Sunday, August 17, 2014

Flounder Brewing's August Tour Day

The team over at Flounder Brewing in Hillsborough, NJ opens up their brewery to the public once-a-month for an open house. Sign-ups for the open house are announced via Flounder's Facebook page.  Visitors are given a brief tour of the the small brewery, including a story of how a group of homebrewers turned their hobby into a business.  The brewing process is explained, and afterwards, the visitors are walked over to the bar for complimentary samples of each beer.  You may also purchase one pint of beer (~$5) and/or a growler fill ($8-$16) of a beer you want to bring home.

Their were 3 beers on draft for Flounder Brewing's August event:

  1. Hill St. Honey Ale
  2. Saison du Flounder
  3. Saison du Berliner Weisse (soured saison/farmhouse sour...not quite sure what the final name is!)
Saison du Berliner Weisse was available straight, with raspberry syrup or with strawberry syrup.  All 3 were great.  Flounder had prepared homemade syrups for the occasion, and they were top notch.  I brought home a growler of the Saison du Berliner Weisse and tried to use some syrup I had at home, but it just wasn't the same.

Below are some pictures I took from the event!

Follow Flounder Brewing's Facebook page for when the next open house will be.

Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder's banner.  Not soon-to-be anymore, they've been fully operational since around November '13!
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Jeremy 'Flounder' Lees giving a rundown of the brewing process they use at Flounder Brewing
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder Brewing's brewhouse.  No longer the smallest in NJ!

Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder shares their space with East Coast Yeast, a company who propagates unique yeast cultures for commercial and home brewers.  Here are the vessels that ECY uses.
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder's taproom.  They employ an online sign-up service for tours to keep the taproom from becoming overcrowded.
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder's taps!
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder offers 32. oz and 64 oz. growlers to bring their beer home in.  Or you can bring your own to use, as long as it has the government warning label on it!  Pint glasses, hats, shirts and keychains are also available to show off your Flounder love!
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Flounder expects all the beer they have to be sold at their open house.  Time to start brewing more!
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Saison du Berliner Weisse
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Saison du Berliner Weisse w/ raspberry syrup
Flounder Brewing, Craft Beer, New Jersey Craft Beer, Brewery Tour
Saison du Berliner Weisse w/ strawberry syrup

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Upcoming NJ Beers - as of 08/10/14

Here are some beers that recently got their labels approved in NJ.  Get ready!

Bolero Snort Barrel Aged Javahorn

Bolero Snort Blackbeard's Blackhorn

Carton Brewing Regular Coffee Imperial Cream Ale

Pinelands Brewing Cannonball Stout

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Thursday Blogshare (08/07/14)

Lots of good beer content today, so let's jump right in!

1.    "On Ageing, Condition and Best Before" from Pete Drinks

     Pete's article here accentuates the point that some beers are really meant to be enjoyed as fresh as possible.  He stresses that if a brewer wants their beer enjoyed 3 months from the bottling date, then they need to stamp or print the bottling date on each bottle, and declare that it is meant to be drank within 3 months (even if distributors/sellers want to keep it on the shelf for 6 months).
     Pete writes from a UK perspective, but it couldn't ring more true here in America.  As a customer, we are bombarded with beers on the shelf that have the potential to be very old.  I don't want my IPA to be under a layer of dust.  The brewers and distributors need to patrol stores that sell their beer, and be aware if old beer is being sold that isn't supposed to be old.  There's no better way to lose a customer than with a beer that's lackluster solely due to age.

2.  "EVERYTHING wrong with Beer at this Moment" from Beer Compurgation

     Another post from a UK writer, the Beer Compurgator is fed up with some things in his beer scene. From bottles vs. cans to bashing to cliques, a lot of the same can be said about segments of the beer industry in America.
     I, however, decided to write a post in an opposite, optimistic light.  While I agree its not perfect, here are some things that are RIGHT with beer in America today.

3.  "Brewery - Finback Brewery, Queens, NYC" from I Drink Good Beer

     NYC has rather quietly sprung up with a variety of new breweries.  Just in the last few years, the area around NYC now serves as a home to Broken Bow Brewery, Gun Hill Brewing Company, Transmitter Brewing Company and more.  In this case, Brian from I Drink Good Beer paid a visit to the newcomers at Finback Brewery in Queens.  Finback looks like the real deal, and as always I Drink Good Beer brings it with great photography and a descriptive summary of the brewery.

