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Saturday, January 1, 2022

Three New Jersey Craft Breweries

One of the new developments for me in 2021 was my increased interest in beer. Specifically, I've been learning about craft brewing, and I'm registered to begin a brewing program through Saint Louis University, starting this month (January 2022). Particularly satisfying has been becoming familiar with some of the many great breweries in my area. Although I've only visited a few tap rooms thus far, I've been buying craft beers through liquor stores to expand my knowledge base. In connection with that, I've been listening to audio books about brewing and beer history, and listen regularly to some podcasts on the topic. In this post I'd like to share about the three New Jersey breweries I've enjoyed visiting so far.

First, there's Wet Ticket Brewing. Located in Rahway, this brewery and taproom is only about 20 to 25 minutes by car from where I live. 

Adam Gonnerman (CC BY 4.0}
The name of this brewery is explained on their website:

“Wet Ticket,” refers to the individuals who ran for office during the 1930's with the intent to repeal prohibition. Thankfully, the people spoke, and once elected, the Wet Party candidates went on to help repeal Prohibition.

This has become my go-to brewery, and not simply because they appear to be the closest to my home. The beer is, generally speaking, really good. They have a decent range to satisfy most tastes, including ales, lagers, and IPAs. My favorites are:

  • Fully Juiced Imperial NEIPA,Wet Ticket Brewing,Adam Gonnerman (CC BY 4.0)
    One Way Ticket (Mosaic)
IPA - New England / Hazy
6.8% ABV
69 IBU
  • Fully Juiced Imperial NEIPA
IPA - New England / Hazy
8.5% ABV
72 IBU
  • Kölsch
5.5% ABV
22 IBU

As you can see, I'm a sucker for a nice, cold, hazy New England IPA. The Kölsch is just a solid beer that I could imagine getting for someone who wants something like mainstream beers...only way better. 

Next up is Highrail Brewing Company of High Bridge, New Jersey.
 The name of this brewery connects with the history of High Bridge as a railroad town, and the borough has even deeper roots going back to the US Revolutionary War and before. You can see their full selection of beers on tap here: highrailbrewing.com/beer, but my favorites thus far have been as follows:
Tart & Thankful, Highrail Brewing Company, 
Adam Gonnerman (CC BY 4.0)

  • Tart & Thankful
Fruit Beer
4.9% ABV
No IBU
  • Trails
IPA - New England / Hazy
7.1% ABV
55 IBU
  • Power's Out Pale Ale
Pale Ale - American
4.5% ABV
42 IBU

My preferences are pretty clear at this point, I'm sure. Although I always imagined that I'd gravitate towards dark ales and stouts, because I have such a fondness for Guinness Draught, it turns out that NEIPAs and sours are more up my alley. 

The third and final brewery I'll highlight is one I'm pretty excited about, because it's both a brewery and a hop farm operation: Readington Brewery & Hop Farm.
via Dan Wightman
Visiting the day after Christmas meant that I didn't get a chance to see hops growing in the field, which is situated next to and behind the brewery itself. Here's a clip from the company website that shows what it looks like in 'full bloom':


I ordered a flight with the first four beers listed on the menu, and next visit I intend to go for the next four, assuming it doesn't change before I get there (which is possible). Of the four, my favorite was The Patriot. It's a clean, fresh American IPA (6% ABV) that hits the spot. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the other beers. Rather, this was the one I liked most. I'm sure as I try more of what they offer I'll be adding to the list.

It would be interesting to work on this farm, perhaps in a 'volunteer' role during some crunch time for the business. I'd like to learn about growing hops, with a view to possibilities for my future. I can't help wondering what an agroforestry design would look like for hop farming. That might be worth pursuing.

Those are the breweries and their beers that I've enjoyed in just the past couple of months. This is new territory for me, and I look forward to learning—and drinking—more.