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…
As the beer landscape in New Jersey has grown over the last decade or so, a natural element of this growth is how some of these breweries are located rather closely together. Case in point, Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton, New Jersey, which happens to be in Hunterdon County. Recently, the breweries in Hunterdon County have come together in a promotional effort as the Hunterdon Beer Trail. Patrons can get little “Passport” booklets at breweries located in Hunterdon County to be stamped and once all the breweries have been visited, patrons get a free pint glass. But on to Odd Bird Brewing…
Adam Juncosa was a homebrewer, having as many as 13 beers on tap at his home for gatherings. He’s won awards at homebrewing competitions and spent some time brewing at Conclave Brewing. When he realized the town in which he lived, Stockton, didn’t have the best beer options, he and his wife Karen Malzone, a teacher in Hunterdon County, decided to open a brewery of their own. Thus Odd Bird Brewing was born.
One of the first things I asked Adam was how he came up with the name. His mom always called him an Odd Bird and it stuck. Running with that theme, Adam and Karen eventually enlisted local artist Catherine Lent to come up with the logo and branding for the brewery. This all fits in with Karen’s passion for conservation efforts.
Opening in January 2020, Adam and Karen had only a few months before the pandemic struck the world, but they were able to pivot after a brief shut down to crowler sales and eventually on-site consumption after the world adjusted to the pandemic and what social distancing meant as they were able to offer seating in an outdoor biergarten during warmer weather.
A peek inside the brewery revealed a welcoming taproom with a row of ornately designed, artistic custom blown glass taphandles created by Dan McStocker. Much of the furniture, chairs, tables, etc. were built by Karen and Adam, lending an even more personal touch to the brewery.
I knew of Odd Bird Brewing when the brewery opened, but not too much beyond the fact that another NJ brewery opened. Over the past year, I saw a great deal of good chatter on the Beer Advocate forums about the quality of their beer and Adam’s focus on the lower-ABV classic styles like Pilsners (he won a homebrew competition for his pilsner), clean lagers, Kölsch, straight-forward English-style stout, and more traditional IPAs (as opposed to the hazy / New England / Milkshake varieties). That “chatter” had me even more inclined and interested in visiting the brewery.
The location is rather unique, especially compared to the other breweries I’ve visited in NJ. It isn’t on a main street, nor is Odd Bird Brewing located in an industrial park. Risler Avenue/NJ State Route 29 parallels the Delaware River at the southwestern end of County Road 523 – a lovely drive to be had on a late summer/early fall day. Odd Bird is located in an old auto body shop, which is in the same building/location as the Stockton Eagle gas station, and that building is next to a restaurant, Cravings. That set up/location does sort of fit in with the name of the brewery. Stockton is one of, if not the smallest, municipality in NJ with a population under 600 and just over a half-mile square in area, lending even more intimacy to the brewery.
The day of my visit, the outdoor biergarten was at just about full capacity, which was no surprise because it was a gorgeous day. See my previous comment regarding what a lovely drive along NJ/Hunterdon County Road 523 the path to the brewery was. As I pointed out in my review on Tuesday, the beer that drew my immediate attention was the Extra Stockton Bitter. Prior to visiting the brewery, I’d seen that Adam brewed an Amber Lager and tapped that day, OddsBodkins. An “Amber” lager isn’t the hottest Lager style (that would be Pilsner in the craft world), which is part of what drew me to ordering the beer. Also, almost any time I see a Lager on draft in a smaller brewery, I’m going to order it. I was very pleased with this one; smooth, clean and flavorful (I realize “flavorful” is perhaps becoming the most overused word by the proprietor of The Tap Takeover).
When I was ordering the Lager, another patron, a young woman who seemed to be friends with Karen, was telling me how much she loves sour beers and how great Adam’s Berliner Weisse Sommer was. If I wasn’t making the drive to another brewery to continue my path towards completion of my Hunterdon Beer Trail passport, I likely would have ordered that beer. Given the quality of the two beers I enjoyed, I’ve no doubt this sour beer was on point. Another patron was strolling up to the ordering window and I recommended the ESB and the gentleman told me that was the purpose of his visit to Odd Bird, to enjoy a cask pint of the ESB. In the future, because chances are pretty good I’ll visit again, I’ll make my way through some of they other beers. In particular, I’d like to try their British-style stout Mumbletypeg Tavern Stout. Adam mentioned that he’ll be brewing a Schwarzbier, a style I came to thoroughly enjoy over the last year. Other beers typically on draft at Odd Bird would be a mix of IPAs, saisons, and other “classic” styles.
Odd Bird Brewing is, in my mind, what a quintessential local brewery should be. Great people who own it, who make delicious beer, with a unique taplist of beers that will attract more than just the immediate locals. The brewery has such a wonderful character and ambiance that is more than complimented by the classic styles brewed to near perfection.
Go visit and enjoy their delicious beer.
Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:
- Mercer Community News – Joe Emanski (March 2021)
- TAPinto Flemington/Raritan – Steve Chernoski (2021)
- Beer Cargo Quick Sips – (August 2020)
- New Hope Free Press – Steve Chernoski (May 2019)