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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Show Your Support for A-4602 and Help NJ Craft Breweries

Thanks to the folks at NJCB (New Jersey Craft Beer) for sending this email this morning. If you love NJ Craft Beer, take a moment and send an email to the members of the Regulatory Oversight Committee. You can just copy and paste and make the changes to the parts in red

New Jersey Craft Beer
As you know if you've visited a New Jersey brewery, tours are required before consumption on site and there are other laws that should be modified. Here's where you come in. 
Send this email to ALL these listed here and change the INFORMATION HIGHLIGHTED to your personal information by TODAY, Thursday, June 15 at 2PM.
Dear Chairman Gusciora and Members of the Regulatory Oversight Committee,
I am writing you today as a New Jersey based VOTER, CRAFT BEER CONSUMER, ETC to express my support for A-4602 (Lampitt/Singleton/DeAngelo), which removes the requirement that limited licensed breweries provide tours for consumers and permits certain food consumption on premise, and ask that you please vote in favor of it on Monday June 19th.
The intent of this legislation is to afford New Jersey breweries a meaningful level of parity with other in-state craft alcohol producers, as well as craft breweries nationwide, in the areas of food availability and tour requirements.  This puts New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage to our neighboring states. While many breweries may still offer a voluntary tour to their customers if this bill is passed, I believe that mandatory tour requirements are not workable, especially when beer production and packaging is often taking place in close quarters.

Regarding the issue of food and snacks at a brewery, most states explicitly allow the sale or free offering of food, with some, like Pennsylvania, requiring food be available at a brewery if beer is being sold for on premise consumption. In New Jersey, both classes of winery license, plenary winery and farm winery, have no tour requirement and have no prohibition regarding the sale or free offering of any types of food, including light snacks, and allow restaurants to be operated on a winery’s licensed premise. Also, bi-partisan legislation recently signed into law in May 2017 (A-3351 / S-2570, PL 2017, c. 80) creating a state license to manufacture mead and hard cider, contains no tour requirement and allows for the sale and/or gratuitous offering of “light snacks”. A-4602 mirrors the provisions of this new mead and hard cider license.
Thank you for allowing me to express my support for A-4602, and for your consideration of my request to post the legislation for a vote in your committee this month.
Respectfully,
YOUR NAME AND CITY/TOWN, NJ.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10 Tips to Having A Blast at Craft Beer Fest

Yesterday, I wrote about how to decide which Beer Festivals to attend and what to do before you go.
You can check that out here: Prepare for Beer Festival Season
Today, I have some tips that I have learned along the way that can make your day of beer a true festival.

1. AVOID THE STUFF YOU SEE EVERYDAY
Craft Beer Festivals give you the chance to try local breweries and beers that you may not always have access to in your area.  In order to make the most of the day and to stay as coherent as possible while doing it, avoid the beers you see in your local beer store each day.  That means not getting a sample of Samuel Adams Summer Ale or Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.

2. GO TALK TO THE PEOPLE FROM YOUR FAVORITE BREWERY, BUT DON'T DRINK ALL THEIR BEER (YET!)
One of my favorite stops at a Beer Fest,
I usually end my day at their spot.
I know that it might sound odd that the first two tips for going to a Craft Beer Fest are "don't drink beer"... especially when you know that you like the beer.  Hear me out though. You know you like the beer from your favorite place. You have been to the brewery, you have growlers and glasses with their logo on it, in fact you are wearing their t-shirt at the Beer Fest. So save yourself some alcohol content and don't get a sample of all that they have, but don't avoid them like they have cooties. Go on over, say hello, shake their hands, and see what they got. One of my favorite breweries,  Bolero Snort, always brings a firkin of one of their beers with a little added touch. Maybe your favorite brewery will bring their porter and add peanut butter cups to it and give you a whole new beer tasting experience.  If not, tell them you will see them later and then end the day at their tent.

3. TRY A NEW...
Brewery
Beer
Style of Beer (or give another chance to one you might not have liked in the past)

You may be an IPA guy. You might be wearing a shirt that says Haze for Daze. Either way, after 12 IPA's its going to be very difficult to notice the difference between them all. You will also have a hard time getting the subtle aromas and flavors after trying 22 ounces of beer. So take a chance and try that Gose or a Barleywine. Try the new brewery with the funny name that you have't gotten to visit yet.  Try a different style of beer from the brewery that you only buy IPA's from. 2 ounces of beer is a good time to take a chance on something new. Which leads me to...