4.  "What Is the IPA In 2014?  Where Is It Headed?" from DC Beer

     It's probably not a coincidence that Jacob from DC Beer published this article in time for this year's IPA day.  First, the reader is brought up to speed with some of the current renditions of IPA (or at least where IPA finds its name on labels these days).  Then, interestingly, predictions are made for the future of IPA. Check 'em out, its good reading!

5.  "IPA Day is August 7: Forgive Me For Yawning" from Growler Fills

Articles like these are pretty common when IPA day is here, and I usually agree with them.  Here's one from Alan of Growler Fills.  If he's listening here, a Berliner Weisse day is an outstanding idea.  I would definitely be in on it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What is Right with Beer in America Today

Lately, there have been a number of overly negative articles on the state of beer today.  I decided to look at beer in a brighter light, and make a list of 5 things that are RIGHT with beer in America today.  Feel free to add anything you think is also right with beer today in the comments below!

1.  Selection

There is literally a beer for everyone these days.  An ultra hoppy ale, a mouth puckering sour, a crisp lager or a creamy stout.  You are likely within short driving distance of at least 1 of the > 3,000 breweries in the U.S., and if not, then a liquor store that sells more than BMC.  Pair your beer with a meal, pair it with an activity, or just plain have a beer.  Any kind you can possibly think up!

2.  Accessibility

Sure, while there are cliques and snobs out there that may make the beer industry intimidating to some, beer is truly more accessible today than it's ever been.  Chances are your local brewery serves up tastings and tours on the weekends (and sometimes during the week).  In most states, these tours and tasting are quite cheap or even free, unlike most wine tastings and tours you may attend.  Also, if you can't make it out to the brewery, brewery reps are constantly out at liquor stores giving out free tastings of their beers!  The brewery's website often will have a list of where the reps will be pouring out their goods.

3.  Affordability

Like any other hobby or interest, you can spend as much money as you're willing to shell out.  However, you really don't have to shell out as much as you think in order to enjoy a good beer these days!  Sure, there are lots of high-end bottle shops and bars, but there's an equal number of bars out there that serve great beer where you don't have to spend more than $5 or $6 a pint.  If you want to take your beer home, it's A LOT cheaper to buy some from the liquor store or find a shop with a growler station.  You will save tons of money.

4.  Delicious

There is a ton of chatter on the interwebs about a lot of "craft" beer these days not quite cutting it in terms of quality. I say humbug.  Sure, you may encounter a few speed bumps out there, but the overall quality of "craft" beer in America is excellent.  The ratio definitely leans towards tasty as heck, even if all the beers can't be white whales.

5.  Local

Having a brewery or 2 in town definitely boosts the local economy.  Good beer is something people are ecstatic to travel for these days.  When people are in town to visit a brewery, they likely spend their hard earned money elsewhere in town as well.  From restaurants to food trucks to gas stations, everyone is benefiting from the breweries in town.

Can you think of anything more that is RIGHT with beer in America today?  List it below!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Jersey Beer Label Approvals - as of 08/02/14

Some highlights this week in New Jersey's bottle and keg label approvals, we see a large format River Horse bottle, a canned porter from soon-to-open Spellbound Brewing, an Irish-style Red Ale from Cape May's Tuckahoe Brewing, and keg approvals from just opened Belford Brewing in Belford, NJ!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Jersey Beer Variety - July 31, 2014

     It has been a little more than a year since I looked into the Untappd stats from New Jersey breweries.  I am using the Untappd stats to get a broad look into the top Garden State beers that are sold.  

     A quick summary of how I compile the data:  I just pick the top 2 checked-in beers from Untappd from each NJ brewery.  In the last analysis I excluded seasonal beers, but this time I am including the seasonals. Previously, I had also included the number of check-ins, but there was no useful information I could extract from one brewery have more check-ins than another brewery.

     It will be interesting to see how this list changes after the fall season.  I am predicting this fall season to be huge for seasonals (shocking, right?), and we will see them creep up the Untappd check-in lists.  

     The New Jersey Craft Beer website was also a huge help in this endeavor.  I was able to ensure I had covered all the breweries that NJ has to offer.  Definitely check them out.

