Wet Ticket Brewing - Rahway, NJ
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with someone and they brought up how some areas in New Jersey are almost saturated with breweries and how yet, Union County had none. I couldn't believe that to be true, so I used the Google magic machine and much to our surprise found that Wet Ticket Brewing is located in Rahway, NJ. Not only that, but I realized that I already had tried at least one of their beers at one of my local bars, B2 Bistro & Bar. Curiosity got the best of me and I just knew I had to visit.
As to what Wet Ticket means, this is a small excerpt from their website: “Wet Ticket,” refers to the individuals who ran for office during the 1930's with the intent to repeal prohibition. Thankfully, the people spoke, and once elected, the Wet Party candidates went on to help repeal Prohibition. These people GET it.
The brewery itself is located in downtown Rahway and upon walking in, it's very open and clean aesthetically. There's something so warm and inviting about a brewery that can get natural light in so easily. The bar counter is rather large and spanning almost the full length of the taproom. There are a few benches for people to sit down and some raised tables with stools placed around. There are a few board games as well for an extra layer of fun to go with your beers.
Pro-tip: If you come here, bring some quarters - just in case. They did have change behind the counter, but in the case you come here and Wet Ticket doesn't have any, you're covered and you can thank me later. The parking on the street has meters and although we were told we could park in the back of the brewery for free... this situation might end eventually. There is also a parking garage across the street. No matter what you pick, it's worth it for the visit.
The tap list is pretty well-rounded. There's a little something for everyone here. Are you just an entry level craft beer enthusiast? The Kolsch, the Pale Ale and the Citra Summer Wheat should do you just fine. Are you looking for a danker and hoppier experience? Spanktown, Grapefruit, and Dream Ticket will definitely fulfill that need. Need a beer that is a little more nuanced and exemplary of its style? The Stout and the American Farmhouse have got you covered. No matter the level of connoisseur, you should be able to grab at least a selection or two to cover your bases before moving onto to more adventurous pastures within the tap list.
So let's run through some of the beers had in the flight with some quick thoughts:
- Kolsch: Very representative of the style. It was clean, crisp and I actually enjoyed the non-hoppy version than the hoppy version of it, which is unusual for me. For someone looking to get into the craft scene, this beer is a great starter, especially in a flight.
- Grapefruit IPA: This was very good and balanced. It had a nice malt backbone to it without feeling very heavy - and yet, retains the fruity aspects of grapefruit within the taste and nose of it.
- Spanktown IPA: This beer was spanking my taste buds, that's for sure. This was in a "harsher" range and probably would be off-putting for anyone just entering the craft beer scene. I did look up this beer, because I wanted to check the IBU's and it was only at 58, but yet, tasted like a delicious and piney beer that might have clocked in over 100. I liked it, just wasn't prepared for it from the nose. It's been a while since I've had a very well made West Coast style IPA. I'm glad I tried this.
- Stout: If you get this in a flight, either have this last - or do what I do if you order a full pour, get a small sample of something else. I love stouts, but I love them even more as they warm up and this is no exception. I tried a bit of it just to get an initial assessment of it, and it was good, but it felt like it was missing something. I let this warm up and then coffee and oatmeal began to shine. It felt richer than when I first tasted it. The coffee isn't overly bitter or in your face aggressive, which makes for some smooth drinking.
The Dream Ticket IPA is a Double/Imperial IPA that is an absolute beast clocking in at 9.5% ABV. Despite the darker color, it doesn't really feel as heavy or malty as some West Coast style IPA's might. The boozy taste is pretty out there but it's never overwhelming. The nose and taste of pine are ever present and this one was a joy to sip on slowly throughout the afternoon. If it's your first time trying an IPA, I'd recommend starting with one of the others first because this one is a "strong" one for newer taste buds entering the craft game. Out of the full lineup of IPA's, this was easily the dankest one. As it warms up, the fruity tastes of pineapple and passion fruit seem to prevail. This one was absolutely good enough to require a full pour... for research purposes.
A very nice surprise - the Citra Summer Wheat is EXCELLENT. I had this as a throw-in into the flight and was blown away by the wonderful nose on this beer. I crossed my fingers and had a sip, because I've been let down by wheat beers with a great nose to it only to have an underwhelming drinking experience... not at Wet Ticket. For a beer that was there was a test batch, I will go ahead and say this NEEDS to be in the regular rotation for spring/summer. It's a very simple and yet well made beer. Coming off of two days of 60 degree weather, I was absolutely feeling this beer. At 5.6% it's highly drinkable and to be honest - it drinks more like a session beer would. For anyone afraid of a hoppier beer but enjoys their wheat beers, give this a chance. For anyone who isn't really into wheat beers, you need to give this a chance.
Open since November 2016, I'm actually very surprised how under the radar this brewery has flown and to that I say - NO MORE. I was very impressed by the spectrum of beers at Wet Ticket Brewing, given the fact that they've only been opened for about 3 to 4 months. Sometimes breweries need a while to get used to the scale of their equipment and to get their recipes down, but it looks like in this case, Tim & Al (owners) have gotten it down and are beginning to dial in bolder recipes. I wouldn't mind seeing what they can do with a porter and some variations with the stout.
My favorites overall were: Dream Ticket, Spanktown, Stout, Citra Summer Wheat. Not to say the rest were bad, but this is simply to give you a baseline of what I enjoyed the most. Certainly, try them all and come to your own conclusions... BUT, is Wet Ticket Brewing worth the visit? In my opinion: Absolutely YES. They nail the simpler beers and have also been able to create their own versions of classic and contemporary beer styles that are sure to please many. There's room for improvement and plenty of room for growth and I fully believe they can realize that potential in this calendar year. Wet Ticket Brewing, you shall be a secret no more.