Flounder Brewing, a township brewery founded in 2013 by Jeremy Lees, was once known as the smallest licensed brewery in New Jersey with the ability to brew 31 gallons of beer at a time.
However, partly due to the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Brewing and Business Experienceship, which provides one craft brewer annually with hands-on brewing and business coaching, that has changed since Flounder Brewing first opened.
This year, Flounder Brewing was the recipient of that experienceship after being chosen from a pool of 15 other budding breweries from across the nation.
The program, which seeks to help fellow craft brewers get the capital and resources they need to succeed, resulted in Lees and Flounder Brewing co-owners Dan Lees and Billy Jordan receiving a two-day trip to the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery to be coached by Samuel Adams experts, a collaboration with Samuel Adams to create a new beer, a trip to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, publicity, including a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, and $103,000 in loans to support expansion.
Thanks to what Samuel Adams provided, Flounder Brewing’s 1,500-square-foot facility just doubled in size and will soon be adding an additional brewing system that will brew 620 gallons of beer at a time that will be sold for distribution. Currently, they utilize a system that can brew 92 gallons of beer at a time, which they will continue with after the expansion to experiment with new beers.
“Flounder obviously benefited from this program, but the reason that they will really benefit is Jeremy’s thirst for knowledge and want to be a great brewer,” said Megan Parisi, brewer at Samuel Adams who worked with Lees throughout the experienceship. “Without that drive, you could have all the resources in the world and never do anything. He’s got the skill and the interest to take these experiences and really succeed.”
Lees received a loan from Samuel Adams to open his brewery, which qualified him as an applicant for the program. He said that on his application, “A good bulk of my response was that we would be doing a big expansion. We were feeling like it was time to do a big expansion and what we would learn from the experienceship would benefit us.”
In a culmination of what Lees learned during his experienceship, Flounder Brewing and Samuel Adams partnered on Devil’s Nectah, a limited-release cranberry-honey helles lager with a 5.2 percent ABV that was brewed with honey from Fruitwood Orchards in Hardingville, New Jersey, and Massachusetts cranberries.
Lees said that he knew the beer was going to be released in the fall, so he wanted to create something fitting for the season — such as a lager, which he had never brewed before.
“They’re a little bit different since they use a different yeast and there’s a lot to learn behind making one. So when I had this opportunity, I knew I wanted to do a lager,” he said. “They obviously know what they’re doing — Boston Lager — so I knew they would help fill in the gaps.”
Lees wanted to tie in something Jersey with the beer, which is why they used the honey from Fruitwood Orchards, which also gives the beer “a bit of softness while also bringing New Jersey agriculture to light.”
“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we incorporate cranberries without making it super fruity?’” said Parisi. “We looked at using the cranberry honey as well as cranberries in the aging. It’s got a really crisp body, smooth finish, light hue from the fruit and also a sweetness and body from the honey that lingers.”
Next year, the same recipe beer will be brewed by Flounder under a new name. However, in the meantime, Flounder Brewing will be doing tap takeovers for the beer.
On Sept. 14, they will be at Sol Mexican Cantina in Branchburg; on Sept. 23, they will be at The Landing in Hillsborough; on Oct. 6, they will be at the Northside Lounge in Manville; on Oct. 7, they will be at the Fox and Hound in Edison; on Oct. 11, they will be at Hops in Morristown; and on Oct. 21, they will be at World of Beer in New Brunswick. It’s also currently being served at the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery. To see the full list, click here.
“It’s a good, solid lager that finishes a little bit differently because of the cranberry and honey,” said Lees. “People are really enjoying it.”
The same can be said for the beer’s sales at the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery. Parisi said that it has been selling well through growler purchases.
“I really enjoyed working with Jeremy,” said Parisi. “He seems like a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic brewer. He really wanted to learn to brew a lager, and that search for knowledge and to do something new is really admirable.”
Where: 1 Ilene Court, Suite 16, Building 8, Hillsborough
Contact: flounderbrewing.com, 908-396-6166
Tours: Tours are not daily. Find the next tour and sign up by visiting signupgenius.com/index.cfm
Where to find Devil’s Nectah: Click here to see the full list of tap takeovers