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Looking for the best microbrewery in New Jersey

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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?

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  1. I like Egan's in Montclair. Great selection of microbrews + their own brews. Great food, great atmosphere.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tpatricco

      Thanks! I will give it a try.

    2. Here's an old thread from the Mid-Atlantic board that may be of interest. Most of the places mentioned are in central NJ.

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406777

      3 Replies
      1. re: ambrose

        The Long Valley Brewpub serves the best beer of any brewpub in the state. As for a microbrewery (one that makes beer to sell; not a restaurant) Climax Brewing Co. of Roselle Park makes the best beer in Jersey hands down. Especially their IPA and ESB.

        1. re: hotdoglover

          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.

          1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.
          .

          1 Reply
          1. re: COrrico

            I second Triumphs and Long Valley Brew Pub. I am not a fan of Harvest Moon. I find their music at night distracting and bad.

          2. 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?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Curlz

              This is the place in Fairfield: www.crickethillbrewery.com
              From the looks of it, it's just a microbrewery, though--you may want to contact them to find out!

            2. NJ was a bit late (and never really caught up) with the re-birth of good beer in the US. And, when they finally did re-write some of the alcoholic beverage licensing laws, they created two distinct businesses (unlike others states, like neighbor PA):

              1. The "microbrewery"- small companies that keg and/or bottle their beer, which can be purchased at normal retail liquor stores (or, if they have the right permit, sold at the brewery for off premises consumption). Many of these have organized tours with "tastings", but aren't restaurants.

              2. The "brewpub"- a restaurant which brews its own beer on site, (usually) doesn't bottle its beer, which is not available through other retailers.

              So, based on the other responses, you're looking for a "brewpub" for a meal, rather than a tour of a brewery and a tasting. If so, I'd second Triumph as a having both good beer and good food. If that's too far outside of the "TriState" region, I've liked Long Valley the handful of times I've been there, tho' neither the food or beer stands out in my mind.

              If you *are* looking for a tour, I hear Flying Fish in Cherry Hill does a nice one, and the aforementioned "Cricket Hill" has a "tour" that's more of a party (complete with an amusing/scary "rant" by the owner- a video of which is available on the site below).

              Most of NJ's small brewers, both microbreweries and brewpubs, belong to The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild http://www.njbeer.org/ - links and other info are available via that site. Click on "Members" for a handy map.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JessKidden

                Jess gives a good overview. Having been to most of the brewpubs in NJ I'd say that we have a particularly lame bunch in our state. For beer my favorites might be the Ship Inn in Milford (on the Deleware) for the English style ales (less for the food) and then maybe Triumph if you need to eat. No one has mentioned Trap Rock in Berkley Heights, but I can barely stand to go into that place - far to pretentious and expensive. The beer isn't bad at Harvest Moon, but the atmosphere is too loud and crowded. And, with all respect to others, the beer absolutely blows at Egan and Sons.

              2. I have been to a few and thouught that Triumph was the best (went to the one in New Hope, PA actually). Beer was really good and the food was as well. I thought Long Valley was pretty poor, thin beers and fair at best food. Been to Tun Tavern in AC and thought it was nothing special. Breweries that have tastings that are good are River Horse in Lambertville and High Point in Butler (tastings 2nd Saturday of the month starting in March).

                1 Reply
                1. re: thaichile

                  High Point Brewery (Ramstein beers) has the best 'micro-beers' that I've had. Their seasonal beers are really good. The Winter Ale was highly regarded and last year, one of their beers was mentioned, as among the Summer's best, in Newsweek. They usually have four or five diffrent beers on tap, some available in bottles and others available by growler. Egan's used pass off Ramstein as their own until they were caught. Not mentioned yet, but also pretty good, is Krogh's in Sparta. I think they have seven different beers on tap. Much better than average 'bar-food' and live original music on weekends.