Top Picks: The Best Breweries in New Jersey for Craft Beer Lovers

Searching for the best breweries in New Jersey? Look no further. New Jersey’s craft beer landscape is thriving with a range of top-notch breweries, each offering unique and quality brews.

From the award-winning Kane Brewing Company to hidden gems like The Seed: A Living Beer Project, we’ve scouted the Garden State’s brewery scene to bring you a curated list of the must-visit spots for any craft beer aficionado.

Dive into our guide to discover where to find the finest ales, lagers, IPAs, and stouts that New Jersey has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • New Jersey is bursting with craft beer spots, featuring 152 breweries and generating a big economic impact, with unique beer offerings for every palate.
  • A few breweries like Kane, Carton, and Icarus are making serious waves with their award-winning beers, like the maple syrup-infused Sunday Brunch and Yacht Juice IPA.
  • There’s a whole landscape of lesser-known breweries ripe for discovery, offering everything from saisons with microflora to strong barrel-fermented ales.

New Jersey’s Craft Beer Scene

The craft beer scene in New Jersey has seen substantial growth, boasting 152 officially operating breweries. This industry, once the underdog, is now a significant player in the craft beer market, producing over 222,062 barrels of craft beer per year.

With an economic impact hitting an impressive $1.642 billion in 2022, the industry is projected to reach an economic size of $556.9 million within the next few years. More than 1,215 people are now employed in the industry, making it a vital job creator in the state.

While Bergen, Essex, and Middlesex counties have the highest concentration of breweries, the entire Garden State is teeming with a vibrant craft beer scene.

What’s more, there’s a beer for every taste bud, with an explosion of smaller breweries offering a wider and more experimental selection of beers, catering to diverse palates.

Award-Winning Breweries

Beer flight with various craft beers

Despite the multitude of breweries in New Jersey, several stand out as top contenders. Kane Brewing Company, Carton Brewing Company, and Icarus Brewing Company are among the most highly acclaimed, each renowned for their exceptional beers and multiple awards.

Don’t just take our word for it, let’s explore each of these breweries and find out what makes them stand out in the crowd.

Kane Brewing Company

Kane Brewing Company, recognized as one of the top breweries in New Jersey for craft beer lovers, is renowned for its high-quality IPAs and imperial stouts.

Their standout offering, Sunday Brunch, is an Imperial Milk Porter with a 9.2% alcohol by volume (ABV) that incorporates a blend of Rook Coffee, cinnamon, and maple syrup flavors, making it a perfect brew for those looking for a unique, flavorful experience.

Carton Brewing Company

Carton Brewing Company is all about pushing the boundaries of craft beer. From their award-winning Boat Beer to the bold and unique creations like The Hook, a pale ale with Citra and a Galaxy dry hop, and the Explosive Explosions Exploding Explosively, a triple IPA, each brew is a testament to their commitment to innovation and quality.

Icarus Brewing Company

Then there’s Icarus Brewing Company, a relatively new player in the scene but one that’s made its mark with innovative beers like the Yacht Juice IPA and the award-winning ‘For The Story’, which secured a silver medal in the 2020 Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Established in early 2017, Icarus Brewing Company’s founder, Jason Goldstein, has a substantial brewing background and a team that brings diverse skills in brewing, brand management, sales, marketing, and packaging.

The brewery’s lagers, such as the Liquid Swords Japanese Style Rice Lager, contribute to the rich variety of beers at Icarus.

Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Breweries Worth Exploring

Craft beer taps at a local brewery

Stepping off the beaten path can often lead to exciting discoveries, and New Jersey’s craft beer scene is no exception. There are plenty of lesser-known breweries that are worth a visit for any craft beer enthusiast, offering diverse beer styles and unique experiences.

Breweries like Tonewood Brewing, Bonesaw Brewing Co., and Eight & Sand Beer Co., are just a few of these hidden gems.

Here are some of these worthy of attention.

Troon Brewing

Troon Brewing, a small, exclusive brewery in Hopewell, NJ, is known for its limited releases, Instagram announcements, and being sought after for their highly-regarded and quickly sold-out exclusive releases. In a similar vein, Brotherton Brewing Company offers enthusiasts a taste of premier classic beer styles.

With an exceptional selection of beers and a unique approach, Troon Brewing is a destination that craft beer enthusiasts shouldn’t miss.

The Seed: A Living Beer Project

The Seed: A Living Beer Project in Atlantic City is another hidden gem that focuses on saisons and mixed-fermentation ales, using naturally occurring microflora. Their brewing process showcases an interplay with naturally occurring microflora, which is central to their beer’s unique characteristics.

