Great Beer From the Garden State (For Now)

This image was stolen from without permission. Thanks, Scott! 🙂

I’d like to say thanks to Elena and Bill and Tomi and Charles from Manor House Brewing for inviting me to their latest beer tasting event this weekend.  The weather was perfect and the beers were wonderful as always.

For those unfamiliar, Manor House is dream of two couples from Northern New Jersey who started off brewing beer with the express goal of opening a world class micro brewery in their hometown of Ringwood, New Jersey.  Right now, their plan seems to be coming together except for the New Jersey part. 

You see New Jersey law makes it nearly impossible for aspiring brewers to follow the Dogfish Head and Victory route to success, which is to open a small brewery with a restaurant attached where brewers can sell their wares on tap and in bottles.  In the case of Victory Brewing, the food and beer sales from their restaurant sustained them as they got the brewery operation off the ground.  It’s an important safety net to have, and Victory might not be here today without the restaurant income to see them through a rocky start.

Part of the dream at Manor House was to open a gathering point in the community where local culture could thrive.  That part will still probably happen, but not in Ringwood.  Instead, they’ll probably open shop a few miles away, just over the border in New York State.  I’d like to thank the New Jersey legislature for once again screwing up something so simple and good for the community.

At any rate, it was exciting to hear that they are making progress in moving the operation out of the garage and into an honest to goodness micro brewery.   I can’t wait to see their stuff on the shelf.

Scott over at The Brew Club did a nice write up of the beers they served this weekend.  Yes, he was there, and yes, we finally had that tickle fight we’ve bantering about on Facebook.  I won’t say who won, but I will say he’s a ruthless tickler with surprisingly strong fingers.

All in all, it was a great time.  Too bad I’m going to have to drive to New York to repeat it in the future.  Way to go, New Jersey.  Way to go.

If you live in the area, I recommend you follow Manor House Brewing on Facebook so you can stay up to date about what they’re up to.

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Categories: Beer


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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27 Comments on “Great Beer From the Garden State (For Now)”

  1. August 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    How the HELL exactly did I not know about these guys and more importantly WHY didn’t you let me in on this?!?! Geez, I feel so sad….ignored….unworthy…..outcast…..verklempt.

    • August 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

      I was there talking to Scott from the Brew Club and thought “Katie should be here…” But I didn’t invite him, the Manor House Folks did. I guess I figured you guys would find each other. Sorry. You should connect with them for sure.

  2. August 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Don’t worry Katie, you weren’t the only one omitted on the guest list 🙂

    Seriously though, I’m really happy for Bill, following his dream and starting the pub. Although I’m very disappointing it’s not going to be in New Jersey. I’d love to know about why it wasn’t possible for them since there are Several brewpubs, kroghs, basil t’s, triumph, iron hill, among others. Was it about the money or the licensing?

    • August 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

      Yeah, Pete, but I actually LIVE in Ringwood 😦

      I’d be interested in knowing more about the legal issues as well.

    • August 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

      You can have a brew pub in NJ, but not a micro brewery that sells from taps and bottles on premises. So Basil T’s, yes, Dogfish Head, no.

      It’s a stupid law and one that will keep the better brewers from operating in the Garden State.

    • Elena
      August 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

      Jim thanks again for the nice write up it was a little crazy and didn’t get to talk to you about what you thought of the new iteration of Summer House. Next time we meet you have to tell me.

      @Peter – just to set the record straight we extended the invitation, maybe an old email address (I got it from your facebook page). Probably should have reached out through twitter, I read your blog religiously and admire your passion would love to have you there next time.

      @Katie We’ll make sure to extend an invite next time, I got turned on to your writings via this blog and enjoy reading.

      • August 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

        I had a great time, Elena. It was a perfect night and the beer was terrific. I can’t wait for the Fall to try the goodies you have in fermentation.

      • August 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

        @Elena, bummer. Appreciate the thought! I’m gonna look through my emails to make sure I didn’t miss it. Bummer U have to go to NY.

  3. August 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Peter, if you have a brewpub, then you can’t distribute beyond the brewpub, whereas with a limited brewery license (what we have), you can distribute, but can’t do the on-premise thing. In theory, you could have both, but I think the physical locations must be separate, creating yet another impasse… Go NJ ABC!

    • Elena
      August 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

      Matt pretty much sums up the legal issues. Since we are 10 minutes from the border we feel we might have a better shot at making it over the border. Still a bummer

      • August 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

        Definite bummer, and even more so for NJ’s lack-luster economy. Looking forward to connecting, Elena!

    • August 2, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

      Thanks for clarifying, Matt. I still need to drink your beer, too.

    • August 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

      were gonna have to work on that. I still have a couple of years before I flush out my brewery aspirations. Once the wee little ones can brew on there own, pink boots and all, then I’ll be hitting the scene.

      • August 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

        Kennedy & Kids Brewing! FTW!

  4. August 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Geez, Jim, we’re only pouring in 35 locations in the Garden State now! Or, are you waiting for the privileged private tour? If so, let me know when the BWBros want to come down. Same goes for the Manor House (who I had the pleasure of meeting at our launch) folks and Katie too.

    • August 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

      I’m excited to see you grow, but I just don’t get out to bars much so I haven’t had a chance to try your stuff. I’ll check your site and see where I can get a taste.

    • August 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

      Yeah! You and I spoke a long time ago about sampling some of your stuff….but you weren’t even fully up and running yet. I had mentioned that I grew up in Weehawken/West New York area, right near you. I think Jim and I should head down some time…..and then go eat at White Castle 🙂

      • August 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

        It’s a date! Well not a date, we’re married. Not to each other, to other people. Not that there’s anything wrong with being married to each other, it just never…oh screw it.

      • August 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

        I’m insulted and flattered all at once.

        • August 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

          I have that effect on women.

  5. August 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    Wow Jim, you took a lot of heat here!

    Thanks for the picture credit too. I actually stole it without permission from the invitation. You know, the one you didn’t send along to anyone?


    Yeah, go NJ. As if it weren’t hard enough to pull off something like this – in comes the State to make it worse. The problem is, Manor House isn’t the only business choosing not to locate here for similar reasons. Other states are just more attractive.

    • August 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      Yeah other states are more attractive. Don’t tell NJ, but I have a crush on PA. You know, the whole “girl next door” thing.

  6. steve
    August 3, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    so read the review at the other site, your nemesis, and he said of the 3 sampled, one was a Nut Brown Ale, but sadly he claimed to not be that familiar with that type of beer and simply said it was good. Now you know of course I hear “Nut Brown Ale” and my ears perk up… curious to hear what you thought as you know the NBA’s I generally like.

    • August 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

      You’d enjoy their nut brown, but Manor House loves their hops, so it’s a bit more aggressive than super-sweet nut browns like Troegs Rugged Trail Ale (may it rest in peace). So it’s a bit more robust and complex, but still very smooth and enjoyable.

  7. August 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    +1 on what Jim said. There was even some discussion about the Nut Brown being either more biscuty or more nutty. Very interesting flavors, and I came down on the side of it being ‘more nutty’ while the other two people thought it had more of a biscut flavor.

    Very good beer, but as was mentioned I don’t have many brown ales under my belt for comparison.

  8. Don
    August 4, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Wow Jim, What if you met these people and the beer sucked! Good thing that didn’t happen. Sounds like great stuff. I look forward to a taste one day.

    • August 4, 2010 at 10:38 am #

      If that happened, I wouldn’t write about them. I’d be polite and then stop showing up to their tasting parties. Instead I look forward to them, so lucky me.

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