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Gobbling up brews on Turkey Day
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Gobbling up brews on Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving! Once again the annual conundrum rears its head — what does one drink with the Thanksgiving feast? To the oenophile, the easy choice is a nice white wine, but beer people have lots of choices and our personal preferences come into play. Of course, we could continue with the pumpkin beers, but we’ve been drinking those for months now. Instead, perhaps we may go the white wine route and drink a wheat beer, Belgian-style wit beer or a strong golden ale to accompany our big bird. In the end, whatever you enjoy will go well with the dinner. I like to save the big beers for after the dinner when I can enjoy their warmth and sweetness. An Imperial Stout, Barlerywine, Quadruppel or even a Doppelbock will go nicely to digest all that food or accompany your cigar if so inclined.

So let’s not forget all the retail outlets that have suffered during the pandemic. The holiday beers should be on the shelves from all the international, national and regional breweries for your at-home consumption. Some of the better ones include Passion Vines and Circle Liquor in Somers Point, Gleesons in Ocean View, Hardy’s and Canal’s in Mays Landing and Joe Canal’s in Egg Harbor Township, Rio Grande and Hammonton. And several breweries are still delivering to homes. I know Kane up in Ocean Township comes down here on Fridays to parts of Atlantic and Cape May counties. Check the website to order on Fridays before noon if they service your area.

Let us hope for a warm fall and winter so that outside seating will continue at the breweries and restaurants until they relax the regulations. Check with the venue for availability before venturing out.

Imperial Stouts are hitting the markets as we speak. 7 Mile Brewery in Rio Grande recently released their Layer Stout, a big 10% ABV brew with 10 POUNDS of marshmallows added per barrel! It makes for a perfect dessert in a glass or a great way to accompany your s’mores!

Gusto Brewing in North Cape May will be celebrating its second anniversary from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19. They will be serving special beers and live music will be playing throughout the day.

Down the road at COHO, they recently opened their new and elegant taproom that features twice the space as the old one, as well as a huge u-shaped bar to serve up their amazing beers. Six leather couches grace the room with tables and easy chairs as well. Brewer Jason Heavey has certainly made this place his home and has been brewing up some great beers. Their first sour, Blood Spatter, a blood orange sour wheat beer is spot on and the Pumpkin Imperial is magnificent at 9.1% ABV. And don’t forget to try the Guilty By Association Belgian-style Tripel — one of my favorites.

Slack Tide in Clermont is once again augmenting its fermentation capacity by 20 barrels and increasing their packaging capabilities to expand their distribution to Central Jersey. Look for some great barrel-aged beers coming out soon. They already have released their Bell Buoy with Brett and plan on Cedar Plug aged in tequila barrels.

A short hop away (no pun intended), Ludlam Island has reinstituted its cask beer program with hand pumps primed and ready to pour some of their best to those who appreciate it. Also, some new brews on tap are Bear Trap DIPA, an 8.5% ABV hop monster, and Thunder Jacket, an Imperial Milk Stout. But some old faves are still pouring too — Amontillado Double Bourbon Barrel Coffee Stout at 13% ABV with flavors you’ll never forget; and Lawn Chairs, a German pilsner for the light at heart.

Over at Cape May Brewing, Double Crushed has hit the market. This 12% ABV Citrus IPA is quadruple dry-hopped with a mix of orange and grapefruit juices, making it one dangerous glass of hop juice. Don’t miss their Cape May Coffee Stout either. A great way to start the day.

Somers Point Brewing will be reprising its Third Nipple Belgian Tripel in November and brewing their holiday ale, Grettel’s Kettle, for a release in December.

Up in Forked River, Backwards Flag will host a Veterans’ Toast at noon Saturday, Nov. 7. The first 50 pints are courtesy of Lacey Mayor Steve Kennis. There will also be live music all day and the Hadez Food Truck there for your nourishment. Come out and give respect to those that have given us their service.

A nationwide program by Habitat for Humanity called The House That Beer Built is coming to the area. On Saturday, Nov. 7, the kickoff for Cape May County will be at Mudhen Brewing in Wildwood. Most of the Cape May County breweries are participating in this fundraiser, hoping to raise $25,000 for this great charity. Upper Township will be the location for the construction and volunteer labor will be needed. Go to Habitat for Humanity’s website to put your name in. The sponsored beer this year is a robust porter to be made with Laura’s Fudge and should be amazing. Participating breweries are: COHO, 7 Mile, Slack Tide, Mudhen, Ludlam Island, Gusto, Cape May, Avalon BrewPub, Cold Spring and Bucket Brigade. Stop by each one and get a taste of their rendition and support a worthy charity. To sweeten the pot, $5 raffle tickets will be sold to win a huge basket of swag from all the breweries.

I hope everyone got their homebrew entered for the contest sponsored by South Jersey Beer Scene. I am looking forward to judging for that event. Good luck to all the entrants!

Just a heads up for all you beer nerds. Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall is planning a holiday event/dinner with some amazing beers included in the menu. Beerman Scott Cronick has stashed some fantastic brews away for a snowy day. Keep an eye out for the date.

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