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TOMS RIVER BREWING

Toms River Brewing Is Serving Up Their Own Ocean County Path

TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY

Assuming the beige marbled brewhouse previously run by Rinn Duin, TOMS RIVER BREWING took over this novel Jersey Shore chateau-like villa springtime 2019. New owner Jim Mulligan’s transformative grand reopening featured head brewer Bob Warzecha’s newly designed wide ranging ales, utilizing natural fruit extracts and flavoring.

A left side community-tabled Beer Garden (with green umbrellas) edges the narrow pub space. A ten-seat L-shaped bar with speckled gray granite top opposes the windowed brew tanks and a few high top tables line the walls of the high ceilinged room.

My wife and I visited TRB, August ’21, to suck down a dozen varied 5-ouncers in the breezy warmth of the Beer Garden.

A well respected holdover from Rinn Duin, St. John’s Irish Red took perfumed hop-spiced red and orange fruiting to caramelized barley-roasted chocolate and toffee whims.

Delightful light-bodied Koastal Kolsch let sweet-riced maize-flaked pilsner malting receive slightly sour lemon-dried Noble hop herbage and wispy floral-daubed botanicals.

Cali-styled Cascade hops provided perfumed lemon oiling to mash-billed corn flaked Kentucky graining for Cal-Tucky Common Ale, a simple carapils-malted moderation.

Diffident coriander-spiced orange zesting slacks off for soapy At Wits End, a grassy herbal hopped witbier with frail white wheat base.

Traditional Polish smoked wheat ale, Thadeusz Piwo (Ted’s Beer), a low alcohol ‘grodiskie,’ promoted beechwood-charred blackened rye graining over proper phenol hop astringency.

Summery watermelon-pureed Jolly Rancher bubblegum knockoff, The Gnar Watermelon Gose, a sea-salted Sour Patch-candied libation with earthen herbal frisk.

Sea-salted peach puree souring guided The Dude Peach Gose, relegating lemony grapefruit bittering.

Tart Belgian-styled hybrid, Celtic Sunrise Blood Orange Pale Ale, rendered salty blood orange, tangerine and clementine spicing for its light herbal soothe.

Sessionable yogurt-soured New England IPA, Gimme Mo,’ brought Motueka-hopped guava, gooseberry and green grape tartness to herb-licked pale malt spicing.

Floral-perfumed citrus spicing guarded white IPA, Windy Seas, forwarding its brisk lemon spritz to the cracker-like spine.

Limey mango salting picked up earthen herbal compost reminder for lactic IPA, Takes Two To Mango, leaving grassy hop astringency on its mild fruited tropicalia.      

Bold dry-hopped Imperial IPA (9% ABV), New Beginnings, placated its sweetly soured passionfruit-addled melon scurry and lemony grapefruit bittering with floral-bound pine tones above plentiful caramel malt sugaring.

 

BATTLE RIVER BREWING

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TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY

Inhabiting a red brick-based Main Street storefront in Toms River, BATTLE RIVER BREWING opened its doors August ’20. Utilizing a crisply clean water source second to none, head brewer Ian Barlet specializes in an interesting assortment of eclectic stylized brews, salty oceanic elixirs, hard seltzers, shandys and a beer-cider hybrid.

The red brick-walled interior features an art deco black ceiling, hanging Edison lights, exposed pipes and a narrow hallway leading to the back-sided beer tanks. At its gray granite top bar are 30-plus tap handles, a blackboard beer menu and centralized TV. There are windowed community tables for extra seating.

My wife and I sat down for some sassy suds August ’21.

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Unconventional German pilsner, Mariner, allocated sweet rice-wined corn sugaring for herbal-hopped green peppering.

Traditional New Zealand-styled pilsner, Haka, a dry-hopped lightweight, let salted lime zest provide tart zing to its soft white wheat base.

Aluminum golden-hued dry lager, Battle Light, segued lemondrop candied piquancy into mineral grained maize astringency.

Dry Mexican-styled Vienna lager, Rio Bueno, placated its sweet corn frontage with white wine esters, herbal agave nectars and mild maize astringency.

Spritzy hybridized hefeweizen, River Lady Ruby Red Grapefruit, took its lightly spiced grapefruit adjunct to salty lemon-limed souring contrasting stylish banana-clove sweetness.

Subtle orange-peeled lavender and tart strawberry plied hybridized witbier, Wartime, a lightly sugar-spiced moderation.

Salted blueberry subtlety and lemony white peach tartness secured the clean-watered Kveik yeast-based Bluecoat Blueberry, a saison-inspired blonde ale with dry wheat-chaffed straw leathering.

Salt-watered raspberry and blueberry pureed fruit ale, Main St. Mosaics, allowed sour New Zealand hops to add abrupt limey gooseberry-guava tartness.

“Crushable” red-cleared kettle sour, Courthouse, brought tart blackberry adjunct to vinous green grape esters and cucumber-watered earthiness for mouth-puckered succulence.

Flagship IPA, Patriot, gave its straight-up lemony orange peeled grapefruit bittering a dank piney hop astringency and herbal-spiced floral flutter.

