I never met Jason in person but I can instantly tell that he is a stand up guy. Through an informal introduction by Mike K and a few tweets, I was introduced to half of the Pinelands Brewing Company team. Along with his business partner, Luke McCooley, Jason Chapman has aspiring goals to open a brewery and begin calling southern New Jersey home. For those unfamiliar with the Pinelands region of NJ, the 1.1 million acre area that occupies 22% of the state is populated with thousands of trees, plants, lakes and animals. Read more about it here: http://www.nps.gov/pine/index.htm. It’s no wonder why Jay picked this region to name his brewery after:
“I just love being able to take nature’s bounty and brew this ‘stuff’ together in such a way that the raw ingredients are transformed into living, breathing art form. ”
The Hammonton local who grew up in the Belleplain area (where the brewery is now located), continually notes his desire to brew beers that are built using locally derived ingredients:
“These are going to be the components of our brews so that our beer will be a reflection of where it’s from. I want to brew beers that show respect to traditional European methods and styles yet exhibit our own fresh and local approach. For example my home is in Hammonton. This summer I created a recipe for a Belgian Whit brewed with Hammonton grown blueberries.”
The Pinelands team has already begun securing the licenses required to run a brewery and expect to be operational by the middle of 2012. Lucky for me, I was able to get my hands on one of their delicious beers when Jay shared a bottle of their Double IPA with me one week prior to Christmas. Although his note asked for me to cellar the beer until the 25th, I don’t think he expected that I would keep the beer aging for the next two months!
Jay introduced the beer as a DIPA with a “sturdy malt flavor from a good dose of Caramel malt in the tun.” Noting his preference to not overload his drinkers with a “hop bomb”, Jay explained that I should expected subtle citrusy profiles of Chinook, Simcoe, and Citra hops with smooth alcohol warmth that has the beer clocking in at 8.6% ABV.
After two months in an aging fridge, the beer did not disappoint! Opened on 2/26, it poured a pale muddy brown color with a small, white, quickly dissipating head. It is unfiltered with tons of yeast sediment typically prevalent in bottle conditioned beers. The scent of the beer was very aromatic with sweet and fruity tones. The first thing I noticed after tasting the beer was the thick, oily mouth feel I would expect from a DIPA. Staying true to Jay’s description, the beer does have a malty, bready taste to it taking it away from the standard hop bomb profile of a DIPA. Speaking of hops – there is a very nice subtle citrusy and grapefruity hop profile with pine and black pepper spice poking their heads in (most likely from a dose of Simcoe). It is not overly bitter on the tongue and finishes with a slight alcohol burn – exactly as Jay described.
Overall, it’s a very enjoyable beer that I would be happy to try again. Although we’ll have to wait until Jay brews some more as the only other bottle is in Seattle, WA aging in Jay’s brothers cellar! No worries from me though – with strong intentions of supporting the local area and quality brews, I’m sure we can expect more from the fellas at Pinelands Brewing Company.