Review date: 11/21/19
Reviewed by: The Stoutmeister and Pretzel
Since the infancy of Pretzel’s Beer Blog, we searched for beer tours in the New Jersey area. There are several South Jersey breweries (Lunacy Brewing Company, Flying Fish Brewing) that are part of a Philadelphia City Brew Tour route, and South Jersey Beer Scene has sponsored several multi-brewery bus tours as well. We gave up on it and decided to visit the breweries on our own. In fact, we have already visited every brewery in New Jersey that has a tasting room.
Then right out of a blue, we get an email from City Brew Tours. It was an invitation to a brew tour! It was what we were looking for when we started this blog. We gladly accepted the invitation because we have never been to a brew tour before and this is an excellent opportunity to try it out at no cost to us.
The tour turned out better than we expected. It was not only a bus just taking us brewery hopping where we do the drinking and they do the driving. It was actually more than that. First of all, let me congratulate and thank Lisa Lopez, franchise owner of City Brew Tours, for a very enjoyable afternoon. So, we met Lisa at our point of tour departure which was at the Gloucester Premium Outlets located ion Blackwood, NJ. Lisa herself was our beer guide for the afternoon. While in the bus, we all took the opportunity to introduce ourselves to all the tour participants…then, we realized that every guest was a press/mass media professional. Wow, we felt so honored to be among this group of people, considering that Pretzel’s Beer Blog is simply our hobby to provide brewery, beer fest, and brew pub reviews for common beer drinkers (Remember that we are NOT beer connoisseurs).
While on our way to our first destination (which was Cross Keys Brewing Company), Lisa gave us the history of beer and the brewing process. These are pieces of information that we never get when we visit breweries on our own. It’s also an interactive history, with Lisa throwing our beer history questions. The history was very thorough and captivating. Take note that it was at 1 pm when we left for Cross Keys and by the time we got to the brewery, that brewery was not supposed to be open for business yet. Nevertheless, City Brew Tours was able arrange for our visit to the brewery before it opens to the general public. This, I see as one advantage of a guided tour. We had the brewery to ourselves that early in the afternoon. Lisa took us to the brewing area where she showed us all the equipment used in the brewing process. When you visit a brewery on your own, you may also ask for a live tour of the brewing process; however, that all depends on how busy they are. If there are many guests in the tasting room and all the beer-tenders are too busy to give live tour, you might just have to settle for a virtual tour where, in most cases, it is a description of the brewing process on paper or on video. While having a tour of the brewing process, Lisa poured us a few of the brews which we found really yummy!
After Cross Keys, we went to lunch at Landmark Americana Glassboro. On the way there, Lisa continued with her narratives of beer history. At the restaurant, we got a flight of 3 beers from New Jersey breweries. I have been to Landmark before and I knew they serve good food so that came as expected. But I cannot say the same about the flight of beer since brewers change or rotate their brews throughout the year. Depending on how diverse you are with craft beer, you will find beer that you never had in the past.
After lunch, we continued on to Bonesaw Brewing Company which is located right on Rt. 322 in Glassboro. There, Lisa showed us the difference between a large brewing company compared to a smaller brewer like Cross Keys. Once again, it is nice to have a guide with you. Of course, we sampled their beers while we were there and then there was a Q&A session on the way back to Gloucester Premium Outlets. I was very impressed with Lisa’s knowledge of each individual brewery and their brewing processes.
Basically, the tours they offer will be in a similar format as what we experienced and the cost will vary depending on how many hours the tour will take. It will also depend on the breweries visited, so we are talking $79 to $99 per person and that would be all inclusive (beer, lunch, transportation and guide). Typically, each tour will include 3 brewery stops with a stop for a meal or snack. The tours range from 3.5 to 5 hours. Lisa’s franchise territory is from Tom River’s and south. This gives Lisa a great opportunity to lay out many varied brewery tours. Lisa herself is the standout asset for this new business – her knowledge of beer history, her knowledge of each of the breweries and their processes, access to a behind the scenes tour, and her friendly personality. Besides these benefits, there is an obvious one – a dedicated designated driver, so feel free to enjoy your tasting with friends without having to force a friend to be your dd. Of course, you do need your own transportation to and from the meet-up location, but hey, there is always Uber. Also, private tours are available, so there is a great opportunity for an awesome girl’s night out, birthday celebration, bachelor and bachelorette parties, anniversaries, etc. The Grand opening is scheduled for December 4th, 2019.
If you have never been to a Beer Tour before, I would recommend that you participate in one at least once. The beer might not last but the experience will be something to keep for a lifetime. Good luck City Brew Tours SJ, welcome to the neighborhood!
Beers of the day:
- Cross Keys – The Journey, Belgian Style Blonde Ale (ABV: 5.1%)
- Cross Keys – Harperweizen, German-Style Hefeweizen (ABV: 5.1%)
- Cross Keys – Peepin’ Porter, Robust Porter (ABV: 6.1%)
- The Landmark – Cape May Honey Porter (ABV: 5.5%)
- The Landmark – Sam Adams Winter Lager (ABV: 4.4%)
- The Landmark – 609 Glasstown (ABV: 6.9%)
- Bonesaw Brewing – Pummel, German Pilsner (ABV: 5%)
- Bonesaw Brewing – Demon Blanc, Belgian White Ale (ABV: 5.5%)
- Bonesaw Brewing – Dark Tower, Munich-style Dunkel (ABV: 4.9%)
- City Brew Tours SJ – https://www.citybrewtours.com/southjersey/
- City Brew Tours (corporate) – citybrewtours.com
- City Brew Tours SJ, Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CityBrewToursSJ/?ref=br_rs
- Cross Keys Brewing Company – https://ckbcbeer.com/
- Bonesaw Brewing Co. – https://bonesawbrewing.com/index.html
- The Landmark (Glassboro) – http://www.landmarkamericana.com/g-home/