13th Annual AC Beer & Music Fest – photos/Caroline Forder
By Kevin Trayner
At River Horse this month’s Final Friday beer (tapped on March 30) will be the Devil’s Play IPA brewed with Summit, Columbus and Nugget hops, and dry hopped with Columbus, Nugget, Simcoe, and Centennial. The beer takes its devilish name from the fact that the boil time was 66.6 minutes, and the final result was a 6.66% with 66.6 IBU’s.
In April, the brewery will release Sour Harry, a blonde ale brewed with juniper berries, kettle soured, then finished with Persian lime and further cold-conditioned with more juniper berries, before being aged in wine barrels on Brett for 10 months. Look for Citrus Maximus IPA to return in May as well.
If you are a sour fan, be sure to check out the Firkin’s Cinco de Sour on May 5, in nearby Ewing. The Firkin will be serving a dozen sour beers or more on tap, featuring many limited releases – including River Horse’s Sour Henry, Firestone Walker’s Krieky Bones, Victory Wisdoms Hour and many more.
Iron Hill brewpubs (Voorhees and Maple Shade) will be tapping the very quaffable 3.8% O’Sullivan Stout for St. Patty’s Day. All locations will also be canning Clock Out American lager and Vienna Red Lager on April 5 and April 19 respectively. The Delaware-Pa-NJ brewpub chain continues to expand, with a new location opening in Hershey, PA.
Heavy Reel, Seaside Height’s first brewery, will open its doors on Friday April 13, said owner Jeff Greco. Greco learned his craft from veteran brewer Gretchen Schmidhausler, owner of Little Dog Brewing in Neptune City.
The 3-bbl storefront brewery is located at 613 Boulevard, two blocks from the beach. Town administrators were very supportive of the brewery’s development, and see it as a boost to the economy of downtown Seaside Heights. The brewery’s name is a tribute to Greco’s father-in-law and grandfather, both avid saltwater fishermenn. “If I’m not brewing, my wife’s father and I can be found fishing in and around Barnegat inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.”
I paid a visit to the newly opened Hidden Sands brewery in Egg Harbor. Beautiful, automated 20-bbl brewhouse with a multi-floor tasting room. A dozen very solid beers on tap – nice balanced IPAs (three or four of them, one flavored subtly with pine needles), but my favorite beer was the hoppy Kellerbier, great noble hop character and super drinkable. The brewery drilled 800 feet below the surface to access the pristine water from the aquifer than spans most of South Jersey and holds trillions of gallons of water. Great tasting water makes great tasting beer – believe it!
Forgotten Boardwalk pays tribute to that ubiquitous NJ boardwalk delicacy – Funnel Cake. The Cherry Hill brewery hosts its fourth annual Cakeover event on April 21. The brewery will feature variations of the flagship Funnel Cake – a cream ale made with vanilla beans. This year’s variations will include Blueberry Pancake, Russian Honey Cake and a limited can release of Mexican Coffee Funnel Cake.
Going north, Cricket Hill has tapped Sim-Cabbey Imperial IPA. This Simcoe-hopped Imperial IPA was aged for a year in Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc barrels. With its newly added Sunday hours, the brewery is now open 7 days a week.
On the weekend of April 6-8, the brewery will tap three different versions of its popular Jersey Devil – the base version is a straight up Imperial Red (7.2%), a bourbon barrel version (aged in Wild Turkey barrels for over a year), and El Diablo, flavored with Habanero peppers. All versions available for growler fills, with the base version available in 4-packs as well.
Czig Meister in Hackettstown hosts a Pink Boots Society brew release on March 30. The event will offer Pink Boots Flights including each of the four beers brewed on March 8 for International Women’s Day (Hibiscus Rose Hip NEIPA, Hoppy Kolsch, Dessert Berliner Weisse, and Belgian DIPA). The brewery will donate $1 from each flight sold, as well as individual pours, the Pink Boots Society Philadelphia Chapter. The Pink Boots Society is a non-profit organization comprised of and supporting women in craft brewing.
April brings back the Maibock and Bavarian Dark Lager at Climax Brewing in Roselle Park, with the Hefeweizen returning in May. Further south in Middlesex, Demented Brewing will be releasing Astarte, a Strawberry Cream Ale, and Belgian Wit, Vila. Look for the release of the base version of the 2018 Wrath, a Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels, available on draft and in bottles in the tasting room. Owner Tom Zuber plans to release three different variants of Wrath during the year as well.
Cape May The brewery has canned Corrosion Sour, its popular kettle-soured IPA in 16 oz. cans. Beer on the Boards returns to Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant on April 7. The $55 ticket includes beers from over 50 breweries and a buffet. Angry Erik Brewing re-released its seasonal Erik the Orange, an oak-aged ale brewed with oranges. In the cider department, Newark based Ironbound Hard Cider releases its Summer Cider on April 2. Summer Cider is a blend of hard cider and iced tea with fresh lemons – think of an Arnold Palmer with a cidery kick. At Maloney’s in Matawan continues its special Sunday brunch tapping or you can choose from the 100 other beers on tap.