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…
No pants, just great beer!
This week’s brewery focused post features Manskirt Brewing in Hackettstown, NJ, one of three fine breweries in the Northwestern town in New Jersey. This brewery was part of the 2017 Birthday Brewery Tour and the first one we visited in Hackettstown. I’d heard/read good things about the brewery over the last couple of years and enjoyed the beers I had from them, so Man Skirt was fairly high on the list of breweries I wanted to visit.
Although Joe Fisher had the name “Manskirt” in 2008 when he was homebrewing, the doors opened in 2015 in what is an old bank (United Jersey and People’s Bank of New Jersey), which actually makes for a great gathering space. Joe launched a kickstarter to help open the brewery and in the two years since opening, they’ve built a nice reputation for tasty beer. Hackettstown has a pretty active Main Street and the former bank, which Manskirt calls home, is a prominent, hard-to-miss building along the strip. As a former bank, that would make sense (and cents to torture you all with a horrible pun).
But, converting an old bank to a production brewery took a significant amount of work. Joe kept the flavor of the bank since it is such an iconic building in Hackettstown having been in existence for nearly one-hundred years including the vault’s survival during a major fire in Downtown in the 1940s.
All that history is fine and dandy, but when it comes to a brewery, the most important element is the liquid. With a couple of core beers, including the fantastic Great Porter, Joe Fisher has something good going. I’d had that tasty porter prior to visiting the brewery (I think at Garden State Brewfest 2016), so I went for a few different beers in my flight. The first of those beers was another of Manskirt’s launch/flagship beers, Better than Pants, a tasty English Bitter. I haven’t had too many English Bitters so I can’t speak to how it represents the style, but I liked it very much and could think of far worse beers to have sitting in my refrigerator on a regular basis.
Rounding out the flight choices from the eight beers on tap was a tart Berliner Weisse dubbed Once, Twice, Weisse that hit the style notes well but could have maybe benefited from a fruit/sweet syrup addition. Since it was the beginning of November, their Oktoberfest was still on tap, which is nice representation of the classic German lager. Rounding out the flight was a very interesting and potent Saison, Cracked the Code. At 8.2% the ABV is a little higher than most Saisons. The addition of cracked peppercorns complement the yeast and other components quite nicely for a good early fall beer.
At the aforementioned Garden State Brewfest, I had two other beers from then brand new Manskirt: pleaTed wheaT a tasty hefeweizen brewed in collaboration with Linden, NJ’s Two Ton Brewing and Luftweizen Weizenbock. I think they still brew the pleaTed wheaT in the summer, I’m not too sure about the Weizenbock.
As I said, the brewery space is really good for gatherings, there’s ample room at the bar and some long tables setup allowing for quite a few people to enjoy their beer together. In fact, on the day I visited, I happened to run into a couple of friends from a past job who also part of the Brews and Board Games group that meets monthly at Lone Eagle Brewing. Truth be told, Brandon helped me to join the group at Lone Eagle. Man Skirt has plenty of events at their brewery, including a monthly trivia night and regular Yoga and Beer nights, which seems to be a thing many breweries are doing now.
From what I’ve gathered on social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), owner/brewer Joe Fisher is exactly the type of guy who should own a micro/craft/independent brewery in NJ. I’ve remarked previously how great the NJ Craft Beer community is, in terms of helping each other grow, looking out for the community as a whole, and the great collaborations. Joe seems to have as much passion for the community as he does for making his delicious beer. He’s brewed a couple of collaboration beers with other NJ Brewers and enthusiastically posts about beer from other NJ Breweries like Ramstein and Lone Eagle Brewing.
Man Skirt has been canning some of their beers, primarily two of the flagship beers (The Great Porter and Better than Pants) which are stored in the old bank vault. The brewery is well worth visiting as the staff are affable and welcoming and at least on the day I was there, the patrons were genial and friendly, giving the brewery a wonderful atmosphere. Of the five breweries we visited that day, I think I enjoyed the atmosphere at Man Skirt the most. I’d visit more regularly if it was just a bit closer and will probably head up to Hackettstown to check out what new brews Joe has on tap at some point in the future.
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