Eclipse Brewing 25 E. Park Ave Merchantville, NJ 08109 Review date: 1/7/18 Reviewer: Pretzel
On a cold January evening, the Beer Posse (minus a few members who apparently had other plans, and need to reassess their priorities), decided to head up to Merchantville to check out Eclipse Brewing. And who cares if it’s Grandma’s 80 birthday party, we’re talking beer and pizza! Besides, Grandma will have another birthday party next year! B3, The Stoutmeister, and I were all gung-ho for checking out a new brewery. Princess, our faithful designated driver however, needed a little convincing. OK, so maybe “convincing” isn’t the right word, it was more like bribery. We promised to pick up some Mod’s pizza on the way. That managed to sway her to join the party!
So with pizza, garlic bread, and cinnamon sticks in hand, we arrived at Eclipse Brewing. As a side note, for the non-New Jersey readers, our illustrious state has laws on the books that forbid breweries from serving food. So you have to bring your own, or order take-out from the plethora of take out menus each brewery keeps on hand to satisfy their hungry patrons. We are trying to get these laws rescinded, but there is a lot of pressure from the restaurant industry that does not want additional competition. But we’re still working on it. Oh, where was I… Oh yeah, we arrived to find Eclipse Brewing is actually a house. You would mistake it for your neighbor’s house if it weren’t for the nice large Eclipse Brewing sign out front. There was ample metered parking next door, which somehow we seemed to completely ignore the meter part, and I guess we were lucky not to have gotten a parking ticket. (Since it was B3 & Princesses car, it was not a major concern for me. But before you judge me, you should know… I did pay for the pizza).
We entered into the main bar area (which was probably the living room originally). It was cozy, welcoming, and warm. We managed to snag a table in the corner, and prepared to scan the flight menu prominently displayed on a large chalk board. OMG! They had 18 beers on tap! Incredible for such a small brewery! As B3, the Stoutmeister, and I made our selections (we like to divide and conquer, and ensure that we try every beer available. Heaven forbid it we miss one!) Lee and Steve at a nearby table, offered their suggestions. That was very nice, but since we try every one, suggestions were not necessary. Princess chows down on Mod’s pizza and root beer, and the rest of us work our way through the beer menu. I was a little disappointing that they ran out of Farmhouse Ale and Irish Stout, but I just had to make do with the other 16 or so on tap.
Chris, the owner, stopped by our table, and struck up a nice conversation. He asked the Stoutmeister where he was originally from since he detected a slight accent. The Stoutmeister asked him to guess. Chris thought about it and said Asia. Not bad, but we pushed for a little more detail. Asia is rather large after all. He decided The Stoutmeister was from the Himalayas. Wow, not even close. The Stoutmeister is from the Philippines, but since he has faded significantly since becoming a Jersey boy, I can see how Chris would think the Himalayas. He asked us to put a pin in his maps designating where we were from. Eclipse has 3 large maps along one wall – The World, The United States, and New Jersey. And I must say, there was an impressive number of pins in the World map. I found Logan Twp, NJ to be full of pins, so I had to pull a few out to make sure I could accurately insert mine. At one point during our conversation, Chris referred to us as “young people”. I immediately hugged him and then suggested he might want to get his eyes checked, that his prescription may need some significant updating.
Once we were done with our tasting, Chris offered us a private brewery tour. So we left Princess at our table with her pizza and another root beer and went into the hallway/kitchen area. OK, I can’t get the whole “this brewery is a house concept out of my head”. Chris opened the door to a large closet, and showed us his 3 barrel system. Thinking back on the tour, I should have asked how they managed to have 18 beers on tap with such a small brewing system. Guess I’ll have to go back and ask him about this. He also showed us the refrigeration room, and the tap-room. Overall the brewery portion is very small, but very well-organized. As Chris says (see video), “I embrace my home brewer roots. My business model is, you’re coming to my house and drinking my home-brew because I’ve been doing that for almost 35 years.” And that philosophy fits Eclipse Brewing perfectly. And I feel like I’m a guest in a friend’s home (except for the part about paying for the beer!). Once the tour was completed, we exited back to the bar area, which had filled up with a younger crowd. But as I say, it’s not your age, it’s your consumption tolerance.
Eclipse has an interesting pricing model for their beers. All the beer is $5. A flight of 4 samples is $5 (can’t beat that!). Individual glasses are also $5, but they change the size of the glass depending on the beer selected. I must say, my favorite was the Raspberry Drizzle, and at 18% ABV I don’t think I could drink many. In fact, they limit you to 2 pours for that particular brew. But we got a growler of Raspberry Drizzle to take home and share with our absent Beer Posse friends (you know who you are). B3 tried to trick The Stoutmeister into drinking the Cranberry Sour. (The Stoutmeister absolutely hates cranberries, which always makes for an animated family discussion around Thanksgiving). But the Beer Posse is learning, that you can’t trust anyone in the Beer Posse. You never leave your beer unattended around fellow members, and you never partake of an offering when they won’t identify what it is.
Thank you Eclipse for a wonderful evening! Good beer, Good environment, Good friends. We’ll be back!
Beers on Tap:
- Root Beer (ABV 0%)
- Haazy – IPA (ABV: 6.0%)
- Wit – Wheat beer (ABV: 5.0%)
- Farmhouse Ale – Saison (ABV: 4.0%)
- Coconut Cream Ale – Cream Ale (ABV: 5.0%)
- Session IPA – IPA (ABV: 4.0%)
- Porter – Porter (ABV: 5.0%)
- Scottish Wee Heavy – Scottish Ale (ABV: 8.0%)
- Almond Joy Porter – Porter (ABV: 8.0%)
- Raspberry Drizzle – Barleywine (ABV: 18%)
- Haaze – Double IPA (ABV: 8.0%)
- DIPA – Double IPA (ABV: 9.0%)
- Pale Ale – Pale Ale (ABV: 6.0%)
- Raspberry Hi Honey! – Belgian Ale (ABV: 10.0%)
- Citra Promised – IPA (ABV: 6.0%)
- Russian Imperial Stout – (ABV: 10.0%)
- Cranberry Kettle Sour – Sour (ABV: 4.0%)
Favorite Beers of the Day:
- B3 – Raspberry Hi Honey!, Haaze
- The Stoutmeister – Wee Heavy
- Princess – Root Beer
- Pretzel – Raspberry Drizzle
Additional Posse Comments:
- B3 – I’d love to see Eclipse be able to expand!
- B3 – 17 beers on tap plus a root beer! Awesome for a small brewery!
- The Stoutmeister – Alas, the Irish Stout is supposed to be an oatmeal stout and they were out of it! 🙁
- Princess – The Facility is very cute, but small. Loved the root beer offering and it was nice that they had peanuts on the table.
- Princess – The owner and his wife introduced themselves and spent time talking with us (and this was before they knew we wrote a beer blog)
- Pretzel – The Raspberry Drizzle has quite a kick!
- The Stoutmeister – $5 flights. No other brewery can beat that!
Overall Pretzel Score (8.37 out of 10):
Final Scorecard (click to open): EclipseBrewing