Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Flying Fish Flying High

As per a recent press release:


CHERRY HILL, NJ – New Jersey’s largest craft brewery, Flying Fish Brewing Company (1940 Olney Avenue, 856-489-0061), recently returned from the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, CO with two medals for its acclaimed beers. The medals, including a gold for their Exit 4 American Tripel, come on the heels of Men’s Journal magazine naming Exit 4 “Best Belgian-Style Beer in America.”
“At Flying Fish, we’re proud to hail from the great state of New Jersey, and we’re even more proud to bring recognition to our home state at the GABF and in the pages of Men’s Journal,” says Muller. “We said that the Exit Series would be one-and-done beers, but if we get overwhelmed with requests for more, there's a good chance people will see Exit 4 in 6 packs early next year.”
In addition to honoring Exit 4 American Tripel with a gold medal for “American Belgo-Style Ale,” the GABF judges awarded Flying Fish’s popular Hopfish a bronze medal for “Classic English Style Pale Ale.”
Created by head brewer Casey Hughes, Exit 4 American Tripel is named for the exit nearest Flying Fish Brewing Company’s headquarters, and is Belgian-inspired to represent their role as one of America’s first craft breweries to embrace Belgian-style beers. The series will continue with three or four beers a year to eventually encompass all turnpike exits; other entries have included Exit 11 Hoppy American Wheat.
Flying Fish was the world’s first ‘virtual’ microbrewery, establishing an Internet presence as early as 1995. That presence helped to generate press interest and woo investors to the fledgling brewery, which would not open for business until late 1996. Today, Muller and his team oversee four full-time styles, as well as a variety of seasonal beers. Their brews have been featured at the Great British Beer Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival and Canada’s Biere de Mondial Festival. They have won medals at the Great American Beer Festival, Real Ale Festival and the World Beer Championships, and are the only New Jersey brewery featured in Best American Beers. Flying Fish was recently named “Local Hero: Beverage Artisan of 2009” by Edible Jersey magazine.
For more information about Exit 4, Hopfish or any of Flying Fish’s beers, please visit them online at or call (856) 489-0061.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trap Rock celebrates Oktoberfest

I just got this information from Melissa at one of my favorite Jersey brewpubs--Trap Rock in Berkeley Heights. To my great dismay, I will be unable to participate due to a prior engagement, but I heartily recommend this place.

Herewith, Melissa's missive:

Hi guys!

Some of you may have already heard, but we have scheduled (and RE-scheduled) our Octoberfest Beer Dinner for Tuesday, October 27th at 6:30 p.m.

This year's Trap Rock Octoberfest Beer Dinner will feature brews from Stone Brewery in California.

The dinner is $65 per person, including 6 courses, tax, gratuity, and of course, ENDLESS BEER!

My list is already growing rather quickly, so sign up ASAP!

You can either call Trap Rock and ask for me (Melissa) (908) 665-1755

or call Amanda, our party-planner, at (908) 418-2195

OR just belly up to the bar and I'll sign you up while you swill some of Captain Dunkin's Scottish Ale (which is tasting mighty fine this year...)

Here's the menu:

Salad of Pickled Beets

Kholrabi & Goat Cheese Ravioli

Poached Trout

Chanterelles & Chamomile

Monkfish "Schnitzel"

Braised Red Cabbage, Lemon & Caper

Confit of Moulard Duck

Warm Salad of Poached Pears, Duck Prosciutto, & Frisee

Red Wine Poached Pork Loin

Poppy Seed Spaetzle & Cognac Prunes

(Desert TBD...)

To all you Veggies - You know we'll accommodate your needs, just please let us know beforehand.

Hope to see you all there!


If you can make this event, I doubt you will be disappointed in any way.

Ein Prosit der Gemutlichkeit!

This Friday, October 2...Basil T's Toms River..THE definitive NJ Oktoberfest! Dirndl Beauties, Oompah Band, Steve Farley's exceptional cuisine, Dave Hoffman's superb brews, two owners with the same name--what's not to like!

