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?
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\\\\
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.