Cross Keys Brewing Co. (Williamstown, Gloucester County)

1038 N. Main Street
Williamstown, NJ 08094

Review Date:  02/02/2019

Reported by:  Pretzel

So the Beer Posse headed over to Cross Keys Brewery in Williamstown on a chilly February day.  We arrived about 2 pm, to be greeted by a noisy, moderately full tasting room.  I was amazed that we were able to snag a table at the far end of the room. As I said, it was a chilly day, and I didn’t want to sit by the door and get blasted by cold air every time a beer lover walked into the establishment.  All the chairs were metal stools, it would be nice to have some other seating options, as I prefer a chair with some back support. The acoustics were not very good, and the cacophony of brewery patron conversations seemed to strike you from every angle.  Alan was doing a great job keeping up with the demand of thirsty beer aficionados (like me!) especially given that he was the only one on duty at the time.  So the Beer Posse dove right in, and opted for several flights that contained all of Cross Keys on-tap brews.  Prices were a little high compared to other area breweries, but we had a great Groupon deal that gave us 2 flights and 4 pints for $25.  Nice!  (As a side note to my readers, many of the breweries have Groupon deals, you should check them out before heading out to the brewery).  There was also a special version of their Hoppy Go Lucky double-Dry hopped rye IPA that was infused with pepper leaves through a Randall.  However, they call their Randall, “Cunningham” after the great Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham.  Cute, right!?  They even had a Randall Cunningham action figure standing guard over the Randall as it infused the IPA with additional bite.  We were all pleased with the beers we were tasting, although we were disappointed that there was not a larger variety of beer – that is there were no dark beers on the beer menu.  Alan assured us a porter was currently fermenting in the brewing room, as well as partnering with 13th Child Brewing on an imperial stout.  Guess we’ll have to make another trip to Cross Keys in the near future.

While ordering our flights, with flight trays made out of acrylic in the shape of their logo (very nice!), we noticed the bar top was covered with keys and a clear acrylic finish on top.  It was a large bar, so you can imagine how many keys it must have taken.  All the keys were either donated by friends and family, or blanks provided by area locksmiths.  It’s a very clever design.

We were afraid Alan wouldn’t be able to give us a live tour given that he was the only one on duty, but soon more staff showed up, and he was able to give the Beer Posse and others an in-depth and informative tour of the brewing room.  The Brewing room featured a nice large mural of the brewing process (painted by Alan, or so he says).  The mural represents their virtual tour, and is well done (check out the photo in our gallery below).  Some of the interesting tidbits I picked up on the tour…

  • Owners Evan and Alan started off as home-brewers, and developed the recipes currently in process.
  • Cross Keys is a steam-fired brew house
  • Everything is monitored on-site
  • They utilize a mobile canning service to can beer for sale.  (I bought a 4-pack of the Orange Jumpsuit IPA (YUM!)
  • spent grain is given to a pig farmer in Woodstown
  • They generally have 2 to 3 beers brewing at any one time.
  • They have the infrastructure organized to allow for future growth
  • They have a strong focus on distribution with 16 pubs/restaurants offering Cross Key’s draft beers and 26 NJ liquor stores offering Cross Key’s canned beers.

So after the tour, we retire back to our table, near the stage and large Cross Keys logo.   And the following conversation takes place:                           

Princess:  What are those green things on the Keys?  Artichokes?

Pretzel:  What???  No, they are hops!  Now I know why Princess’s home brew stinks!  She’s using artichokes instead of hops!

Pretzel (after checking out the brewing mural in the tasting room):  There were 2 vermin running around in the brewing room!

Princess and The Wrangler:  EWWW…  Really???  Gross!

Pretzel:  Yes!  They said hi and ran out the back door.  They were polite little boys.

We ended the day opting for a growler or 4-pack of canned brews to take home.  I took my Orange Jumpsuit 4-pack to the Rabbit’s the next day for a Super Bowl party, and I forgot to take the 2 extra cans home with me.  Now you know, he must of drank them all, instead of returning them!  You still can’t leave your beers, flights, cans, or growlers unattended around any of the Beer Posse!  When will I ever learn???

Any way, thanks for a delightful afternoon Cross Keys!  We’ll stop by again when the Porters are on-tap!

Beers on Tap:  

  • The Blonde Stranger – American Blonde Ale (ABV: 5.1%)
  • Hoppy Go Lucky – Double-Dry Hopped Rye IPA (ABV: 7.1%)
  • Pour Decisions – Farmhouse Ale (ABV: 7.1%)
  • The Marathon – Belgian Style Trippel (ABV: 9.1%)
  • Devil Went Down To Cross Keys – Pomegranate Gose with Pink Himalayan sea salt (ABV: 4.1%)
  • Hop Joose – Dry Hopped American Pale Ale (ABV: 6.1%)
  • Williamstown Lager – German-Style Pilsner (ABV: 5.1%)
  • Orange Jumpsuit – Double-Dry Hopped IPA brewed with Oats and Oranges (ABV: 7.1%

Favorite Beers of the Day:

  • Pretzel – Orange Jumpsuit (with The Devil Went Down to Cross Keys and Williamstown Lager close behind)
  • The Stoutmeister – The Devil Went Down to Cross Keys – Pomegranate Gose and Williamstown Lager
  • B3 – Williamstown Lager
  • The Wrangler – The Devil Went Down to Cross Keys – Pomegranate Gose
  • The Rabbit – The Devil Went Down to Cross Keys – Pomegranate Gose

Additional Posse Comments:

  • The Stoutmeister – The Williamstown Lager has a mysterious note to it.  I do not know what it is, but I like it!
  • B3 – Overall a great experience.  Would love to see some more comfortable seating, improved acoustics, and a wider selection of beers on tap.
  • The Wrangler – Cross Keys has a good Groupon deal.
  • The Rabbit – Love the Playlist “Since I’ve Been Loving You” by Led Zepplin
  • Princess – It’s chilly in here.  It’s nice & clean though, well lit and nicely decorated.


Overall Pretzel Score (7.03 out of 10): 

Final Scorecard (click to open):  CrossKeysBrewingCompany

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