Now that I’ve completed my year of drinking Jersey, I can look back fondly on all of the great beers, breweries, and brewers I’ve encountered along the way.
I’ve also seen how important the industry is to New Jerseyans. A bill (S-3038) to repeal the restrictions imposed by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission on breweries, which prompted my yearlong journey, received bipartisan support and sailed through the State Assembly and Senate unanimously.
Yes! The people have spoken! We love our state’s breweries!
Well, almost. The restrictions are temporarily lifted until the end of the year. However, the bill to end those restrictions permanently is sitting on the Governor’s desk, unsigned.
Here are my picks for the final installment of “A Year of Drinking Jersey.”
Parking Lot Pilz
Hackensack Brewing Co., Hackensack
Diversity isn’t something we normally associate with the craft brewing industry. Hackensack Brewing Co. is one of only a handful of minority-owned breweries in New Jersey. I wish there were more. I also wish I saw their beers more often in my neck of the woods. Parking Lot Pilz is just a beautiful beer and a treat for all of your senses. Who doesn’t love a light, crisp Pilsner style lager in the summer? I sure do and Hackensack nailed it.
Three 3’s Brewing Co., Hammonton
Third time’s a charm, right? Three 3’s Brewing Co. is one of three breweries in the little beer mecca of Hammonton — and they’re all good! Pitter Patter is a bit more round than the previous recommendation but is still sharp enough to be worthy of a pilsner style. In a town with two other breweries, it’s easy for a lager to get lost. Don’t snooze on this one.
Bradley Brew Project, Bradley Beach
Main Street brewery with indoor and outdoor seating, Bradley Brew Project has a breezy beach vibe. If you listen to WFAN NY, you might know of morning show producer Al Dukes. And you might appreciate this fun fact: Dukes is Bradley Beach local, and has a Bradley Brew Project beer named after him. His beer is an IPA, but we’re looking at their dry, floral, and citrusy Saison. I still like to listen to a ball game on the radio and this is perfect for kicking back in the shade and hearing John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman call the game.
Sign the Bill Phil
Icarus Brewing, Lakewood
This brewery has found great success with its juicy, hazy IPAs and monster stouts. So much so that they are going to build a brand new brewery and tap room in neighboring Brick Township, so keep an eye out for that.
In the meantime, Icarus Brewing has created another killer Northeast-style oated IPA as a fundraiser to support the Brewers Guild of New Jersey. The name refers to the aforementioned S-3038 bill. Icarus Brewing will provide the recipe to any New Jersey breweries that want to take part, as long as they agree to donate 25% of the proceeds to the guild. Nice job Icarus. I’d buy it for the can art alone.
New Jersey once was a major national brewing center. After a year of drinking nothing but Garden State beers (except when I was out of state, where they weren’t available), I am comfortable saying that we can claim that status again — at least as far as the beer goes. When it comes to legislation, we still have our work cut out for us.