One Saturday morning last year, as I embarked on my exercise route, I noticed a change to one of the storefronts in my little beach town, Point Pleasant Beach. Hand painted on the window was the logo for Last Wave Brewing and the words “Coming in Spring 2017.” Pressing my nose to the glass, I could see a gutted building, some wires hanging from the ceiling and a few piles of construction debris. Spring, huh? Good luck with that.
Breweries are popping up everywhere here in New Jersey and this one snuck in right under my nose, only blocks away from where I live. Progress was slow at first but as I trotted past the site in the weeks that rolled by, it seemed to pick up momentum. One morning last winter I saw the front door propped open and couldn’t resist the chance to peek in. The owners and brewers, Bert Roling and Nick Jiorle are two of the friendliest guys you’ll meet. They, and several family members who were there to help out, looked pretty busy but took the time to chat anyway.
Just to be neighborly, I stopped in a few more times as things were taking shape. I met parents, aunts, uncles, and a friend or two. Looking back, I probably should have brought them a bundt cake or a casserole to welcome the new families into the neighborhood. Since I didn’t do that, I made sure to be there for the grand opening on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I’m not a bad neighbor after all!
Besides the beach theme (Bert and Nick are surfers after all), you will notice that Last Wave’s taproom has a homemade feel to it. That’s because it is. The beautiful handmade wooden logo, the clever tasting flight crates—much more sensible than those precarious paddles—and the repurposed pallet wood paneling were all done by either Bert and Nick, or friends and family. Dani, Bert’s wife, is the tap room manager and was responsible for the layout. Make sure you check out the surfboard art and, if you’re an artist yourself, ask about displaying your work in the mini gallery. Light and airy, Last Wave is a board-shorts-and-flip-flops kind of place.
OK, enough background. Let’s have a beer! Last Wave offers solid, tasty, and approachable styles. It’s brand new so don’t expect crazy adjuncts or barrel aging…yet. That said, their aptly named Rogue Wave is a little different. It looks like a standard golden ale but has the hop profile of a pale ale. It turns out, that’s exactly what it is. New brewing equipment always takes some getting used to. It took them a little longer than expected to extract the hops from the boil on their standard golden ale recipe. So, as Bert told me, “We leaned in.” A change-up in second addition hops complemented the over hopped golden ale and transformed it into a very interesting pale ale. Here’s the complete lineup from opening day:
- Red Sky Red Ale: A hint of chocolate up front but finishes with spicy rye
- Rogue Wave Pale Ale: Bright and mildly bitter with lemon notes
- A Frame Wheat IPA: Hazy, juicy and lots of grapefruit hoppiness
- 5/4 Coffee Stout: Named for a cold weather wet suit, it delivers a nice jolt of coffee then finishes round and a little sweet
Lately there’s been a lot of talk among the independent craft beer community about threats to the industry posed by the Big Corporate Beer Monster. In what some might call an uncertain climate, Last Wave is a reminder that the independent craft brewing industry is, in fact, still a community.
So, to Bert Roling and Nick Jiorle, I say, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Last Wave Brewing
601 Bay Avenue
Point Pleasant Beach