The brewery’s commitment to crafting distinctive brews makes it an appealing visit for those in search of novelty.

Mindful Ales

Operating on a small scale, Mindful Ales has earned a reputation for producing high-quality, barrel-fermented beers using local ingredients. Their limited releases ensure that each batch receives the attention it deserves, resulting in beers that are as thoughtful as they are delicious.

Hazy IPA pouring into a glass

If you’re a fan of hazy IPAs and sours, you’re in luck. New Jersey, including the Atlantic Highlands area, is home to an array of breweries that have crafted a reputation for producing these popular styles. Some notable breweries include:

  • Icarus Brewing, known for its juicy and hazy IPAs like Power Juicer
  • Twin Elephant, which offers creamy and calming IPAs like The Mighty Winooski
  • Magnify Brewing, with unique offerings such as the zero IBU Little Cold Side and DDH imperial IPA Smell Ya Later

New Jersey’s craft beer scene has something to please every palate.

Also worth noting is Brix City Brewing, known for their standout hazy IPAs and notable sours, appealing to a wide range of taste preferences among New Jersey’s craft beer aficionados.

Brix City Brewing

Brix City Brewing in Little Ferry, NJ, offers a diverse range of beer styles to suit various tastes, including experimental sours, traditional Pilsners, and barrel-aged stouts. The brewery has received recognition for their New England style IPAs, particularly their selection of hazy IPAs which are a hit among craft beer enthusiasts.

In addition to their renowned IPAs, Brix City Brewing broadens its variety with intriguing experimental sours and robust barrel-aged stouts, making it an essential stop in New Jersey for craft beer enthusiasts.

Twin Elephant Brewing Company

Twin Elephant Brewing Company, located in Chatham Borough, NJ, is recognized for producing a diverse array of craft beers, with a particular reputation for their juicy IPAs and innovative ingredients.

They also offer a fruited sour beer called ‘Ripen The Pint: Orange & Mango’, demonstrating their expertise in the sour beer category. For those in Egg Harbor Township and Ocean Township, this brewing company is worth the visit.

Magnify Brewing Company

Magnify Brewing Company in Fairfield, NJ, is renowned for its hop-forward beers and has a reputation for drawing crowds at its releases, which include a variety of IPAs and occasional sours.

Their hazy New England style IPA, ‘Maine Event,’ showcases Citra and Simcoe hops and is known for its low bitterness and juicy tropical fruit notes.

Magnify Brewing Company also produces ‘Trade Proof,’ a rotational series of smoothie sours that features a diverse selection of fruits, providing a unique and delicious experience for craft beer lovers.

Veteran-Owned and Socially Conscious Breweries

New Jersey’s craft beer scene is not only diverse in terms of beer styles and flavors but also in the ethos and values of the breweries.

Backward Flag Brewing Co., a veteran and women-owned brewery, and Double Nickel Brewing Company, known for its community involvement and initiatives to combat food insecurity, both epitomize the industry’s commitment to social consciousness and community.

Backward Flag Brewing Co.

Backward Flag Brewing Co., located in Forked River, New Jersey, is owned by Torie Fisher, an Army veteran with 13 years of service. The brewery places high importance on respect and celebrates diversity encompassing:

  • race
  • gender
  • sexual preference
  • political beliefs

The Backward Flag emblem, modeled after the military uniform flag which symbolizes relentless advancement, represents the core ethos of the brewery.

Not only veteran and women-owned, Backward Flag Brewing Co. also actively engages in raising awareness about veterans’ issues.

Double Nickel Brewing Company

Double Nickel Brewing Company in Pennsauken Township, NJ, deeply values community involvement. Their Friends Giving initiative demonstrates this commitment, collaborating with other breweries to produce a Thanksgiving beer, where 100% of the proceeds aid local charities fighting food insecurity.

Through their CollaborAid charity, they have raised over $200,000 to provide food and support to food-insecure families in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The brewery also works with organizations like Cathedral Kitchen, Camden’s largest emergency food provider, and Virtua’s Mobile Farmer’s Market that serves under-served communities, enhancing its community outreach.

Unique Brewery Experiences in New Jersey

The craft beer journey in New Jersey extends beyond the taste of exceptional beer – it encompasses unique narratives, exclusive releases, and distinctive environments that engage visitors in the brewing process. Some examples include:

  • Conclave Brewing’s quickly sold-out exclusive releases
  • Ghost Hawk Brewing Company’s heartfelt narrative of the founder’s late brother
  • Cape May Brewing Company’s various themed sections including a dedicated Sour Room

There’s a unique brewery experience waiting for every craft beer lover in New Jersey.

