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…
Last week, the Brewer’s Association released two lists:
Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies
Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies
There is, of course, some overlap on the two lists as the Association’s definition of Craft Beer/Craft Brewery allows for such overlap. For example, much as I enjoy a Yuengling Summer Wheat, I don’t know that I (or many hop-heads like myself) would consider Yuengling a craft brewery in the same way (for example) Allagash or Treehouse are craft breweries. Be that as it may, it got me thinking. There are quite a few breweries on the Top 50 Craft list who brew a significant amount of beer and who don’t (yet) distribute into NJ. As a result, I’ve come up with a brief, relatively plausible, “wish list” of breweries whose beers I’d love to see on shelves in NJ bottle shops and liquor stores. Also, just to clarify, not all of my wish list breweries are on this list.
Like some of my past features, I’ll do this as a 6-pack. I could probably make a “case” (or 24) breweries I’d like to see distribute their beers into NJ, but for now, I’ll go with 6. These are breweries with some combination of iconic beers, beers I see friends from outside NJ checking into untappd, a brewery whose beers I had by chance, plus one brewery I visited many, many years ago. I’m not including smaller breweries like the Alchemist and Treehouse who largely sell their beers only at the brewery or within the state where they are located.
As with most of these types of posts, I’ll go alphabetical.
August Schell Brewing Co in New Ulm, MN
When the opening statement on the main website is “We are German Craft Beer” how could I not want their beers available to me? From what I’ve gathered (Hi Joe!), their Hefeweizen is extremely well-regarded. My favorite style, especially in summer months, isn’t the most popular of craft beer styles, so it would be nice to have a solid go-to of the style available consistently. Much as I love the German brewers traditional Hefeweizens I do enjoy a well-constructed homage to the style, too.
Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, MI
I’ve had two beers from the great, renowned Michigan craft brewery and loved them both. If they were both available here in NJ, I’d have them in my refrigerator regularly, especially Oberon Ale in the summer. I was lucky enough to get a couple bottles of Oberon’s Ale last year in a bottle trade with a former co-worker.
When I had Two Hearted Ale for the first time, it blew me away. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the IPA. The other brews from Bells can be found here, those in the image above I cobbled from the beer images on Bell’s Web site look especially appealing to me.
I’m fairly close to the Pennsylvania border (about 30 minutes away) do I can probably grab some of their beer if I cross the Delaware river, but it sure would be nice to be able to go to my local Gary’s and grab a 12 pack of Oberon’s Ale in the summer.
Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR)
Deschutes is one of the early American Craft Beer pioneers, founded in 1998 in Oregon, a state renowned for craft beer. Their flagship beer is one that is squarely in my wheelhouse: Black Butte Porter. Deschutes is also near the top of American Craft Breweries (#10 on the list of 50) so they are quite large and the possibility for their appealing brews appearing on NJ shelves is quite plausible. Especially since they are building an East Coast production facility in Virginia with beers set to roll out in 2021. I think I just need to be patient for these beers.
Peak Organic Brewing (Portland, ME)
I’ve written about this brewery twice already and both times I lamented the fact that they don’t distribute into New Jersey. I’m not sure how a can of their Happy Hour snuck into Wegmans, though I suspect that may have something to do with Wegman’s being based in New York.
Pike Brewing (Seattle, WA)
Pike is probably the most westerly of any brewery in today’s post. About 20 years ago or so, I went on a business trip to Seattle and I really adored the city. I liked the wharf area, the great seafood and I spent a happy hour or two at Pike Brewing and I remember really enjoying the stout I had, which was probably the Extra XXXXX Stout. I still have the pint glass from my visit. I suspect this brewery hitting New Jersey shelves might be the biggest longshot.
Three Floyds Brewing Company in Munster, IN
Three Floyds is one of the most renowned craft brewers in the Midwest. Their Dark Lord Imperial Stout is a brewery only release and is one of the most well-received beers in the country. Of course, that specific beer would likely NOT be in distribution, but their Zombie Dust Pale Ale probably would be, as would Robert the Bruce, a wonderfully appealing Scotch Ale. I’d love to try Alpha Klaus, which is their winter porter.
Their beer labels are really cool, too. They appeal to the lifelong comic book/science fiction/fantasy/horror geek that I am. Not only that, a comic book series from Image comics was even published in honor of the brewery!
A quick look through their beers on untappd, has their full line-up of beers at a 4.03 bottle cap average and of the beers some of my unappd friends have had, I don’t think anything was below a 4.25.
Between these six breweries, I would have many beers to explore and enjoy. Take a moment and let me know in the comments (or email or twitter) what breweries I mention from NJ or the area you’d like to see and try.