New Jersey breweries
by Andrew Schanel
(Beer Delegate, NJ, USA)
Defunct New Jersey breweries: Beer Barons originated here
New Jersey breweries: a history
The industrial corridor of New Jersey from Paterson to Elizabeth must have been a sight to behold during the 19th century. This area was a manufacturing hub for the rest of the country and it makes sense that some of the largest breweries of the time were located here.
In a moment during the 1880s, there were no less than six breweries in one city alone. Although the Prohibition all but destroyed most of these companies, a couple of large ones survived.
Picture this scene: sprawling brick fortresses on the banks of the Passaic pumping out thousands of gallons of liquid gold. Ships and trains arrive to pick up the barrels of Lager, India Pale Ale, Stout and Bock for export. Hundreds of smokestacks innocently puffing away steam from boiling wort.
Wait. Did I say Bock? IPA? Yep, these New Jersey breweries certainly didn't mass produce the watery, straw colored soma of the masses we know as macros today. These brewmasters and owners were mostly immigrants who preserved the style of beer from their homelands. And they made a ton of money doing it. Hence the term Beer Baron.
I certainly cannot list all of the breweries that ever existed in New Jersey. This daunting task would be more appropriate for a beer historian or such. I have compiled a small list of some of the better-known ones:
Ballantine – A lot of people are familiar with the famous three-ring logo adorning a big 40oz green bottle, now brewed elsewhere. But did you know that the original Ballantine brewery once crafted an ale that was aged in oak barrels for 20 years? The brewery was housed in an 1805 brick structure and started brewing beer there in 1840, surviving Prohibition and becoming bigger than Anheuser Busch.
Hard times fell in the '50s and the brewery finally closed its doors in the 1960s. The building is now a high school and is in the Ironbound district of Newark.
Krueger – Also hailing from Newark, the brewery began in 1865 and closed in 1961. This is the brewery that first put beer in a can in 1935. Some of these cans still exist today and actually have opening instructions printed on them.
Lembeck and Betz Eagle Brewing – This company started brewing pale ale and porter in 1869, then Lager in 1889 with the influx of Germans into the area. At its prime, this brewery produced 250,000 gallons per year.
Pabst – Good Ol' PBR didn't start, nor end, in Jersey – but did have a brewery here which closed in 1982. Before its removal, anyone who has ever taken a ride down the Garden State Parkway will remember seeing the huge 60ft tall beer bottle looming in the distance.
A few other defunct New Jersey breweries:
Lyon – Newark
Sprattler & Mennel - Paterson
Bermes – Union City
Peter Doelger - Harrison
Rising Sun – Elizabeth
Fiegenspan – Newark