4. Don't be a fraud to pour out a beer that you really do not like.
I know it a major party foul, but its not like that was the last beer in your fridge. You also don't have to be rude about it. Take your tasting glass. Take a sip. (Cringe) Walk away from the nice brewer that gave you the beer. Take another sip ( you always have to give it another shot). If its still a no go than pour it out at the next stop.  There is no gain in drinking unwanted beer.  Every beer is not for everyone.

5. KEEP YO HEAD UP & STAY OFF YOUR PHONE
 -- What?!? How do I check in to all my beers on Untappd? 
I have tried to check in and rate beers on Untappd at a Beer Fest and it is a pain in the butt. You end up holding up your group or the people in line behind you. You also end up miss out on talking to people around you and soaking in the festivities of the Beer Fest.  
This also goes for most other social media. Social media is a big part of our lives and the craft beer scene, but Craft Beer Fests are for us to be social with the people there.
I now only check into one beer on Untappd while I am at the Beer Fest and then put it away for the rest of the time there. I keep a record of beers that I liked by taking pictures of the tap, the sign or whatever the brewery has that tells you about the beer.  I can then check in beers that I liked later on.  I also take notes on a piece of paper or on the notes app on my phone if there is a beer that stands out.  When I do get around to Untappd later that day or the next day, I will usually only check in 7-10 beers, usually my favorites or ones that I purposely sought out that day. 
Using your phone less for social media means the battery will last longer which will help you a lot later when you need to find your lost friend or call an Uber.
But do you use your phone to...

6. TAKE PICTURES OF PEOPLE NOT JUST BEER
I take pictures of beer with baseball cards and baseball hats. That is a hobby of mine. Beer Fests are a lot about the beer, but they are also a lot about the people who make it and drink it. Take photos with old friends, new friends, brewers, people wearing funny hats or anyone who wants to photobomb your photo.  Be social and meet some new people and capture those moments because after the last beer is sipped, the thing you will probably remember the most are the good times you had with the people you shared it with.

7. DO YOU
Wear that hat you afraid to wear, wear a bandana, dress in matching costumes, buy gold sneakers with your hashtag on the back and wear them proudly. The craft beer scene is all about standing out and doing something different, so don't be afraid to do it and be you. Bonus: You will get to pose for a lot of pictures with your Abraham Lincoln hat on and get to talk to a lot of people.

8.  EAT EARLIER RATHER THAN LATER
At most of the Craft Beer Festivals that I have attended, the food offered was usually independent food trucks or vendors with some delicious homemade treats. Get to them early because if they are good, you will spend a lot of time waiting in line waiting for the food or they will run out.

9.  TALK TO A BREWER AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT RYAN BRAUN (MILWAUKEE BREWERS' OUTFIELDER)
Talk to someone who makes beer. Ask them about their favorite beer, how they got started, what their favorite style of beer to make is and how they came up with the funny name for their stout.  It's really neat to hear about these things from the people who make beer. Most are very down to earth and are happy to talk about their beer.  Little piece of advice: Instead of holding up the line and bombarding them with questions. Get your tasting, step to the side and introduce yourself. Then ask a question or two and move on. You don't want to monopolize their time when they need to evangelize to others about their brews.

10.  USE THE LAST HOUR WISELY.
Here is how a 3 hour beer tasting session (12-3pm) goes.
1:00PM: "Wow, we still have 2 hours left."
1:30PM: "Man, I am hungry, let's get some BBQ and chill for a minute."
2:00PM: "One hour left, still lots of time to get that beer.'
2:50PM: "Ahhhh, we didn't get to that whole side of the field!!!!"
3:00PM: "I need to go get some of that hot sauce!"

The last hour flies by. So look around and find something that you may have missed. Maybe take this moment to go buy that Blood Type: IPA shirt that you really liked. This is great chance to stop back by your favorite brewery and grab a taste of your favorite red ale that they have or retry that delicious blueberry saison you had in the first hour. Whatever you do, always have a beer with you because when the clock strikes 3 its over.

