LITTLE EGG HARBOR, NEW JERSEY
At Little Egg Harbor’s Great Bay Business Park in a beige aluminum warehouse with red awning lies PINELANDS BREWING COMPANY, a nanobrewery looking to expand to a 7-barrel brew system by May 2016. Presently, Pinelands raw space contains an office area, brew tank room and tap room (with slate-topped bar, picnic table, small community table and green-walled beer bottles).
Brewmaster Jason Chapman utilizes exquisite locally sourced water to craft an ever-changing lineup of well-rounded brews. As of my April ’16 one-hour stopover, Chapman’s already created 30-plus elixirs in a few months.
Two fine flagship beers initially caught my senses. Easygoing Pitch Pine Pale Ale brought lemony orange tang to mild leafy hop pungency, subtle pine resin and wispy herbal restraint. Bright ‘n lively Evergreen IPA bettered Pitch Pine with its crisper clean-watered minerality underlining juicy grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering and woody dry-hopped astringency.
Smoked rye malts and peppery nuances gave Rye Nugget Pale Ale a certain uniqueness as its carbolic spritz tickled the nose while the diacetyl vegetal tinge never seemed out of place. Coming on like a beefed-up amber ale, perhaps, Sharpshooter IPA provided an apricot tea-like sweetness for caramel malts, leafy hops, dewy peat and dried fig.
Gathering spiced yellow fruiting, caramelized pilsner malts and grassy hops, Bueno Con Taco (a moderate-bodied lager) must’ve been made to go alongside simple Mexican dishes since it’s light flavor doesn’t overwhelm snack foods.
Great Bay IRA (Imperial Red Ale) softened its astringent black tea-like hop bittering with caramel-roasted sweetness, tangy peach-apple-grape conflux and crisp tobacco respite.
Perhaps my personal fave, Evan John Porter, let toffee-spiced vanilla bean sweetness pick up sugared coffee, Kahlua, caramel latte, hazelnut, cappuccino and Coca-Cola tones above its dewy earthen base.
Not to be outdone, Zero Shuck Oyster Stout provided creamy oyster-shelled sinew for its black patent-malted dark chocolate, cocoa bean and vanilla overtones and bitter French-roast coffee sedation.