Category Archives: NJ Beer Brewers

Augie Carton of Carton Brewing on How Craft Beer Makes a Better NJ

Since the licensing changes put into effect in 2012, the craft beer industry in New Jersey has been growing rapidly. Is the Garden State now ready to compete effectively, or are more legislative changes still needed to allow the industry to flourish?

As the laws have changed, NJ’s game has definitely stepped up. Better laws will obviously lead to a better NJ craft scene, which from my perspective is a better NJ if that’s possible.

It’s a 2 way street. As more communities get more breweries working to make their community proud, the less strange the idea of properly supporting them will be. It’s a process NJ is behind most of the other states on, but even when NJ is slow to start something we close gaps quickly.

For now we have community breweries working small scale and becoming a point of local pride. If we keep growing in that direction people will naturally move to work out the (now arcane) laws still hanging around on the NJ books hurting these small businesses’ potential. It’s just natural that a good community business should be supported by local laws. So far, most the breweries in NJ are working along those lines and we seem headed in a good direction.

Long term, I hope all the silly hold-over laws from almost a century ago all over America will change for the better. In the short term, my hope is the laws will at least improve to the point where NJ’s brewers have similar rights to those of NJ’s vintners as far as things like off premises tasting rooms and green markets go.

Brewing beer well in NJ is good for New Jersey. I have yet to find a community with its own brewery that isn’t benefiting from the commerce, the jobs, and the pride that comes from having your own local artisanal culture. It’s especially simple if that thing is as universally understood as beer.

In 2013 Carton Brewing Company’s Boat Session Ale became the first canned craft beer in New Jersey. How have the canned brews been received by the community, and what are the advantages of cans over bottles?

Our canning experiment is going well. We have been way oversubscribed from day one. At this point, we are working to make a sensible plan to get more of it beyond our tasting room so it is easily available to our neighbors in the NJ beer community.

As far as advantages of cans, do a simple fun experiment: Buy 2 cans of Boat, and 2 bottles of a beer with a similar structure hop/body/ABV wise. Drink each and consider what’s going on to make them what they are, rather than whether you like one or the other. Just try to quantify the flavor and aroma aspects of each. Throw the remaining two in your fridge and wait one, three, six months or a year, depending on your patience (and need for fridge space). We’ve done it with double blind tasting panels. There won’t be a doubt which protected the integrity of the liquid better so we can put that question to rest.

We love our beer so we go through extra expense and effort to get it in cans, and so far we are delighted with the results.

Carton Brewing is clearly not afraid to experiment and create some unusual flavors and surprising combinations. Where does your inspiration come from?

Different beers have different inspirations. I do my best to explain the thinking behind each in a series of two minute videos produced by IDrinkGoodBeer.com. That question is probably best broached on a case by case basis there.

Click Here for More Videos

What beers are you drinking lately, and what local breweries are getting your attention?

Coolest beer I’ve had lately was an “Armand 4 Autumn” that the brewer Sean Lawson shared with me during a largely sour session last Sunday, it’s been a couple days and that beer is still hanging tight in my mind.

Otherwise my mind has largely been on working recently and I haven’t had much time to consider beers beyond cursory impressions. That being said, the days I get to lift my head and get together with the members of NJ Brewers Guild, like the Brewfest on the SS New Jersey, are always a great time and I’ve been nothing but impressed with the liquid they’ve shared with me.

What can we expect from Carton Brewing in the future, and what’s in the tippy right now?

You can expect us to keep looking for new flavors or approaches to flavor. Most recently, we did a milk chocolate stout with rose petals as a Valentine’s notion taken off the beaten craft.

Visit the Carton Brewing Company Website

Keeping it Fun with Ryan Krill of Cape May Brewing Company

Congratulations on celebrating the third anniversary of Cape May Brewing Company earlier this summer! Has the brewing industry in New Jersey, and Cape May Brewing Company, changed much over the last three years?

The brewing industry in New Jersey has changed in a large way over the past three years. State legislators passed a bill that allowed new and progressive changes for production breweries and brewpubs, which allowed for things like taprooms, new businesses and a growing craft beer culture in New Jersey. There have been several new breweries open all over the state and the craft beer culture is growing at an exponential rate.

The Cape May Brewery is a different story altogether. In 2011 we started with humble yet ambitious beginnings. We had a homebuilt 12-gallon brew system with great aspirations. We had one account and managed everything as a three-man show. It was a hobby business but we aspired for more.

