Looking for the best microbrewery in New Jersey
- ohromujici Feb 25, 2008 12:40 PM
Hi all. My birthday is coming up on 3 March and I wanted to go out with my friends to a microbrewery in New Jersey. What is everyone's favorite?
Long Valley is not a bad brewpub, though I think Triumph in Princeton is a notch or two better and takes my vote for the best in the state, perhaps along with the Ship Inn (which, although perhaps less consistent than Triumph, has never disappointed in the category of traditional English style ale).
The truth of the matter is though that I have rarely had _truly_ outstanding beer at ANY brewpub (and I have travelled a lot) but these two do stand out and fortunately are in my home state.
Moving up to the category of microbreweries, I have to strongly disagree with "hotdoglover" that Climax Brewing is the best in NJ. Their ESB is not all that bad, but their IPA is totally mis-named...it is a decent enough beer but pretty ordinary, and not really very IPA like at all. The Climax brews are decent enough and I admire their success (and the consistency they manage to maintain considering the size of the operation). Wouldn't be my first choice though. But everyone's tastes are different (especially concerning beer).
In reality, most beer experts agree that the best IPA ever made was made 40 years ago by a large commercial brewery during what people seem to think were "dark ages" of American beer (which was simply not true). To date, no brewery big or small has been able to come even close to that legendary IPA made all those years ago in that garden spot of America, Newark NJ.
re: The Professor
I agree with you about tastes being different; especially concerning beer (and hot dogs!). I also like Triumph, but haven't been there or Long Valley in a few years. When I went to Long Valley they had an excellent Porter which won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival and an English Bitter that won a bronze. Both were among the best beers I've had at a brewpub. I love the amber ale (I forget the name) at Triumph.
As far as Climax goes, it was the only Jersey micro that was included in the late Michael Jackson's last book on American Beer. I think it was something with Handbook in it's title. You state that Climax IPA is totally misnamed and not very IPA like at all. Perhaps this is because you are comparing it to an American style IPA. Climax is an English style IPA. They use English hops rather than American Cascades. Less hop bitterness than say a Hop Devil or Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.
Never had the Ballantine IPA though I do hear that there are still some bottles of it that have survived. A few years ago someone opened a bottle at a tasting, and from what I remember, it was well received.
If you're looking for a place with lots of import beers on tap but don't make their own beer, try the Laughing Lion in Dover, NJ. Also, the Shepherd and the Knucklehead in Haledon has a nice selection, but a college crowd.
I've been to three Brew Pubs in New Jersey, and I'll give you a quick take on those.
In Princeton, is Triumph's Brew Pub, which is also my favorite. I think their beers are the best, and I've really enjoyed most of the food I've had there, mostly upscale pub food, most of it decent.
In New Brunswick is Harvest Moon. Also has good beers but the food time after time has always been disappointing (if you go, stick to just a burger).
And I also like Egan and Son's in Montclair. Real authentic Irish food (so I'm told, I don't actually know) and the burger with the irish farmhouse cheese is awsome, but the last time I was there, they only brewed three of their own beers, but maybe this has changed. It can also get really really crowded on weekends.
Not a big beer drinker, but Egan's is a terrific pub in general; you should definitely call and ask about their microbrews, though. Great fish and chips, a more-than-decent burger, and a full menu, including some pretty good wings, too.
I don't know the name of it, but I know I've read about a microbrewery/rest in Fairfield NJ as well...anyone know of it?