Attention to detail is the theme for New Jersey’s newest farm brewery. Source Brewing’s owner, Philip Petracca, seems to have thought of everything. There was even valet parking on hand for the wildly popular grand opening.
Somehow the 10-barrel brewery kept pouring beer throughout the weekend as throngs lined up to check out this much anticipated brewery. Located along Route 34 in Colts Neck, Source Brewing shares a parking lot with Colts Neck Still House and is right next to the iconic Delicious Orchards, forming a formidable triumvirate of tipples and tastes. All three are just a short stroll from one another.
The glassware alone is worth the trip. From hefty liter steins to elegantly tapered pilsner glasses, every style of beer they serve has a unique stein, and shaker pints are nowhere to be seen.
The logistics, however, are daunting. “We currently have over one thousand pieces of glassware on hand, a dedicated commercial glass washer that can wash over a dozen glasses in less than a minute,” Petracca said. It is, of course, an environmentally friendly system as well.
In addition to the glassware, which Source will expand as they introduce more beer styles, each beer gets its own serving temperature, carbonation, and foam level. I’ve been known to warm a too-cold beer in my hands before drinking it. No need to worry about that here.
How do they manage that?
The people pouring beer into the multitude of glassware are all certified Cicerone beer servers. That’s a guarantee that they know the basics of how to present and talk about beer, which goes a long way toward building a positive experience. So does the way they’ve divided the sections of the spacious old dairy barn that houses the brewery and tasting rooms.
In the Barn
If your visit is a family affair, stay downstairs. Need a break from the kids? You can avoid that hot-button issue by going upstairs to the adults-only lounge. The lounge features an upper level deck and an overhead view of the brew house. The beer garden is dog friendly so you don’t have to leave your furry friend home. By excluding no one and dividing up the space, Source keeps things friendly without the drama. Smart.
Whether you want to admit it or not, atmosphere does play a role in the experience of enjoying a beer. The old dairy barn that houses Source Brewing certainly has plenty of rustic charm to check that box. But, as we all know, what’s in one of those many styles of glasses still counts for quite a bit.
With two lagering tanks, Source takes that style seriously. There was a Helles lager in a hefty glass beer stein but I chose the elegant Source of Light pilsner in its tall tapered glass and kiss of tropical New Zealand hops. Bright, crisp, and crushable. Being a farmhouse brewery, there is, of course, a table beer which spent some time in their oak Foeder to give this small beer a touch of complexity.
It’s All in the Details
Hop-heads rejoice. You’ll find a glass dedicated just for you, too. Colts Necktar is a hazy double IPA brewed with raw honey from the Fir Farm, which is just down the road. Local ingredients are a priority at Source.
It’s no accident that they are turning out fine beers. Greg Taylor, director of brewery operations and head brewer, is a graduate of the country’s most prestigious brewing school, the Siebel Institute of Technology, in Chicago. He also has a Master Brewer’s Degree from Doemens Academy, in Munich, and is an Advanced Level Cicerone, which is no small feat.
Taylor is assisted by Jeremy Watts, whom fans of renowned Carton Brewing (Atlantic Highlands) will be familiar with.
So, why all this spare-no-expense-or-effort level of detail? “I’ve been very fortunate to have had the ability to experience beer culture around the world…” Petracca told me. “There are many unique and amazing breweries around the country and the world where I’ve drawn influence from.”
“These truly stellar breweries place priority on beer and customer experience, over distribution and scale,” he continued. “They all share some key fundamentals. They are small batch production, they’re community focused, and all work directly with their local farmers. The lasting impressions of those experiences fueled my passion to deliver my interpretation of what a New Jersey destination brewery could offer.”
From the 19th century barn, to the agricultural history of Colts Neck and a dedication to brewing beers to match the harvest, it looks like mission accomplished for Source Brewing. “The great support from the Colts Neck community, and local and state leaders, while meeting all of our requirements to execute this passion project is something we are very grateful for,” said Petracca.
We, the beer lovers of New Jersey, are grateful, too. After all, we are a very passionate bunch.