Fall 2016 Issue
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
AT THE TABLE: DAYS OF SODA AND PRETZELS AND BEER
When I was a kid, my dad was a beer drinker. Beer was the drink of choice at backyard parties and family reunions. It was cold on a hot day, with the soft ubiquitous sound of a sports announcer’s voice in the background; it was Dad’s moment to relax while decorating the Christmas tree.
On Friday nights at The Grandstand, a pitcher of fresh-from- the-tap beer was carried to the table along with the kids’ pitcher of soda, hefted by a waitress with an impressive ability to hold both carafes in one hand while balancing a large pie with pepperoni in the other.
There was a touch of loyalty to it all. These locally-produced brews, with names like Ballantine, Schaefer and Rheingold, were associated with locally-produced champions and pride of place. That is, until somewhere along the 1970s when large Midwest companies finished buying up oh-so-many regional independent breweries.
By the time I arrived at the legal drinking age, the beer industry in the Northeast had long departed, seemingly carried off by a galloping pack of Clydesdales, along with the jobs, the traditions and those cardboard coasters with three rings. Beer was boring. Assuming my discriminating palate was destined for finer tastes, I ordered a tequila sunrise with a cherry on top, eventually moving on to wine and fancier cocktails. Until, the craft beer movement arrived.
Like a finely crafted meal, craft brews have depth of flavor. Ingredients such as wheat, nuts, hops, chocolate and sometimes even blueberries and pumpkin wait to be discovered. Beer makers are a scrappy bunch, and they have risen again. A movement started two decades ago by entrepreneurs such as Brooklyn Brewery and Jersey’s own Flying Fish is now in full bloom with a burgeoning new generation of brewers and brewpubs. NJ’s beverage artisans are making beer with seasonal, often locally sourced ingredients in an impressive range of styles, while tenaciously pursuing more favorable legislation (page 18). This is an industry in revival where, as I’ve learned, flavorful surprises abound. I encourage you to use our first-ever local brew guide (page 48) to explore its flavors and personality. Or stop by a brew-focused pub or restaurant, such as Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell (page 24) with its constant rotation of two dozen beers on tap, for a guided pour.
Edible Jersey celebrates food and drink, and beer is just one part of New Jersey’s drinks story. In this “Drinks” issue, we also share a taste of New Jersey wines, hard ciders, and spirits. Learn how the founders of Avventura heard the siren’s call to become winemakers (page 72) and how Camden’s Cooper River Distilling (page 60) continues to beat all odds. These entrepreneurs, these risk takers, are making New Jersey more vibrant, more flavorful in so many ways from jobs to glass. Support them with a visit and cheer them on; be loyal to local this fall and beyond.
-Nancy Brannigan Painter, Publisher