Click on the link above and call today to reserve!

Ein Prosit der Gemutlichkeit!

(and an Opa!-Opa!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Only if you're a BIG beer dog...

My Down-Under beer buddy Ken Hart has a site that all serious beer nuts with a yen for travel need to see...

And if you can't hunt with the big dogs, stay on the porch.


Pub Crawls, Beer Trips & Tours, Beer Travel & Holidays, Australian Pub Crawls, European Beer Tours, Oktoberfest, Around The World Beer Festivals & Vacations

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Big Boys of Media get on Board--only a decade late..

I noticed the video link below as I was trolling for news this morning, and I couldn't stifle a chuckle. There was a video story about the only BOP (Brew on Premise) operation in NJ--The Brewer's Apprentice in Freehold. I hearkened back to 1998, when I published the first story about this remarkable place and the remarkable women who run it. It was titled "The Women Clean Up" and, to this day, the ladies at the BA feature that story which helped promote this most unique idea. Fun, rewarding and educational for the customer, profitable for the proprietors and definitely worthy of more publicity--even a decade late--The Brewer's Apprentice experience is a worthwhile one for all beer lovers.

You can read my column about it--FROM 11 YEARS AGO--here. And here's hoping the gals at BA are well and doing well!


The Brewer's Apprentice lets customers make their own beer - Video | The Star-Ledger Videos -

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hailey's Harp and Pub still MIA

I made a quick trip out to beautiful downtown Metuchen Saturday night in hopes of walking into a brand new, much-anticipated Irish Pub.

No deal.

The place was dark and boarded up with nothing in the way of notice as to when it should be up and running. I didn't even see a Coming Soon! sign. Shame, too.

I had a parking spot right in front of the place.

Oh well. Good things come to those who wait, I suppose. In the meantime, you can get your own updates here.

Judging by those pics, we may be waiting until Thanksgiving.

Don't Forget the Cask Session Saturday!

Mike Sella and the Uno's crew are prepping for their September Cask Session at the Rt. 1 Brewery. Go here for details!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Oktoberfest!

Pop open a Spaten or a SA O-fest, click below and enjoy these pictures of the world's largest folk festival...

Click the Chevy Chase link to the right for a good laugh!

Happy Oktoberfest

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Make Room for Daddy at the CJB!

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

On a sparkling Indian (can we still say that, or is there some more PC term now?) Summer day that has to be among the best five days of 2009 so far, and after spending five hours of it at Parker Press Park in Woodbridge, NJ, three things have become crystal clear to this American Indian writer:

First, God must have His own barstool at JJ Bittings, because it's obvious that Mike Cerami and God are on a first-name basis regarding the weather. Second, As quaint, shady and convenient as it is, Parker Press Park may have to yield its spot to a larger venue that can accommodate a lot more NJ beer lovers. And third, any Jersey brewer who doesn't jump on this Beer Bandwagon is only hurting itself.

Last year's fest was a winner by anyone's reckoning, and word of its success undoubtedly led to the overflow crowds that attended this one. The lines to get in snaked outside the park and up Woodbridge Ave. all the way to Main Street. Even at 2:30 PM with the Fest almost half over, there were patrons lined up to gain access to the beers of seven brewers smart enough to show up. Had those brewers anticipated the numbers of the crowd this day, they undoubtedly would have brought much more beer to satisfy the thirsty throngs. As it was, three of the seven had to check out early because their supplies ran out. And by 4:30 Only three diehards remained: Bittings, Boak's and Uno's. Harvest Moon, River Horse, Tun and Cricket Hill had exhausted their brew and packed it in an hour early.

The lines for beer stretched across the midriff of this pocket park, from the taps to the food concessions, often intermingling with each other. But nobody was complaining because the lines moved pretty quickly, the attendees were extraordinarily convivial, and the cause was a good one, as all proceeds went to a family who lost their two-year-old child to cancer, racking up some formidable bills during the battle.

