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Imperial stouts rule the winter for local beer scene
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Imperial stouts rule the winter for local beer scene

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Slack Tide Brewing

Slack Tide Brewing’s Barrel-aged Imperial Breakfast Stout, Morning Bite, aged a year in bourbon barrels.

Here we are with another New Year upon us. I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and celebrated responsibly. Wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year in 2022!

It has been a difficult two years, and there have been victims of many kinds ... lots of businesses could not survive, and breweries were among them. Though many new ones opened, there were a few that closed.

Dark City in Asbury Park shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic and, recently, Human Village in Pitman closed but will remain a brewery under new ownership. Raritan Bay in Keansburg also ceased operations. Atco Brewing decided to not renew their lease and sold off their equipment to a brewery in Texas. Rumor has it that ZappyBrew in Ocean View has decided to delay the planned brewery indefinitely.

On a good note, Ark Brewing opened its long-awaited brewpub in Lumberton, and Gearblock Brewing in Waldwick is expecting to brew this month. Behr in Cape May is still awaiting final approvals they expect this month.

Others are celebrating anniversaries. COHO in Cape May Court House will open their doors for the third year on Jan. 15 from noon to 8 p.m. Come in and enjoy a Strawberry Champagne beer in a special limited-edition glass. You can also enjoy the barrel-aged Imperial Stout – Judges Chambers — to remove that winter chill. This year’s Judges Chambers has been aged in Buffalo Trace barrels with lots of bourbon and vanilla notes and is also available in 750 ml bottles. Music, games and a food truck will be on the agenda. Make sure you check out Embezzlement, a 5.7% abv Peppermint Porter served with a candy cane! A very tasty holiday beer.

Up the road, Slack Tide in Clermont recently canned their one millionth container! Come help them celebrate their 6th Anniversary on Jan. 22! In the meantime, enjoy their Morning Bite Imperial Breakfast Stout brewed with Cape May Roasters coffee and notes of maple syrup and chocolate coming in at a whopping 11% abv to warm the body and soul — available in cans, kegs and barrel-aged bottles. The barrel-aged version spent a year in bourbon barrels and left the barrel at 11.5% abv. Check out the wide selection of barrel-aged beers available at the brewery, as well as the 20-plus taps of other styles.

Ludlam Island in Ocean View has several new releases. Their annual Brudolph Imperial Stout is on tap and in cans. This year it’s a S’mores stout with flavors of marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers and lands at 10% abv. The Time to Wander Christmas IPA is also a limited-edition beer brewed with granola and spruce tips giving off aromas of a Christmas tree. One of my favorites has made another appearance this year. Amontillado barrel-aged Imperial Stout will be available for most of the winter if I don’t drink it all. Also, Double Polar Bear Smoked Porter hit the taps and cans for the season, clocking in at 10% abv. Their flagship IPA Water Guns and Rainbows has appeared on tap in a double dry-hopped version while supplies last alongside its namesake. A recent release is Goats Go To Paradise, a Helles lager brewed with toasted coconut.

Gusto in North Cape May is soon canning in 16-ounce containers and will sell four packs of their beers. Dropping along with the ball on New Year’s Eve was a Hallertau Mittelfruh lager named appropriately, Logger! Check out their social media for a fundraiser weekend this month to benefit the restoration of an historic Coast Guard vessel in Cape May.

Cape May Brewing Company is starting the year off strong with the return of 10% abv Triple IPA Snag & Drop, “a lupulin-laden beast that stays true to its name by reeling you in with its nuanced aroma before hooking you on the flavor.” You can find this brew on draft and in cans throughout New Jersey while supplies last. New from Cape May this year is a collaboration beer with King of Prussia brewery Workhorse Brewing Company. Cut From the Same Cloth is the name of both brewery’s Cold IPA releases. These beers take two traditional styles, Lager and New England IPA, and combine them to create an entirely new way to imbibe. Cape May’s edition is brewed with Pilsner malt and Lager yeast, while Workhorse’s is brewed with German malt. Both are dry-hopped with highly aromatic, tropical hops to create crisp, snappy, and supremely drinkable brews. Cut From the Same Cloth is a celebration of each brewery’s roots as they look forward to the future of craft. Each respective beer will be available in its home state starting later this month.

Bucket Brigade in CMCH will be beginning a new era with the delivery of their new brewing system this month. Look for a lot more beer to come pouring from this brewery in cans and kegs. Their old system is heading to a startup in Massachusetts. They recently brewed an homage to a classic beer, Ballantine. Liberty Bell Ale will be for lager lovers who can reminisce about the old days.

The brewing triangle in Hammonton has collaborated on their first of many brews. Three 3’s, Vinyl and Chimney Rustic finally broke the ice and got together for this momentous occasion. No word on the style yet, but expect to see it released in February. Individually, these breweries make an amazing assortment of beers, and I can only imagine what they can achieve as a group.

Axe and Arrow in Glassboro will host their annual Stoutrageous event beginning 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, and continuing through the weekend. There will be 8 Stoutrageous brews on tap with live music Saturday and swag giveaways all weekend.

Up in Cherry Hill, Forgotten Boardwalk has reprised their Bloody Mary beer for the New Year. They blended their Belgian-style Witbier, What The Butler Saw, and a tomato juice spiced with smoked peppercorns and horseradish. It’s certainly an eye opener after those long nights.

Just a bit north in Manahawkin, Manafirkin is serving up 25-plus beers and seltzers indoors and outside in their igloos. It’s a trip worth taking for sure. Celebrate Christmas all over again with their holiday beer assortment.

Head a little more north on the Parkway and you’ll stumble across one of the best breweries in N.J.: Kane Brewing in Ocean Twp. They recently released a Triple Barrel-Aged Chocolate A Night To End All Dawns, a 15.6% abv blend of three barrel-aged beers: first spent 21 months in Willett bourbon and rye barrels, next into Alba Syrah red wine barrels for 11 months; and then finally into chocolate liqueur casks for four months before being cold conditioned. Of course, this intense imperial stout is selling for $36 a 750 ml bottle, but it’s well worth the price. Also on the menu is Field & Oak Peach & Nectarine 2020 Harvest, a brew refermented on Jersey yellow peaches and white and yellow nectarines.

Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City will continue its awesome monthly beer dinner series with their January installment on Thursday, Jan. 20. They will start the New Year with a collaborative dinner between Cigar City and Oskar Blues breweries and will feature two beers that you won’t find anywhere else in South Jersey.

The welcome beer for the five-course experience will be Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils, a 4.7-percent abv Czech Pilsner, followed by Cigar City Jai Alai, a 7.5-percent tasty IPA, before getting sour with Cigar City’s Margarita Gose. Then things get super exciting as Chef Charles Soreth’s main course will be accompanied by Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov’s Double Envelopment, a heavy-duty 11.8-percent imperial stout that is one of only two kegs being released in the entire country!! The dinner’s dessert finale will be Oskar Blues’ Rum Barrel Aged Death by Coconut, an 11.5-percent beauty that never left the brewery until this batch and is one of only five kegs in the state and the only in South Jersey. Co-owner Scott Cronick always delivers some very rare finds at every dinner. If you are interested in purchasing the $55 tickets, go to TennesseeAvenueBeerHall.com or check out their Facebook page.

The Beer Hall offered two killer dinners in December, including a New Year’s Eve spectacular that tapped the very rare Maine Dinner, which is still on tap as of this writing.

If you make and keep New Year’s resolutions, one should be to visit as many breweries, distilleries and wineries as possible this year to keep them moving forard. So many more will be opening this year, so check out newjerseycraftbeer.com to keep up on their progress.

Cheers!

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