In 1994, a law was passed in the Garden State that was to have an impact on the burgeoning beer scene ... the act allowing brewpubs to exist.
To the State of N.J., a brewpub is a manufacturing entity that "permits the license holder to brew malt alcoholic beverages not to exceed 3,000 barrels per license term." They must also hold a Plenary Retail Consumption License and must be used in conjunction with a restaurant. The first Jersey brewpub, The Ship Inn, opened in Milford in 1995 and is still pouring fine English ales today.
The Tun Tavern is our only brewpub in the South Jersey area.
The history of the Tun started in Philadelphia in 1685, being the first brewhouse built in the city. It was also acknowledged as the first Masonic Lodge and the birthplace of the Marines.
Monty Dahm planned to rebuild the Tavern in Philly but too many problems beset the project. In 1997, he was offered a chance to build the Tun Tavern in the new Atlantic City Convention Center-Sheraton Hotel complex and jumped at the chance.
In January 1998, the Tun Tavern opened quietly in the casino city. Not much was known about craft beer and brewpubs then, and only a few aficionados existed in the area, but having a great location by the Convention Center and across from the train station, customers began stopping by and enjoying the good food and beers being served.
Tim Kelly took over the kettles in 2007 and has built a great following among local beer geeks and made it a destination for those who attend conventions or arrive by train to Atlantic City. From his Tun Light to Devil Dog Pale Ale to Leatherneck Stout and all his fantastic seasonals, Kelly will impress even the fussiest of beer drinkers. Put it on your to-visit list.
Instead of beers, I would like to suggest a few exceptional beer events happening in the area in the next few weeks.
On Friday, June 8, Goose Island Brewing will have a tap takeover at Chickie and Pete's in Egg Harbor Township starting at 8 p.m. A brewery rep will be there to answer all your questions and talk about the beers they just brought to New Jersey: 312 Urban Wheat, Matilda, Honkers, and IPA. Be sure to stop by and say hello.
On June 23, the 16th Annual Garden State Brewers Guild Fest will be held on the Battleship NJ in Camden from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The tickets are $45, and you'll get to taste the best that New Jersey has to offer.
On June 30, the Atlantic City Ballet Co. will be holding a fundraiser, Beer for the Arts, at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro, 908 Shore Road, Somers Point from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person and there will be a fantastic selection of beers to enjoy. Myself and beer personality Gary Monterosso will be attending, so support a good cause and we'll introduce you to some great beers.
Mark Haynie is a craft-beer expert who lives in Somers Point and travels extensively to find new beers. He is a contributor to the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and is the co-author of the book, "New Jersey Breweries" with Lew Bryson. His column will run every other week.