Don't listen to the jokes that mention New Jersey as the armpit of America.
Because it is not. With over 100 miles of shoreline, New Jersey is a beautiful state. It also looks like it's gaining some hipster ground with many local breweries popping up. We took a brewery tour this past weekend with our friends and am loving that things are happening locally. Read on to get a map of the places that we visited so that you can try it out this weekend. Depending on your time, you can do this in a few hours. Get a designated driver for safety!
Our first stop was Kane Brewing located on Bloomsbury Ave. in Ocean in a non-descript building that looks like an office building. When you walk in, you wonder if you have arrived at the correct place, but once in, you come to realize that there is an actual brewery inside. Open space, lots of seating and standing room area. We took a short (and free) tour around the facility and loved the tour guide. Very well informed and answered all of our questions. My friend Lauren loves Head High. I tasted the Single Fin (a Belgian Blonde Ale) and the milk porter which were both great tasting.
Kane self-distributes in New Jersey only. At their brewery, they offer growler refills which you know I am a fan of because it reuses and reduces waste. Thumbs up! You also only find cans for sale at the brewery location. Everything else will be in draft form at certain restaurants/bars. Everything is done at this facility and it's cool to see all of the equipment up close.
A few things to note: no food allowed, children are OK as long as they are tied (kidding), yes, you can bring children. All growlers accepted as long as they have the government warning on them.
Jughandle Brewing Company
If you are not familiar, a jughandle is a type of ramp that changes that way traffic turns. Instead of turning left at a left lane, those turning left must take a street on the right to cross the intersection. This is a jughandle and New Jersey is famous for these types of turns, which makes sense that our next stop is aptly named, Jughandle Brewing Company. Located in a strip mall in Tinton Falls, this brewery is a bit smaller than Kane, airy and open. Self-guided tours are available where you can determine the amount of information you want to learn about making beer whether you are an expert or just want beer.
They also do self-distribution within New Jersey and will gladly fill up your growlers. They do not sell cans or bottles...yet. Man, they are really making it easy to consume local, zero waste beer in New Jersey.
A few notes: they offer pretzels, but you can bring your own food. There's a pizza and a Chinese place next door. Children are allowed but if they become unruly, they will become part of their next secret ingredient (says so on their website.)
Don't spend your weekend cleaning the garage, spend your weekend
tasting good beer and eating great food!
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Your best life will be found under all of that stuff!
Beach Haus Brewery
Our last stop on this short tour was the Beach Haus Brewery in Belmar. We were on the hunt for a red ale, but they didn't have any. Sad face! This brewery is a lot bigger than the other two with a store front on the first floor and a larger, casual space on the 2nd floor with a patio and plenty of space to chill and play games. There was even a wedding party there. We didn't do the tour because at this point, we got the gist of how beer is made, plus I'm not sure anything can top Greg's explanation.
They do work with a distributor so you will find their beers in retail locations across central and south Jersey. If you are staying in the neighborhood for the summer, grab a growler and get it refilled for the duration of your stay.
A few notes: they don't offer food, but do allow you to bring in. Jersey Shore BBQ is across the street so worth considering if you want some chum with your beer. Children (I think are allowed) and can be kept occupied with some of the games they have. They also have an event room so might be a cool place to rent out for a casual party outside of a restaurant.
Click on the map to check out distance and recommended places to eat and drink. Depending on how fast you do this, start in the mid afternoon. There are other great breweries, but I haven't been to them so I will leave those for part two of this guide. Let me know below if there's one that's worth visiting.