Speaking of the food concessions, a newcomer called Fun Food Concessions did a land office business, providing what Amy of Hillsborough said was "absolutely the best cheesesteak I've ever had." This cheesesteak lover would concur. The husband and wife team of Vinnie and Lisa Torio cranked out food continuously, varying their fare from the aforementioned cheesesteaks to sausage sandwiches to funnel cakes to Fried Oreo cookies. Vinnie's a carpenter by trade but he should have a very profitable sideline gig in the food business, too.

As happened last year, Boak's was the clear choice of many of the Festgoers early on, and the affable, lanky Brian brought plenty of his exceptional brews to satisfy his increasing number of devotees. Two Blind Monks, Double BW, Abbey Brown (7% ABV) and Monster Mash (10% ABV) saw tremendous action as Brian, at times imitating a carnival barker, lured people in to hear all about his beers. Those beers will now be distributed by Kohler Distributing to the seven northern NJ counties Boak calls his "catchment area." Two Blind Monks won a Bronze medal out at the LA Beer Competition a while back, and he's got Jan's Porter coming out soon. The Abbey Brown is not technically true to style, as Boak only brews beers that he likes to drink. "It's lighter and thinner than a true Abbey, without the syrupy sweetness commonly associated with the style," said Boak. "It's less cloying." His Monster Mash, a Russian Imperial Stout, was 21 months old, and was an absolute joy to taste. Boak screens his potential customers, and is not averse to directing them to another brewer when they ask for something specific—like a pale ale. "Go to that guy," he advises, pointing to the next booth, "because I don't make that beer."

Another brewer who sported long, long lines was Mike Sella of Uno's on Rt. 1 near Menlo Park Mall. Mike had his Oktoberfest on tap and it was clearly a crowd favorite. His recipe for this year's version changed from his usual ale yeast to a genuine lager yeast, and the difference was clearly noticeable. Ordinarily a good Oktoberfest beer, this year's qualifies as an exceptional one, and should please a lot of palates at Uno's October 12 beer dinner—cooking courtesy of Moshe. The always-reliable Ike's IPA and 32-inning Ale were also on hand.

Bitting's brews were big crowd faves , too, though Augie Lightfoot heard plenty of disappointed voices when they discovered his award-winning Bad Boy Oktoberfest was not yet ready for prime time. They might be even more disappointed when they learn that Augie himself is getting ready to turn his job over to someone else as he's "burned out," and wants to spend more time with his kids. Augie's been good for Bittings, and though Mike Cerami will surely miss him, Mike will get a brewer who can continue Bittings' fine brewing traditions.

Beer writer par excellence Mark Haynie was up from Atlantic County, helping Tun Tavern with its distribution. Tun's dark was a very interesting and tasty beer that would make a great session beer. Harvest Moon's sole offering, a Pumpkin Ale, was remarkably good, even for those, like yours truly, who aren't normally big pumpkin fans. I could easily see this beer on my Thanksgiving table and on the coffee table helping me deal with another loss by the Detroit Lions.

Mike Cerami, the fest organizer, was joined by Woodbridge Mayor John McCormack and Councilmen Greg Ficarra and Rick Dalina when all took part in helping distribute beer for the cause. Cerami, asked if this fest exceeded his expectations, responded with, "Definitely! It's been great! Excellent, in fact!" Pics here.

This writer would agree. And giving credit where it's due, the Porta-Pottie situaton was MUCH better this year, as no one was left doing a Two-Step Fandango while waiting for an open loo. My only complaint in that area is why the porta-pottie people designed their booths without a single flat surface to rest your beer on. I mean, a guy has to be able to set his beer down while he tends to business, Mr. John. Yeah, he could bring a buddy, but guys don't hit the head en masse like the gals do. So you either set your beer down and hope nobody even lightly jostles the Loo, or you hold your beer in one hand and take care of business with the other. Either way, it's not a condfidence-building situation....

