Beer Meister’s March Thoughts – Tommy Brennan0
There’s been a lot going on here at Old Bay the last couple of months. If you stopped by for Mardi Gras, you probably saw the new brand spanking new paint job and logo. We’ve jumped in our time machine here and brought back our logo from when we first opened the doors 30 years ago. Nowadays we’re letting our fresh fish do the talking. For 30 years, we’ve been NJ’s premier New Orleans Style Restaurant and Craft Beer Bar; we’ve taken a step back from our roots and are moving ahead with some of the freshest seafood NJ has to offer. Now, we’re not crazy, you can still get a heaping share of Jambalaya and our other Louisiana Specialties.
As far as the bar goes, not much is changing except for the décor. We’ve transformed our lower bar area into a modern day tap room to showcase our ever changing beer selection. The change came while I and a few beer reps were sitting around talking about all of the breweries popping up in NJ. While we absolutely support the local breweries, you can’t help but think how that has changed the market for bars and restaurants. Instead of going down to your local watering hole, maybe you swing by a brewery for a tasting during happy hour, and bring a growler home to sip on later. It is with this new dynamic in mind that we will now be hosting “Brewery Nights”.
Any bar worth their weight in craft beer knows that Tap Takeovers can be a great way to drive a certain breweries numbers while also giving you a fun night out. We still will be doing our stylized takeovers such as Stout City and IPA Alley; but when it comes to “Brewery Night” we wanted to change the game a bit. So our first Brewery Night will be on Wednesday, March 29th from 7pm on. We’re bringing in Middlesex’s own Demented Brewing Company. We’ll be pouring the beer, and they’re gonna be shmoozin’ and boozin’ with you all night. Selling merchandise you can only get at the brewery, and we’ll have tastings, flights, and growler specials for the night. So, in theory, we’ll be bringing the brewery to Old Bay.
I met owner Tom Zuber a couple years back at AC Beer Fest, and we got to talking a little bit about beer, and him buying shirts off of my brother. Fast forward 2 years later, he’s got his own brewery in Middlesex, My brother creates all of their merch, and helps them run their tasting room. So I figured, this time around I’ll keep this one in the family. So come on out for what should be a really fun night in our newly decorated tap room and fill up on some beer, and bring home some cool stuff.
Until next month, which by the way the folks, Neshaminy Creek will be doing our second Brewery night.
Cheers to great beer!
It’s been a while everyone. I hope a lot of you made it out to Stout City in January. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy here at Old Bay, and those of you who have come through our doors within the last couple of months have experienced some of the drastic changes going on here. In our thirtieth year here in New Brunswick we’ve decided to “grow up” a little bit.
As far as the beer goes, you know you’ll always be able to find awesome beers on tap and in our fridges. That will always remain the same as being one of New Jersey’s first craft beer bars. We’re planning some really fun things in the months to come. We’re giving our tap takeovers a little overhaul in the coming months. It’s something I think everyone will really enjoy. We’re going to call them Brewery Nights, so the takeover will feature what you can get at their brewery, but also some rarities that might only be brewery exclusive. We’ll offer growler fills on special, flights and tastings. So the idea, is that we’re bringing the brewery experience to you!
We’re also shining the spotlight on our Seafood expertise. For decades when you thought Cajun/Creole food, there was no where else to go but The Old Bay. Now, we’re taking our love of fresh fish and seafood, and making that the emphasis on your dining experience. Sure, you’ll still find all of your Louisiana Favorites on our menu, we’re not crazy, but you’ll also be amazed by our new and fresh Seafood options.
Mardi Gras is steadily approaching and you know where to be! Once again, Magic Hat will be here with the beads, the masks, and the giveaways. A trip to Vermont for Magic Hat’s Mardi Gras Party? You bet! Maybe I’ll see the lucky winner there this year!
Have you tried our new Mystery Flight? It’s a fun little game where you purchase a flight and try to guess what beers they are? If you get them right you are dubbed an Old Bay Sultan of Suds, your very own Old Bay Growler, a $25 Gift Card, your photo on the wall, and all of the fame and glory that comes with it. You can play Tuesday through Thursday from 6-9pm. It really is a fun time for you and your friends. So come on down and try to best the Beer Meister!
