Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Beer Flows, Food Goes at Beers on the Boards

Patty (3rd from left) had a birthday today!
Give Chris DePeppe credit. When he throws a beer bash, he does it in style. And putting his Beer on the Boards annual fest together at Martell's in Pt. Pleasant is no small undertaking.

Lining up good breweries is critical of course, and there was no shortage of good--even great-- ones here this year. Names familiar to Jersey beer nuts abounded: Carton, Flying Fish, Bolero Snort, Tuckahoe, Beach Haus (East Coast),Cape May and Rinn Duin were just a few. Add to that some nationally known favorites like Ommegang, Blue Point, Southampton, Shipyard, Starr Hill, Sam Adams,Victory, Great Lakes and Brooklyn and the ingredients for a great beer day were there.

The hordes were lining up to get their bracelets and tasting glasses early, but anyone who's been to this event knows that the beer is just one half of the success equation for DePeppe. The other is the food--gourmet and beer-infused food--that comes with the price of a ticket.

Sauerbraten with cabbage and Victory beer, Kielbasa and Kraut made with ECBC's Kickback Ale, Flying Fish Farmhouse Battered Cod, Hot Dogs steeped in beer and even a Mac and Cheese made with Sam Adams Stout were available in two buffet lines. There was even a cider offering called Angry Orchard Chicken with Apples and Bleu Cheese, and a full cider bar outside on the deck.There was also an offering from Horny Goat brewing called WisconZIN, made with zinfandel grapes. It had a wonderful effect on the women, from what I could tell.

Many fests offer food, of course, but none that I have ever attended offers an array like this with such quality, and that, too, is to DePeppe's credit. He works hand-in-hand with Martell's catering to produce the gourmet buffet.

The revelers were apparently impressed as the accompanying pictures will attest, and there are more pictures HERE for the reader to download for free.

There were two bands playing, one outside and one inside, and the one inside had a sax player I mistook for Chum Lee from the TV show Pawn Stars.
Is that Chum Lee?

Jacqui Town of Rinn Duin

Horny Goat Brewing

Making its Journalistic Debut on this day was the brand new magazine called NJ Brew, brainchild of beer artist par excellence Gregg Hinlicky and the peripatetic and professional beerwriter Mark Haynie. Sporting a wide variety of beer articles by beer writing professionals, along with beer features and photos designed to pique the interest of Beer Nuts everywhere, this glossy, high end mag is also FREE. No disrespect intended, but a "brewspaper" this ain't. Hinlicky, Haynie and Co. are to be commended for a great inaugural issue.

Two Beer Beauties reading their favorite article from their new favorite magazine!
In all, a most satisfying day on the boardwalk in Pt. Pleasant, and the weather was nice enough to allow wandering out on the deck, which was as packed as the inside was.

Thank Chris DePeppe, who clearly knows his beer, his food and his audience.

Put this fest on your MUST HIT list for next year.

The PubScout

Friday, March 14, 2014

Joe Canal's Embracing the Beer Revolution

Paulie and the PubScout

I stopped into a Joe Canal's in Woodbridge a few years ago, but I confess here that beer had nothing to do with my visit. I was there to meet Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) of Sopranos' fame as he introduced a new Sopranos wine.The wine was pretty good, too.

But I had to join something called the Bottle Club to get a decent discount on the wine, so I did, figuring I'd never use it again. It was free to join, so who cared?

Because I did, Joe Canal's sends me frequent emails detailing what special wines they're featuring.

And, with increasing frequency, what special beers.

Tom and Chris pull a growler at Joe Canal's

So I took a ride to the Woodbridge store to check out the scene, and I met Tom Broderick, the store manager. We chatted about the 600-700 beers available in Joe Canal's as his beer manager, Chris, drew me a half growler of the superb Southampton Imperial Baltic Porter--just $6.99. I'm drinking it as I type, so please excuse any typos or wild commentary. 7.2% ABV can do strange things, especially in a beer that tastes this good. Tom knew nothing about beer until he got the job, he said. It's a different world to him now.

