The 2018 Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival introduced the “Festival Beers of New Jersey” Passport this year. Once you signed up for the passport at the 2018 AC Beerfest, you were given a booklet of 47 New Jersey breweries, each with their own page. The idea is that you visit each brewery in the passport, buy something, and received a stamp on their page of the passport and a complimentary piece of glassware from their brewery. If you fill the entire passport and mail it back to the festival organizers by March 2nd, 2019, you will receive a complimentary ticket to the 2019 Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival.
The passport includes 47 breweries, however 3 are no longer participating – Brotherton Brewing Co, Cape May Brewing Company, and 902 Brewing Company.
The Stoutmeister and I took this challenge to heart. In fact, we became rather obsessed with finishing our passports. We managed to complete our passport in record time, obtaining our last stamp at Belford Brewing Company on 6/2/18. For a grand total of 44 breweries in 70 days. Not bad! We mailed our completed passports in on Monday the 4th, and by that Wednesday, I got a nice email from Claire R., the Event coordinator from Good Time Tricycle Productions informing us that we were the first ones to submit a competed passport. Sweet! For the rest of you working on your passports, there is still plenty of time (the final due date is March 2, 2019), but you should plan ahead. So I’m going to pass on a few tidbits of knowledge to assist you on your journeys.
- Remember, this is the first year of the Passport. So a few hiccups are to be expected. For instance Brotherton, 902, and Cape May breweries are in the passport, but are not participating. They are marked in red on my map.
- Don’t wait until the last month to try to hit all the breweries. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
- Visit your local breweries on a onesie-twosie basis. No need to hit 5 when you can stop in for a pint every so often.
- Plan your itinerary. I have created a nice google map of all the Passport Breweries. It is a great resource, and I used it to optimize all our passport road trips. http://pretzelsbeerblog.com/2018-ac-beerfest-passport/
- Use google maps and directions to estimate your travel time between your breweries.
- I also created a spreadsheet for each road trip, with the brewery name, address, brewery hours, and travel time. The brewery hours may affect your itinerary. Some open earlier, and some close later.
- If you plan a road trip, enter all you destinations in your GPS prior to the trip. If saves time and hassle during the trip.
- Be Flexible. You may have to change your itinerary along the way.
- Take friends along. The more the merrier.
- Recruit a DD. If you don’t have a DD, buy take-out!
- Finally, keep in mind that the cost of completing the passport will be WAY MORE than the price of an admission ticket to the beer festival…the idea of the passport is to ENJOY the brewery visits and learn more about what NJ breweries have to offer …NOT to earn a free ticket, that is just a perk. To us, part of the fun is looking for the brewery because some of them are tucked behind some warehouse or industrial building somewhere in a distribution center.
- Free Glassware. Not all the breweries are participating in the free glassware as specified in the passport. Be polite. Ask if they participate in the free glassware promotion. Be respectful. Generally, the breweries won’t volunteer the free glassware, you have to request it. Don’t be greedy. At each brewery, my husband and I only took 1 glass. The Stoutmeister collects pint glasses from all the NJ breweries we visit.
- Buy something at each brewery. Pace yourself if you have a lot of brewery visits planned during the day. Buy growlers, crowlers, bottle, or canned brews to take home. You don’t have to drink at each and every brewery. If you are drinking, consider selecting smaller sample size brews, or splitting a flight with a friend.
- If you want a live brewery tour, ask for it. Most breweries have a virtual tour on their monitors but will give you a live tour if requested and if someone is available to give it to you.
- Pack snacks. Drink water along the way, and stay hydrated.
Favorite new beer discoveries:
- Beach Haus – Chocolate Peanut Butter Lager
- Cypress – B.F.G. Blood Orange American Pale Ale
- River Horse – Raspberry Trippel Horse Belgian Trippel
- New Jersey Beer Company – Blood Orange IPA
- Glasstown – Fortesque Fisherman’s Ale
- Best variety of Brews – TomFoolery Brewing Co (Hammonton)
- Most barrel aged beers – Double Nickel Brewing Co (Pennsauken Twp)
- Best Logo’d Growlers – Ludlam Island Brewery, logo’d GrowlerWerks growlers (Ocean View)
- Best Bartender/Brewer – Corey at Pinelands Brewing Company (Little Egg Harbor Twp) & Bill @ Flounder Brewing Co (Hillsborough Twp)
- Best Artwork – Jughandle Brewing Co (Tinton Falls), Icarus Brewing Co (Lakewood), Demented Brewing Co (Middlesex)
- Friendliest Clientele – Icarus Brewing Co (Lakewood), Fort Nonsense (Denville)
- Best Merchandise – Jersey Girl Brewing Company (Hackettstown), 7 Mile Brewery (Rio Grande), Flying Fish (Somerdale)
- Best Bar Areas – Hidden Sands Brewing Co (Egg Harbor Twp), CZIG Meister Brewing Co (Hackettstown)
- Best Themes – Bucket Brigade Brewery, firehouse theme (Cape May Court House), Eight & Sand Beer Co., railroad theme (Woodbury)
- Best live Brewery tour – Tuckahoe Brewing Co (Egg Harbor Twp)
- Best neighborhood hangout – Berlin Brewing Co (Berlin)