Brew Jersey, New Jersey: Riverhorse Brewing, Flying Fish, and Forgotten Boardwalk
This Saturday was perfect: blue skies, warm breezes, and beautiful fall leaves. So why would Nick and I want to spend it inside? Because we were touring some local breweries, of course. To celebrate five years together we decided to spend the weekend doing our favorite "together" activity. Since we had our first sips of Yards Philly Pale Ale at a .fun concert (we're just so hip you know) we've loved getting to try different craft brews. Our region is great for craft beer. Thanks to New Jersey loosening to antiquated liquor laws, more and more breweries have started to pop up all over this great state. In the spring Nick and I ventured towards the north Jersey shore to visit Carton and Kane brewing companies. Now it was time for us to make a much-anticipated trip to three South Jersey breweries: Riverhorse in Ewing, Flying Fish in Somerdale, and the brand new Forgotten Boardwalk in Cherry Hill.
The first stop was River Horse Brewing Company at their newer Ewing, NJ location. I'm kind of sad that I didn't get to visit their original location in Lambertville, a converted factory right by the Delaware River, but this location is so close and convenient to where I work. Can you say "happy hour tours"?! Super weird/annoying fact about New Jersey breweries: NJ law requires that breweries offer tours before they are allowed to serve anyone. It has to be an educational experience. But free samples are free samples so I'll sit through a tour. Our tour there was actually one of the best that I've been on; very thorough but informative and engaging. It was also a great tour since we got to sample the new IPA and they had a firkin of hippo lantern vanilla bean. Overall it was pretty quiet there and seemed like more of a place to pop in to fill a growler but I do consider this one of the must-try NJ beers so it's worth a stop in if you're passing by Ewing.
After finishing up at River Horse, we headed south on 295 to Somerdale, NJ to visit the also new-ish location of the veteran Flying Fish Brewing Company. It was just last year that Flying Fish moved from their office park location in Cherry Hill to a brand new, shiny location of their own in Somerdale. What a great space. On our second educational tour of the day we learned that Flying Fish is the largest brewery in NJ and their owner helped pave the way for more craft brewing in New Jersey. Cheers to that! This is a significantly larger location than their last and it's exactly how a great and growing brewery should look. I didn't take as many pictures of the inside as I wanted but that's because I was focused on trying some really great beers like NJ 350, a special beer to celebrate the 350th anniversary of New Jersey. The pine and molasses notes in it made it a great afternoon beer. Also any opportunity to have their F.U. Sandy beer to support families who are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy two years later. The interior space is large and spacious with huge wood tables. I was most excited for their outdoor space, though it was full so we'll have to come back. Is it too soon to return this weekend?
The last stop of our great New Jersey brewery tour was Forgotten Boardwalk. This was the brewery I was most excited for. It opened just a few weeks ago in the old Flying Fish location in Cherry Hill. The concept is great and definitely crafty beers based on old boardwalk legends. Nick and I walked in and our first remarks were that it was nothing like what it had been when Flying Fish was there. Picture old fun house mirrors on the walls, black and white photos of the golden olden days down the Shore, and a boardwalk-ready spinning wheel right behind the bar (seriously have to spend less time sampling and more time snapping!). Oh and skeeball! How could I forget the two custom skeeball machines that only cost $1 with proceeds going to charity?! Yes, I was certainly in heaven at Forgotten Boardwalk. We tried both flights, one of their flagship beers and one that was a variation on their flagships. My first sip was of the Funnel Cake ale. It was sweet but not too sweet and a nicely hopped ale but really, I got to try a funnel cake in a beer glass so that made my day. What put this trip over the top was their Directory for Gentlemen, a chai saison. Ever since Philly Brewing Company decided to stop brewing Rowhouse Red I've been on the search for a new favorite beer. I finally found a replacement in this tasty saison. It definitely has a good flowery chai flavor with the light yeasty saison taste. Just talking about it makes me contemplate a quick drive south.
Forgotten Boardwalk is the kind of brewery that you can stay awhile, which is a great accomplishment for a new brewery in a small space. They created a "beer garden" in a pebbled area out front and encouraged food trucks to set up shop every weekend. We were there when PB and U was parked out front. I was less than impressed with my Honey and Apple sandwich (stale potato roll for a peanut butter sandwich, really?!) but Forgotten Boardwalk has figured out a great way to get around that "NJ breweries can't serve food" lunacy. Nick and I spent some time outdoors but I loved sitting inside on the swinging bench right next to the skeeball machine. It's definitely a must-visit if you're thinking of sampling some fine New Jersey beers.
Interested in hearing about some of my other brewery adventures? Check out my trip to Main Line breweries Tired Hands and Conshohocken Brewing Company and my other NJ brewery tours at Kane Brewing and Carton Brewing. Or take a peek at our first ever beer adventure: Philadelphia Brewing Company, Yards and the old Flying Fish!