Make a Beer Run to New Jersey Craft Breweries

Beach and Beer: Beach Haus Brewery in Belmar, NJ It's the usual boring Saturday in New Jersey and you're not sure what to do. The beaches are cold and the boardwalk is closed. Atlantic City is smokey and boring. Philadelphia and New York City just feel too far. You and your friends could go to a bar but why not go to the source? It's time to make a beer run to some New Jersey craft breweries.

Exploring breweries and having a taste of their goods is one of my favorite Saturday hobbies. In recent years, New Jersey's alcohol distribution laws have loosened to allow for many craft beer enthusiasts to open high quality craft breweries all over the state. Today I'm sharing a day drinking route to some of the best of New Jersey craft breweries. Pack your growlers, a bag of pretzels, and your designated driver for a day of hops and malts.

First stop: River Horse Brewing Company, 2 Graphics Drive, Ewing

River Horse has been in this corporate office warehouse for a a few years since relocating from their original spot in Lambertville. They offer tours and tastings by reservation so be sure to check out their website before you go.

Be sure to sample: IPA, Hop Hazard, Summer Blonde (seasonal), Oatmeal Milk Stout (seasonal)

Second stop: Third State Brewing, 352 High Street, Burlington

Third State is one of the newest brew houses on the block but don't let it's newbie status keep you away. The beer is solid and it's right off the New Jersey Transit River Line. It's also worth a trip to see the slowly transforming Burlington City downtown and watch some ships travel along the Delaware River.

Be sure to sample: Jay's Porter, 352 hIgh PA, London Tenth Red

Third Stop: Carton Brewing Company, 6 E. Washington Avenue, Atlantic Highlands

Okay, so it's a long drive across the state from Burlington City to Atlantic Highlands so you're okay to break this into a two day trip (especially if you find yourself enjoying Third State and River Horse too much). But you MUST get your beer-loving self to Atlantic Highlands. Carton's operation is tiny; it's located in a turn-of-the-century brick warehouse across from the local elementary school. The upstairs tasting room is...cozy but that's part of the experience.

Be sure to sample: Boat, Carton of Milk, Red Rye Returning

Fourth Stop: Kane Brewing Company, 1750 Bloomsbury Avenue, Ocean Township

Kane is an insanely popular brewery about four miles from the beach. Every time I've been there, the warehouse space has been packed with people and for good reason: quality beers that are easily accessible for every type of beer (or non-beer) drinker.

Be sure to sample: Head High, Overhead

Fifth Stop: Beach Haus Brewery, 801 Main Street, Belmar

If you thought Kane was close to the beach, Beach Haus is just four or five blocks from the Belmar boardwalk. This may be one of my favorite breweries because of its laid-back atmosphere and delicious beers. The brewery is in a renovated bakery warehouse with a downstairs retail space and an upstairs tasting room. The outside deck is fantastic when the weather is nice but the inside loft tasting room is a great place to relax and drink. When you get hungry, just venture across the parking lot to Tenth Avenue Burrito or Jersey Shore BBQ.

Be sure to sample: Herb's Rye, Kick Back Ale, Winter Rental

If you were trying to find the perfect thing for you and your friends to do on any given Saturday, touring New Jersey craft breweries is the perfect solution. As with most places, check ahead to make sure the brewery is not closed for a private event and make sure you have a willing designated driver who will put up with your I've-had-too-many-samples humor.

Cheers to great New Jersey beers!