyweight will be re-releasing its dark and delicious Baltic Porter in 12 oz. single bottles and on draft. Heavyweight will be brewing its Gruit Ale once again. They hope to have this available at the end of the year. We’re also thinking of putting this in 12 oz. singles. Heavyweight is now open for tours. They will be in the brewery on the last two Saturdays of each month for tours, tastings and spirited conversation. Tours will be held between 1 and 3 pm.

Heavyweight’s beers will be featured at a Trap Rock (Berkely Heights) beer dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 24. This is the fourth in the Trap Rock’s Beers of the Round Table Dinners, which feature beers from a guest brewery and the brewpub. Baker will be on hand to discuss his products. The $45 per person fee includes a four-course meal, hors d’oeuvres, six beers, and tax and tip. Reservations are suggested. Call (908) 665-1755.

Celebrating its fourth anniversary last September, Flying Fish has seen a 60% production growth for the year. To keep up with demand, the Fish is adding yet another brewer to its crew – Chris Rafferty, the head brewer at John Harvard’s Brewhouse in Wayne, PA. “We’ve known Chris and enjoyed his beers for a while and he’ll be a great addition to Flying Fish,” said head brewer Rick Atkins.In other beer news, Flying Fish has just brewed its BlackFish Ale, sort of a Black and Tan using the brewery’s Porter and Pale Ale. The cask-conditioned version of this beer won a Gold Medal at the 2000 US Real Ale festival in Chicago.

Climax Brewing has released its first lager ever – an Octoberfest. Made with all German hops and malt, the Octoberfest (6.6% ABV) will be on tap at select NJ establishments, including Antone’s (Cranford) and at Old Bay (New Brunswick), on a hand pump, no less. Brewer Dave Hoffman describes it as “Very bready, grainy and toasty, with a big mouth feel.” Perhaps bitten by the lager bug, Hoffman is contemplating brewing a Doppelbock for release in December.

High Point’s Octoberfest beer has become its number one seller, according to owner Greg Zacardi. “The success of this beer is a happy surprise,” said Zaccardi. Originally planned for a limited release, the beer is currently available in sixtel and regular kegs at
retailers. The brewery plans to bottle the beer in the first quarter of 2001, at which time it will be called Ramstein Munich Amber. Not a wheat beer (like the brewery’s other products), the Octoberfest uses a German lager yeast, all German malt, and Perle and Hallertauer hops, and is aged for six weeks. In other beer news, the Ramstein Winter Wheat Doppelbock will be released in November only in sixtel kegs and six packs this year. The expected gravity is 9-9.5% ABV.

In brewpub news, there is a changing of the guard for Basil T’s (Red Bank and Tom’s River), as long-time brewer Robert Hettmansperger leaves the brewpub. Bob has already left for Vermont, and rumor has it that a great job opportunity for his wife was the reason behind the move. We will miss Bob’s great beers. Happily though, Basil T’s will continue its tradition of hiring head brewers with long hard-to-spell German surnames. Gretchen Schmidhausler, who has been working as assistant brewer for the past year at Basil T’s, has taken over the reigns as head brewer. Schmidhausler is no stranger to the NJ brewing scene. She worked for the now defunct Red Bank Brewing, and prior Basil T’s, she was the head brewer at the Ship Inn. Schmidhausler completed the American Brewers Guild (ABG) Craftbrewer’s 12-week apprenticeship program about four years ago. She then apprenticed at the Brew Brothers brewpub in Reno, Nevada, one of the biggest producing brewpubs in the US, brewing on average of 8-10 times a week.

