March 10, 2010
The Jersey City Independent
Flying Fish Unveils Exit 16 Beer Focused on the Meadowlands
By Melissa Surach
New Jersey¡¯s Flying Fish Brewing Company launched the newest beer in its Exit Series Monday night at Copper Mine pub, a craft beer bar in North Arlington. The beer, called Exit 16, was designed not only to be a delicious double IPA, but also to educate the nation about the Meadowlands, the plight of the Hackensack River and how great New Jersey is in general. Indeed, the Jersey Pride emanating from Flying Fish¡¯s Andy Newell and Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan was inspirational and nearly brought tears to my eyes.
According to Newell (who introduced himself as an ¡°original flounder¡± of the brewery), eventually the Exit series will cover all 18 exits, so one could tour this great state by bottle. Each one will be unique to the history and geography of that region.
For example, Exit 16 is a wild rice double IPA, made with rice indigenous to the Meadowlands, which the label describes as ¡°one of the most maligned places in the state ¡ the place usually identified with landfills, pipelines, mob burials (alleged) and sports teams that say they¡¯re from New York.¡± To counter New Jersey¡¯s horrible reputation, there is information on the diverse ecosystem in the Meadowlands and one of its most vocal protectors, Hackensack Riverkeeper.
¡°Every day I¡¯m on the job is one day closer to getting to our goal of making it swim able and fishable,¡± Captain Bill said. Wearing a tropical shirt and giant shark tooth around his neck, Bill said the biggest problem with cleaning up the area is going after the polluters in the courts. He educates people about the beauty of the river via regularly scheduled eco tours in the summertime. Also, he¡¯s never seen dead body. Not yet at least.
But let¡¯s get back to the beer experience. I was curious about how the rice would affect the beer because usually rice is used in crappy beers like Budweiser, but according to Newell, it was included to add dryness and a lighter finish to better showcase the hops.
It was poured into a 12-oz tumbler (I would have preferred a tulip stemmed glass because I¡¯m a fancy lady). It was a hazy orange-y color, but it was dark in the bar, so it was hard to tell. No head and barely any foam. It smelled bitter, floral, citrusy, hints of peach, grapefruit and pine ¡ª in short, it smelled like a good double IPA. The taste was bitter, floral, and even slightly salty. I couldn¡¯t help but think of the Hackensack River when I tasted the salt. It was the most floral double IPA I¡¯ve ever had, with a warming alcohol finish ¡ª understandable at 9.5 percent alcohol by value (and at $5.50 a glass it¡¯s a steal). I¡¯d like to try it again in my fancy glass or a paper bag while sitting by the swamps in Lincoln Park.
Exit 16 is going to be available locally in big bottles and on draft starting this month. I asked the brewer what he thought Exit 14¡¯s beer would be, and he said it would probably have something to do with Jersey City and Hoboken¡¯s rich brewing history, maybe an old recipe or something like that. Hudson County used to full of breweries, with Hoboken opening the first one in America in 1642. Now we just have to fight with Hoboken to get on the label.