Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…
In last week’s Draught Diversions, I wrote about the New Jersey beer tour my wife took me on last November for my birthday. The majority of those breweries are located along/near the Jersey Shore – Kane, Beach Haus, and Carton. Well this year (this past weekend, in fact), another brewery tour commenced. This round focused on beers located in Northern New Jersey. This week, I’ll be focusing on one of those breweries: Angry Erik Brewing.
This is the brewery (of the five we visited that day), that surprised me the most for a couple of reasons. Before visiting them, I didn’t know where Angry Erik was located. I wouldn’t have thought to make them part of any brewery tour because of that. I wasn’t unaware of Angry Erik, I enjoyed a beer or two from them at past Garden State Brewfests but don’t see their beer too often here in Somerset County, NJ. The brewery is in one of the most northern townships in NJ (Lafayette) and may be the northern-most brewery in the State.
Situated in the open farmlands of Sussex County, the brewery is relatively unassuming in an office park. As I’ve said in previous Brewery posts, their location isn’t too dissimilar from other breweries. While the exterior wouldn’t lead you to believe there’s a brewery located in this office park, once you open the doors, the environment – while somewhat tight – is quite lively and comforting. On the day of our visit, the brewery was hosting a puppy adoption, which may have added to the crowd, but people were lined up at the bar waiting for beer, standing around chatting while holding a beer, or at the tables enjoying some beers. In other words, the type of atmosphere you’d want to see in a brewery on a late Saturday afternoon.
Once the crowd allowed Erik to step away from the taps, he took us on a tour of the small brewery. What impressed me the most was how clean, neat, and organized everything in the facility was.
Just as NJ Beer laws were changing shortly before 2014, husband and wife Erik and Heide Hassing were able to open Angry Erik Brewing. Heide’s got a chemistry background (a degree from one of the most prestigious departments in the country, Cornell) which may be part of the reason their beers taste so damned good. At least the beers I sampled during my visit were quite tasty.
What was most pleasing about the beers on Angry Erik’s tap list was the variety of styles across the seven beers on draft. I sampled a tasty Black IPA (Pedals BIPA), a delicious blond with Elderflower (The Dainty Viking), one of the best Red/Amber Ales I’ve had in a very long time (Ravøl), and a fantastic Imperial Porter (Original Dragon Booty). The beer that I enjoyed the most, though, was that Blonde with Elderflower. The addition of the sweet Elderflower is a perfect balance to what can be a crisp and sometimes bland style. In addition, Erik and Heide were pouring a tasty tart Saison and a couple IPAs, Hoparoo and the spicy Viva Verde.
When I was speaking to one of the bartenders, I asked if bottles or cans of their beer were available that day or in the future. While a small release has happened, the brewery is looking to go into a larger facility about a mile away, which may open the possibilities for canning, bottling, and the ability for patrons to bring home Angry Erik’s delicious beer in something other than a growler, thus keeping the tasty beer as fresh as possible for longer than a couple of days.
Were Angry Erik closer, I would definitely be visiting and filling growlers with some regularity. At least as regularly as I visit Lone Eagle, Flounder, Demented, and Conclave which are the four closest breweries to where I live and work. I may make a another pilgrimage to Lafayette to sample more of their beers in the future. The brewery is well worth visiting and their beers, based on the four I enjoyed, are well worth trying if they show up on draft at your favorite pub or bar.
Angry Erik’s beers have won awards at festivals, including A People’s Choice Award at Morristown’s Big Brew Fest in 2017.