bill bodkin looks at Beach Haus Lager, a new craft beer born in point pleasant, n.j. …
The essence of the Jersey Shore has been celebrated in so many ways — on television, in songs, paintings, in films, and now, we can proudly say the Jersey Shore is celebrated by beer.
In September 2009, Point Pleasant natives John Merklin and Brian Ciriaco unleashed Beach Haus Lager — a wonderfully delicious American style pilsner beer on the Jersey Shore.
“We grew up at the shore, and cherish a perfect day at the beach,” they say. “That’s why we created Beach Haus. Smooth, golden and full bodied — we think it’s a new American classic and a perfect way to celebrate the Jersey Shore.”
The two longtime friends have been “hopheads” since they were 21, when they first started tinkering with a home brew kit.
“We were a part of the first generation of the craft beer revolution — Sam Adams, Anchor Steam, Brooklyn,” Merklin says.
This love of craft beer was something Merklin and Ciriaco carried with them throughout their lives, especially during their near 20 years in the technology industry. Their jobs required a lot of international travel, and on their down time, they would sample the local beers of the region. The two remarked how they loved discovering new beers and were fascinated that in certain countries specific towns had beers that were exclusively brewed for them.
This yearning for a hometown lager came to a head when Merklin was reading Beer School, a book written by the owners of the Brooklyn Brewery. The book detailed how the owners felt that a place like Brooklyn — one that is known the world over — didn’t have its own brewery. This idea inspired Merklin as he too realized that his hometown area, the Jersey Shore — an area known the world ove — needed a beer of its own, one that would represented its true spirit.
So he went to his longtime friend Ciriaco and proposed they go into the brewing business. The East Coast Beer Company was born.
The first beer the company decided to produce was the aforementioned Beach Haus Lager, a Classic American Pilsner. According to Merklin, this style of beer has been lost on the American brewing scene since before Prohibition.
“It’s unique,” Merklin said. “It’s an old world recipe with American ingredients — All-American hops, grains. We want the drinker to the craft experience with all the right hop hits. We want them to drink this beer to experience the taste and not just get drunk.”
“We wanted to brew a beer in a style that would become synonymous with the region,” Ciriaco says. “We thought it made no sense to a stout because this is a big lager area. We wanted something that would finish smooth and not overwhelm. It will please the beer geeks but it’s accessible to the light beer drinks, as well.”
According to them, Beach Haus has been very well-received by the drinking public. The two printed inkjet labels and slapped them onto their bottles ,which they almost went door-to-door with to get bars and restaurants and retailers to sell. Bars like the Parker House in Sea Girt and Edgar’s in Manasquan were the first to jump on board while other Shore institutions like Frankie’s (Point Pleasant), Brickwall Tavern (Asbury Park), The River Rock (Brick) and Chevy’s (Brick) have been serving Beach Haus in both bottle and draft. And impressively, in a short period of time, Beach Haus is now in available in all Spirits Unlimited and Buy Rite Liquor locations at The Shore.
Beach Haus is brewed in Rochester, N.Y., (the duo have hopes to open a brewery at the Shore, although that’s a long-term goal) and also distributed throughout the majority of New Jersey (locally through Crown Distributors Wall) through various beer distributors. Merklin and Ciriaco also do beer tastings throughout the state and are at all the major beer festivals. So if you’re looking to try this beer out, go to a tasting.
On why they decided to distribute this new, local microbrew Crown Distributors said: “We wanted to support a local brew that’s located in our area. Given we are most known for our resort market (jersey shore/beach) during the summer and the beer being named Beach Haus, it seemed like a perfect fit.”
There are plans for the duo to release new brands in the next year or so, but it’s Beach Haus that has all their attention.
In this writer’s opinion, Beach Haus is a fantastic beer. It’s like sipping on your favorite domestic brand, but there’s more a fuller taste to it. Also, you’ll earn street cred with hopheads because this is a craft beer. But in all seriousness, Beach Haus Lager is the brand to drink in 2011 at the Shore. It will become your new standby favorite beer, whether in bottle or on draft, at a bar or your house party.