Reported by: B3 & Princess
It has been a long year and the Beer Posse feels for all our New Jersey craft breweries that have been struggling to stay safe, stay in line with ever changing state guidelines, and ultimately stay afloat. While the Beer Posse enjoyed our outdoor brewery visits last summer where we could easily observe social distancing, our visits diminished once the weather turned cold and gatherings returned to indoors, something we weren’t comfortable with. Now that there is a growing availability of vaccines and the weather is warming up, the Posse is once again looking forward to brighter days on the horizon.
While the last year was trying on many fronts, it is important to focus on some of the positives that came about as a result. For the members of the Posse that are not yet retired, some of us were able to continue to work from home in our newly adapted office spaces. For those who previously enjoyed eating out on a regular basis, the kitchen now became the new space to experiment with creating healthy food choices (and for some of the Posse – not so healthy food choices. Thank Goodness for takeout!). After all, we needed to figure out a way to offset the extra weight gain prompted by the loss of activity (other than a walk around the block, there wasn’t much to do or anywhere to go). Brewery visits were replaced by Zoom meetings with the Beer Posse members. Each member would show off their beer selection and we would catch up with whatever news we could conjure while supplementing with trivia games (the Posse is known to have a competitive nature).
As March 2020 turned into April and then into May, businesses turned to outdoor dining to attract patrons in what was deemed a safe environment – some of them even pet friendly. With many people staying home, there has been an increase in pet adoptions, and it is especially rewarding to go to a brewery with your four-legged (and well-behaved) best friend at your side. We hope our local breweries will continue to embrace dining al fresco with expanded outdoor areas long after the pandemic is behind us.
It is quite inspiring to see how many of the breweries managed to adapt to the new pandemic social norms. Many created imaginative, comfortable, out-door beer tasting spaces; ensured constant disinfecting and cleanliness to ensure patron safety; and continued to create new and tasty brews for the tasting. We are particularly impressed with how the beer industry came together to support each other during the pandemic. Brewery Strong, the brainchild of Rob Callahan of Tuckahoe Brewing Company was established by several of the NJ breweries and organizations (Tuckahoe, Czigmeister, Twin Elephant, Carton, and Axes and Arrow, South Jersey Beer Scene, New Jersey Brewers Association, and New Jersey Craft Beer) as a non-profit organization supporting people in the brewing, bar, and restaurant industries; offering financial assistance, education, and professional development opportunities. They have been highly successful in raising money through donations and merchandise sales. Their Facebook page is full of shout-outs to the numerous breweries and organizations that have donated to this worthy cause. Thanks to them, the New Jersey brewery community is weathering this pandemic successfully!
Another positive is that after a 1-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival is back in business. Ranked in the Top Ten of Best Beer Festivals by USA Today 10Best, after 14 years inside the Atlantic City Convention Center, this year’s festival moves outdoors to Bader Field on June 4th and 5th. If the weather cooperates, we are expecting this to be a memorable event and are really looking forward to all the new beer offerings! This is the Beer Posse’s favorite yearly event, and we’ll be sure to be there en masse.
The Beer Posse is very excited to have a brewery open up essentially in our own backyard! The Swedesboro Brewing Company (SBC), which was scheduled to open earlier in 2020, had to pivot their phased business plan due to their tasting room not being able to open. SBC owners Kevin and Marvin worked to accelerate their canning and distribution operation, so when the taproom finally opens, you’ll be able to get many of their 12 beers on tap and to go! Grand opening is scheduled for May 15th. Some members of the Beer Posse are already planning weekly visits (of course that’s assuming the spouses of those said members don’t perform an intervention). Follow SBC on Facebook to get the latest updates, new releases, and special events!
As we look forward to brighter days, we are hopeful that we all recognize there is more we have in common than sets us apart. There is no right or wrong opinion, just people’s individual perspectives. We can agree to differ on things, but let’s do it in a civilized way. The Posse will drink to that (well, we’d drink to just about anything after all!). Cheers!