Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

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!

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