With a few hundred single bottles of pretty much any beer you've ever heard of, and 600-700 more in the cooler and the aisles, a visit to Joe Canals' will not disappoint in terms of selections. Ola Dubh 12 called out to me from one shelf, and at $8.99, it was like a siren's call.

That growler service is also pretty neat.The change in the beer laws allowed a place like Joe's with a broad "C" license to dispense tap beers. You can get a 32 oz. growler or a standard 64 ouncer. The Purchasing agent decides how the taps get rotated, and you can always find something that suits your fancy.

For The PubScout's money, the 32 oz. bottle is perfect, because I can finish it in one or two sittings. Unless you take special re-seal precautions with a 64 ouncer, your beer could go flat if it sits in your fridge for an extended time.

And there's nothing worse than a beer that has gone flat or bad in a growler, because they only thing you can do with it is discard it.

Which is a cardinal sin, I think.

In addition to the weekly specials Bottle Club members can take advantage of, there are regular weekly special beer tastings that are free to them as well. Check out this whiteboard below:

The store is located on Rt.1 South in Woodbridge, just past Woodbridge Center. The prices for Bottle Club members are moderate, and you can always visit Mike Kivowitz at NJCB to obtain a discount card.

The long and short of it is this: If you're a true beer lover, don't bring any more money into Joe Canal's than you want to spend, because spend it, you will.

The PubScout isn't saying they have every beer in the world. But they're damned close. And very close to my home.

Because my Southampton Imperial Baltic Porter is so delicious, my growler, like my column, is almost done. I have to proofread to make sure I didn't leave anything important out.

What? Oh yeah. Joe Canal's has wine too.  But you can't get fresh growlers of that stuff.

A 32 oz. growler...
The PubScout!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are You "Up" For This?

My Down Under Aussie brother-from-another-mother Kenneth Hart sent me a link to this event in Finland. It's called "Beerfloating." In Finnish, it's dubbed "Kaljaakellunta," and it's a festival where everyone and anyone can jump in a floating vessel filled with their favorite "olut" and glide lazily down a river while enjoying beer and the camaraderie.

The event, which began with only ten rafters, starts in a city called Vantaa and ends, somewhat ironically, in Helsinki. Which is probably akin to something you might yell if your raft, tube or person became unseaworthy--"Hell! I sinki!"

 I don't know if Kenneth has scheduled one of his mind-blowing beer trips to this destination, but it looks like great fun. Go check it, including the video of the rafters in action.

And while you're there, check out the epic trips The Thirsty Swagman offers to the bold and the brave--but not the buffoon. The love of beer can transport you to wonderful places, for sure.

And you can meet all kinds of beer lovers on the journey...say hello to Helga on the right.

The PubScout

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Good Reason to Cross the Delaware

One of The PubScout's favorite annual beerfests is held each year on the banks of the Delaware River at Washington's Crossing State Park. This year's WCB (figure it out) will take place on May 3 from 12:30-4:30. More info is available at the WCB link above.

Though Founding Father George Washington crossed the Delaware in the other direction in 1776--and for a far more critical reason, if the current list of attending breweries is any indication, it appears this fest will be worth another crossing. Once there, we can raise a glass (or twenty) to George.

But please drink responsibly. That advice comes from Hessian Colonel Johann Rall, who, along with his Hessian troops, over-indulged one Christmas. Their unbridled revelry did nothing less than give hope--and birth--to a nation.

See you bankside on May 3!
The PubScout

Monday, March 10, 2014

What's in a Name?

Well, a lot, actually. Especially if you're opening a new brewery at the seashore. NJ fans, please stay seated, because this new brewery isn't even in the Garden State.

And your guess is as good as mine as to why it made the news in a Central Jersey newspaper.