Hope to see everyone here for Mardi Gras and until next time…
Cheers to great beer!
Beer Meister’s November Thoughts – Tommy Brennan0
Welcome to another installment of my blog devoted to beer and beer happenings here at The Old Bay. Hopefully everyone got a chance to stop in and taste some awesome beer that The Garden State has to offer. All of the guys from Carton, Boler, Forgotten Boardwalk, Brix City, Dark City, Cypress, Demented, and more were here for the event. So I hope you had a chance to have some great beers and make some new friends. I know I did. Some of these breweries was their first time gracing our taps. So I kinda wanna know what you thought, and who you liked. You can comment here, or leave a post on our Facebook page.
November is upon us, the weather is getting colder, and the beer is getting heavier. I’ve got some goodies lined up for the taps; but honestly, after Oktoberfest, and the NJ Takeover, my walk in box has gotten loaded with some great beer that just hasn’t made it on the lines yet. So, with that being said, I said to myself, “Self, what if we just did a sort of Pot Luck beer night?”. A collection of some of the rarer goodies that I have down there and maybe offer them up as growler specials as well.
I’ve got a few kegs from Stone, The Bruery, Southern Tier, Mispillion River, and Carton that have been screaming to be tapped. So I’m thinking maybe November 16th, the week before Thanksgiving. We’ll tap some awesomely rare beer and make a night of it. Obviously, there are some other awesome beers down there that won’t be tapped until Stout City IV in January. Which, is a whole different party in and of itself.
I’d also like to take the time to thank the critics over at New Jersey Monthly for selecting The Old Bay for the second year in a row as the Best beer Selection in Central NJ. It’s been an honor and a privilege to work on the Beer Selection here at The Old Bay, and it’s about damn time someone noticed…two years in a row. LOL
So, for now, stay tuned to our social media outlets, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as the date grows closer, I’ll start leaving clues, or taking photos of what’s getting tapped.
Until then, Cheers to great beer!
Hey beer fans! Another installment from yours truly; last year around this time we were talking about Oktoberfest beers and the celebration itself. If you don’t believe me you can keep scrolling down until you find it. While our 27th Annual Oktoberfest Celebration is on its way along with a bevy of delicious beers we also have our NJ Tap Takeover this month. That’s a lot of awesome beer to run through in thirty one days.
Let’s talk about what we do here for Oktoberfest. This year on Sunday October 9th, we open the doors at 1pm and let all that delicious beer free! The staff, including myself, will probably look a little ridiculous in our traditional German outfits (mine’s actually a tuxedo t-shirt). We’ll also have giveaways from Hoffbrau, who will have a classic line up of beer brewed in Munich. We’ll have live German Oompah Music from our go to guys, Alpine Express. Food? You know it! No one goes hungry on Oktoberfest. We’ll have brats and sausages being grilled in the beer garden, and our amazing German style buffet. Pretzel fried chicken anyone? Yeah, it’s kind of our thing. Then, when your bellies get full, and the Oompah band shoves off, we’ve got Jam Lab rocking us deep into the late hours of the party. If you’ve never been here for Oktoberfest, I’m honestly surprised. So don’t miss out on that one.
As far as the Jersey Tap Takeover goes, we’re looking at Wednesday, October 26th. All of the beers will be ready to go at 4pm, and will include some of our favorite and newer breweries popping up in the Garden State. So far, we’re looking at Carton, Bolero Snort, Forgotten Boardwalk, Departed Soles, Magnify and new comer Czig Meister from Hackettstown. So stay tuned to our Facebook page and Instagram for all the incoming beer that I’ll be loading up on for the event.
As far as what I’m craving lately in beer. As a hop head I love a nice hoppy rye this time of the year. RYEPA’s are a little more earthy and malty, but that hop freshness plays very well. Carton has a good one: Red Rye Returning. So I’ll actually have to call my guy about that. Hmmmmm…maybe for the Jersey Takeover…or my fridge at home.
I hope to see all of you at our upcoming events, and until then…
Cheers to great beer!