Easygoing East Coast IPA, Irons Street, daubed its vodka-licked citrus tang with wood lacquered residue and jasmine snips over syrupy pale malt sweetness.

Uniquely offbeat Belgian dubbel, River Root Bier, a crossbred cane-sugared soda alternative, dangled raisin, prune and plum sweetness alongside Jamaican sarsaparilla, sassafras birch, wild cherry bark and dandelion root.

Brown-sugared cinnamon anchored Snow Melter, a spiced-up Belgian strong ale, coalesced nutmeg, cardamom and ginger above dainty pilsner malting.

Combining chocolate, coffee and Madagascar vanilla, Headquarter Porter picked up toffee-spiced sweetness and tertiary cola nut, coconut and hazelnut illusions.

Richly rewarding chocolate raspberry porter, Robbins Street, forwarded bittersweet molasses-daubed cocoa nibs creaming to tart raspberry-pureed blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry licks.

Wildflower-honeyed dark chocolate enriched nitro stout, Bayonet, a smooth espresso-like nightcap with ancillary coffee, toffee and sarsaparilla tones.   

RINN DUIN BREWING

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TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY

Open since January 2014, Toms River-based RINN DUIN BREWING (named after a famous Irish castle and since 2019 operating as Toms River Brewing) crafted sessionable English-styled ales as well as approachable barrel-aged elixirs, a few hybridized treats and anything that struck their fancy. For their first anniversary, entrepreneurial father-daughter combo, Chip and Jacqui Town, created an approachable candi-sugared Belgian Dubbel using Irish barley, English hops and Irish yeast called Black Thorn.

Local disabled marine, Charlie Ryan, recently took over head brewing chores from veteran homebrewer, Ryan Michaels (formerly of Sly Fox). And as of my July 2015 visit, the brewery now bottles two of its year-round mainstays and a few specialties.

Inside a tan-hued, maroon-trimmed edifice behind Bacchus Winery, Rinn Duin’s just three-and-a-half miles west of the New Jersey Parkway on Route 37. Its Irish shillelagh-topped tap handles serve the wood-floored Tasting Room, a cozy area with a beautiful hand-made silver tin ceiling, wood-shelved beer bottle collection, several Irish themed photographs and one TV. A 25-barrel brewing setup presently takes up some of the 6,500 square-foot space.

Rinn Duin’s United Kingdom-inspired bottled selections (reviewed fully in Beer Index) included yellow-fruited Lawnmower English Blonde, mocha-dried Sandpaper English Brown, caramel-toasted St. John’s Irish Red and coffee-roasted Pota Caife Dry Irish Coffee Stout.

Alongside each of the aforementioned bottled selections tried on draught, three more worthy elixirs were quaffed as 4-ounce samplers and then by pint glass.

Peat whiskey-malted Trinity Scottish 70 brought serene kiln-smoked campfire residue to crisp tobacco-roasted reedy hops and poppy-seeded Scotch licks. Light-roasted coffee beans influenced Hiberian Dry Irish Stout, a sweeter selection than Pota Caife that gathered black patent malts, dark chocolate, powdered cocoa and charred oats.

Before departing, easygoing Bourbon Pota (aged in Elijah Craig barrels) blended dark-roasted coffee beans with oats-dried brown chocolate and a subtle hint of bourbon.

Making some of the most consistently rewarding and authentic mild ales, Rinn Duin will easily satisfy anyone with a hankering for crisp Brit-styled nectar.

www.rinnduinbrewing.com

 

ARTISAN’S BREWERY & ITALIAN GRILL

NEW JERSEY – SOUTH

Located in a freestanding gold Mediterranean stucco building at Toms River-based Seacourt Pavilion, ARTISAN’S BREWERY & ITALIAN GRILL began as Basil T’s (originally visited September 2004 during  extensive Garden State journey initiated at another easterly seabound alehouse in central Jersey, Woodbridge’s J.J. Bitting).

By 2010, the Gregorakis family, owners of Basil T’s, changed their upscale brewery-grill to ARTISAN’S in order to avoid confusion with nearby Red Bank’s similarly named brewery.

On first stopover, my wife and I enjoyed the casual intimacy of this recommended midsize eatery (with private cigar lounge). At dimly lit piano bar, we sampled the nicely diversified and oft-times delicate brews emanating from the leftside brew tanks. Along with family-styled Italian food (Marguerite pizza/ Giambotta), dry-spiced wheat husker Barnegat Light Ale; sourly lemon-bruised caramel roaster Toms River Red Ale; muted orange-peach-melon-fruited, mildly Cascade-hopped American Pale Ale;  praline-honeyed, hazelnut-buttered, macadamia-sugared Nut Brown Ale; light-spiced, wheat-sullen Sunset Ale; and dry orange-bruised, lemon-tart Hefeweizen easily passed muster. These beer recipes would soon take a major step up.