     In this round, the total NJ brewery number is 30, which is up from 24 breweries last year.  The only brewery from the last round of analysis that is not in this round is Turtle Stone Brewery. They seem to have quietly disappeared.

     Let's look at some charts comparing NJ beer by county, ales and lagers, ABVs and beer styles.

New Jersey Beer by County
Middlesex County tops the list with Harvest Moon Brewery and Cafe, Hearthstone Grill, JJ Bitting Brewing Co and Uno Chicago Grill and Brewery.  Morris also has 4, but 2 of the 4 are contract brewing out of High Point Brewing.

Comparison of Ales vs. Lagers
From the top 2 checked-in beers from each NJ brewery, 53 were ales and 7 were lagers
     The distribution of ales and lagers is no surprise to me.  In general, ales spend less time in fermentation and conditioning and have a faster turnaround than lagers.  Ales have also had more popularity in the "craft beer" community the last 15 years, but I expect to see lagers reaching higher on this list in the coming years.

ABV Distribution
From the top 2 checked-in beers from each NJ brewery, the majority were between 6 and 6.9% ABV.  5 to 5.9% ABV was a close second.

Style Distribution
Beer styles are a hot topic these days.  Its no surprise, the top checked-in NJ beer style is IPA.  Ambers come in second.  The variety here is fantastic!

You can read the full list of top checked-in beers below.
  1. Angry Erik Brewing Company (new to list)
    1. Hop the Fence (American IPA), 7.5% ABV
    2.  Ravol (American Amber / Red Ale), 6% ABV
  2. Artisan's Brewery and Italian Grill
    1. West Coast IPA (American IPA), 6.2% ABV
    2. Light Ale (American Blonde Ale), 4.2% ABV
  3. Basil T's Brew Pub and Italian Grill
    1. Maxwells Dry Stout (Stout), 5% ABV
    2. Rocket Red Ale (American Amber / Red Ale), 5% ABV (new to list)
  4. Boaks Brewery
    1. Monster Mash (Imperial Stout), 10% ABV
    2. Two Blind Monks (Belgian Dubbel), 7% ABV
  5. Bolero Snort Brewery
    1. Blackhorn (Black Lager), 6.5% ABV
    2. Ragin' Bull (American Amber / Red Lager), 5% ABV
  6. Cape May Brewing Company
    1. IPA (American IPA), 6.0% ABV
    2. Centennial IPA (American IPA), 7.3% ABV (new to list)
  7. Carton Brewing Company
    1. Boat Beer (Session Ale), 4.2% ABV
    2. 077XX (Imperial / Double IPA), 7.8% ABV
  8. Climax Brewing Company
    1. India Pale Ale (American IPA), 6% ABV
    2. Extra Special Bitter Ale (Extra Special/Strong Bitter), 5.5% ABV
  9. Cricket Hill Brewing Company
    1. Hopnotic IPA (American IPA), 6.5% ABV
    2. East Coast Lager (Helles Lager), 4.2% ABV
  10. Flounder Brewing Company (new to list)
    1. Hill Street Honey Blonde Ale (American Blonde Ale), 4.85% ABV
    2. Saison du Flounder (Saison / Farmhouse Ale), 5.4% ABV
  11. Flying Fish Brewing Company
    1. HopFish India Pale Ale (English IPA), 6.5% ABV
    2. Farmhouse Summer Ale (American Blonde Ale), 4.9% ABV (new to list)
  12. Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant
    1. Abbey Normal (Belgian Dubbel), 6.9% ABV (new to list)
    2. Pirate Pale Ale (English Pale Ale), 5% ABV (new to list)
  13. Glasstown Brewing Company (new to list)
    1. Glasstown Founders Ale (American Amber / Red Ale), 6.9% ABV
    2. Cedar Swamp IPA (American IPA), 6.9% ABV
  14. Harvest Moon Brewery and Cafe
    1. Full Moon Pale Ale (American Pale Ale), 6.8% ABV
    2. Jimmy D's Firehouse Red (Irish Red Ale), 5.1% ABV
  15. Hearthstone Grill (new to list)
    1. Red Hand Red Ale (American Amber / Red Ale) unknown abv
    2. Red Hand Imperial Saison (Saison / Farmhouse Ale) unknown abv
  16. High Point Brewing Company
    1. Ramstein Double Platinum (Weizenbock), 7% ABV
    2. Ramstein Winter Wheat (Doppelbock), 9.5% ABV (new to list)
  17. JJ Bitting Brewing Co.
    1. W.H.A.L.E.S IPA (American IPA), 6.5% ABV
    2. Avenel Amber (American Amber / Red Ale), 5.25% ABV
  18. Kane Brewing Company
    1. Head High (American IPA), 6.5% ABV
    2. Overhead (Imperial / Double IPA), 8.2% ABV
  19. Krogh's Restaurant and Brew Pub
    1. Alpine Glow Red Ale (American Amber / Red Ale), 4.5% ABV
    2. Old Krogh Oatmeal Stout (American Stout), 4.5% ABV
  20. Long Valley Pub and Brewery
    1. German Valley Amber (American Amber / Red Ale) unknown abv
    2. Lazy Jake Porter (American Porter) unknown abv
  21. New Jersey Beer Co.
    1. Hudson Pale Ale (American Pale Ale), 5.8% ABV
    2. Garden State Stout (Stout), 6.6% ABV
  22. Pineland Brewing Company (new to list)
    1. Pitch Pine Ale (American Pale Ale), 5.9% ABV
    2. Evergreen IPA (American IPA), 5.7% ABV
  23. Rinn Duin Brewing Company (new to list)
    1. Sandpiper (English Brown Ale), 5.1% ABV
    2. Trinity (Scottish Ale), 4% ABV
  24. River Horse Brewing Company
    1. Tripel Horse (Belgian Tripel), 10% ABV
    2. Hop Hazard (American Pale Ale), 6.5% ABV
  25. The Ship Inn 
    1. Best Bitter (English Bitter) unknown abv
    2. ESB (Extra Special/Strong Bitter) unknown abv
  26. Trap Rock Restaurant and Brewery
    1. Ghost Pony Helles Lager (American Light Lager), 4.6% ABV
    2. Hathor Red Lager (American Amber / Red Lager), 5.3% ABV
  27. Tuckahoe Brewing Company
    1. Dennis Creek Pale Ale (American Pale Ale), 6% ABV (new to list)
    2. Steelmantown Porter (Porter), 6.5% ABV (down 1)
  28. Tun Tavern
    1. All American IPA (American IPA), 6.5% ABV
    2. Devil Dog Pale Ale (American IPA), 5.2% ABV
  29. Uno Chicago Grill and Brewery
    1. Ike's IPA (American IPA) unknown abv
    2. Uno Amber Ale (American Amber / Red Ale) unknown abv
  30. Village Idiot Brewing Company (new to list)
    1. Teddy Hopper (Imperial / Double IPA), 8% ABV
    2. Thong Remover Tripel (Belgian Tripel), 9.5% ABV

