The Ultimate Weekend Destination for Craft Beverages
Easily accessible to New Yorkers by train, bus, and car, New Jersey’s Somerset County has vibrant Main Streets, thriving restaurants, working farms, and distinguished estates. The arts, culture, and history are not to be slept on, and neither is the 70-mile Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. But on the top of our itinerary for a day trip or weekend getaway is the stellar craft beverage scene!
Recently Team HRN went to record on site at Flounder Brewing and Bellemara Distillery with the host of Beer Sessions Radio, Jimmy Carbone. Situated on a 250-year old farm, these neighboring establishments have become some of the busiest tap rooms in New Jersey. Jimmy talked with “Flounder” himself, Jeremy Lees; Cam Winkelstein, Head Distiller of Bellemara; and Melonie Marano, Somerset County Commissioner Deputy Director about everything from barn historians to smoked beers. Listen here:
Some highlights from our trip included Bellemara’s house-made negronis - everything was made from scratch including the tonic water! Flounder Brewing purchased lagering vessels this year so they could spend a ridiculous amount of time making very tasty lagers, like the Marzen for Octoberfest. With sheep roaming around on the farm outside, a beautiful sunset, and delicious drinks in hand, our head of audio production summed up the setting accurately as “pretty dreamy.”
When you visit these destinations or others, you can pick up Somerset’s Sip & See Passport. Enjoy a beverage at five of the area’s breweries, distillers, and cideries to earn a free T-shirt!
Five Can’t Miss Spots to Sip & See Somerset County
1. Bellemara Distillery (Hillsborough): A different kind of distillery with a unique approach to making spirits that blends traditional production techniques from Scotland with distinctly American innovations. All of their products are made grain to glass. They believe that to create a product that is truly distinctive, the whole process from mashing, fermenting, distilling, maturing, and bottling should be done by the company whose name is on the bottle. They love distilling, but are also passionate about helping people discover a new world of liquor appreciation - so don’t hesitate to ask questions!
2. Flounder Brewing (Hillsborough): Nestled in renovated 250 year old barns, they’re always brewing a variety of beers to please all preferences. The 15 barrel brewhouse provides a unique tasting room experience that will leave you with great memories.
3. Burnt Mills Cider (Bedminster): Burnt Mills refers to a section of town with an impressive bit of Revolutionary-era history, and the founders drew a connection with the local area and the state’s long history of cider making. With 12 ciders on tap including seasonally rotating selections, they’re determined to revive premium and locally made craft cider for all to enjoy!
4. Jersey Cyclone Brewing (Somerset): With 14 beers on tap, a game shelf, and local events from trivia to fall festivals, you can enjoy a whole afternoon here. When it’s time to finally head out, you'll be glad to know you can grab cans and crowlers to go.
5. Village Brewing (Somerville): Whether putting the finishing touches on a batch or talking to folks in the tap room while serving pints, their staff is as committed to serving unique craft beers and their seasonal menu as they are to building relationships. Rotating craft beers and elevated comfort food make it a spot you’ll want to keep coming back to.
As you travel along the beverage trail, you can get recommendations for what else to explore nearby at sipandseesomerset.com! We’re pretty sure you’ll rack up passport stamps faster than you think - send us a photo of your free T-shirt when you do!