Upon July ’08 revisit, Climax Brewery brewmaster Dave Hoffmann was brought onboard to improve the quality and diversity of Basil T’s (now Artisan’s) new-fashioned beer selection. Along with Cobb Salad and Flatbread Mediterranean Pizza, quaffed lemony plantain-fronted, fig-date-receded, dry-bodied Basil T’s Light Ale, white-breaded, grassy-hopped, mineral-grained, lemon-perfumed Helles Lager, balmy sweet ‘n sour banana-centered, lemon-bruised, cereal-grained, chocolate-malted Dunkelweizen, and red-yellow-fruited caramel-malted Maibock.

Better still were spritz-y lemon-hopped, banana-breaded, malt-lacquered Hefeweizen (served with an orange slice), mildly coffee-roasted, orange-dried, fennel-tapered, earthen-finishing, Irish-styled Red Ale and honey-roasted, banana-blustered, floral-spiced, hop-embittered English Extra Special Ale. After lunch, relished soft-hopped, wood-dried, apple-orange-pear-brightened West Coast Style IPA.

On my June ’11 stopover, I took a seat at the U-shaped, slate-topped central bar to try delicious feta-stuffed lamb meatballs and cream of mushroom soup with five soft, approachable beers and one robust Bavarian pils.

“I concentrate on making well-balanced beer,” brewer Dave Hoffmann claimed as he tendered a newly brewed German Pilsner that retains a bold hop-embittered aggression to counter its crisp rye graining and dainty lemon-rotted grapefruit wisp.

Hoffmann doesn’t try to hit you over the head with outrageous hop bittering or obnoxious alcohol persistence, keeping beer profiles accessible to mainstream customers as well as obliging aficionados. Though his springtime weizenbock and maibock were gone by time I arrived, tart banana bubble-gummy Hefeweizen (with its perfume-hopped green apple and white grape nuances) nicely sufficed.

Best selling standard fare still includes grassy-hopped, yellow-fruited, alfalfa-dried, barnyard-leathered Artisan’s Lite Ale and subtle pine-needled, red-fruited, biscuit-buttered West Coast IPA. Better still were peanut-shelled, walnut-bound, chocolate-chipped, molasses-backed Nut Brown Ale and ESB-like, caramel-toasted, coffee-roasted, wood-grained Artisan’s Red Ale.

After a long July ’11 week of body surfing in Long Beach Island, headed north to Toms River and once again perused Artisan’s for lunch. Seated directly behind the brew tanks with family, I noticed a beautiful canvass-like mural exhibiting the brewing process (spread across the interior wall above our heads). The goat cheese salad was delightful, as was my wife’s Mediterranean pizza.

Getting down to business, brewer Dave Hoffmann supplied a newfangled English-Style IPA that truly hit its stylistic mark. Its mild mineral-watered crispness centered the amiable spice-hopped yellow fruiting, grainy pumpernickel breading, mossy black tea herbage and veering nutty undertones.

Better still, Hoffmann’s 10th Anniversary Dunkelweizen reigned supreme. Boasting an unanticipated hop-roasted coffee entry, its ashen mocha malting saddles earthen red, purple and Muscat grape esters with lively banana-pureed black cherry, burgundy and Merlot illusions for a bold, yet congenial, template.

At mid-afternoon on a Saturday in March, 2012, my wife and I settled at Artisan’s after perusing Carton Brewery half an hour north. We get seated in the intimate left dining area, a cozily romantic space where I down brewer Dave Hoffmann’s two latest libations. (Cigar aficionados should be advised that a sectioned off area accommodates smokers.)

I’ve always found Hoffmann’s general fare to be refined and soft-toned. And the man who splits time fronting Climax Brewery would not disappoint this time.

The amiable Artisan Bock balanced mild chocolate-roasted coffee tones with sugared fig, dried cherry, musty grape and wafting cellar dew. Arguably better, coffee-roasted dark chocolate leanings and earthen peat malts secured Baltic stout-like Chocolatey Porter, a waterier dark ale crowding hazelnut, peanut and macadamia undertones in a crisply clean manner.

I’m completely full after chowing down Artisan’s incredibly generous $14 Early Bird Special consisting of rich mushroom soup, Bleu cheese salad, stuffed flounder (with spinach and feta cheese) and strawberry-topped cheesecake. I don’t even sample my wife’s Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza (gathering hummus, olives, roasted peppers, caramelized onions and feta) until I reach home nearly an hour later.

After visiting Hoffman at Climax, drove half-hour down to Artisan’s to try two new offerings. Just slightly more aggressive than Climax IPA, easily approachable WaCoCiCaN! IPA combined high alpha Warrior hops, wood-toned Columbus hops, citric Centennial hops, floral-fruited Cascade hops and experimental Newport hops for a lemony orange-grapefruit tang resonating above caramelized Vienna malts and celery watering with proper acidic astringency.

For dessert, milky cocoa-fronted Hazelnut Oatmeal Stout let black chocolate, vanilla and espresso overtones and ancillary chocolate mint, cappuccino, coconut and biscotti oatmeal illusions receive tar-like hop bittering in the dewy midst.

www.artisanstomsriver.com