Ship Bottom Brewery - Beach Haven, NJ
I've long anticipated the opening of Ship Bottom Brewery in Beach Haven, and finally that day has come. Although it took me much longer than I would have liked to finally visit the brewery, this momentous event finally transpired. Over the past two years, I've had quite the memorable experience discovering Ship Bottom beers at the most random of places. The first time I ever had one of their beers was at Jamian's, about a year ago. I just knew it was the fall/winter and they had a stout on tap. I didn't know what Ship Bottom was but on first sip that Barnacle Bottom Stout was something else. It wasn't until I had the same stout at B2 Bistro & Bar that I decided that I needed to look more into the brewery.
Surprisingly, the brewery named after a New Jersey town was based in Wallingford, Pennsylvania and its owner, Rob Zarko, has been making beer forever. I've crossed paths with Rob and his beers throughout several beerfests as well. Each time, I've discussed with heightened excitement the possibility of having more of his brews with a widened availability. And now... here we are.
Drive up to the brewery and you'll notice the location and the surrounding beauty. For plenty of New Jersey craft beer veterans, the first noticeable thing is that it is not located in a hard to find industrial complex. Keep that in mind or you might think the GPS is lying to you. Walk up a flight of stairs, and there you are - Beach Haven's first brewery!
At the time of my visit, there were 9 beers on tap and I kid you not, there's something for everyone here. I've been to other breweries where they catered specifically to one or two styles of beer. Although that might be nice to see a brewery master one specific style, sometimes you want to dip your feet into the pool of everything. The assortment was great, from a wheat ale to IPA's to a lager and then more... you can feel comfortable bringing anyone here and they are sure to find something that they will enjoy.
Given its location, I thought for sure that during the colder months of fall/winter, I'd be able to walk around comfortably and take plenty of pictures. I was wrong, and I'm very glad that I was. I was there on a Saturday afternoon and the place was plenty packed. I, for one, am happy for this because I think the potential for growth is huge. The place is quite the looker itself from the outside and has a charming view for that ever elusive sunset beer.
So let's dig deeper into the anatomy of some of the Ship Bottom Beers:
- Stupid Paddle Boat: Session IPA that is sure to please. It has some bite to it, but clocking in under 5%, I really enjoyed this beer a lot. This is a session with some kick to it and doesn't taste like a glass full of hop water. I'd definitely have this again, especially during beach activities.
- The Shack: flagship IPA for Shipbottom. It's a West Coast style IPA, so fair warning to all of you looking for a haze monster, this is not it. This is a well done west coast IPA that presents the hops quite nicely with the malt backbone that goes along with it. Definitely worth a try for any who are looking for a pretty good representation of the style.
- Blueberry Bikini Bottom: I'll preface this beer with this - I'm not a huge fan of wheat ales, much less flavored, but I'm always willing to give everything a try. This beer does bring out the blueberry flavor from within but for me, it was a little too straightforward. I'm not saying this is bad, but it's not for me. With that said, I know of a few people who would absolutely love this beer! If you're into the sweeter and lighter side of beers, this is definitely worth trying.
- Barnacle Bottom Stout: Quite possibly my favorite beer from Shipbottom and one of my favorite New Jersey stouts, as well. There is such a rich, chocolate flavor to this beer that I can't help myself but have a pour whenever I see it on tap. As much as I love to ruin a good thing, I wouldn't even mind seeing variants of this beer in the future... but I'd still love it just as much even if that didn't happen. For a 8.4% beer, this drinks remarkably smooth and hides the booziness really well. If you're a stout lover, this is a must try!
Differing from what seems to be the norm of brewery-in-an-industrial-complex format, Ship Bottom is conveniently located with a view towards the bay-side, where I am sure many a sunsets are enjoyed while having a quality beer such as the Double Overhead IPA. Behind the "flights' above, you can see there were some cans. Although not on tap, I knew enough and had tasted enough to feel confident about taking a six pack home. It's a West Coast double IPA with a darker color but pretty hop forward. I definitely enjoyed having a can of that to go , so that I could sit back, kick my feet up and drink while watching a football game. If you can get your hands on some of it, definitely give it a shot. During the late fall and winter, I tend to enjoy a maltier IPA with some bite to it and this definitely check those boxes very nicely.
You should go to Ship Bottom Brewery, whether it be in the winter or during the summer. The surrounding location is nice, the view from the window is beautiful, and most importantly, the beer is worth trying. With the ample selection that was on tap, I can confidently say that there is something for everyone here - from craft beer rookies all the way up to craft beer veteran status. I also love the presentation of the "flights" here at Ship Bottom, it's unique and different. Of course, I LOVE the Barnacle Bottom Stout but I really enjoyed the Stupid Paddle Boat and am dying to try the Baconator Stout.
I'm so glad that my dream of seeing Ship Bottom fully move to New Jersey has come to fruition and can't wait to see some of the beers more widely available. Be sure to give them a visit, have a few samples or five (responsibly, of course). My advice: Try to grab those window seats, sip, and enjoy!