HAMMONTON — The town’s first brewery, Tomfoolery Brewing Co., will serve five types of beer at its grand opening Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve been busy for sure,” said co-owner Shawn Grigus, who is making beer and running the business with his wife, Gayle D’Abate.
Deputy Mayor Tom Gribbin said he sampled some of Tomfoolery’s first products at a soft opening event the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
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“It’s excellent. Shawn has a pretty large following,” Gribbin said of Grigus’s popularity among homebrewers. “He can correlate that success into mainstream brewing and from what I have sampled he already has.”
Grigus, of Hammonton, is the former owner of Tap It Homebrew Supply Shop on Philadelphia Avenue in Egg Harbor City.
Grigus said he and D’Abate will have a pale ale, an amber ale, a brown ale, an India pale ale and an Imperial Pumpkin on tap this weekend.
Meanwhile, Dave Tomasello will open the town’s second brewery across the street from Tomfoolery, probably in January, he said. His Three 3’s Brewing Co. recently got its state license.
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“We have started brewing. We’ve got about three sitting in fermenters. We’re brewing up another one today,” Tomasello said Wednesday. “We’re hoping to have seven or so to open with, probably at the beginning of january. We want to make sure we’ve got it right.”
Tomasello said Three 3’s focus will be on hoppy beers and some Belgian saisons, but it will also make stouts and porters.
In October, after about a year of negotiations, Town Council approved a lease with Pinelands Distillers for the former Major Muffler building.
The building, located on South Egg Harbor Road within a couple of blocks of downtown and the Eagle Theatre, is owned by the town and has been vacant for years.
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Brothers Lou Giansante, of Philadelphia, and Joe Giansante, of Mullica Township, are now working on getting federal and state licenses and starting to tackle design and financing plans. They hope to renovate the building in the Spring and start making bourbon and other liquors there next fall.
When all three are up and running, Hammonton will be the first town in New Jersey to have wineries, breweries and a distillery within its borders, Gribbin has said.
State law doesn’t allow craft breweries to have a lot of extras like entertainment on site, and requires anyone who is going to taste their beers to take a tour of the brewery first, Grigus said.
“We’ll be providing tours and after the tours people can sit at the bar in the tasting room or at a table and drink pints and flights,” Grigus said of the weekend plans. Flights allow customers to try four small beers for a fixed price.
He and D’Abate invited town council members and business owners to the soft opening the Thursday before Thanksgiving, and friends, family and members of the Brew Jersey Homebrew Club the Saturday before the holiday. Each night they had about 20 to 30 people, and just three beers were ready at the time, he said.
“It was nice to see it all come together. We had that (the soft opening) obviously to work out some kinks,” Grigus said. “Everything went fairly smoothly. I feel better knowing we ran through everything those nights.”