Conclave Brewing Company

Located in Flemington, NJ, Conclave Brewing Company offers:

  • Highly-regarded and quickly sold-out exclusive releases like Gravitational Waves and Jubilee
  • A welcoming experience with flexible opening hours to accommodate visits in the afternoons and evenings
  • Unique opportunities to enjoy their craft beers at upcoming events listed on Conclave Brewing Company’s event schedule.

Ghost Hawk Brewing Company

Ghost Hawk Brewing Company, established in April 2019 in Clifton, NJ, offers more than just beer; it shares a heartfelt narrative of the founder’s late brother, providing depth and personal connection within the craft beer community.

Ghost Hawk Brewing offers a wide range of hand-crafted IPAs and lagers that have quickly gained recognition.

The brewery, located in Little Egg Harbor Township, has become an integral part of the Clifton and Passaic County communities, contributing to the local craft beer culture.

Cape May Brewing Company

Cape May Brewing Company, situated in Rio Grande, NJ, creates a diverse space for beer discovery with its various themed sections, including a dedicated Sour Room. The brewery occupies part of the Cape May Airport complex, offering an unusual and interesting setting for visitors.

The brewery features a Tasting Room and Beer Garden open daily, providing both indoor and outdoor seating for guests.

Local Favorites: Top-Rated Beers from New Jersey Breweries

An exploration of New Jersey’s craft beer scene would be incomplete without acknowledging the local favorites. These are the beers that have won the hearts (and taste buds) of craft beer lovers across the state.

Beers like Sunday Brunch from Kane Brewing Company, Café Y Churro from Carton Brewing Company, and Power Juicer from Icarus Brewing Company showcase the richness of New Jersey’s craft beer culture.

Sunday Brunch (Kane Brewing Company)

Kane Brewing Company’s renowned Sunday Brunch is celebrated for featuring highly rated craft beers. This Imperial Milk Porter boasts an exceptional rating of 4.42 on Untappd, derived from 11,853 ratings, indicating its widespread acclaim among beer aficionados.

Given its distinctive blend of Rook Coffee, cinnamon, and maple syrup flavors, it’s hardly surprising that Sunday Brunch is a hit with craft beer enthusiasts.

Café Y Churro (Carton Brewing Company)

Carton Brewing Company’s Café Y Churro is a cream ale with a 12% ABV that tastefully blends the distinct flavors of coffee and churros. This unique brew is a testament to Carton Brewing’s commitment to innovation and quality, making it a hit among craft beer enthusiasts.

Power Juicer (Icarus Brewing Company)

Icarus Brewing Company’s Power Juicer is another local brew that has found favor with craft beer devotees. It showcases Icarus Brewing’s innovative approach and is a testament to their commitment to creating high-quality, flavorful beers.

Summary

From the bustling growth of the craft beer industry in New Jersey to the award-winning breweries and hidden gems, the state’s craft beer scene is as diverse and vibrant as the flavors in every pint.

Whether you’re a fan of hazy IPAs, sours, or traditional Pilsners, you’re sure to find a beer that hits the spot.

And with breweries that value community, diversity, and innovation, it’s clear that New Jersey’s craft beer scene is about more than just brewing good beer—it’s about brewing with a purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the economic impact of the craft beer industry in New Jersey?

The economic impact of the craft beer industry in New Jersey was $1.642 billion in 2022, demonstrating its significant contribution to the state’s economy.

Which breweries in New Jersey are known for their exceptional beers and multiple awards?

Check out Kane Brewing Company, Carton Brewing Company, and Icarus Brewing Company for some of the best beers and award-winning brews in New Jersey. Cheers!

What are some of the lesser-known breweries in New Jersey worth exploring?

You should definitely check out Tonewood Brewing, Bonesaw Brewing Co., and Eight & Sand Beer Co. for some unique beer styles and experiences. Enjoy your brewery exploration!

Are there any veteran-owned and socially conscious breweries in New Jersey?

Yes, both Backward Flag Brewing Co. and Double Nickel Brewing Company in New Jersey are veteran-owned and socially conscious, with a focus on community involvement and food insecurity initiatives.

What are some local favorite beers from New Jersey breweries?

If you’re looking for local favorites, be sure to try Sunday Brunch from Kane Brewing Company, Café Y Churro from Carton Brewing Company, and Power Juicer from Icarus Brewing Company. Cheers!