Craft Beer Festivals are a very unique experience and if you have never attended one before, I do recommend it. It offers you a great chance to try new beers and be social with others who like beer too.
LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE HEADING OUT TO ANY BEER FESTS 
OR CAN RECOMMEND SOME GOOD ONES. 

SHARE A FEW OF YOUR TIPS TO MAKING THE MOST OF A BEER FEST. 

STAY SAFE AND HAVE A BLAST! 
🍻








Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Beer Fest Season

The weather is getting warmer (well not really here in NJ) and that means Beer Fest Season is upon us.  It is one of my favorite times of the year for me because you get to be outside, drink beer and hang out with friends and meet new people. I get pretty excited and it kind of reminds me of this scene from Wedding Crashers.



While our goals may be different, my enthusiasm matches that of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.  Heading out to beer fest, just like with crashing a wedding, requires planning.    If you want to read an excellent article on how to prep for a Beer Fest, check out CraftBeerJoe's article Seven Ways to Prepare for a Craft Beer Festival.  I usually attend 3-5 beer fest a year and I have my plan pretty well laid out, so while I may skip some of the steps that CraftBeerJoe suggests, know that I already have taken into account for them.  So whether you have never attended a festival or you are a seasoned vet, here a few things to help you get ready for your Beer Fest!

Before we get started on the what, where and how's of Craft Beer Festivals, you need to ponder this question...   What are you going to the festival to do? 
  1. Drink as much beer as possible
  2. Try some new beers
  3. Hang out with friends and meet some new ones
  4. Get to know more about the craft beers and breweries 
All viable reasons, but each requires planning. 

I go to Beer Fests for a mix of the the last three, so I will be talking about it from that perspective.

LARGE OR SMALL, DAY OR NIGHT - THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU GO
I have done big Craft Beer Festivals and small ones. While the larger ones give you more options and usually offer more than just beer (concert, zoo, etc), the smaller ones will give you a chance to talk with the brewers, sample the foods, and usually don't have lines.  Before you buy your tickets, talk to someone who has gone the festival before and ask them how it was or do some research and find reviews or photos from the event.  
I personally like the smaller Beer Fests because they feel less like a marathon and more like a backyard bottleshare. I am a talker so I like to chat up the brewery owners and talk about their beers and find out more about them and why the do what they do. The smaller beer festivals also have a more laid back feel to me as opposed to the college frat like feeling, I sometimes get from the larger ones.  
Most Craft Beer Festivals will offer a day session (12-3pm) and an evening (7-10pm). I like day drinking, so I always go with the afternoon session.  I look at it like this: If you are drinking beer all day, you are not going to be very productive that day. If you are drinking beer all night, you may not be in great shape the next day too. I recover better during the day after a nap, shower and a meal so it works for me. If you are the type of person that doesn't get hungover, then maybe the night one may fit your schedule better.

TICKETS, TICKETS, PLEASE
Know when to buy your tickets. Many of the bigger beer festivals will sell out. So if you have your heart set on a certain event, check out the date months before it happens. Not only is this helpful to getting a ticket, but you may also get it cheaper when you buy as an early bird special. Most well established festivals will be the same weekend each year.  One of the bigger Craft Beer Festivals in my area, Brew at the Zoo at Turtleback Zoo sells out in a week. Many friends have mine have missed out on this one because they didn't know they went on sale.  This year, I am the guy who missed out on a ticket! Be a good friend and when you are buying your tickets, send a message out to your beer drinking buddies.

Sign up for those apps that send you local events and deals. Living Social and Groupon are great ways to get notified when tickets go on sale or are discounted. Those site will also sometimes offer deals to use at local breweries, so its well worth the gigabytes on your phone. 

UBER IMPORTANT
As the date gets closer, be sure to plan the logistics. How are you getting there? How are you getting home? Who is going and what time are we meeting?  Most beer festivals will give you a tasting glass and you will receive a 2 ounce pour for each beer. That doesn't sound like much but they add up quickly, not to mention some are higher ABV than others. After sampling beers all day, we all need a designated driver. Either bring a non drinking friend and buy them a designated driver ticket or arrange for a ride or ride service.  

