New Jersey's Most Solid Brewery

Michael Donato, October 30, 2013

We've seen what California's most solid brewery looks like, but California has a ton of people and a ton of breweries, what happens when we check out my home state of New Jersey?

Clearly we can't use the same criteria, because the minimum 10 beers eliminates all but three. Even dropping that to five only adds two more, but at least that gives us five beers that are pretty much what New Jersey has to offer. Clearly New Jersey needs more breweries, and luckily the laws have been slowly changing to make opening a brewery here more appealing. Recently they just changed the laws allowing brewpubs to sell their beer off-premises and to allow visitors to breweries to actually taste and buy beer.




Carton Brewing Company



Kane Brewing Company



Cricket Hill Brewing Co.



River Horse Brewing Co.



Flying Fish Brewing Company



Carton and Kane are probably deserving their spots at the top of this list, but personally I've enjoyed a lot of what I've tried from Flying Fish and usually trust their beers. This list seems to disparage them a little, but they've still got some good beers. Remember we're looking for the most solid brewery, not the one that has the best beers. If you stick to Flying Fish's Exit series, you're probably safe.

As much fun as it might be to have state pride, New Jersey just doesn't have enough to focus on. Eno calculated Fat Head's Brewing as the most solid brewery in the region, but I've never seen that in New Jersey. Many people living in New Jersey are actually living in the suburbs of either New York City or Philadelphia, and the choice of beer will reflect that. So let's add in the border states, including Delaware, and see what happens. 

That gives us 55 breweries, including Iron Hill which is a brewpub with a couple of locations around the region that has good food as well as good beer. It's tagged as being from Delaware so I was overlooking it before, but it shows up now with six beers. 55 is enough to raise the floor of inclusion to 10 beers so let's do that.




Carton Brewing Company



Tired Hands Brewing Company



Yards Brewing Co.



Brewery Ommegang



Captain Lawrence Brewing Company






Southern Tier Brewing Company



Genesee Brewing Company



Blue Point Brewing Company



Ithaca Beer Company



There were 25 total on here, but I just included the top and bottom. Clearly if you haven't tried Carton Brewing yet you should, because the data suggests it's more solid than any other brewery in four states. If you haven't even heard of them you shouldn't feel too bad as they've only been around since 2011 and only distribute their beers via kegs to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and a couple of places in New York. That is changing though, as only a couple of months ago they became the first New Jersey brewery to can beer when they started canning their Boat Beer (6.89 BAR). 

Plenty of decent breweries put out enough clunkers to bring down the their averages. There are beers from Southern Tier and Ithaca that people absolutely rave about, but clearly others that fewer like. I know Blue Point is a brewery I generally trust, and really it's only their Sour Cherry Imperial Stout that's weighing them down and creating the poor variance.

Carton is the only brewery to post a positive BMSE though and even if you drop back down to five beers you only add three more: Kane, Singlecut Beersmiths, and Otto's Pub and Brewery. Otto's is a brewpub in Pennsylvania, and one that I'll now keep in mind if I'm traveling that way, but the other three haven't been around even three years. They've all been around long enough to have full representation in our data, but newer breweries aren't likely to have the volume, and therefore the variance, that some of the bigger breweries will have.

It's clearly very hard to not have a clunker or simply a beer that's not well received.