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Monday Blogshare (07/28/14)

Hey folks, I'm back at it with some articles that have captured my attention.  Hope you enjoy them!

  • Who wouldn't want a new product you can take home from a brewery that is promised to keep your beer fresh for at least double the time of a regular growler?  In this article, The Alcohol Professor visits the crowler.  They are pretty much big cans that a brewery can fill up and seal in their taproom with ease.  Oskar Blues is quoted as saying the beer stays good and carbonated for at least a month (as long as it remains unopened, of course).  I would love to try this out.  Has anyone had any experience with the crowler?
  • Another product that is being pushed on consumers these days is specialized glassware, specifically in this case the Spiegelau stout glass. I have yet to try it out, but it looks like Keith from Brew/Drink/Run has tested the glass out to some success.  How about you?  What do you think of the stout glass?
  • Good old BillyBrew does a vertical with Rogue Old Crustacean.  He acquired vintages from 1999, 2003 and 2007 through the Rogue store. Definitely a good read.  I have some beers in my cellar hitting 2 years I am looking forward to tasting soon!
  • With over 3,000 breweries in America, if you want your brewery to survive you must invest in quality and consistency.  Here is a post from Fuggled about how improvements in the consistency of Starr Hill Jomo caused him to include it as a staple in his beer glass.
  • Last but not least, Glen from the Aussie blog Beer is Your Friend constantly puts out great material. In this post, he starts up a Q&A series with none other than....Glen himself!  Also, check out his comment below!

Be sure to check out these great blogs, and add them to your RSS reader!

My beer of the week:  New Glarus Apple Ale