Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beach Haus Kick Back Ale due in early May

The folks who bring you the contract-brewed Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner and Beach Haus Winter Rental black lager are exploring having their own brewery in New Jersey.

Big news, yes, but hang on for a second because there are some asterisks that go along with that information. Not to mention the fact that word of it shouldn't dwarf news that East Coast Beer is on the cusp of bringing a third beer to market, an American amber ale ale that will be Point Pleasant company's second year-round label and its hoppiest brew to date.

Previewed to the festival crowds in February and March, Kick Back Ale is scheduled to be bottled and kegged May 7th at Genesee Brewing (East Coast's contractor in Rochester, New York) and hit stores after the 11th. (In development for a while, Kick Back was actually supposed to be introduced last year, but Winter Rental was pushed ahead of it as a fall seasonal.)

At around 5.5% ABV, the brew is a sit and chill with friends kind of beer, says John Merklin, who  with his friend, Brian Ciriaco, launched Beach Haus pilsner in 2010 as their year-round flagship label.

"Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner and Beach Haus Winter Rental, they were kinda like the yin and yang to one another – one certainly more sunshine, spring/summerish feel (and) Winter Rental being part of the whole fall/winter motif," says Merk, as friends call him. "This (Kick Back) was just a departure of any season whatsoever, any single day or single event. It's just the everyday backyard setting, which is the first place of leisure for most folks."

Square Melon Communications, the Westfield promotions and graphic design house that has done all of the Beach Haus labeling, turned in some inviting companion artwork this time: an emblematic backyard stockade fence with a pair of kicked-off work boot slung over the pickets, while sunrays (setting or rising, you can make a case for either amid the hues) filtering through.

Label aside, the Beach Haus brand has made its name with beers that are accessible to folks who still hang around the Budweiser tent, but the brews also hit the spot with craft beer enthusiasts. Kick Back follows that arc, and Merk describes the flavor profile as hoppy but balanced.

"It's an American amber ale, so you're definitely going to get some good hop presence. It certainly will be our hoppiest beer," Merk says. "To style, it's going to have a really rich aroma, (which) will also have equal part as far as the maltiness. Besides the color, what keeps it from being an IPA is the fact that it's a little less on the hoppy side. That equal part in maltiness really balances it out."

Now about that Beach Haus brewery in New Jersey (and those asterisks). For starters, Merk says, things in that regard are embryonic and that farming out their beers to another company to brew remains part of the Beach Haus business model. But having a local brewery was also part of the company plan that came together five years ago. Additionally, Merk says having a brewery will "give us a little added flexibility in terms of introducing new styles and new brands ... getting more beers out to market in a more timely fashion."

"We're in the early phases of looking at properties and working out financing," he says. "It's far from a done deal, but we're taking action on it probably a year or two earlier than we had initially thought.

"It's always been part of the entire picture, the long-term picture. It's something very interesting to us. Not to get away from contract brewing, I'm certain we will always contract brew. We're very happy with our relationship (with Genesee). We've actually made some really outstanding beers we feel have had a lot of success."

Here's another asterisk about the Beach Haus, something else to consider when you think of contract brewing ...

The fact that Beach Haus beers are contract brewed shouldn't be misconstrued as Merk, Brian and Tom Przyborowski, East Coast's beer-development point man, just writing a check for a brewing and kicking back while Genesee does all the work. All three Beach Haus brews have been pilot-brewed by the trio first, the recipes refined, then handed off to Rochester. And then, the trio will put their hands on whatever tasks Genesee allows.

"The best way to put it is we do every non-union job they let us, which is quite a bit. Everything starts as a brew in my garage, not just a single event," Merk says. "For instance with Kick Back Ale, we went through four different iterations – and it was 18 months worth of development, all in my garage – before we even took the first trip to Rochester."

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