To those who took the time to check out my blog, thank you. I hope you learned something new about craft beer and will experiment with some new brews in the future. Though it took me quite a while to figure out how to complete some aspects of our assignments, the multimedia elements in particular, I’m proud to say I managed to get the job done. Learning the hard way, I think, will benefit me in the future should I need to reuse any of these skills.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with this blog. Like I said in class, I’m at a time in my life when I’m trying to drink less. Alcohol, when consumed responsibly can make for some good times; yet it has the power to burn bridges as well. Respect it.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know some of you, read your blogs (many of which put mine to shame) and learn a thing or two about online jounrnalism. I wish you all the best.

-Mathew Fitzgerald

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There are a plethora of great local bars for fans of craft beer in South Jersey. Ironically, if you want to check out some of the best, you don’t have to travel far…heck, you can hit all in one day! Why? Three of them line the same street: Haddon Avenue in Westmont, NJ. Another is only a few blocks away.

“There’s a reason I live a few just off Haddon Avenue,” says Matt Geiser, sales representative for Long Trial Brewing Company. “I never have to find a designated driver when I want to go out for some great beer.”

Haddon Avenue is home to the Pour House, the Irish Mile and the Keg & Kitchen. Each of these bars provides a different atmosphere; each provides similar strong tap lists.

The Pour House, as I wrote earlier in the semester is among my favorites. The trick is getting there early; the place is no secret. Not only is the craft list extensive but so too is the food. Their menu’s are online here.

As an American of Irish decent (I’m a Fitz, not a Mick!) it’s embarrassing to admit I only discovered the Irish Mile in recent weeks. My cousin Dan and I stopped in for a visit and were pleasantly surprised. They have a happy hour special with Leffe Blonde and Hoegaarden for just 3 bucks! That blows away the bar I was at the night before, where I paid 2.50 for a Bud Light.

There was a curious lack of potatoes on their menu however…puzzling for an “Irish” bar.

I have not visited the Keg & Kitchen; that will change shortly. The tap list is mind-boggling. Mind bottling? Not too many places around here with Ithaca Flower Power on tap.

I suppose it’s not too significant but another bonus I notice: their menu tells you where each beer is from…answering one of the most popular questions asked by people trying craft beer. If I had a nickel…

The Tap Room is another must-visit for local craft beer fans. Where do I begin? Last week I enjoyed 3 Troegs Mad Elfs from the tap for…wait for it… just 5 bucks a piece! Yea. 5 bucks. Mad Elf is pretty hard to find, and almost impossible to get for such a low price.

They too have a strong tap list and pretty good food. But, for me, what really sets the Tap Room apart is the atmosphere. In the summer, there is a large open patio with two outdoor bars, plenty of tv’s and usually, a young, calm crowd.

In the winter, the scene moves inside where you can enjoy some good local bands next to the fire. As a bit of a pyro, the fireplace there makes the Tap Room a winner in my book…especially if you’re looking for some date night ambiance…dinner by the fire? A no-brainer.

Last, but not least, Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant makes the cut for top tier watering holes in the area. It’s a bit further away from the others but Iron Hill is certainly worth the drive.

“If we’re talking top craft bars in the area Iron Hill has to be on the list,” says home brewer Stewart Ricker. “In fact, it’s been too long since I’ve been there.”

Located in Maple Shade, Iron Hill serves their own, freshly made house beers: A pale lager, an amber lager, a Belgian, a porter and a wheat beer. Yet they have an excellent bottle list too, including some beers they brewed in conjunction with other popular brewing companies. Dark Humor, for example, is a sour chocolate porter they made with Ithaca Brewing Company.

As Jay Rose explained earlier this semester, the craft scene here in South Jersey is booming because of our location. These 5 local bars exhibit the benefits of living so close to Philadelphia and New York—brewing companies know there a market for their product here in our backyard. Let’s get out and start taking advantage of our good fortune.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m a visual learner: monkey see, monkey do. So for this video post, I wanted to show the nuts and bolts of how beer is made. As you’ll see, it’s a relatively simple process– all you need are the proper ingredients, the proper tools and time…having good friends helps too. Enjoy…

Music: Ten Cent Pistol by the Black Keys

For most people, black Friday means rising early for deals on boots, purses, televisions, clothing and other material things…for others, it’s a beer holiday. Why? Because at Joe Canals, we decided to make it one. How? By releasing a whole bunch of exclusive beers at one time.

For weeks, we’ve been holding onto some gems like Dogfish Head Bitches Brew, Founders Breakfast Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and, of course, Troegs Mad Elf

Brewed with cherries, honey and chocolate malts

Brewed with cherries, honey and chocolate malts

“Come in black Friday,” has been the mantra around here. And so they did. Lining up before sunrise, taking post in a thick fog, men and women gathered to get there drink on. Here are some of the die-hards

Then, as 9 a.m. came to pass, customers streamed through the swing doors to pre-filled growlers, cases on display and some anxious cashiers.

Fortunately, unlike the scenes played out in many a Wal-Mart that morning, everyone moved in orderly fashion, showed patience, and went home happy. Perhaps that speaks to the nature of the craft beer audience… at least in the morning.

Learning which drinks pair best with certain foods can help improve any meal. Until recently, the concept applied almost exclusively to wine. Not anymore.

The microbrew boom of the 1990’s changed everything. Brewers began producing a wide variety of unique new flavors and soon, beer-food experimentation took off.

When it comes to food pairing, beer has a significant advantage over wine: flexibility. Winemakers are stuck with a singular ingredient—grapes. Brewers on the other hand have a plethora of options. The wide range of hops, malts, barley, yeast, fruits and spices available present flavors beyond the scope wine can match.

I’m new to the world of pairing but I’ve developed a few preferences already.

For example, I like to pair a hoppy beer like Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA with a burger. The bitterness of the beer contrasts a rich flavored burger well.

Recently, I tried 21st Amendment Zambo Imperial Red Ale with slow-cooked sweet sausage (thank God for crockpots). Red ales taste kind of sour on the palette but finish sweet—a perfect compliment.

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald with steak is another personal favorite. Malty beers like Edmund tend to pair well with red meats. Don’t ask my why. I know not why my tongue fancies the combo…and I’m not questioning it.

Start experimenting. Try an IPA with something spicy or pale ale with your next salad. Let beer broaden your horizons.

The other day, an awkwardly friendly young man asked me for a beer recommendation. This guy had a perceivable sense of happiness and general goodwill emanating through his smirk and slightly raised eyebrows; I kid you not. Naturally, I was disturbed.

“I’m from Utah,” he says, as it all starts to make sense. “I’m looking for a local beer to try.”

Now I’ve never met anyone from Utah before, but I’ve heard that Mormon’s are an usually nice sort of people. I didn’t ask him about his religious preference, and I’m not saying everyone from Utah follows Joseph Smith…I’m just putting two and two together…

“What do you normally drink?” I ask. When he shrugged, I knew something light might do the trick. Quite a few beers require a bit of getting used to, like super bitter IPA’s or anything with a lot of malt. Nothing over the top for Utah…

I walked him over to the Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale. The cool thing about this beer, I find, is the balance. It’s light, but still has this nice subtle dry hop taste. The low alcohol content makes for easy drinking. In fact, according to their website, the Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale is Citizen Bank Park’s most sold craft beer.

I recommended it to the kid from Utah as a solid representation of South Jersey craft beer. I recommend it to you for the same.

Now with an exotic new blue label 🙂

Someone once told me New Jersey is the armpit of craft beer in this country. For the longest time I assumed this was an insult, the suggestion being that somehow the craft selection available in the Garden State stinks. But after talking with Jay Rose, I’m starting to think the “armpit” is exactly where we want to be.

Jay contributes to Philly Beer Scene Magazine, his most recent piece being an interview with Pete Danford, the regional sales manager for Victory Brewing Company. He was good enough to play a bit of role reversal and sit down with me to explain what makes New Jersey such a desired market for American brewers…and why being anywhere else would stink…

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