New Jersey and breweries have a very tumultuous relationship. From real estate prices to strict legislation, breweries are scarce across the Garden State unlike Colorado, Washington or California. It can be tough for New Jersey to be welcoming of breweries, however, Brix City Brewing of Little Ferry, changes the tide by being the first brewery of Bergen County.
Stepping Through the Doors
My colleague and I had the pleasure of traveling out to Brix City Brewing to take a tour, speak with one of the founders, and eventually drink a cold glass right at their bar. So upon stepping through their doors what I found surprised me.
Now as a New Jersey native, it’s not unheard of for someone to have never seen nor been inside a brewery within his/her three decade life. I.e.: I have never been to a brewery -- so when I stepped through the doors I was greeted with smiles by the crew, and I felt a rush of a jovial atmosphere.
The entrance leads you to the tasting room where a long bar serves their freshly brewed beers on tap. Written in chalk behind the bar lies the drink menu, worn with frequent erasures of past favorite brews. The room is filled with locals, drinking and relieving stress from the average work day; long tables, arranged around the room, holds several groups of people talking, and of course, are decorated with foamy cold glasses. It was friendly, comfortable and the soft natural light instantly helped me feel more relaxed -- as if my work day was officially over.
Within minutes we met with Joe Delcalzo, co-founder of Brix City Brewing and thus we started our interview about their business.
The Beginnings of Brix City Brewing
Joe Delcalzo and Peter Reuther are two childhood friends that had grown up with beer. From their father's’ unique taste for beers, both Joe and Peter also found a love for it. From IPA’s to full-bodied stouts, Joe and Peter enjoyed all the different varieties of beer, learning what made each different and the ways to brew them.
During Peter’s time in the Army, he spent two years in Germany where he experienced the vast variety of beers and breweries and learned the appreciation of the different styles. After his honorable discharge, he got together with Joe, who was an Accounting Major in college at that time, and they decided they wanted to do something together.
After purchasing a home brewing kit in 2010, they spent a lot of time brewing, drinking and sharing their crafted brews. And from there, birthed the idea for Brix City Brewing.
As soon as you enter those doors and find your seat, the first thing you might see is the large map of Newark. Out of curiosity, I asked Joe where the name Brix City came from.
“It’s kind of a play on words,” Joe told us. °Brix is a measurement of sugar in a liquid solution, like for brewing, while Brix City is also heavily influenced by the city of Newark, also known as the Brick City.
Before the prohibition, Newark was a huge source of local beers. The city housed over 53 different breweries, that most of which had shut down during the era. New Jersey as a state hasn’t entirely been lenient on the brewing industry post-prohibition, but the fact that a local area in Northern New Jersey like Newark used to be a hub for breweries, Brix City Brewing felt that they should pay homage to that pivotal era.
So when you stop by, take a look at their wall map of Newark, where they have marked each location of the breweries.
What’s in Store for the Future
Joe informed us that the future of Brix City Brewing is ultimately distribution. Their beers could be found in many local bars and stores, available to be found here. Their current location’s space still has a lot more room to fill with more tanks for brewing, so Joe hopes that over time, they’ll be producing more, stocking up at more and more stores and bars. While at this moment, they welcome guests to come drink at their bar and/or take a tour of their facility.
If it’s your first time coming to Brix City Brewing, be sure to ask for that tour. You’ll be taken to the brewing area where you’re shown the tanks for brewing, fermentation, casks and all, while the tour guide explains how the process worked. It was clear that whoever leads your tour, their passion and interest in beer shines as they discuss the intricate process, the different tools used to brew, and what to expect in flavors for the coming months. It was a unique and fun experience getting to talk candidly about beer with beer aficionados.
But after that, just take a seat in the tasting room, buy a glass of cold beer, and relax. Try their four popular brews: Gloria Belgian Blonde, Porter Authority, Just Another Double IPA, and Cheap Labor; or try Joe and Pete’s ever changing menu as they tweak ingredients and explore different flavors every month. This unique establishment is more than just about brewing and selling beer. Sitting and talking about beer with Joe had shown us that it’s more of a passion and genuine love for the craft, where he hopes that Brix City Brewing will pave the way to restoring New Jersey’s craft beer prowess.