PREPPING FOR FESTING
I start hardcore prepping for a Beer Fest three days beforehand. Since you will be consuming a lot of different beers and since most festivals are outside this means you need to: 

  • Check the Weather Forecast - This makes a difference on what shoes you will wear, what you need to bring with you (poncho or sunscreen), and the setup of the day. If it does rain will they move it indoors or will you be soggy for hours? 
  • Hydrate - I start hydrating and planning out my meals a few days before a festival. Your body needs water, but at a Beer Fest you are giving it beer, so the water you drink a few days in advance will help keep you afloat later on. 
  • Print Out the Tickets - It is a nice backup just in case something doesn't work when you get to your destination.
  • Fuel Up - I plan my meals so that I won't be drinking on an empty or too full of a stomach.  Last year, I ate 3 hot dogs within the hour before we left and midway through the 3 hour session, I was bloated and full.  So knowing your body and how it works at an optimal level is important. I usually go with a good meal the night before (something that won't send you running to the bathrooms the next day) and two smaller meals the morning of (oatmeal, eggs, cereal). 
  • Plan Your Outfit - This one is probably just a "me" thing, but I have a Beer Fest outfit. It is
    comfortable, functional, and meant to be fun.  I have a few different beer shirts that often end up being conversation starters (more on that later) that I rotate through season of beer festing. Shorts with pockets that button are important because they prevent you from losing your wallet or cool swag that the breweries hand out. And the final piece is always comfortable footwear. With lots of walking and standing, you want some support. My footwear of choice happens to be gold Nike sneakers with custom #Brew162 on the back, which tend to standout, but look pretty sweet.
  • Make Your Necklace - Most festivals won't let you bring food in, but they will let you wear it. The Pretzel Necklace is a Beer Fest staple that you will see all around you.  Let me start by saying, it is not comfortable to wear or is it the most fashionable accessory, but when you are waiting in line for a pour, it will come in handy and will also help cleanse your palate of that not so great tasting you just had.  It is also super cheap and easy to make, so save yourself a few bucks at the festival and be "that guy wearing the pretzel necklace." Single guys: It is a great way to attract ladies who just need a little snack. 
  • CHARGE!!!! Your Phone - You will lose your friends at some point and need to call them. You will also need to call your ride or order an Uber, so having a full charge is important.

CHECK THE SITE & PLAN YOUR ATTACK 

This is a very crucial step for having a great day, so it gets its own bold and all caps heading.  The larger Craft Beer Festivals will require more planning, simply because they are larger, there will be more people there and there are so many options. 

The first thing to do is to check out the Beer Fest's website. Check for the list of breweries, the food and rest areas, and the bathrooms.  If there is a map or layout, I always print it out. This gives you a good idea of the space you have and where you want to start. 

Some Craft Beer Festivals will tell you the breweries that are attending and the beers that they will be offering. If this is the case, make a list of 10 beers (that's about 20 ounces of beer) that you really want to try and try them first. This way you will be able to most enjoy them, write stuff down about them, and remember them. After that take a break, grab some food and then go back out and try some other new stuff.  The Great Beer Expo at the Meadowlands does a great job of prepping people before hand through their website. They have maps, the beer list and host of other information.
Most of the Craft Beer Festivals that I have attended, only offer you the list of breweries that are coming. For those, I will usually pick 5-6 that I absolutely want to try and hit them up first.  

I usually split a 3 hour session up into parts: 
1st hour: Try new beers or breweries
2nd hour: Eat, Chat with a Brewer, Find stuff that I may have passed up
3rd hour: Talk with others, hang out with friends revisit favorite beers

Brew at the Zoo 2016
Beer, Animals and Good Friends
I know this sounds like a lot of planning just to go drink beer, but like anything in life when you plan ahead, you can enjoy the celebration so much more. Craft Beer Festivals are supposed to be fun, so I try to take care of all the details before I get there so that I can make the most of my time. Not having to worry about what to eat or where to park leaves you with the freedom to enjoy drinking beer and enjoying the company of others. So now that you have your plan and are all prepared, its time to drink some beers and share good times with others. Come back tomorrow for the Brew162 Tips to a Great Beer Festival. 












Show Your Support for A-4602 and Help NJ Craft Breweries

Thanks to the folks at NJCB (New Jersey Craft Beer) for sending this email this morning. If you love NJ Craft Beer, take a moment and send a...