As I did last year, I bicycled to the Fest from my home. Parking was a breeze, and I avoided any chance of a DWI. But if this Fest gets any bigger, I may have to change my mode of transportation.

I ain't biking to the Meadowlands.

©Kurt Epps 2009 All rights reserved

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spaten Still Rocks the Oktoberfest Haus

If you've been paying attention, you know that this is Oktoberfest season. If you need a refresher, check out Joe Sixpack's (Don Russell's) column today. Marzens, especially at this wonderful Indian Summer time of the year, are my favorites. I've talked about Dave Hoffman's superb rendering of the style, I've paid homage to Jim Koch and his Octoberfest, and I anxiously await tomorrow's Central Jersey BeerFest, where I expect to sample some of Augie Lightfoot's (JJ Bittings) Bad Boy and Mike Sella's (Uno's) Oktoberfest.


But a mandatory trip to Costco recently caused me to stumble upon a real treasure: Spaten Ur-Marzen (Oktoberfest). What's more, it was selling for $23.99 a case—a buck a bottle! For my money, it is still the champion of German Marzens, and for THAT money, it's crazy not to buy ten cases and start your own Oktoberfest celebration right in your neighborhood.


I'm not alone in that assessment of Spaten either. Dave "Ein Prosit" Hoffman and his father Kurt "Gemutlichkeit" Hoffman both contend that Spaten stands in a class by itself among the Marzens of Die Faderland. Coincidentally, Joe Sixpack himself featured Spaten as his beer of the week today.


Now I don't get a penny from Spaten for saying this, but don't let late September or October go by without trying this baby. As you might expect, it goes great with brats of any kind and complements chicken exceptionally well. I like it with Sauerbraten and Weinerschnitzel, too. I like it alone. A lot.


If you want to see what an authentic Oktoberfest tastes like, pick up some Spaten Ur-Marzen. At Costco, you'll save big bucks, and you might even see the new line of Kirkland Beers—a hefe, an amber, a pale and a German lager—brewed by The New York Brewery in Utica, NY. (That usually indicates a contract brew by F.X. Matt.) A case of Kirkland is just $18.99.


I was going to try some. Really. But there was no room in my cart with all the Spaten. And the missus insisted that we actually purchase some food.


I'll try it next time—maybe. Because while the Kirkland will probably always be available, the Spaten may not.


Ein Prosit Der Gemutlichkeit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The "Stupid" Drink idea

My buddy Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) offers up this gem for consideration in the attempt to combat underage abuse of beer. I have long maintained that that particular demographic has just said "No!" to the "Just Say No" approach. Maybe The Stupid Drink idea will catch on. I especially liked his checklist at the end. See if you do by clicking the link below.

Cheers till next time!


Joe Sixpack - Reporting and drinking beer in Philly and beyond

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pub Grand Opening Pushed Back

Hailey's Harp and Pub, set to open its doors on Metuchen's Main Street this Saturday (9/12) has announced that their Grand opening will be pushed back one week to September 19. Might be a good place to hit after spending the afternoon at the Central Jersey BeerFest in Woodbridge's Parker Press Park....


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009 Central Jersey Beer Fest

Beer lovers, you don't have to be from Central Jersey to enjoy this fabulous festival. In fact, if you can access NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line, you don't even have to drive, as the event is adjacent to the Woodbridge Train Station stop on that venerated line. That also makes the voyage home safer. All manner of beer cognoscenti attend this fest to sample some of the best beers in the state, and the money is donated to a local charity.

Last year's BeerFest was virtually perfect and the Fall weather was outstanding. My only suggestion is to make sure there are more Porta-Potties to make sure the revelers are not "outstanding," if you get my drift.

See you there!



2009 Central Jersey Beer Fest