The charming brewery and tap room located at 1540 Rt. 37 West, Toms River, officially became Toms River Brewing in May of this year when owner Jim Mulligan saw a great opportunity to acquire the existing space and completely revamp and renovate it. The vision was to make it into a spot for the community to enjoy and Toms River Brewing has been brewing beers and working toward that vision ever since.
TOMS RIVER BREWING IS BORN
“It does take a little bit of time to get all that done so it took about nine months to a year to officially get everything up and running,” said Lacey Stryker, manager.
While the brewery has remained open this entire time. The renovations, revamps and hard work that has been poured into the brewery thus far brings us to the Grand Re-Opening Party.
“Renovations officially got wrapped up last week,” shared Stryker during an Oct. 24 interview. Two weekends of soft openings followed the renovations.
“ … The big grand re-opening party is Nov. 2. From 12 ‘til 10, we’ve got the Retroglyphs, they’re a really cool local band that will be here,” she added. “We’ve got Cajun Jax Food Truck that will be here. So it should be a really fun day for the community, which is kind of why we decided to expand the tap room.”
According to Stryker, the original tap room was much smaller and they added on and completely gutted the space and built everything from the ground up.
“We’ll have 16 beers on tap, hopefully all 16 for Nov. 2,” said Stryker. “But we don’t want to just rush things. We want to make sure we’re getting the right things out there.”
In addition to 16 beers on tap, Toms River Brewing sells cans, growlers and crowlers. The regular cans are 16 ounces, the growlers are 32 and 64 ounce bottle jugs and the crowlers are 32 ounce cans.
“We really wanted to kind of build the place up and build the place out as a spot for the community to come and hang out because there’s no other breweries like this in the area, in Toms River,” she said. “So when we were redesigning the tap room we kept that in mind, like what are some of the things that the community’s going to want?
“And we wanted to make sure we’re on top of the latest and greatest with the beer trends of the crowlers and all of that.”
BEHIND THE BEERS AND BRAND
In addition to the 16 beers on tap, Stryker shared they might do a couple of specialty one-offs, like a few sixtels of something different, something special.
“But it’s definitely going to be a place where there’s tap room-only releases and tap room availability only for certain beers and cans, as well, which will hopefully help just bring a little bit more awareness to our spot,” she said. “And then people will come in and you walk through the door and see the environment and our bartenders are all, they’re great, they’re very knowledgeable, they’re very friendly, they really enjoy talking to people and talking to people about beer.
“Even people who aren’t, like I said interested in beer, you’ll be able to find something here that you can at least enjoy while you’re chilling out.”
The four flagship beers are: St. John’s, an Irish Red Ale, High Cross, a red rye double IPA, Sweet Nothing, a honey cream ale and Black Rabbit, a black lager. According to Stryker, those are the four steadies right now.
Other upcoming beer releases to look forward to are Basic, which is a pumpkin-spiced lactose IPA, Irish Eyes, which is a pale ale, Liquid Thought, which is a double IPA, On the Razzle, which is a cranberry blonde winter ale that will be one of their first limited releases in the tap room and then it’s going to go widely distributed after that weekend, and Sweet Chai of Mine, which has vanilla and chai.
According to Paul Harlan, assistant brewer, the brewery being a community is what they’re trying to do with all the beers they make. “You should be able to come in here even if you’re not a big beer drinker and find something you enjoy and then if you are a big beer drinker find something that you’ll like,” added Stryker.
In addition to Harlan, behind the beer crafting are George Lissenden, assistant brewer, and Bob Warzecha, head brewer. The creativity behind the recipes comes from all over.
“Yeah, inspiration can come from anywhere,” said Harlan. “It can come from anything and I think the number one thing is just trying to turn various foods or various desserts or other drinks into a drinkable beer.”
According to Stryker, the various beer releases capitalize on what’s available seasonally in terms of ingredients and flavors and a little bit of what’s trendy.
When it comes to brewing beer cleanliness and sanitation is huge for Toms River Brewing. “Making recipes and brewing is fun, but 99 percent of it is cleaning,” said Harlan. “Making sure that everything is in tip top shape ready to go.”
Stryker stressed their number one priority is going above and beyond the industry standard to make sure they’re following the right processes. This is to ensure that when the beer comes out it has gone through the cleanest pipes, fermentation tanks and mash ton.
While the beers span various styles, the Toms River Brewing brand stems from Irish roots. “So Toms River Brewing has a large population of Irish people and the owner, Mulligan, is Irish as well,” said Stryker in response to the choice behind the claddagh in the logo. “So he kind of wanted to have a little bit of an Irish touch on there.”
Stryker also pointed out that the thorny design on the handle of the tap handles represent a shillelagh, Irish walking stick. “We harken back to our Irish history in little places where we can, but the beer styles and everything like that we’re going to run the gamut,” she said, adding new can designs will have a new look and feel and local artists are creating the designs.
Staying local is a theme for the brewery. “I think that’s one thing we always talk about here is being local and with our performers, with the artists that come in, everything’s local and we’ve talked a lot about doing local beers as well, so getting grain that was grown in New Jersey, hops that were grown in New Jersey,” shared Harlan.
LIVE MUSIC AND
The regular Tap Room hours are Thursday and Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. For the month of November the Tap Room will also be open on Monday, Nov. 11, as the brewery will be releasing their specialty IPA for Veteran’s Day ‘Hurry Up & Wait.” The Tap Room will also be open on Wednesday, Nov. 27, from 4 to 9 p.m. and on Black Friday, Nov. 29, it will open at noon.
Toms River Brewing encourages all to follow along
@tomsriverbeer or online at tomsriverbrewing.com for all upcoming events, like their food drive to support the Community Food Bank of NJ.
“So again, it’s all that kind of just being a place for the community, giving back to the community,” said Stryker. “At the end of the day we’re making beer, but we want it to be a really solid place to just come and hang out and do your thing and enjoy.”
The brewery will also host live music events and they have a record player for Vinyl Thursdays. Live bands can perform in the brewery itself and in the Tap Room there’s space for acoustic duos. The Tap Room will also feature a local artist wall every month with work by a different local artist.
The future of Toms River Brewing is nothing, but bright.
“ … It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Jersey beer scene because there are so many of them out there, but every one has its own individual look and feel and we’re just really proud to be a part of it,” she said. “And we’re proud to see the positive changes that are going to be coming, too.”