By CHRIS JORDAN/ Daily Record
There’s something about a bottle — or a can or a mug, if you will — of beer that tugs at the heart strings.
“Part of romance is that beer is associated with good times,” said Caroline O’Toole, general manager of the Stone Pony and co-producer of this weekend’s Asbury Park Beerfest. “It’s something that represents what can be good in these trying times, I think.
“It represents an award at the end of a hard day’s work and on a weekend with good times with the best of friends. It’s all of these things and in these hard times, people want to hold onto that.”
Well, here’s to holding onto a few brews at the debut of the Beerfest, which takes place over two sessions, noon and 6 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8). Co-sponsored by the WRAT (95.9 FM) radio station, the festival will feature craft beers from around the world and Jersey, too, a classic brews corner, drinking games (are you manly enough for the “Beer Muscles” contest?) and more.
Imbibers, take note: There will be a taxi stand where at-the-ready cabs will be on standby to take attendees home. Also, designated drivers can get into the festival at a discount.
New Jersey’s not really known as a craft beer hotbed, but Michael Kane of the Ocean Township-based Kane Brewing Company is thinking the fest might help change that perception.
“In the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of new projects in New Jersery,” Kane said. “We’ve just opened up and there’s a handful of other breweries.”
Jersey breweries participating include Flying Fish out of Cherry Hill; Cricket Hill, Fairfield; Boaks, Pompton Lakes; and the aforementioned Kane.
Oldtimers — and kids of legal drinking age — will amble over to the fest’s Old Man Bar where classics such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schaefer, Piels, Old Milwaukee, Schlitz and Colt 45 will be celebrated and served.
Event co-producer Tim Donnelly did his research in presenting the classics.
“I had to decorate it so I started watching ‘All in the Family’ because Archie Bunker was behind the bar,” Donnelly said. “I had to see how the bar was decorated and I’m getting lounge chairs and Old Milwaukee and Schmidt’s signs.”
Heritage brands are hot and you can tell just by looking at what the cool club kids are drinking. The sales of PBR increased 69 percent from 2005 to 2010, according to report in the Chicago Tribune.
“It’s funny, you go to the Brickwall (Tavern and Dining Room) in Asbury Park or you go the Annex and they have really exotic beers from Belgium and Germany and Austria, but all the kids are holding Pabst Blue Ribbon,” Donnelly said.
It’s all part of the romance.
Beer vs. wine
As the weather gets cooler, the state’s beer and wine scenes heat up. Here’s a sampling of upcoming events, big and small, where we’re sure you’ll find a brew to tickle your mustache. That is, if you have a mustache. Steins not included. Wine lovers, there’s something for you, too, so drink up:
22nd annual Oktoberfest, 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 9), Old Bay Restaurant, 61-63 Church St., New Brunswick. $15. 732-246-3111, http://www.oldbayrest.com. A New Brunswick tradition – listen to German music, chow down on German food and check out the 22 draft beers on tap. Just make sure you have a ride home.
Grand Harvest Wine Festival, noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16, Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, 73 Kahdena Road, Morris Township. $20. 609-588-0085, http://www.newjerseywines.com. While Jersey beer may just be coming into its own, Jersey wine has been tickling the tastebuds of connoisseurs for some time. This statewide fest featured more than 250 wines from 24 wineries. If that’s not enough, Brian Kirk and the Jirks perform on Sunday.
West Coast Beer and Food Sampling, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20, Tap Room at Somerset Hills Hotel, 200 Liberty Corner Road, Warren. $40 in advance/$45 at door. 908-647-6700, http://www.thesomersethillshotel.com. West coast breweries such as Rogue, Anderson Valley, North Coast and Green Flash will be sampled.
Atlantic City Beer vs. Wine Festival, 7 p.m. Oct. 22, Adrian Phillips Ballroom inside Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City. $74.99 in advance/$79.99 day of the event/$39.99 designated driver. http://www.acbeervswine.com, http://www.ticketmaster.com or 800-736-1420. Fifteen American craft breweries vs. 15 American wineries. Sample their wares with dining provided by 20 Atlantic City restaurants.
Beer for Babes Central Jersey Inaugural Event, 7 p.m. Oct. 25, Harvest Moon Brewery Café 392 George St., New Brunswick. 732-249-6666, http://www.harvestmoonbrewery.com. It’s the first meeting of Central Jersey’s new women’s beer club.