Despite his highly pronounceable Italian surname, Jim Carlucci will be taking over as the brewer at the Tom’s River location. Carlucci is also an ABG graduate and is certainly no stranger to NJ brewing. He worked at the NJ Brewery, Kokomo’s brewpub, and at Mountain Valley brewpub (Suffern, NY) with Trap Rock brewer Scott Cetera. In addition, Carlucci writes a NJ beer column called “The Itinerant Brewer.” “I think I must be cursed or something,” he joked, noting that all of the aforementioned breweries he worked for are now defunct. Carlucci also worked at Frederick’s Brewing (Frederick, Maryland), and helped set up several brewpubs in Pa, including Bethelem Beer Works W.T. Hackett’s in Scranton. Upcoming beers at Basil T’s include a Hefeweizen and Pumpkin ale in Tom’s River, and a Dunkelweiss and Spiced Apple Wheat (I like this one!) in Red Bank.

Triumph is hosting an Octoberfest-themed Gambrinus beer dinner on Oct. 10, 7 pm. The $55 per person cost includes a five-course meal complimented with beer, tax, and tip. For reservations, call (609) 924-7855. The brewpub will also feature German/Bavarian cuisine on its menu for the week of Oct. 8th.

On Tuesday, Oct. 31, Triumph will host a Halloween Jungle Party. National recording artists King Konga will present an evening of  world beat and funky pop music. Come as your favorite wild animal (for some of the people I drink with, that would be a definite improvement in appearance!). In terms of beer, Triumph will be tapping its Octoberfest and later in the month, its Pumpkin Ale. J.J. Bittings will be celebrating Octoberfest by offering $2 pints of its Octoberfest Lager every Wednesday that month, and running German Food specials as well. You can also look for J.J. Bittings at the GABF again this year, according to brewer Brad Renninger. The brewpub will also holding an Octoberfest on Sept 22, and a Halloween party on Oct 28th.

Up in Bernardsville, the Stone Tavern is featuring an Octoberfest menu starting in the first weekend of Oct., and running throughout the month. In addition, they will be bringing in some German style beers as well, and the brewpub will possibly be brewing either a Weizen or Doppelbock.

Long Valley brewpub, will tap its Octoberfest (made from an ale yeast) in the first week of Oct., kicking off its annual Octoberfest celebration on Oct. 15. The fest will be held outside in the beer garden from 12-6 pm, and will include a German buffet. In November, look for an Oatmeal Stout on nitro and a Best Bitter on the hand pump.


Starting off on a somewhat sad note, Mountain Valley brewery in Suffern has closed its doors. Despite its consistently good beers and widespread exposure in the Charlie Brown’s restaurant chain, the producers of Ruffian beer. (See more details elsewhere in Ale Street News.)

Brooklyn’s Octoberfest with all German malt and hops has been”going very fast,” according to brewmaster Garrett Oliver. In blind tastings with Paulaner and Hackor-Pschorr, Brooklyn’s fest beer was “indistinguishable,” said Oliver. In other beer news, Brooklyn has just released its Dunkel Weiss, and will release its Abbey Ale on Oct.1. The Black Chocolate stout and Monster 2001 should be out in Nov. Look for a Weizenbock this winter!

Brooklyn Brewing continues its MBA (Masters in Beer Appreciation) program taught by Michael Jackson with a course in the world’s great wheat beers (including the Lambics of Belgium) on Nov. 2. The $25admission includes light buffet. Brewer Oliver will be hosting an artesianal cheese and microbrew event in Italy at “Slow food” at the end of October. As the beer spokesperson for the National Dairy Association, Oliver will also be featuring a beer and cheese event at the GABF this year. This is the second class in the five-year MBA program, which covers a wide range of styles and tastings. Those attending all five tastings will receive a Masters in Beer Appreciation certificate signed by Jackson and Oliver. Park Slope has also released its Octoberfest special lager. The
brewery is building a tap room at its Red Hook location in Brooklyn, with seating for 75. “We plan to have a beer garden and Octoberfest celebration next year,” according to brewer Steve Deptula, adding that the tap room should be completed in Jan. The brewery has recently picked up a bottling system from the defunct Mountain Valley brewery, which will help increase production. Commonwealth Brewing has just put up its traditional Octoberfest, which has undergone an extensive four-month lagering. Look for the brewpub’s 7% ABV pumpkin beer this month also – made with several 100 lbs. of pumpkin.

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Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society