The dog days of summer are behind us and we look forward to the fall and winter months right around the corner. I already have the regular guests asking me when the Oktoberfest beers will be coming in. Meanwhile, the top is still down on my Jeep, and Oktoberfest while already in the works, its that last thing I’m thinking about bringing into my walk – in until all my Sours of Summer are gone. Scratch that. Pumpkin beers are the last thing on my mind.
The beer business moves quickly though and that’s the constant headache of which beers to grab, and when. When my reps came in at the beginning of August to try and sell me some pumpkin beers I knew fall is on its way…and frankly some breweries might be jumping the gun. Dunkin Donuts is already brewing pumpkin coffee. I KNOW! RIGHT?!? All in due time kids…I’m not saying I despise pumpkin beers, all I’m saying, while the sun and grills are still hot, let’s chill out on the cinnamon and nutmeg for a month.
So, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what’s going on here at The Old Bay? Well, even though I’m sure Oktoberfest will be here before you can say “Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft”!
We’ve got some partying of our own to do before that happens. With Fat Tuesday only about six months away it’s time for our Halfway to Mardi Gras Party! Beads, tunes, food, it’s all a part of what we do here. I’ve asked our friends at Magic Hat to throw us some giveaways and such so stay tuned for that. The ON7 band will be kicking off the party at 9pm on the Tuesday after Labor Day; Sept. 6th to be exact.
I’ve also got a tap takeover with Ithaca Brewing Co. in the works for Sept. 21st. They really make some awesome brews. Flower Power anyone? So while I’m sitting here I decided to find out a little bit more about their tap room. It kind of sounds amazing; they have food! Not just your ordinary food truck or snack foods. They specialize in farm to table eats; which I never would’ve expected after searching Google. They opened their doors in 1998, and have been cranking out some gems for all of to enjoy ever since. So we’re gonna have some great beer from them and hopefully a couple of special ones you can’t get around here.
So, while the sun maybe setting on our Summer here, and the pumpkins are dying to be tapped. Come out for the Halfway to Mardi Party for a helluva night, and then come and taste some great beers from Ithaca, because it’s an absolutely gorgeous day. Warm sun, beautiful women, and the air is just right for drinking.
Until next time, cheers to great beer!
WOW! That was one sweltering July! Hopefully everyone got a little time away for the hustle and bustle, tried some new beers or breweries on their adventures. We’ve got a lot going on here at The Old Bay this Month. Our Shellfish Festival kicks off on August 5th and that’s always one of my favorite festivals. Lobster…crabs…great beer. It really doesn’t get much better.
Speaking of great beer, we also have our Sours of Summer event on August 17th. I still can’t quite wrap my taste buds around sour beers. I’m getting there, but it’s taking a little while. It really is a niche market of beer lovers that can dig in on some mouth puckering flavors. So while I’ll still have some of the OG sours on tap, I’ve also delved into some local breweries who do fun and exciting things with sours.
From one of my favorite breweries in Jersey, we’re serving up another helping of Carton’s Monkey Chased the Weasel. It’s actually made from the real mulberries that grow around the brewery, which I think is pretty cool. It’s got a nice flavor and eases you into the sour realm. Now, some of you, including them may chastise me for this, but I think MCTW is a much better sour than some of their other sour offerings. Intermezzo…if you’ve had it, it smells like a foot to me. Now yes, some of you will say, that’s how it’s supposed to taste, and maybe you love it. Not this guy!
Another fun beer we’re bringing in is Bolero Snorts Bomb Pop Berliner. Which just sounds fun; Reminiscent of those old school popsicles that scream America while your riding your BMX down your street before helmets were invented. Bolero has been having a lot of fun with their beer lately. I think they’re having fun, either that, or they’ve all gone completely mad. They’ve had a Creamsicle Pale Ale, and they recently released an Ecto Cooler Session IPA which has a really good flavor to it…but…it’s not green. Bummer, I know!
I’ve also got a couple of reserve barrels from Goose Island out of Chicago. Which were very had to come by and I had to sell my soul to the devil to get them. The sour event is starting to take shape with a couple of other goodies coming in the next week or so. So if you love sours, or if you want to try to get into them, I hope to see you here.
Until next month, cheers to great…sour beer!
