Sure, you can head out to any of New Jersey’s more than 100 craft breweries this summer and enjoy a flight or a pint of a seasonal shandy or sour, a summer Pils or a hazy IPA.
If you love craft beer, it’s a joy to be able to frequent breweries again, whether you take advantage of expanded outdoor seating areas or venture inside to chat up the tasting room crew.
Want to take things up a notch?
You also can pair your favorite summer brew with a side of weird with these outside-the-box ways to enjoy beer during the dog days of summer, whether you’re into ska, war stories, speakeasies, Swedish history, Al Capone or … well, tossing rice and toast.
Do ‘The Time Warp’ again at Alternate Ending
The creatures of the night are returning to Aberdeen.
“Rocky Horror Picture Show” performance troupe the Friday Nite Specials called the Bow Tie Strathmore Cinemas on Route 34 in Aberdeen home for more than 700 performances across 14½ years before the cinema closed in the summer of 2019.
The building is now a film-themed brewery and restaurant, Alternate Ending Beer Co., and it’s time for the Friday Nite Specials and “Rocky Horror” fans to “The Time Warp” again.
Alternate Ending hosts the troupe for a “Rocky Horror” performance 11 p.m. Friday, July 23. Tickets are $20, or $25 for admission plus a box of candy and a prop bag. A limited menu of appetizers will be available, and the drinks will be flowing.
Go: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” featuring Friday Nite Specials at Alternate Ending Beer Co., 11 p.m. Friday, July 23, 1057 Route 34, Aberdeen, $20 to $25; alternateendingbeerco.com, tickets available via Resy.
Ska celebration at Four City Brewing
Author and musician Marc Wasserman will celebrate the release of his new book, “Skaboom! An American Ska and Reggae Oral History” from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 25, at Four City Brewing in Orange.
Copies of the book and limited edition four-packs of Ska Boom! Stout will be available, and there will be music from Barbicide and DJ Jah Measel, with the Food Runnings Jamaican food truck on site.
Go: “Skaboom! An American Ska and Reggae Oral History” release party, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 25, at Four City Brewing, 55 Sou Essex Ave., Orange; no cover, 973-630-1411, fourcitybrewing.com. For more information on the book, visit diwulf.com.
Sidle up to a brewery inside a speakeasy
Brainy Borough Brewing is rolling with the punches. About 6 months ago, the microbrewery was housed inside Hailey’s Harp-Cade, a retro-themed arcade attached to Hailey’s Harp and Pub. Following a redesign of the space, you no longer can grab a pint before a game of PAC-MAN, but instead, you can enjoy Prohibition-era vibes.
The taproom is now inside The Hangout and Parlor at Hailey’s, a speakeasy-style space with a full bar, tin ceiling, saloon-style doors, chandeliers, old-fashioned leather banquettes and vintage travel photos.
Here, choose from up to six Brainy Borough beers on tap, which currently includes a pineapple Kolsch, American lager, pepper-conditioned IPA and an New England-style IPA.
Back to the ’20s: There’s now a speakeasy in Metuchen
“The parlor gives a rich maturity to the overall vibe of our Brainy Borough taproom,” said Joe Cascio, Brainy Borough Brewing CEO. “Its ambiance and decor give a modern spin to that old-school speakeasy feel.”
Go: 15 Station Place, Metuchen; 732-921-9895, brainyboroughbrewing.com.
Practice your Swedish words between sips
OK, this isn’t about Jersey craft beer, but it’s beer you can drink in Jersey.
The American Swedish Historical Museum, based in Philadelphia, hosts opportunities for people to enjoy beer and Scandinavian foods.
This summer, because of COVID-19, they are putting a new spin on their summer tasting experience.
SmörgåsBeer in Your Backyard is a chance to enjoy beer, food, games, music and a Zoom-tutored tasting experience with friends from the comfort of home.
“Brew masters and representatives from select companies will discuss their brands, flavors and inspiration in real time as you sample,” according to a museum news release.
Tickets to the event come with an event bag that includes a six pack of assorted beverages, two souvenir SmörgåsBeer tasting glasses, an assortment of Swedish candy and a Scandinavian pub trivia game, packed in a reusable museum tote bag.
Hey, Swedish goldfish pair well with beer, right?
Tickets are $45 for ASHM members, $50 for nonmembers. You must be 21 or older to purchase. A valid ID must be shown upon pick up or delivery of event bag.
Call 215-389-1776 or visit americanswedish.org/events/smorgasbeer-your-backyard-0 for more information and to purchase tickets.
Enjoy a brew & ponder incarceration rates
In May, Eastern State Penitentiary opened its Fair Chance Beer Garden as it welcomed the return of its “Night Tours: Summer Twilight” after-hours program. A National Historic Landmark and educational site, Eastern State operated as a prison from 1829 to 1971, housing approximately 75,000 inmates behind its 30-foot walls.
“Night Tours” visitors get the chance to explore the penitentiary — with the assistance of an audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi. Among the many highlights is a recreation of Al Capone’s cell.
The tour ends at the Fair Chance Beer Garden, presented by Eastern State and its Philadelphia neighbors Triple Bottom Brewing, and located on the prison’s former baseball field. You can sip Purpose Pale Ale in the same place 19th-century inmates played ball during breaks from their cells.
Both the museum and the brewery are fair chance employers, meaning that they seek out job candidates who have experienced homeless or incarceration and pay at least $15 an hour to every employee.
The beer garden is located at the base of The Big Graph, a 16-foot-tall steel structure charting the growth in America’s incarceration rates since 1900. The Fair Chance Beer Garden continues Triple Bottom and Eastern State’s practices of combining activism and advocacy with entertainment and recreation.
“Night Tours: Summer Twilight” featuring the Fair Chance Beer Garden runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings through Saturday, Sept. 4. Tickets start at $19, free for Eastern State members. Timed tickets must be purchased online in advance. Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia; 215-236-3300, easternstate.org. Triple Bottom Brewing, 915 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, triplebottombrewing.com.
Salute the region’s best craft breweries aboard a battleship
If your favorite thing about the ever-expanding craft beer scene is the chance to discover a new brewery, the USS New Jersey is the place for you.
The Battleship New Jersey, a museum docked on the Camden Waterfront, will host a Craft Beer Festival, sponsored by the New Jersey Craft Brewers Association, on Saturday, July 24.
The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. and features dozens of breweries pouring unlimited samples of New Jersey craft beer.
The event also will feature self-guided tours (upon arrival) of the vessel, live music, food for sale, and other vendors.
Tickets are $50, or $75 for the VIP treatment. Non-drinking guests can get in for $20. Visit newjerseybeer.ticketleap.com/2021-battleship-beer-fest/
Tammy Paolino is Features Editor for the Atlantic South region of the USA Today Network. She’s an award-winning reporter and editor who loves to cover trends, diversity, the arts, food and drink. Reach her at [email protected] or 856-486-2477 or on Twitter @CP_TammyPaolino. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.