It was a picture-perfect day...lots
of sun and warm temps with no chance of rain; a nice breeze crossed the
tent-covered fantail of the battleship and the crowds came to enjoy the
best beers the Garden State has to offer. 767 tickets were sold for the
event and the thirsty throngs arrived taking advantage of the free tour
of the ship as well as the beers. There is a lot of history in this old
ship and exemplifies the saying "if only these walls could talk...". I
remember seeing her at the Philadelphia Naval Yard in 1967 in mothballs
before they refitted her for service in Viet Nam...what a sight! But I
digress.....(to quote a famous friend of ours).
My friend George decided to accompany me on his first beer festival as my wife was otherwise disposed. Not being shy, he didn't seem to mind that I had to do my work as the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News reporter and get all the latest scoops from the brewers for my looming deadline. I also got to see some old friends and make some new ones.
President, Gretchen Schmidhausler of Basil T's, had brought a wonderful
Chocolate IPA, Coco B. Ware, which was a hit for me. Flying Fish served
their latest in the Exit series, Exit 6, a Wallonian Rye Ale, as well as
some of the Exit 4 and their other fine beers. High Point is always a hit
in the summer with their wide selection of refreshing wheat beers! Greg
Zaccardi is always expanding and improving his repertoire and will be offering
22oz bottles for most of his line in the near future.
Gaslight really kicked it up a notch this year and brought some outstanding brews with them: Coffee Stout, Abbey Normal and Eliminator...what a treat.
Cricket Hill had the crowd-pleaser of the day, though. Their first high grav beer, a barleywine, was released this winter and was a rare commodity. They announced that at 3PM, the pouring would begin. The queue started forming early and I was lucky enough to get right up front for my share. I gave it a 3+ stars. Not to be their last either! New limited releases will be making appearances regularly.
I even got a chance to meet Ben Battiata of Turtle Stone Brewing who is waiting to procure a permanent site for his brewing system that is sitting in Oregon ready to make the trip east when that occurs. We wish him luck.
My good friend and fellow journalist, Jeff Linkous, was on hand to document this latest event on video, interviewing the beer cogniscenti for his blogsite, Beer Stained Letter. Jeff keeps his ear to the ground, his eyes wide open and his hand on the pulse of NJ beer.
This event transpires every June and should be on your to-do list. So many great beers and a chance to converse with the brewers! Come early and enjoy touring the battleship and then tasting the beers. (Be advised they don't allow it the other way around.)