Hello fellow beer aficionados, imbibers and nerds. Welcome back to another one of my beer blogs. As the summer starts to heat up I got to thinking about cold beer. Well, to be honest, I think about it a lot in my position here. I also got to thinking about the correct temperature for beer to be enjoyed at. Why? Just because; Actually I got to thinking about 6 years back when I was slinging suds on the Jersey Shore. A couple of sales guys were coming in to check out my beer lines at the time as we were looking into a new draft system. They were bragging that their beer lines could keep the beer at thirty degrees from keg to glass. That’s just a smidge below freezing, and then my buddy and I got to talking about the proper temperature. Now, we had a few craft beer lines at that place, but mostly your easy drinking light beers mostly on special for two bucks a night. Which I’m sure if you wanted to let’s say “tap the rockies”, wouldn’t be an issue.
For craft beer though, that’s just too cold. You lose all of the subtle nuances that the brewers put in there for your enjoyment. So I’ve stolen a little list of temperatures that you can go by to enjoy your wonderfully crafted beer to the fullest.
- 35–40°F (2–4°C): Mass market light lagers
- 40–45°F (4–7°C): Czech and German Pilsners, Munich Helles, wheat beers, and Kölsch
- 45–50°F (7–10°C): IPAs, American pale ales, porters, and most stouts
- 50–55°F (10–13°C): Belgian ales, sour ales, Bocks, English bitters and milds, Scottish ales
- 55–60°F (13–16°C): Barleywines, imperial stouts, Belgian strong ales, and Doppelbocks
Now, most craft beer joints, such as us, make sure that all the beers pour at around 34 to 35 degrees. Reason being is the amount of foam that pours out. If a beer is coming from a keg “too hot” then you’re going to have a lot of foamy issues. A lot of the connoisseurs that come through these doors let their beer rest for a little bit; especially the dark ones. There really is nothing better than a warmed up imperial stout.
So, next time you grab an ice cold brew, think about the temps. Let it sit a little bit and then try a sip. You’ll be glad you did.
Now that we’re passed the technicalities of temperature for taste, let’s talk about a special tasting coming up. This month we’ll be taking our Kegs & Eggs Tour to Neshaminy Creek in Croydon, PA. Leading up to the event we’ll have some of their really good beer on tap here to get a taste of things to come.
Located in lower Bucks County, PA they actually use the Neshaminy Creek as the water source for all of their beer. They brew great beer that’s got a little edge to it. I’ve heard great things about their brewery and can’t wait to take the trip and grab some brews and some shwag. So stay tuned for that trip towards the end of the month and until then…
Cheers to great (well temp) beer!
Hey everyone, and welcome back to another installment of my blog. Hopefully you made it out to IPA Alley last month. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but it was one helluva line-up. From Single IPAs to Triple IPAs there was something for every hop head out there. So, what’s on tap for this month?
In last months blog I mentioned a little plan to do a brew tour once a month. I’m super stoked to say it’s happening. The Old Bay’s Kegs and Eggs Brew Tour kicks off this month with a trip to Cherry Hill, NJ to visit our friends at Forgotten Boardwalk; but before I get into all about them and what they do, let’s finalize what the The Kegs and Eggs Brew Tour is all about.
One Sunday a month we’ll all meet here at The Old Bay for a breakfast buffet and then take a party bus to that month’s location. While en route, we’ll be sipping on one of the breweries beers to keep the pre-game going. Then once we’re at the brewery, we’ll all get a behind the scenes tour. Not just your normal bing bang boom tour now here’s the tasting room. We’ll talk about styles, the why, and how its all made. THEN, onto the tasting room floor. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, we’re gonna feed ya, we’re gonna drive ya, and we’ll have some excellent beers along the way. If you want to jump on the bus feel free to call us here to reserve a spot or stop in. Seats are very limited and only available on a first come first serve basis.
Now! Onto the Brewery…Why Forgotten Boardwalk? Well, about two years ago I got to meet owner Jamie as I was preparing for our awesome NJ Tap Takeover. They weren’t in full distribution yet with Shorepoint and they were still able to deliver beer on their own. So with a little charm and can do attitude, we were one of the very first bars to showcase their beer at an awesome event.
Here’s a little bit about Jamie and how Forgotten Boardwalk came to be:
“Jamie Queli started out as a beer enthusiast and then moved on to becoming a homebrew hobbyist. Now, she is able to add brewery owner to her resume.
