Top Jersey Summer Beers
These sort of lists are always controversial, but I'll begin this piece immediately by saying that these are MY favorites. I'm always up for a discussion but after extensive research and taste testing... lots of taste testing, I couldn't deny which ones were my favorite for a good summer beer.
So what's the criteria for me?
- It can't be a darker or richer beer - nothing stout or porter included, no barleywines.
- It needs to be the kind of beer I'd drink and re-drink at a BBQ, park, or beach.
- Nothing above 7% - at this point, it's not so much a "sessionable" beer. I like a good beer that is enjoyable but not to the point of getting drunk off the second one.
- Needs to be made in New Jersey.
So with this in mind... here are my Top Summer New Jersey Beers
Magnify Brewing - Low Visibility
Magnify Brewing has made a splash onto the beer scene in its first year and it's American Pale Ale has definitely made a mark on me as far as drinkability and taste has been concerned. Whenever it has been available in canned form, I've been quick to snatch up quite a few packs for my adventures by the beach. This beer has definitely become one of my favorite Magnify beers with its bright citrus presence to go along with a nice vibrant flavor.
Honorable Mention: Magnify Brewing's Pollinator IPA
Conclave Brewing - Gravitational Waves IPA
Gravitational Waves is probably one of my favorite new IPA's in New Jersey for 2016. Conclave Brewing has also been around for just over a year and although many of their offerings are fantastic, this one has always stood out to me. Clocking in at a hefty 6.8% for a summer beer, I could not leave this one out. It's juicy, delicious and easily drinkable as long as you keep yourself at a respectable pace. I could drink this all day as long at a BBQ with zero regrets. Conclave Brewing has definitely nailed it with this beer and I just wish Carl and Tim would build a teleporter to just steadily send me more.
Honorable Mention: Conclave Brewing - Heart of Glass
Cricket Hill Brewery - Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale
A Belgian Pale Ale from Cricket Hill, this beer is delightfully drinkable. I'm not a big fan of Belgian beers or Belgian style beers but this one is great especially after a big workout or a long hike outside. At 5.5% ABV, it's not too heavy nor does it have an overbearing Belgian funk, this beer is great for "first beer of the day" status. It's name implies it would pair well with breakfast but I've paired it too much more success with BBQ food or even a nice, fresh salad.
Bolero Snort - I Ain't Afraid of No Bulls
If you're going to await the release of Kowabunga, you can do no wrong with this session ale. Released just over a month ago, this is one of the beers that is marking the come-uppance of Bolero Snort into the top tier of New Jersey breweries. Although released at the same time with OVB, this beer is so drinkable and a very good take on a summer beer, that I just had to mention it. The aroma on this beer is incredible and the taste follows the delectable smell almost to a tee.
Honorable Mention: Bolero Snort - OVB
Twin Elephant Brewing - Lil Shimmy Ye
A ridiculously good pale ale from one of the newest breweries in New Jersey. Lil Shimmy Ye clocks in at 6% but drinks so much lower and juicier than that. This marks one of the best entries for juicy pale ales in New Jersey. It's light and refreshing and just screams SUMMER and DRINK ME. This beer alone makes the trip to Chatham worth it. Just make sure you check their social media first to see if it's on tap, this one is definitely one of their most sought out beers.
Kane Brewing - Citra Pale Ale
I won't lie, I was very conflicted about this choice. The Honorable Mentions will mention other beers that could have easily made the cut from Kane Brewing, but to me, this one made a an immediate impression. Apparently this one will be graduate from the Hop Lab series and be named the Sneak Box, but this juicy pale ale will always be known as Citra Pale Ale to me. It's perfect for a summer day and a growler has frequently come with me to sit outside and enjoy a delightful sunset.
Honorable Mentions: Kane Brewing's Head High, Ripple, & Night Swimming
Carton Brewing - BOAT
Anyone who is a beer drinker, has a pulse, and is from New Jersey just knows this is going to be on the list. The epitome of summer drinking, BOAT is by far and away what a summer beer should be and is. At just 4.2%, it's light enough to enjoy consistently throughout the day as well as packing enough hops and flavor to not disappoint even the most hardcore of hop-heads. What impresses the most is how much Augie Carton has achieved with this beer despite sitting at a lower ABV and with an IBU of just 35. At a time that higher ABV's reigned supreme, Carton was able to masterfully craft a session beer that would make waves around the US drinking landscape.
What are your thoughts?
Remember, I haven't tried every New Jersey summer beer, but these are just a measure of the ones I've loved the most so far. Did I forget anything or did you simply not agree? Feel free to leave comments below or on the Facebook page. I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts.