Hey everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! This week I stopped by Climax Brewing Co. in Roselle Park, NJ. Dave, the owner and operator of Climax, is a self-proclaimed “old-timer” and has been in the industry for at least 25 years. Climax itself is the oldest microbrewery in New Jersey and Dave has seen the rise in popularity of craft beer both in NJ and around the country. He had a lot to share and certainly some grievances with the state of affairs in New Jersey, particularly with alcohol legislation. Moreover, he has maintained his standard of quality and his dedication to the process over the years. Dave has said that beer is both an art and a science but he also shared that it is a “strict discipline.” After we recorded Dave took me through the beers on tap and sent me away with a few beers. After sharing that my good friend Bill–as announced on our last episode–will be shipping out with the army to South Korea by way of Fort Knox, Dave made sure that we would send him off with some good beer. “Make sure you drink this with your friend.”
It becomes pretty clear, after getting briefly familiarized with the craft beer scene in New Jersey, that the legislation doesn’t make brewing beer easy. And Dave had a lot to say about the “archaic” nature of some of these laws. Others have harped on the issues with beer in New Jersey but unfortunately there hasn’t been much change. Dave mentioned his hesitation to believe that new breweries are successful, particularly with the amount of red tap to get through. Still, Dave has stayed in business for 20 years, without sinking to gimmick beer, so maybe there is hope for NJ craft beer.
Dave is very critical of the gimmicky trends that tend to pop up in craft beer. He sticks to what he knows and what he enjoys, not deviating to brew a crazy hop bomb or a weird concoction with crazy fruit in it. Dave follows the Reinheitsgebot, a set of German purity laws for beer. I didn’t mean to sound patronizing when I mentioned that Climax beer would be a good introduction to craft beer. Dave’s beer is very approachable and balanced and can guide new drinkers toward different styles.
Dave is also proud of his system of taking on brewers. Climax has become known as something of a training facility, churning out excellent brewers who go on to become head-brewers at other breweries. Dave, who started as a homebrewer and the owner of a homebrew shop, felt that it would be worthwhile to take on talented homebrewers and teach them the professional brewing process.
Although Dave may be considered a stickler for the old ways or for tradition, he has plans for innovation and change. With the recent legislation allowing for taprooms, Dave has tried to expand his options for serving beer on premise. He mentioned his hopes to build out a nice, comfortable taproom within his space. Still, he’s more than happy to have people visit on Friday or Saturday night as hours allow.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of People & Pints & Podcasts and check back soon for another episode!