But beer news is beer news, irrespective of location, and if any of you are traveling to Maryland's Ocean City (that's if the warm, sunny weather ever gets here and stays), you might find this interesting.

What I found interesting is that the brewery is named Ocean City Brewing, and the company owner's last name is "Shores."

That's like a ski resort owner with the last name of Snow.
Or a Pizza Place owner named Mozzarella.
Or a Russian Vodka company owner named Nazdorovya.
Or a seafood restaurant owned by a guy named Fishman.
You may not want to, but you get my drift.

Anyway, the new brewery, located on a strip referred to as "the Golden Mile," is set for a March 17 opening.

Erin's sons would never roam,
all the boys would stay at home,
If we only had old Ireland over here!
The PubScout suspects that most of his readers might already have made their plans for that special day.

Like going to an Irish pub owned by a guy named Slainte.

The PubScout

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Better Beering Through "Chemistry"--and Clean Lines

Chemistry works for Florin and Meghan

What kind of chemistry do you get when you pair up a Romanian Greco-Roman wrestler (who holds a degree in robotics engineering) with a beer-savvy Irish lass from Rutgers?

123 spanking clean craft beer taps (with room for 37 more), all efficiently dispensing some of the finest beers from around the globe is all. I'd call that damned fine chemistry.

Not bad for being the result of a blind date. (Florin claims Meghan was "the blind one.")

But if you're not blind and you want to see what a real beer bar looks like, head to Maloney's Pub in Matawan, NJ. That's where owners Florin Lupu and his wife Meghan proffer beers to delight every palate, no matter how seasoned.

Of course that many fine brews did not appear all at the same time. Maloney's has been a work in progress for five years. Roger the barman took my buddy Mark Adamonis and me on a tour of the basement, and it was in the 220-year old "Belly of the Beast" that we saw what an engineering mind can do to store and deliver perfect beer through perpetually cleaned stainless steel lines. Roger even had a sample of one of those lines in his pocket, which he proudly brought out for us to examine.

Roger and his Line

While pictures are allowed anywhere upstairs in this comfortably decorated, deceptively spacious, yet cozy pub, they are not permitted downstairs. But if you visit--and you should--take the tour if offered. The setup will boggle your mind--as it should, given its price tag of nearly $300K. But you will definitely be impressed by the care that has been taken to take care of the beer, to which Florin and Meghan are both devoted. I even saw the last keg of Fruli in the state down there.

Sit at the bar or one of the nearby stool tables and marvel at the draft lines--a two-row system in one section of the bar with taps in front and back. And that's not counting the many taps on the back wall under the TV's. If your eye is sharp (and not dulled like ours were from a glass of Harviestoune Ola Duhb) you might notice the absence of spill trays under the spigots.That's because the beer is designed to flow perfectly--for a perfect pour every time.

No spills!
The Romanian lad and his Irish lass nurture their beers from their keg to your palate, insisting that the beer be fresh and the lines clean; and it's clear that they are on a mission to become one of the top beer bars in the state.

But there's more. Sticklers for freshness in their food as well as in their beer, Maloney's menu also will please a discriminating palate. My Maloney's Burger, accompanied by a Big Muddy Vanilla Stout, was a perfectly done medium rare and absolutely huge.

I found it strange that, although I had heard various solid reports about Maloney's, I had not visited, even though it's a scant 20 minutes from my home. And, because there's no sign that juts out onto Main St., I rode right past it on my first visit. You might, too. But I guarantee you that once you learn where it is, you'll never miss it again.

Meghan allowed that they used to have a sign out, and it was blown down in a windstorm not named Sandy. But they weren't really enamored of the sign and will likely get a new one soon, even though Florin believes that "if your product is good, you don't need to advertise."

Maybe. But folks have to be able to find your product before they can praise it. That --and columns like this--are how "word of mouth" gets spread.

The PubScout was thoroughly impressed with Maloney's and will definitely be back.

Sign or not.

The PubScout