Draught Diversions: Cypress Brewing Company (Edison, NJ)

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…

One of the breweries to emerge in the early wave of the NJ Brewery renaissance (if you will) after the laws changed in 2012 was Cypress Brewing in Edison. Charlie Backmann, Jason Kijowski, and Bill Lutz opened the doors to Cypress in 2015, but they were involved in NJ beer and brewing before that.

Before the laws changed in 2012, there was a fairly thriving community of brewpubs in New Jersey (and there still are quite a few successful brew pubs, to be frank). One of the more long-standing brewpubs is J.J. Bittings in Woodbridge, NJ which is not too far from where I grew up. Bittings opened in 1997 and I’d visited fairly often with my parents. Not sure if Charlie Backmann and Jason Kijowski were there when I visited (I honestly can’t recall the last time I was at J.J. Bittings), but Charlie and Jason spent some time there and homebrewing with Bill Lutz before the three friends decided to share their beers with New Jersey and open Cypress.

Tap List at Cypress Brewing – August 2, 2018

The name “Cypress” is the street where Kijowski lived, though the brewery has played off the 90s Hip Hop group Cypress Hill for at least one of their beers – “Insane in the Grain” pays homage to the great Cypress Hill song “Insane in the Brain.” That song was in constant rotation in my Fraternity’s basement at Rutgers University in the mid 1990s. As the brewery is in Edison, named for inventor Thomas Alva Edison, Cypress pays homage with some of their beer names, including Alva, an Imperial Porter. This link to their full beer list: http://cypressbrewing.com/beer_type/all-beers/, provides the names, description, and some of the interesting can art of many of the beers in their portfolio.

I’ve listened to a few podcasts featuring Charlie and one thing he pointed out was how open and welcoming the community of Edison was to the brewery. That’s such an important element to craft beer in New Jersey and makes for a better brewery and experience on the whole. In listening to those podcasts, it is pretty clear Charlie enjoys what he does.

The brewery is located in a small industrial park on Nixon Lane, which runs behind the campus of Middlesex County College. If you didn’t know to look for the brewery, you may not know where to search. Fun fact: I once had a summer college job at a moving company less than a mile away from Cypress. That moving company is no longer in the same location. Back to Cypress…The tap room is relatively small, but not tiny. I’d say the room was cozy. There were almost a dozen people there on my visit and there was still some room. The theme of the green Cypress tree is prevalent and very much an extrapolation of the logo.

The folks at Cypress are respected in the brewing community and have developed close ties with some of the growing number of breweries in New Jersey. This has lead to well-received collaborations with Icarus Brewing in Lakewood, NJ (Necessity & Invention), Bolero Snort (soon to be) in Carlstadt, NJ (Cypress Love), Melovino Meadery in Vauxhall, NJ (Devil’s Tree), and Dark City in Asbury Park, NJ (Sacc’d Lunch).

The next question, of course: How is the beer?

Unfortunately, one of their beers I was extremely eager to try – Weize Guy – a Hefeweizen, was not on tap that day. I also would have liked to get a glass with Cypress’ logo, but they were all sold out. I suppose that just means I’ll have to head down to the brewery again in the future.

On to the beers I actually did try, including the flight pictured below during my visit to the brewery on the first Thursday in August. One thing I really appreciated about the flight was the price – just $6 for the flight of four beers.  Some breweries charge double that for a flight.

Back to the beers… It happened to be IPA Day when I visited so of course at least one of the beers in my flight, the first, was 17-Mile Cypress’s flagship IPA. The beer falls more on the West Coast style with a decent level of bitterness and piney flavor and just a hint of citrus. The beer (I assume) gets its name from the Lone Cypress on 17-Mile Drive in Montery, CA. For the second beer, I continued with the IPA Day theme and had Cypress’ interpretation of a New England/Hazy IPA, Ceclia. This was a spot-on interpretation of the style, which I enjoyed more than 17-Mile, but I tend to prefer the hazier IPAs.

Left to right: “17 Mile” IPA; “Cecilia” IPA – Double New England; “Peach Pit” Fruit Beer; “Alva” Porter – Imperial / Double

For a change of pace, I went with The Peach Pit as the third beer in my flight. This is a high-ABV fruit beer Cypress released for their Third Anniversary in July. I’m guessing the name comes from the popular hangout on Beverly Hills 90210. This beer is brewed with lactose and aged on peaches and Madagascar Vanilla beans. and makes for a sweet summer dessert brew. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it was very sweet. I closed out the flight with the aforementioned Alva, a potent Imperial Porter. The taste was OK, but the body was a little thin and had a slight aftertaste. Not a bad beer, but I definitely enjoyed the other three beers in the flight more.

I ended my visit to the brewery with a taster of the delicious English Nut Brown, about which I went into detail earlier in the week. About two and a half years ago, at the fifth and final Garden State Brewfest I had Lighthouse, which a very tasty brown ale with coconut and the first widely available version of their Vanilla Imperial Porter, The V.I.P. I think I even went back for a second pour of V.I.P. As it turns out, Cypress has reworked both of those beers a bit and have released both in cans.

Cypress has been canning their beers for a year (or maybe two) with the beers making their way to NJ beer stores. On the day I visited, they had just canned a few of their beers and one of the folks (Tom) from Iron Heart Canning was there enjoying some tasty Cypress beer. Some good conversation about NJ beer and canned beer ensued. I hadn’t realized just how widely across the Eastern US Iron Heart is canning beer these days.

