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Feb 19, 2008 02:38 PM

Jersey shore beer bars?

There's a great bar in the Tropicana in AC (Firewaters), and I went to another in Brooklyn this past weekend (Mugs Ale House). Both have great beer selections. A lot on tap, and dozens in bottles, far beyond the usual mass market "lagers" that most bars have. Does anybody know if there are any good beer bars in the Monmouth/Ocean County areas?


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  1. The Ark claims to have 80 beers (bottled though):

    1. NJ's good beer scene is woefully lacking for a number of reasons, but I think the high cost of a liquor license is a big part of it (when one has to pay 1/2 to $1 million for a license, limiting one's sales to 4% of the beer market probably isn't too wise). Certainly, once you get to the NJ's suburban counties, the expectation for good beer all but disappears. (Portland, Maine- population 63K has more breweries than all of NJ, for example).

      I've found a few good US craft beers on occasion in Asbury Park's "The Brick Wall" and "The Wonder Bar", tho' it's usually only a few out many more pedestrian draft choices and, if anything, the selections have gotten worse recently (without an active beer culture, too many craft choices means stale, unsold beer).

      Outside of the "shore" area, in Monmouth County, downtown Freehold's "The Court Jester" has 8-10 craft draught taps (out of about 30)- in the past year or so they've had Flying Fish Espresso Stout and Grand Cru, Victory HopDevil and Baltic Thunder, and beers from Stone, Ommegang, Brooklyn, Sierra-Nevada, etc. The "Surf Taco" in Jackson (Ocean) supposedly had a few good crafts on tap, as well, but that's the only outlet with a license, but I've never been to it.

      There are the two unrelated "Basil T" brewpubs, of course, but, as is often the case with brewpubs in non-beer savvy locations, most of the beers tend to be distinctly "middle of the road" since they have to appeal to everyone who walks in the door, not just the beer geek. One would think Red Bank would be ripe for a better beer selection, but nothing really stands out. "Ashes" a cigar bar, has had an interesting beer or two, but, it means sitting in cigar smoke to drink it.

      I've got to say that, as impressive as the Firewaters selection was (one of those "there are too many beers on tap here in this tiny place for them all to be fresh" situations), it had to be the absolute worse "atmosphere" of any bar I've been in. In a cellar, with a dank "strip mall" feel, open to the hallway yet behind iron bars, small, uncomfortable bar area, and it turned into some sort of 70's era disco at night. ////shudder\\\\

      4 Replies
        1. re: OGguy

          The Wonder Bar is scheduled to reopen by this summer.

          1. re: OGguy

            JessKidden provides a nice report and paints an accurate, albeit dismal picture.

            The Crab's Claw in Lavalette has over 100 beers available, mostly consisting of imported and micro bottles. You would never mistake it for a beer bar though.

          2. re: JessKidden

            JK, thanks so much for the thorough reply!

          3. While I have never been (oddly enough!) I have always heard about the beer selection at The Old Bay in New Brunswick. I know they have a website, and it used to list all of the beer available. Then again, you did ask for a shore area location which it isn't.

            2 Replies
            1. re: DrewBB

              I'd also post this request in "Beer" boards. But I like the answers so far. And will check out Court Jester myself.

              1. re: DrewBB

                I would just 'extend' the Jersey shore to Brooklyn, NY and visit Brooklyn Brewery and Barcade. Barcade can't be beat for beer quality, pricing, and fun. (Did I mention a whole room full of old-school video games?)

              2. There is a place in I believe Hazlet on Rte 35 "Uncle Mikes Ale House??" that stated in an ad they have a bunch of beer and ale on tap. I haven't been so I can't report.

                1. Check out the Beer Advocate. Their members list a number of NJ bars. See

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TomDel

                    Uh, there are no Monmouth or Ocean bars that we haven't discussed already here listed on BeerFly. BeerFly requires that at least 75% of the beer selection be craft beer. Pretty hard to find in NJ (indeed, many of those listed don't meet that criteria).