JERSEY GIRL BREWING COMPANY

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MOUNT OLIVE, NEW JERSEY

A large JERSEY GIRL BREWING COMPANY banner welcomes folks to the aluminum-topped white Industrial complex housing this large Mount Olive-based 30-barrel brewpub since April ’16. Owned by homebrewer Michael Bigger and beer enthusiast Charles Aaron, Jersey Girl started out big so expansion would not be necessary.

Taking in multi-faceted head brewer, Jodi Andrews-Stoudt, a nearby Allentown native, the busy team enjoys crafting reliably “good, spot-on” versions of a wide array of styles.

Aaron explains, “What started out as having one too much to drink one night got us deciding to start a brewery. Chuck loved the idea. We made the rounds to Jersey breweries such as Forgotten Boardwalk and Carton. One of my favorites was Kane Brewing. I love Michael Kane’s India Pale Ales and Sunday Brunch Imperial Porter. They all said if they were to do it again, they’d all start out bigger. So we did.”

At the laminated wood bar in the Tasting Room early Saturday afternoon, I grab a stool alongside my wife to try ten well-rounded offerings on my November ’16 birthday.

Perhaps the finest, award-winning King Gambrinus Tripel (named after the patron saint of Belgian brewing) maintained a mild crystalline-watered tone as lemony banana-clove-coriander sweetness picked up soft white-peppered herbal hop resin. Lemon meringue, key lime pie, chamomile and hibiscus undertones added depth.

Nearly as fabulous, fruitful Scotch Wee Heavy utilized viscous Wyeast yeast to bring its dry Scotch warmth and dewy moss dampness to juicy red cherry, orange, nectarine, cantaloupe and honeydew sweetness above earthen hop resin.

Sharp piney fruiting ignited New England-styled Rake Breaker IPA, a tropical delight gathering lemony orange, tangerine and clementine succulence for its spicy oat-sugared spine and dryly bitter wood tones.

Approachable Sun-Kissed Citra gave its expressive Citra-hopped briskness a dank hop-dried pine needling to contrast the candy-coated orange, tangerine and lemon tang. Crisply clean Blonde Ale sufficed as its candied citrus tang relegated the bready pale malt spine. Peachy apricot and tangy orange inundated wood-dried, soft-toned Pale Ale.

A large hard-candied tangerine contingent surfaced for dry-hopped IPA (featuring Mandarina Bavaria), a sharp medium body contrasting sweet citrus vigor with moderate pine oiling.

Marzen-styled Golden Lager spread sweet n’ sour lemon-rotted orange tartness across leafy hop earthiness and pale malt breading.

Dark-roasted nuttiness and caramelized black chocolate malts secured Nut Brown Ale, a traditional English ale combining peanut-shelled walnut overtones with less prominent hazelnut coffee notions.

For dessert, mocha-bound Chocolate Coffee Porter brought mild black chocolate creaming to its dry-roasted walnut char contrasting the lightly sweet hazelnut glaze.

www.jerseygirlbrewing.com

CZIG MEISTER BREWING COMPANY

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HACKETTSTOWN, NEW JERSEY

Within walking distance of Hackettstown’s Centenary College on a rolling hillside in an antiquated red brick repair shop, CZIG MEISTER BREWING COMPANY’s Old World-styled tasting room, patio-benched biergarten and 15-barrel brew system filled up quickly during my Saturday afternoon November ’16 perusal.

Led by biochemistry-majored homebrewing enthusiast Matthew Czigler, this family-run pub succinctly re-creates “traditional old world classic standards,” emulating European styles with ambition, passion and creativity.

In a capacious space with exposed black pipes, wood-barreled tables and overhead garage door, Czig Meister’s  tasting room features a dozen community tables plus a leathery living room setup. The salvaged wood bar top with bolted foot rail piping sits above a red brick base. Grabbing a stool at the bar, I quaff eight diverse brews over a memorable two-hour session. Since opening in early ’16, Czigler has hand crafted dozens of sudsy elixirs in a short time frame – many of which are experimental limited edition models.

