Charlie Papazian Looks at Jersey Brews
By JOHN HOLL
When it comes to celebrities in the American craft-brewing world, there
are not many who are better known or more respected than Charlie
He is the founder of the American Homebrewers Association and
currently president of the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based group
that promotes the American craft beer industry. He is the author of
several home brewing books and is an acclaimed writer on craft beer.
Tales of his travels around the world tasting and critiquing beers are
frequently seen in beer-themed publications and on the website
Papazian is also a New Jersey native, spending his youth in Somerset
County. And while he now has firmly planted roots in Colorado, he
returned to the Garden State last month for a high school reunion and
managed to visit a few of New Jersey’s microbreweries and brewpubs.
The state, he said, has come a long way since he first started drinking. In
fact, the beer he remembers most fondly was not Jersey made, but the
dark served at McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York.
These days “the Garden State has some real hidden gems that are treats
for the locals,” he said, noting that many breweries have won both
national and international awards, but they are so small they don't get the
media attention they deserve.
With more than 20 microbreweries and brewpubs to choose from,
Papazian mostly stuck to Western Jersey breweries while passing
through the state.
The following is a list and comments provided by Papazian on his recent
New Jersey beer tour:
The Ship Inn in Milford “was an authentic replication of the British real
ale and traditional ale experience.”
Lambertville’s River Horse Brewing makes “some of the hoppiest beers
made east of the Delaware River.”
The Long Valley Brewpub had some very smooth and balanced brews
that would have gone well with the food served there, though the
kitchen was closed when he visited.
His highest praise came for Kroghs, a brewpub in Sparta. Their Oatmeal
Stout, he said “could win international awards for its authentic and
At the Trap Rock in Berkeley Heights he felt the beers were well made,
but perhaps the draft beer lines may have needed some refreshing.
For his part, Robert Fuchs, the owner of Kroghs sees Papazian’s praise
as a bit of vindication. Shortly after his restaurant began serving its own
beer, he replaced the old stalwart of stout, Guinness with his own brand.
It was not quickly embraced by customers but has not gained a loyal
following. “I’m pleased that after all these years we’re getting noticed,”
While New Jersey still has not risen to the level of well-known beer-
making states like Washington or Colorado, Papazian said he loves “the
fact that many really tie in the local culture and heritage. The quality is
there. NJ should show their support for the special things, like beer in
this case, that feature the ‘Garden’ side of NJ.”
John Holl writes about the craft beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached at email@example.com .
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A Journalist Looks at Beer
|The Beer Briefing
by John Holl