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.