Mark Haynie

Vernon Ogrodnek//////////////// Mark Haynie, beer columnist for At The Shore.

New brews pouring into our region keeps local beer geeks smiling even through the winter. Cape May County has become the beer capital of the Garden State with nine breweries, several distilleries and a multitude of wineries. Being so close together makes for an easy tour day or two.

The southernmost brewery in our state is now Gusto Brewing at 3860 Bayshore Road in North Cape May. Just opened in December, owners Zach and Adriana Pashley alongside brewer, Dan Petela, are producing an amazing amount of beer for their 1BBL system. Double brewing with lots of fermenters keeps their supplies up but note that only 32-ounce growlers can be filled for outside consumption. Zach and Dan met at Cape May Brewery when they both worked there and homebrewed until they decided to opena small brewery. The taproom is spacious and well appointed, with a large bar and lots of tables and chairs. Hours are Thursdays and Fridays 4-8 p.m., Saturdays 2-8 p.m. and Sundays 1-5 p.m.

Another new addition to our list of breweries is COHO Brewing in Cape May Court House. The brewery was opened just a month ago by owners Karen Buckingham and Mike Johnson. Johnson is an award-winning barbecue aficionado who also enjoyed homebrewing. Karen was not only impressed by his cooking prowess but also the laudits he received from his homebrew. Karen, who taught the last few years in Wildwood schools, thought that a business could be started in her hometown. They decided on a brewery, and thus the dream became reality.All the work is done and the taproom is now open daily.

Not only are breweries populating the map, but new beer bars have opened in places that were previously deserts. The Brass Tap just opened in Vineland at 2738 S. Delsea Drive The Tampa-based franchiser, which has 47 locations in 16 states, prides itself on serving amazing beers and good food. With over 50 taps of good craft beer and several hundred bottles available, it is a beer geek’s haven in Cumberland County. Find their tap list on TheBrassTap.com/vineland.

Hidden Sands Brewing Company looks to begin distribution of three of their beers early this year: the 107’ IPA, the 800’ Pilsner, and the spring/summer seasonal, Strawberry Wheat. Look for these in local liquor stores soon. Hidden Sands has started a partnership with South Jersey’s famous Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City. The inaugural event will be on Valentine’s Day weekend. Watch on social media for more info and upcoming events.

On Feb.16 from 4-7p.m. at Hidden Sands, Hops For Hearts will take place. Join them for good food, great brews, and a great cause! All net proceeds from this event will be used to support innovative research by The Todd & Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Tickets are $30 and include two pint vouchers and food. Additional beers can be purchased at the event for $5.

Ludlam Island has invited all New Jersey Craft Beer members to head to the brewery the weekend of February 8 -10 for a free flight after touring the brewery.

Cape May Brewing will release Cape May Lager later in the month. Over a year in development, this is a clean, crisp, and easy-drinking brew.

Over at7 Mile Brewery, itsnew Cask ACS5 canning line should be operational by March, giving the opportunity to package small batch releases this year. Several new brews will be appearing at the AC Beer and Music Fest: Mothers Helper, a German-style pilsner, and a brut IPA, Settle Down Easy. Available in the entire state now, they will move into other markets this year.

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Associate Editor, At The Shore/ACWeekly

Freelance reporter for At The Shore/Atlantic City Insiders from 2011-2015; Editor in Chief, MainStreetMarlboro.com,2014-2015; Writer for Zagat, 2013

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