Spring is a time of rebirth. The flora and fauna start to awake from winter slumber and change is in the air. April was month ten of my year of drinking Jersey. In this edition of the column, I’ll feature some breweries that have undergone a recent metamorphosis. Both change and pollen are in the air.
Cape May Brewing Co., Rio Grande
Let’s start with a big change to the New Jersey beer landscape. Cape May Brewing Co. is acquiring the assets of the OG of New Jersey brewers: Flying Fish Brewing Company. Since 1996, Flying Fish has been a pioneer in New Jersey’s brewing industry. (More on them later.) Cape May has made a bit of hybrid IPA in Double Banked. It’s somewhere between a West Coast and Northeastern-style IPA. Anchored by West Coast staple hops, Simcoe and Citra, it has a touch of haze and tropical fruit notes that finish up relatively dry. At 8% ABV, it’s a big beer for big happenings at Cape May.
Flying Fish Brewing Company, Somerdale
After 28 years, Flying Fish is getting a rebirth of sorts. Since 2016, it has been owned by a Pennsylvania investment firm. Now, with Cape May Brewing acquiring its assets, the ownership of Flying Fish is once again in New Jersey. That’s a good thing for the brewery that started as a website in 1995. It’s also a good thing for the rapidly growing Cape May Brewery, which can use the extra capacity. Hazy Bones is a typical New England-style IPA with an island full of tropical flavor and aroma.
Raritan Rye IPA
Ross Brewing, Port Monmouth
The long and winding road to a brand-new taproom for Ross Brewing has finally ended up in a picturesque setting on the Raritan Bay. Ross isn’t a newcomer to the New Jersey craft beer scene. But its taproom is. (They’ve never had one.) Nestled in at the Belford Seafood Cooperative, you can even take your boat there! I’m a sucker for a rye IPA and Raritan Rye does not disappoint. It’s hop forward, with a fun, spicy nip at the end. (That’s courtesy of that rye in the malt bill.) Ross encountered roadblocks at almost every step to get the taproom open but a beer in that glorious sunset makes me glad they stuck to it.
Kane Brewing, Ocean
Part of the second wave of craft brewery openings in 2012, Kane Brewing has a firmly established presence in Monmouth County and the state. The brewery may have one of the most creative and interesting beer programs in New Jersey (and beyond!). But the original taproom experience didn’t quite measure up to the quality creations. Located in their cavernous warehouse, it was dark and industrial. Kane remodeled its entrance into a more cozy and lively taproom with plenty of windows and natural lighting. A vast improvement. No improvement is needed for the West Coast-style Morning Rays IPA. The pale malt keeps it light while the hops impart the pine and citrus notes so prevalent in the style. Now there’s a nicer place to drink it in, too.
See you soon! No IPAs next month, I promise.