The 30-year-old New Brunswick resident is the founder of Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing, which took over the former Flying Fish Brewery building left completely vacant in Cherry Hill. Originally from Wall Township, Jamie said taking the leap to opening up a full-fledged brewery, complete with a boardwalk-themed tasting room seemed like the next logical step for her. “I started out as a beer enthusiast, then finding information about beer and reading about beer which turned into creating my own beer,” she said, adding that she recently left a career as a product manager in investment banking. “The professional arena seemed like a natural progression.”
Having grown up at the Jersey Shore, Queli installed two skeeball machines, a spin wheel and funhouse mirrors, all while instilling both the memories of her time there, as well as part of the brand.
“My favorite thing about Forgotten Boardwalk is the facility itself. My aim when I was building it was to make it into an experience. I wanted people to not only come and visit for the beer but come and visit and enjoy its whimsical setting. I put in skeeball machines, fun house mirrors, spinning wheels, and antiques. It’s an adult playground. I grew up at the shore and I am a huge history buff. My grandmother used to call me an “old soul” as a little girl. As I visited different shorelines and coasts through my adult years, I found myself seeking out the odd history, most the stories people told me were lost stories but not completely forgotten. That is the vision for the company and each brand of beer. Each beer will tell an old forgotten story that took place around the boardwalk. I think it is especially fun to, not only have a great beverage, but to have a consumer learn of an old tale. People should stop by to tour a brewery, learn about the brewing process and its environmental impact, drink a great beer, play some skeeball and to meet new friends.”
So, after seeing picture of the brewery on Instagram and Facebook, I thought this would absolutely be a great place to go for our first tour. We’ll be joined by Shorepoint’s own Craft Beer Loud Mouth Gary Rosen who I’m sure will have great things to talk about beer-wise, and crack some inappropriate jokes once he gets to know you.
We also have a few other breweries set up for the upcoming months. Pennsylvania’s Neshaminy Creek and Brooklyn Brewery; we’ll probably do this up until November and continue again once spring comes around. Have you seen buses in the snow? No way!
So come on in and sign-up. Or give us a call. Tickets are only $40 for food, the trip, and the keg on the way there and back. As always, we want to make sure everyone has a good time drinking some awesome beer.
So until the trip on June 26th…
Cheers to great beer!
“The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer, according to an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription. Many of us would agree that after a hard set of tennis or an afternoon cutting firewood, there is little more satisfying than a cold, bubbly pint. Doubly agreeable is lifting a mug while eating food cooked with beer.”
It seems like every month I have a hard time deciding what exactly I am going to write about and then it hits me. Why not combine the two of the things that I love; Beer and Food! It makes the most sense because these two wonderful things are the basis of my tenure at The Old Bay. Cooking with beer can be really easy, but can just as easily be really difficult. How does that work? With the explosion of great craft breweries making all sorts of one off beers that take a traditional style of beer and turn it on its ear, it gives us so many options to play. With those options comes the temptation to simply just add that beer to one of your favorite recipes and expect it to all of sudden be transformed to this magical beer food. It doesn’t really work like that though.
First let’s define cooking with beer. If you add some beer to your favorite BBQ sauce or dump some beer into your chili recipe, to me this is not cooking with beer. That is simply just adding a bit of beer. What I mean by cooking with beer is actually breaking down the components of the beer and enhancing the notes that you want to enhance and toning down the notes that need toning down. For example, let’s go back to Stout City 2016, Bolero Snort Brewing gave us Vanilla and Cinnamon Porter. I took this beer and infused more cinnamon into it as I reduced it to make a sauce that was served on top of roasted pork loin. That’s what I mean by enhancing flavors and toning down at the same time. The components of the porter work well with subtle flavor of pork loin but by reducing the beer and bumping up the cinnamon it added a bit sweetness. It was not an overpowering sweetness but just enough to balance the sauce. Another example of having some fun with beer and food was during a Founders Brewing tap takeover. You may have heard of or even tried Mango Magnifico from Founders Brewing Company. This is a mango habanero beer. You know I was going to try to do something with this gem. Sometimes being a chef is also being a little bit of a mad scientist. Molecular Gastronomy is a type of cooking that uses the principles of biology and physics as a cooking technique. So why wouldn’t I try it! It’s science…SCIENCE! One technique is to make pearls out of a somewhat gelatinous liquid that pop when you bite into it and release the inner sauce or vinaigrette. So for my first attempt at this I figured I would try to do it about 20 minutes before the event and I had already put it on the menu. (No pressure at all). First attempt not total failure but definitely not an overwhelming success. Attempt #2…Home Run! I made Mango Magnifico “Caviar” that was served on top pan seared scallops with Mango Magnifico reduction sauce. So for this dish I used the same beer twice but in two different preparations. My latest attempt at using beer in food was not some much the beer as the hops that beer is made from. I topped mini turkey burgers with bread stuffing that hade fresh hops mixed into it along with some fresh made cranberry sauce. Since I am such a dork I had to name this dish “Hoppy Thanksgiving” I will be honest I had no idea how this dish was going to turn out but it all seemed to work in my head and I could taste how all of the components of the stuffing were going to work together. I got lucky yet again, and hit this one out the park if I do say so myself, and I DO SAY SO.
