I was at the Meadowlands last weekend. They were hosting their 7th Annual Great Beer Expo. It is hard to believe that it has been 7 years. It seems like just yesterday Phil and I were invited to attend the first one. Well, I can say that this festival just gets better and better each year. The most notable change from 2011 to 2017 was the New Jersey breweries.

7 years ago this show was largely a distributor show. They were showcasing the imports and common beers you would see at your local bar. Now however, that is the minority. This beer festival is all about New Jersey. There were so many old NJ breweries mixed with the sophomore class and now all of the new ones that are popping up. NJ has about 70 functioning breweries with another 20 to 30 on the way.

That is a lot of suds in our state. I’m happy to say that NJ isn’t just getting a quantity of breweries, we are also getting high quality breweries. I truly enjoyed all of the offerings I had from Wet Ticket (Rahway), Czig Meister (Hackettstown) and Eight & Sand (Woodbury). All three are brand new breweries and all three are really hitting the ground running.

The middle of pack with a little more experience, I was treated to Bolero Snort (Ridgefield Park), Departed Soles (Jersey City), Forgotten Boardwalk (Cherry Hill) and the very talented team over at Jersey Girl Brewing (Hackettstown). All breweries with a little more experience, and it shows. These guys aren’t just making great beer, they are great people and always willing to talk shop.

Then the old staples who brought craft beer to New Jersey even before it was the cool thing to do, you had Riverhorse (Ewing), Flying Fish (Somerdale) and good ole Rick over at Cricket Hill (Fairfield). The best part about seeing breweries in all three stages was how well everyone gets along and loves talking about beer.

We’re at a really interesting time in the world. It’s nice to know there is good beer out there not too far from where you hang your hat at night. Drink local, you’d be a fool not to.


Jim Kohl