Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Small Venue, Big Purpose

JJ Bittings owner Mike Cerami must have a direct line to the weather gods or maybe even God Himself. His annual Central Jersey BeerFest, held in the relatively small confines of Parker Press Park in Woodbridge at this time of year, is known for bringing good weather with it. In fact, I've been going to this event for years, and I can't remember a bad weather day.

Twelve breweries were on hand: Bittings, Uno, Cricket Hill, Cypress, Tun Tavern, Long Valley, Demented, Forgotten Boardwalk, Captain Lawrence, Brooklyn, Clown Shoes and a newbie to the event--Fire Island. 

The crowds were enjoying the beers, the food stands, the Paint A Face, the Bouncy House and the bands as well as the great weather
--not too hot, and with a nice breeze wafting across this "postage stamp' park beneath the tracks of NJ transit.

I met NJ's own Gary Rosen, who brought five of the breweries in himself. Rosen likes this event due to the  relatively intimate confines of the site, a fact that limits the amount of breweries that can offer their wares. But there's an upside to that, according to Rosen.  "It's small, friendly and nobody comes here to get wasted. Everybody is nice here." 

I chatted with Uno's Brewmaster Mike Sella, who allowed that his hefeweizen was doing a land office business. All the vendors seemed to have healthy lines waiting to sample their liquid wares, and Bittings' own Bad Boy Oktoberfest-- a PubScout favorite-- was particularly busy.

But maybe Cerami's event is weather-blessed because of its annual purpose--to help someone in need, and this year the foundation that will be the beneficiary of Cerami's efforts is one called "For The Love of David." There was a phalanx of "Tricky Tray" items dedicated to the same purpose--combating autism.

I chatted briefly with David's grandfather, Louis Zannillo, who had a seat at the entrance. When I asked about his thoughts regarding Cerami's efforts for his grandson, his heartfelt comment was, "A thousand thanks would not be enough."

Cerami has been the prime mover of this festival and its laudable goals for many years, and he's received the thanks of not only other beneficiaries and city fathers, but of beer nuts as well. 

If a guy with a big heart is doing good things with beer, it only seems fair that God cuts him a break with the weather every year.

The PubScout

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