New Jersey’s Top 4 craft breweries as voted by you — The Great NJ Craft Brewery Bracket
We started the Great NJ Craft Brewery Bracket in March using data collected from Untappd.com to select the top 32 NJ breweries based on number of ratings. We organized each brewery into one of four regions: North, Central, South, and Jersey Shore and you voted. Now we are down to the final four breweries consisting of the top brewery from each region.
Voting continues this week and next week until we crown the 2017 champion. I wanted to highlight each of the remaining four breweries and why it's worth a trip, or at the very least, worth keeping an eye open for their brews.
North Jersey Winner
Being in Jersey City has its perks as Departed Soles is walking distance from stops on just about every form of NJ public transportation. So you already have a designated driver for your trip to visit.
Not only are they a great brewery in their own right, but they are becoming the king of gluten free beer. It's a must try for anyone who suffers from a gluten allergy or intolerance. If you have Celiac Disease or if you simply have been avoiding beer because it doesn't sit well with you. They have a few 100% gluten free choices, A Dark Night and their GoodbIPA to name a few. The latter which won 3rd place out of over 700 beers at New York City's Homebrew Alley.
Or try my favorite Konstantine, a crisp and easy drinking Kolsh with a nice bready finish. Although admittedly I may be partial to this as it's named after a great song by a band I was into in college. Whatever your favorite style, Departed Soles tries to brew something for everyone.
Central Jersey Winner
As one of New Jersey's oldest craft breweries, and arguably one of the easiest to find in stores. River Horse has been pumping out craft beer since 1996. The current owners took over just before I discovered them around 2007 and after outgrowing their old location in Lambertville, they moved to Ewing just around the corner from the radio ranch.
This brewery will always have a special place in my heart. As I wrote in the show notes from our first episode of NJ Craft Beer Review, they were the ones who turned me on to drinking fresh locally crafted beer.
For me it's not officially summer until I have a Summer Blonde barbecuing with friends and family. Similarly, it has become tradition to enjoy a Hipp-O-Lantern around Halloween and a Belgian Freeze in the depths of winter. Besides their season defining brews, they have plenty of other year-round offerings and they seem to be expanding their horizons with new recipes and limited runs like their line of Sours.
South Jersey Winner
How did a brewery that isn't even a year old make it to the final four? They thought outside the box that's how.
For starters, they opened up in Collingswood, an old Quaker borough that has been a dry town since 1873. Being the only game in town, people welcomed them with open arms. Now it was possible to grab a growler of fresh beer before heading into one of the many local restaurants for dinner.
Taking their name from local lore and rumors of Jersey Devil sightings at the Newton Creek watershed, Devil's Creek set out to make beers that nobody else was making. Styles such as old English ales, smoked ryes, black IPAs, and cherry stouts to name a few. Or maybe you want to try their Nessie a strong Scotish ale coming in at 8.4% ABV.
It's definitely not your typical line-up and I think people are always excited to try something they've never had before. If you can make something that's new but also a great beer in its own right, then you really stand out. I have yet to try anything from Devil's Creek, but as I write this I am already thinking about when I can head down there to check them out.
Jersey Shore Winner
And last but absolutely not least, we have Kane.
Known for their incredible IPAs, Head High and Overhead, Kane are masters at extracting amazing flavors from the hops they select in these two popular brews. Not to sway the voting but we all really enjoyed Head High when we reviewed it. If you want to taste what a great IPA should be, you need to visit Kane.
Besides brewing what's probably the best IPA in the state, they also brew up some serious Belgian style ales, experimental brews, and unique seasonals. Take for example their Fall Saints for which they personally roast over 200 lbs. of butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Plus they have an impressive barrel aged line-up; if you ever visited their tasting room you can't help but be memorized by the stacks of resting barrels.
With Kane it's simple, they know what they are doing, they know what they want to do, and they do it very well.
So there you have it, the final four NJ craft breweries. Congratulations to those who have made it this far. If you haven't already, go ahead and vote for your favorites in this week's match ups by clicking the above button. Then don't forget to come back next week to help crown New Jersey 101.5's Best Craft Brewery!
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