You don’t have to be a trained chef to cook with beer. The worst thing that happens is you waste a little beer. Wait, forget what I just said. Wasting beer is a crime and should be dealt with very seriously. Don’t waste good beer. You can waste bad beer though. Actually forget that also, is there really any bad beer? NO, the answer to this question is always NO! But seriously, you should never be afraid to try new ingredients, new techniques and new flavors. You may like your dishes and you may hate them. At least you tried. That is more than many people can say.
There’s so much I want to talk to you guys about this upcoming month. There’s so much going on here at The Old Bay as we prepare to go into the summer months. So, if you’ve been reading my little spiel here monthly then you know, I always try to talk about a brewery or a style of beer. This blog is going to cover a lot of information about the upcoming special events I have planned for The Old bay and its fans. So let’s get to it!
Now, this first little piece of information won’t actually take place until June but I figured we might as well let the cat out of the bag early. We’re looking into doing some NJ Brewery Tours right here at The Old Bay. We’re calling it The Kegs & Eggs Tour and what we’re gonna do is load up a party bus, bring a keg, go to a brewery, take a more “behind the scenes” tour, drink their beer, and come back! Where do the eggs come in? Well true believers, included in your ticket price will be breakfast buffet right here during our Jazz Brunch for the month. So, we’re gonna feed you, bring you on a delicious beer trip, and then bring it all back home. We’re still in the planning process, but it’s going to be an AWESOME time, and I can’t wait to check out some breweries I haven’t been to yet. So stay tuned for that because space is limited.
Now as far as May goes, one of our bigger style tap takeovers is right around the corner. It’s time again to open up the tap lines and pour some fresh and hopped up IPAs! YAY! IPA Alley is slated for the middle of May and I’ve got some gems coming in for it. Everyone thought the trend of the IPA wouldn’t last, but you have more and more breweries hop bombing the bajezus out of their beers. Sure, some people don’t like ‘em, and that’s fine, but don’t you rain on my IPArade! For those of you who don’t know what IPA stands for, (Some people actually don’t), it stands for India Pale Ale. It gets it’s name from British descent as a means to ship beer to India. They would take their traditional Pale Ales and Hop them um for the trip to India so the beer wouldn’t go bad. Smart thinking those Brits; between that and Elizabeth Hurly, these guys were onto something.
Some of the goodies I’ve got on hold for the event are Heavy Seas/Maine Beer Co. “Partner Ships”, (That’s a co-lab I’m really looking forward to tasting), some fun stuff from Ballast Point, (because honestly, if beer was a woman, it’d be a Ballast Point), and a few other gems, as well as the stuff that’ll be coming in for the event.
May just also so happens to be our Anniversary, and there’s no better way to celebrate it with Old Bay Food & Music Fest. I’ve actually been hanging onto a few goodies for this as well….How’s about a couple of Imperial Stouts that didn’t make it on tap for our Stout City event (So you know they have to be awesome), and a big ol’ keg of Nugget Nectar from Troegs. So I hope to see you guys here for that one as well. There’s so much going on!
Until I see you again. Cheers to good Beer!
(I used way too many parentheses in this one…)