Up first, corn liquor-smitten Hefeweizen belied its banana-clove stylishness with putrid orange-soured lemon tartness. Next, mossy mainstream seasonal, Octoberfest, brought fall foliage to wavered citric spicing and mildly sugared pale malting.

Approachable rye-dried Pumper Dunkelweizen retained overripe banana and juicy citrus tones. Citric herbal delight, Belgian Dubbelbock, crossed white-peppered Belgian yeast and spry lemon spritz with German doppelbock-inspired raisin, plum and prune overtones in a winning manner. Candi-sugared Belgian Quad was equally compelling, draping dried fruited plum, date and fig tones atop light hop-spiced caramel malting.

Refreshingly crisp amber-hazed medium body, Summer IPA- Citra, received a dry wood lacquering to protect lemony yellow grapefruit, tangerine and Navel orange illusions above creamy crystal malting.

Convincingly fruitful Barleywine conveyed candied banana, cherry, fig and red grape tones over caramel malt sugaring in a smooth manner.

Before hitting the road, black chocolate-smoked Milk Stout developed a polite dark-roasted coffee nuttiness over time.  

www.czigmeisterbrewing.com

 

MAN SKIRT BREWING

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HACKETTSTOWN, NEW JERSEY

Inside a pristine red-bricked Peoples National Bank on the corner of Main Street in the sleepy Western Jersey village of Hackettstown, MAN SKIRT BREWING became the area’s first new brewpub (since innovative hillside mainstay Long Valley) in October, 2015. As of my November ’16 one-hour jaunt, entrepreneurial brewing owner, Joe Fisher, manned a small stainless-steeled 7-barrel system that countered the custom penny-laminated tasting room bar set up alongside a few walnut tables.

Unlike its bigger-sized competition at Jersey Girl and Czig Meister, Man Skirt relies on a smaller amount of hand-crafted tap brews. But each of the five offerings available this Sunday afternoon were right on the money and wholly worthwhile.

For starters, dainty moderation, Gold Bar Blonde, retained spicy orange fruiting and sour lemon dryness above crisp barley malts, capturing the natural essence of Cascade-Centennial hops.

Peaty dry-bodied Better Than Pants Best Bitter, a lean English pub ale, brought mossy earthen dew to oily hop resin, biscuity wheat malts and gentle nuttiness.

Also leaning on the Brit side, Hop Jostler Fresh Hop IPA caressed caramelized Maris Otter sugaring with dewy mineral graining and dankly citric hop resin.

Sugared fig battled back sour plum over banana-breaded caramel malts for cherished medium-bodied delight, Badunkeldonk Dunkelweizen.

An earthen-grained coffee and chocolate roast permeated lightly creamed, black-malted dark ale, The Great Porter.

The brewing floodgates have opened for New Jersey’s rustic northwest region and no matter what size or shape they may come in, each has its own distinct suds, charm and rural splendor.

manskirtbrewing.com

 

CARTON COSMONAUT RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT

On tap at Poor Henry’s, sinister Russian Imperial distorts sweet brown chocolate setting with hop-charred grain roast and dry-spiced vanilla sweetener for ‘freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream’ sedation. Mild black-malted mocha smokiness, teasing strawberry nip and distant blackberry rip fortify soy-sauced coffee backdrop. Not sure everything’s balanced, but it sure is uniquely qualified to satisfy bolder dark ale imbibers.

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BOULEVARD / FIRESTONE WALKER COLLABORATION NO. 6 BARREL AGED BLEND

On tap at Growler & Gill, pleasing array of Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad’s sweet cherry bruise and white grape souring, Firestone Walker Stickeee Monkee’s warming caramelized barleywine styling and Boulevard Imperial Stout X’s whiskey-aged cherry tartness. Foremost, bourbon-soaked rum spicing and peaty Scotch licks penetrate rich oats-sugared brown chocolate and vanilla creaming (from Firestone’s Velvet Merkin Oatmeal Stout). Mighty fine.