Three and a half years later, we have 18 employees, 120 wholesale accounts all over South Jersey, a 15 barrel brew house and recently installed a bottling line. This year we will produce about 3,000 barrels, most of which is sold through our self-distribution network. It’s a big jump to go from brewing 12 gallons to 15 barrels but it’s still very small, which has its benefits. We can brew a tremendous variety of beers (we have done over 60 different beers thus far). It keeps things still fun.

According to your Twitter feed, you’ve taken your advertising to the skies this summer with a Cape May Brewing banner pulled by a plane! What was behind this unique choice of promotion and where should we be craning our necks to see it?

Telling our story and sharing our love of craft beer is really important to us. We like to tell that story in a way that reflects our quirky and creative sides. There are many ways we make ourselves known and this summer we experimented with a new medium: banner planes.

Growing up watching the banner planes fly past while sitting on the beach have always captured my attention. It’s such a typical Jersey Shore icon that it was natural for us to give it a try. It’s a fun way to interact with our customers and those who don’t even know we exist. It’s also noteworthy that I’m a pilot, so I’m apt to vote for anything involving airplanes.

The lucky taproom and event employees at Cape May Brewing get hands-on brewing experience as part of their training. How does this enhance their ability to better serve your customers?

Every employee gets what we call a brew day no matter what you do at the brewery. Making fun and exciting beer is at the center of what we do and I want everyone to share in that experience. Additionally, every employee gets to design a beer that will be served in the taproom and offered to our accounts. You’ll see beers like Maggie’s Day Off or Brian’s Geek Out. Maggie and Brian are both employees who have their own different ideas on what type of beer to make. We allow everyone to participate in that excitement, which gives a sense of pride and ownership. And that’s just the beginning.

We spend a lot of time, money and energy on training our staff so that they know everything we know about beer and we make it fun. This allows our customers to be able to have the best experience possible with the brewery, whether that be in the taproom or at one of our accounts. Everyone who works with us is an ambassador of Cape May Brewery no matter where they go, and people who engage will know it.

What beers are you drinking lately, and what local breweries are getting your attention?

I’m drinking Troegs Troegenator while I write this. I really enjoy trying beers I haven’t tried. It’s exciting to see what brewers are doing all over the region. Flying Fish, Kane and Carton always put out a top-notch beer and they’ve been my go to brews.

I’ve always been inspired by Short’s Brewery in Michigan. I love the variety and quality of the beer they produce. That and they only distribute in Michigan. Way cool.

What events are on the horizon for Cape May Brewing Company?

I’ve been working with Jesse Prall from Dogfish/Delaware Brewers Guild on planning Brews by the Bay on September 6th. It’s a unique beer event that has not been done before.

From 12-4pm the event starts at the Cape May ferry lawn, which will showcase 12 New Jersey breweries, live music and food trucks. Included in the price is a round trip ferry pass so you jump on one of the ferries to Delaware where there will be 11 Delaware breweries more live music and awesome food. It’s effectively two beer festivals in two states with one ticket. Tickets can be found at http://brewsbythebay.ticketleap.com

Visit the Cape May Brewing Company Website

Talking Fish with Flying Fish Founder Gene Muller

The craft beer industry in NJ is an extremely close knit community that is very supportive of new breweries and homebrewers. Do you think this friendly, collaborative approach will survive as the number of breweries, and competition, increases?

I’m a big believer in the idea of a rising tide lifts all boats. As we get more new breweries in NJ I don’t see any reason why folks would stop collaborating. There’s no advantage to isolate yourself.

In 2013 you released F.U. Sandy, which has raised a phenomenal sum of money for Hurricane Sandy relief, but it sold out quickly. Will Flying Fish fans be able to enjoy this beer again?

We were able to donate $75,000 to NJ based charities to rebuild houses, provide social services and help restore the ecosystem to better protect jobs and the environment. We just re-released Sandy in 12oz bottles in a 12-pack as well as draft. It should be available pretty much for the rest of the year and we will continue to donate part of the proceeds to further those restoration efforts.

Flying Fish is known for its focus on local culture, and for accepting ideas from the NJ craft beer community. Have the brewing suggestions you’ve received from fans ever surprised you?

Yes, though the best ones I can’t repeat in print! ;)

The craft beer community is highly engaged in the beers they consume – you never hear of anyone walking into a beer bar and saying “I don’t care, give me whatever.”

How is progress on the new outdoor beer garden, and what can visitors expect when it finally opens?

The beer garden is fully licensed and we’re are about 75% complete with the construction. We hope to have it finished for the Somerdale Tour de Fish bike race on July 20.

Do your duties as President of Flying Fish ever conflict with your equally important title of Head Janitor?

Not really – the duties of both are pretty much doing what no one else wants to!

Visit the Flying Fish Brewing Company Website