Draught Diversions: Mini Brewery Overviews: Chilton Mill, Oakflower, Wild Air

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…

Over the last few months, I’ve visited two new breweries that opened in 2022 and a newer one that opened in 2019. By the time this goes live, I’ll have posted a review from each brewery (Oakflower’s Dew Drop, Wild Air Beerworks’s Outer Dark, and Chilton Mill’s Schwarzbier – Black Lager). I wanted to give a brief overview of these three breweries. I’ll go alphabetically starting with Chilton Mill Brewing in Long Valley, NJ; then Oakflower Brewing Company in Millington / Long Hill, NJ, and  close it out with Wild Air Beerworks in Asbury Park, NJ.

Chilton Mill Brewing

Image Courtesy of Chilton Mill Brewing’s Facebook

Mike Peachy is the owner and head brewer at Chilton Mill Brewing with a similar story to many breweries – he liked beer, got into home brewing, and decided to open up a brewery. Mike is from New Jersey, spent time in New Hampshire where the New England craft beer scene provided Mike with more knowledge and push to open a brewery. In May 2019, Mike opened Chilton Mill in one of the two most popular kinds of locations for independent breweries in New Jersey – a Strip Mall. (The other being an industrial park).

Papa Don Brown Ale

As soon as I entered the brewery each time I visited, I felt welcome in the cozy little brewery. The first visit was during the spring and all the outdoor chairs/tables were occupied, so I enjoyed the Fruited Sour ale inside. The second visit was a cold evening in November and I felt almost like I was walking into Cheers. Not that I was Norm, but plenty of friendly conversation amongst patrons and staff.

What I appreciate the most about Chilton Mill is that despite being one of the smaller breweries with just eight taps, they have a very nice variety. In that way, I’m reminded of Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton. Mike always seems to have an IPA, a fruited/sour beer, a lager, a brown ale. He proudly doesn’t add lactose to any of his beers, which this lactose-intolerant beer enthusiast appreciates! Most of the beers are on the lower-ABV side of things, allowing Mike to showcase his skills in coaxing such robust flavors out of the ingredients he uses.

I’ve only visited twice, but that will be changing.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Chilton Mill Brewing Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Chilton Mill Brewing on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Oakflower Brewing

Oakflower Brewing is the newest of these three breweries having opened late November 2022, but as often as breweries are opening in New Jersey a couple more breweries opened since then. Anyway, Oakflower Brewing Company in Millington, NJ joins a growing group of breweries in Morris County, NJ (Twin Elephant, Highpoint/Ramstein, Fort Nonsense, Glenbrook, Double Tap and the aforementioned Chilton Mill).

Oakflower Taproom, photo courtesy of Oakflower Brewing’s Facebook

Owned by Colin McDonough and his wife Leann, Oakflower opened with 8 beers on draught. Colin brought his brewing experience to the table, he spent quite a few years doing small batches under the Lamington River Brewing banner. They were sort of a “If you know, you know” kind of brewery, more of a home-brewer with a Instagram page if I’m not mistaken.

Oakflower Ember Oatmeal Stout

Be that as it may, the brewery itself has a bright and inviting interior, beertenders AJ and Dani are super friendly. In addition to their Grisette, Dew Drop the review of which I posted earlier in the week, I had their smooth, roasty, and delicious Oatmeal Stout called Ember

Located next to the Millington Post Office and across the street from the Millington Train Station, the brewery is in a great spot and fairly easy to find. That also makes for prime potential customer location with NJ Transit commuters on a Thursday or Friday night. The taproom is bright, inviting, and very clean in appearance. If those first two beers I had from Oakflower are any indication of the quality that will be pouring out of their draught lines, then I suspect the taproom will be quite busy.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Oakflower Brewing Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Oakflower Brewing on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Wild Air Beerworks

Logo courtesy of Wild Air Beerworks’s Facebook

Wild Air Beerworks is a fairly unique brewery for a couple of reasons. For starters, they are in a building previously occupied by another brewery, Dark City Brewing which went out of business. The people behind the scenes, owners, etc, of Wild Air Beerworks are owners of Last Wave Brewing in Point Pleasant (Nick Jiorle, Bert Roling and his wife Dani Roling.) as well as a former brewer from Carton (Doug Phillips).

One of the cool things about Wild Air, at least to this English major and reader of many books, is that names of most beers are some kind of literary reference. Their delicious American Lager, Inherent Vice is a book by Thomas Pynchon, the Baltic Porter I reviewed recently, Outer Dark is a book by Cormac McCarthy, their Cold IPA Unhallowed Rites is a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook.”

Image courtesy of Wild Air Beerworks’s Facebook

That naming convention and theme carries over to the brewery itself. The aesthetic is somewhere at the intersection of speakeasy, library, and lounge and the vibe is really chill and relaxed. I don’t recall what the look was exactly when it was Dark City, only that the look is an improvement. Quite frankly, everything about Wild Air is an improvement over its predecessor from the quality of the beer to the people working at the brewery giving off a welcoming vibe.

Wild Air Beerworks Inherent Vice

Something that drew me to Wild Air is their focus on Lagers and Wild Ales, especially the Lagers. They have one or two IPAs on draught, but most of the 16 beers they have available are either Lagers or Wild Ales. When I visited, I had the aforementioned Baltic Porter as well as the Italian Pilsner, Fortuna, which was delicious. There were nice bready elements to it and like all Italian Pilsners, this one was dry-hopped, but that element wasn’t overpowering.

Almost as soon as they opened their doors, their beers were distributed out in stores, which is not something all breweries can say. Granted, the fact that they are an offshoot of an established brewery who has been distributing cans of their beers for a couple of years might help.

The brewery is worth visiting and the beer is well-worth getting into your fridge.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Wild Air Beerworks Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Wild Air Beerworks on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

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