CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NEW JERSEY
Just off Route 9 inside a red cinder-blocked, bay-doored, light industrial warehouse in Cape May Court House, COHO BREWING CO. celebrated its first anniversary January ’20.
Situated only a few miles from Cape May Brewing and 7 Mile Brewery, Coho crafts some of Jersey’s finest, well-rounded beers.
The creation of 1982 Wildwood High grads Karen Buckingham and retired cop Mike Johnson, their simple concept was to get non-beer drinkers to enjoy approachably flavorful fare. Buckingham had hired Johnson in the past to do barbecues when he was a kitchen-bound home brewer.
She asked the reluctant Johnson, “If I buy big boy toys, will you brew for me?”
Thereafter, Coho Brewing came to fruition. Brewmaster Justin Low (formerly of Dock Street and Westchester’s Iron Hill) stepped onboard to set up equipment and was key to coordinating development. He’ll soon help in the Imminent expansion thru Coho’s right side wall.
The cement-floored pub house features an L-shaped fifteen-seat bar with fourteen centralized tap handles, three wood community tables, overhead door and high ceilings. The brew tanks are set up next to the serving station and a TV hangs from the front mezzanine.
Taking a cue from the Court House moniker and Johnson’s stint in law enforcement, Coho’s beers often have criminal justice system tag names.
My wife and I explore Coho while conversing with Buckingham-Johnson as the pub packs up on Saturday afternoon Leap Year ‘ 20.
Respectfully “duping” Prism Shandy Blonde, Spatter Pattern Blonde Ale utilized sweet ‘n sour blood orange puree to elevate its lemon candied Radler-like soda fizz and ripe tangerine tang above white-sugared pale malt spicing. Previously, Spatter Pattern’s Blonde Ale base underscored 5-0 Pineapple Ale (while a future offshoot, Apple Cinnamon, is in the works).
White-peppered banana, bubblegum and clove saddled moderate-bodied Hung Jury Hefe, bringing slight vanilla creaming upon sweet orange peel and earthy herbal subsidies.
Crisply clean Finnish farmhouse ale, Chalk Outline Sahti, stayed subtle as rye-honeyed pale malts gained peppery banana-clove subtleties and mild juniper berry bittering.
Caramelized vanilla creaming engaged Nineteenth Amendment Dubbel, a candi-sugared delight with dainty Banana’s Foster, crème brulee, stewed plum, spiced fig, spruce tea and toffee illusions.
Combining Hung Jury Hefe with Splatter Pattern Blood Orange Blonde Ale created Mistrial, a spritzy Radler with sweet honeyed wheat, lemon bruised ginger and wispy banana-clove tones relegating its blood orange tartness.
Merlot wine-barreled blonde ale collaboration (with nearby Jesse Creek Winery), Thin Blue Vine let tannic purple grape esters pervade oaken cherry, white pear and lemon-soured blackberry wisps.
Dewy floral citrus pleasantries daintily suffused Indian Trail Pale Ale, buttressing limey orange-dried coconut and pineapple tropicalia with dank wood dryness.
Approachable yellow-hazed flagship, Hazeas Corpus NEIPA, a concise Cascade-Mosaic-Citra-hopped moderation, brought coniferous pine needling to juicy grapefruit, pineapple, tangerine, mango and peach tang as well as salted orange spunk.
Quirkily unconventional stylistically, floral-perfumed cologne spicing and sprucy juniper bittering inveigled zesty lemon-limed orange juicing for muskily bold Juror No. 1 NEIPA, leaving herbal lemongrass, candied grapefruit and pine oil on the dry pale malt back end.
Aged in white oak staves and soaked in Back Bay Bourbon, Speakeasy Blonde Ale retained a rummy bourbon vanilla lilt for its lemony white wine spritz and delicate dry pale malts.
Aged in rum, embraceable spice ale, NOI-Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity, let mild spruce-tipped juniper bittering contrast vanilla-creamed Jamaican allspice as well as ginger-snapped cocoa residue.
Dark-roast chocolate and dried coca nibs fortified Overruled Porter, sweetened by hazelnut-glazed maple oats at the richly dense mocha finish. By the way, mixing vanilla cream soda with Overruled Porter creates a deliciously creamy milk chocolate shake with molasses, toffee and gingerbread snips.