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Saturday, 15 March 2014 13:44

Beach Haus talks Belmar brewery buildout; brewing equipment on order

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East Coast Beer expects to start interior work this spring at what will become the company’s new home in Monmouth County, making it the first of the Garden State’s three contract craft beer companies to open its own brewery.

BeachHausExteriorEast Coast – the company that brought the Beach Haus brand to New Jersey’s beer market – took the keys to its space in Belmar’s landmark Freedman’s Bakery building at the start of February. Demolition work is scheduled for sometime in early April. Right now, the cleanup of a fuel oil spill from the site’s bakery days is being done, paid for by the former property owners.

John “Merk” Merklin, East Coast Beer president and co-founder, says brewing equipment is on order from Wisconsin fabricator W.M. Sprinkman. Sprinkman made its name supplying stainless steel equipment for the dairy industry, and lately it has been adding clients from the craft brewing industry. East Coast’s order includes a four-vessel 30-barrel brewhouse and a mix of horizontal and upright 30- and 60-barrel tanks.

Merk and co-founder Brian Ciriaco entered New Jersey’s craft beer market with Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner over the 2010 Labor Day holiday, following it up with a schwarzbier (Winter Rental), an amber ale (Kick Back) and an IPA (Cruiser). The beers are contract-brewed by Genesee Brewing in Rochester, New York, for East Coast, which is now based in Point Pleasant Beach in northern Ocean County.

New Jersey has two other contract beer companies: Bolero Snort, (Ridgefield Park in Bergen County) and Boaks Beer (Pompton Lakes, Passaic County). The Beach Haus brand is the largest of three. Bolero Snort forecasts opening a brewery sometime in 2015, while Boaks has no plans to do so.

BeachHausExterior2On the last day of February, a day that also found him hanging Beach Haus signs in the bakery windows for Belmar’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade, Merk gave Beer-Stained Letter a walk through the Beach Haus share of the 30,000-square-foot-building. He also loosely outlined the plans for the Beach Haus Brewery buildout. (Freedman’s shut down for good at the start of January, ending a decades-long run that made the bakery’s name synonymous with the shore in much of Monmouth and Ocean counties.)

“We’ll begin the demo internally, keeping all the structure the same,” Merk says. “We’ll have to raise some ceilings here, repair some walls there, change the floors in other areas. We’ll have equipment being placed in June (and) hopefully operating mid-, end of July.”

The 15,000-square-feet that East Coast will use fronts Eighth and Main streets, giving the brewery the prominent street corner presence that Freedman’s had in Belmar’s downtown. The busy intersection is a short walk (six blocks) from Belmar’s ocean beaches.

As for the inside, brewing will be done on the building’s second floor; the taproom will also be located on the second floor, with a veranda that overlooks Eighth Street. Fermentation and packaging (bottling and canning) will be on the first floor.

TomPBeachHausLook for the brewery to christen the brewhouse with beers that stray from the Beach Haus core lineup.

“It will give us an opportunity to (work) out the equipment and develop new beers right away,” says brewer Tom Przyborowski. “Then, when we’re really comfortable, hitting certain bench marks and parameters, we can start – and we’ll have to start – brewing our core beers.”

East Coast’s arrangement with Genesee has proved serviceable over the past three years. But it has also meant adding new Beach Haus beers to the lineup much more slowly than preferred.

Being in Belmar will change that, Tom says: “I have a saying, ‘Styles matter.’ We’ll be able to do all kinds of traditional styles, and there will be some hybrid styles, grounded in reality. The beer will taste like beer.”

Plans to turn the former bakery into a brewery have generated a buzz in Belmar and neighboring towns, Merk says.

“We are part of the fabric of a town,” he says. “Craft brewing is not just the neat, hobby thing to do; it’s not just the fringe thing to do. It’s becoming as much a part of an identity of a town or a region.”



Read 39471 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 12:37

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