After all was said, done and consumed, I was left with some really good thoughts about the brewery, Cypress Brewing has a lot going for itself. First and foremost they make good beer. Of the seven I tried between my recent visit and two years ago at the Garden State Brewfest, all were above average in quality. They also seem to have really good relationships with other breweries in the state. The Edison Community has embraced the brewery to the point that in 2015, the Edison Chamber of Commerce named Charles Backmann their Entrepeneur of the Year! In short, a great start for Cypress Brewing. a solid and respectable first three years of business, and a bright future. I know I’ll be grabbing more of their beers off of shelves and ordering them on tap in the future.

Ein Prosit!

Cypress Brewing Company Web site | Instagram | Facebook | twitter

Some other links of interest:

Draught Diversions: A 6 Pack of Beer Blogs/Websites

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…

This post could be seen as a “cousin” to my second Draught Diversion post which focused on podcasts. This time around I’m going to highlight a six pack of Beer Web sites/Blogs I visit every day and follow on twitter. Most people on the internets with an interest in craft beer are already visiting Beer Advocate (and the Forums), so I’ll only mention that one right here. The others? Well, let’s take a look. I’ll go through these alphabetically. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.

Brewbound (Twitter: @Brewbound)

Brewbound is probably the top website when it comes to beer news and releases as well as craft beer jobs. Although the Web site is geared more towards “craft brewers with brands sold on- and off-premise, beer distributors, retailers, investors and industry suppliers” there’s still a wealth of interesting information for folks like myself who enjoy the delicious beverage and want to know more about what’s going on in the industry. If you want a job in the beer industry, this is the website you want to visit every day.

On his weekly Craft Beer Cast, Al Gattullo almost always reads a story or two from Brewbound. Simply put, a nearly indispensable news site for craft beer.

Brew Jersey by Chris Casellani (Twitter: @WhyAmINotThere)

Going local for NJ is Brew Jersey, written by Chris Casellani. Brew Jersey is a “sub site” of the Best of NJ web site which promotes fun and interesting things about and to do in NJ. I’ve referenced Brew Jersey in a few of my Draught Diversions Brewery visit posts as resources or “for further reading.” Chris does a fantastic job of providing history of each brewery and a profile of the folks who started the brewery and make the beer. Essentially, each time I read a new installment of the semi-regularly released series, I feel very compelled to visit the brewery about which I just read.

If you are not from New Jersey and you are going to visit New Jersey, this is probably the first web site you’ll want to visit to get an idea of the 70+ (and growing) breweries in the Great Garden State where you’d like to get a flight of a couple of pints.

Craft Beer & Brewing (Twitter: @CraftBeerBrew)

I’ve mentioned John Holl on this blog a few times, he’s one of the pre-eminent beer journalists/writers today. As he’s a New Jersey guy, I naturally gravitate to what he has to say about beer (even if I don’t always agree with him). I’d been following @CraftBeerBrew on twitter for some time, and reading Craft Beer & Brewing for quite a while, too. The professional-level reviews at Craft Beer and Brewing often consist of a panel of reviewers, which are brief yet very informative.

Craft Beer & Brewing also has a great Weekly Podcast.

MyBeerBuzz.com (Twitter: @mybeerbuzz)

One of my favorite Web sites/blogs in the online beer community is MyBeerBuzz.com. Bill Cord is the “Founder, owner, author, graphic designer, CEO, CFO, webmaster, president, mechanic and janitor” for mybeerbuzz and one might guess he doesn’t sleep very much, especially when you learn he also produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show

What makes MyBeerBuzz.com so indispensable? Content, content, content. Strike that. Good content, good content, good content. Bill seems to tirelessly (and joyfully) comb beer news websites for all sorts of beer news and my favorite feature, future beer releases which often included bottle and/or can labels.

Bill is relatively local to me, based in Scranton, PA, so while mybeerbuzz does always feature brews from across the country (and world), it is nice to see some focus on PA breweries. As much as I love my home state of New Jersey, I feel very fortunate that Pennsylvania is a neighboring state since they have such a rich history and variety of excellent breweries.

Porch Drinking (Twitter: @PorchDrinkingCO)

For a really wide look at Craft Beer across America, Porch Drinking is one of the most comprehensive, professional web sites dedicated to that fine adult beverage. There’s a large team of contributors, a pretty wide swath of categories for the content/posts, including great reviews to help you find a good beer, or just read about beer in general.

I started following Porch Drinking about a year ago on twitter and I’ve clicked on the majority of their articles. On the whole, well written, informative, interesting, and professional. Another thing I like about the team of contributors as that there’s a pretty good gender balance, showing again that more than just neck-bearded dude-bros enjoy craft beer and have smart things to say about craft beer.

Stout and Stilettos (Twitter: @StoutsStilettos)

Stouts and Stilettos is a wonderful, fun website that highlights “All things #craftbeer, from the female perspective. Content curated by craft beer-loving ladies.” A nice variety of content from beer reviews to brewery reviews to news, these ladies cover it all. A nice looking web site and good content help to make this a site I return to regulary.

Like Porch Drinking, I find myself clicking on a lot of the articles the @StoutsStilettos account tweets, especially those by Chelsie Markel. They’ve even collaborated with Boneshire Brew Works brewery in Harrisburg, PA for a beer that seems to be squarely in my palette’s wheelhouse: Oatmeal Cookie Stout.

One more for the road…

Though not exclusively about beer, Paste Magazine features quite a bit of quality beer writing, including their lists like the regular blind taste-rankings for styles of beer including the most recent (as of this post here at the Tap Takeover) featuring 103 Christmas/Winter Beers