A New Chapter for Beer Lovers in Hackensack
Journeys into Hackensack
Hackensack is a beer town.
To some that statement may not be much of a surprise. Afterall, for centuries Hackensack has been a center of commerce, entertainment and hospitality. And, part of that narrative over that time has always included beer - served up and consumed at taverns, hotels and restaurants - first at the Dutch and British colonial era taverns and hotels along the pikes and river, later at establishments serving those traveling to and from the town's train stations and the more recently at such well-regarded 20th century eateries as The Red Lion Inn, The Print Room at Packard's, Pinto's, Petrillo's, Guido's and Rudy's.
Now Hackensack has added beer making to this legacy.
Hackensack's second brewery has just opened, just feet away from the city's first, creating what has been described as a "Brewer's Row" for North Jersey beer lovers.
Hackensack Brewing Company, on Johnson Avenue, features eight beers on tap, including an Irish stout, a Belgian dubbel and the trendy New England-style IP.
According to an article in NorthJersey.com (The Record), for Mike Jones, a Hackensack native and resident, the brewery's opening is a dream nearly four years in the making. His journey from beer lover to beer maker began when he brewed his first batch of beer in a closet in a high-rise apartment in Hackensack.
As natives, the folks at the Hackensack Brewing Company are taking their connection to the city seriously.
In addition to Fairmount IPA which is named after the Hackensack neighborhood, the taproom (12 taps; 21 sets) stresses a"hyper-local element", decorated with Hackensack memorabilia.
Moreover, the beers themselves, ina ddition to catering to a variet of palates and tastes, also serve as tributes to the city's history. On tap are Jones' Irish stout "Moment's Notice," named after a John Coltrane song recorded in 1957 at Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack. Jones will also have Nu-Bajan Blonde, a blonde ale infused with madagascar vanilla. Bajan is another word for Barbadian and, until 1921, Hackensack was called New Barbadoes Township.
The new brewery is right around the corner from The Alementary, the city's first brewery, which is on Voorhis Lane. Alementary co-owners Blake Crawford and Mike Roosevelt helped craft the ordinance that allowed for breweries within the city.
There is a long history of brewing in New Jersey- older than the state itself. According to Westwood attorney and beer historian Michael Pelligrino (author of "Jersey Brew – the story of Beer in New Jersey) in a history in North Jersey.com, the first brewery dated back to 1641(Started by a Dutch settler but burnt down by the Lenni Lenape Indians). Later Breweries sprang up in Paterson, East Orange, Newark, Camden and Atlantic City. "Anywhere where there was abundant fresh water, there was a brewery," Pellegrino says. "They would export to other states and it was big business."
But as Pellegrino's book documents, wave upon subsequent wave of immigrants brought their beer making skills with them, and beer gardens became popular. By 1879 there were 58 commercial brew houses in New Jersey, according to Pellegrino.
Ballantine Brewery opened in Newark in 1840 and was the largest of New Jersey's early brewers. In later years, the beer would be a popular sponsor of the New York Yankees with the slogan "Baseball and Ballantine." Krueger's Brewery opened in Newark in 1858. Beer gardens were very popular. According to Pelleghrino, by 1879 there were 58 commercial brew houses in the Garden State.
But then came Prohibition. New Jersey was not one of the states that ratified the 18th Amendment; when it became the law of the land in January 1920, it shuttered and later doomed several of New Jersey's breweries.
After Ballentine and Pabst left, for a long time the only major brewery in the state was the Budweiser plant near Newark Airport that opened in 1951.
Now the breweries have returned to New Jersey. And, they have come to Hackensack for the first time.
It is fitting as Hackensack, a city with a history that has for too long been overlooked and dismissed, is itself embarking on a new chapter. It is most visible in the conversion occurring in and around Main Street and downtown, where a transition is being made to 21st century mixed use projects. It is hoped that downtown Hackensack will become an 18 hour a day destination.
This new chapter is also seen in businesses such as the Hackensack Brewing Company, a new business with roots in the community who honor Hackensack's past as they take it to places it has never been before.
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