|Baker Street Brewery's founder and head brewer Art Hannemann takes you
on a journey to find the ales. Catch the train for Arty's ride to the New Jersey
suburbs and beyond in search of, what else, great beer!
It's going to be a fun trip as Arty reviews and rates a new stop each month
as he takes the rails to the ales.....and more!
|Take The Rails to The Ales to...
Montville, Rockaway, and Jersey City
8 Main Road
Poor Henry's is just about on the Montville/Boonton border. It's a stand alone building with
an unimpressive exterior and an interior that is, to be kind, a throwback in design. It has a
local, down home vibe which back in the day would qualify this as the town "gin mill". And no,
that's not bad It's a bit dark inside with a few TVs seemingly in awkward places if you're
there to watch a game at the bar. But why would you go to watch a game when their beer is so
good? When is the last time you've had Fegley's Insidious Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout and
gone back a week later to enjoy it's replacement DuClaw Bourbon Barrel Aged Serum?
Other beers I enjoyed there were Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne and a Maine Beer
Weez. Guess I've got your attention now. To Poor Henry's credit many of their beers are
served in 20oz. pours. In an era when some bars outrageously serve even common craft
offerings in 10 or 12 oz. glasses at pint prices, Poor Henry's is what fair pricing is all about.
My traveling buddy for the outing was so impressed with this place he returned twice in the
next week. And for the record, I went back twice in the next 10 days. I'd say that's putting
my money where this review is! At this point I don't know if they turn the beers over quickly
but that's just another reason to return. The bartender was knowledgeable and the service
prompt and professional. I can't review the food because no one in my group ate, we were
enjoying the beers too much. Poor Henry's could use a touch of remodeling which almost cost
it 1/4 of an engine but this is a beer review and on that alone it's outstanding; it's a great
place for any craft beer lover! (Special thanks to reader John Reid for alerting me about this find).
I rate Poor Henry's 5 out of 5 engines!!
Rockaway River Barn
11 Green Pond Rd,
Open less than two years the attractive building is new with a welcoming open design. The
bar is large and the beers are plentiful but it's a place that seems to regard Blue Moon types as
the height of craft sophistication. Too bad since there are no true great beer places in the
area. It reminds me of a nice chain bar with Sam Adams leading the way. Given the
circumstances I wasn't surprised to get beer served in chilled glasses by a bartender who
knew little about beers not called Bud or Coors. Still, the place had a nice feel to it and might
be fine for a cocktail or glass of wine. I had a veggie burger for lunch; it was okay, nothing
more, nothing less. My designated driver who turned out not to really be need had a
pizza which was quite good. It's a casual family dining place first but maybe management
will see that adding good craft beer will bring in even more people (they're popular as is.)
I give the Black River Barn 1 & 3/4 out of 5 engines.
Jersey City, NJ 07302
A large, nicely appointed outdoor biergarten sits in the rear of an equally large building. With such a
great name you might think they'd be on the cutting edge of German imports but sadly that is not
the case. On my visit they had three large working bars featuring several of the same beers (yes, the
place is that big.) Unfortunately a number of their 40 plus taps are wasted with the likes of Michelob
Ultra, Blue Moon, Shock Top, and Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (sorry Sam fans, it's not good.) The
majority of the craft offering are standard stuff easily available at most good beer bars. If the
weather is nice it's fun sitting outdoors in the biergarten but if you're only looking for beer
in Jersey City head over to Barcade or Pints or Skinner's Loft for more serious craft fare.
By the way, can get your Ultra in a liter glass here. Guess what age crowd they want?
I rate the Zeppelin Hall 2 & 1/2 engines out of 5.
Hope you get a chance to stop in at my new location
The Northside Lounge
100 Brooks Blvd, Manville, NJ 08835
A great menu and some of the finest craft beer anywhere!
Stop in if you are in the area and look for me in the kitchen or behind the taps
and please mention you read my column!
Here's some good info on planning your own Rails To Ales trip. First step go to
www.njtransit.com web site. Then click on train schedules. Next click on "use our map
to plan your trip." Now select your train station on the map. And next select your destination
on the map. A new page appears and you want to select weekday, holiday or weekend
accordingly. A new page appears with your schedule of departing times and length of travel
time. Print this up and then go to the bottom of the schedule and it will say click here for
return schedule--click away. Now print this page up as well and you have all the info you
need to plan your trip. Remember to allow walking and drinking time. And of course if you
go off the rails like I often do but sure to have a designated driver!
Gotta catch my train back-- see you at my next stop!
Remember to leave the car at home and......Take The Rails To The Ales !!!!
Five engines= the very best
Four engines= excellent
Two engines= fair
One engine= bad news
Zero engines=stay away
For the complete listing of all
Rails to Ales