We had a bit of a party on our hands at the brewery this past Friday. Not in the Tasting Room, though — that’s always a good time — instead, it was over at HQ. The guest list included Ben Menk from Farm and Fisherman restaurant in Cherry Hill, Shirl and John Formisano from Formisano Farms and Produce, Asst. NJ Secretary of Agriculture Al Murray, and NJ Secretary of Agriculture, Douglas Fisher.
The reason? Why, our second Jersey Fresh brew, Beets By May, of course!
The idea for Beets By May originally came from Farm and Fisherman restaurant in Cherry Hill. “They asked us over the winter about making a beet beer to showcase a crop that goes largely unnoticed, but is vitally important to the farmers,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink.
We were hoping to add the brew a little earlier to the schedule, but “beets don’t come out until late May,” explains Shirl Formisano of Formisano Produce. “We really can’t make them any faster!” So, we knew we’d have the beer out by May. (Hmm. Sounds familiar….)
But why beets? Beets are a love-’em-or-leave-’em kind of vegetable. “It’s one of the main ingredients on our menu: the beet,” said General Manager Ben Menk of Farm and Fisherman.
“The sexy fruits and vegetables get all the love,” Brian says, “but as a root vegetable beets play a vital roll. Also, New Jersey is one of the four largest providers of beets in the country, so it just feels right to give ’em some love.”
Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm agrees. “They have a distinctively earthy flavor that is impossible to replicate using malt or hops; they really are quite unique and we love making experimental beers with unique flavors.”
The event at the brewery on May 20th was a helluva great time. Secretary Fisher got caught red-handed cutting up some beets. Representatives from Exit Zero, visitsouthjersey.com, At The Shore, SNJ Today, and Shore News Today helped us toast the new brew.
Secretary Fisher was on-hand for our previous Jersey Fresh unveiling with our Honey Porter, “Cape May Brewing Company are great supporters of Jersey Fresh,” said Secretary Fisher. “It’s a true local economy, supporting each other at every level: the farmers at the farm, on to the craft brewery, and then to the restaurants. It’s a circular flow of the economy.”
Everyone on hand got a chance to get a sneak preview of Beets By May. “Sure, most people think they don’t like beets,” Jimmy said. “But remember when you thought you didn’t like Brussels sprouts until you had them sauteed with garlic, olive oil, and a touch of fresh cracked black pepper and it was amazing?” We totally do, Jimmy.
And amazed we all were. The general consensus was surprise: the finished brew is on the sweeter side, with the earthy hints of beet present, but not overpowering the underlying Pale Ale.
“It’s the best way to get your vegetables!” Jimmy said.
Like most things in this world, don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it. Hashtag-YOLO, son.
Photos courtesy of Exit Zero
Beets By May is on tap in the Tasting Room now, and will be at better bars and restaurants throughout the area — including Farm and Fisherman — soon.