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Back to School Brew

True, I’m a sommelier and wine writer, but like most who toast I started out with suds instead of swirling Chardonnay. Every year as the air turns the slightest bit brisk, I crave the bite of Pale Ale. It’s something about back to school. In fact, at the Culinary Institute of America I did my Fellowship thesis on “Beer Appreciation”. That was quite a big step from the beers of my college days. Speaking of college, the other day my cousin stopped by to pick up her graduation gift before heading off to her first year at college. Her excitement was contagious as she chattered about decorating her dorm room and how she’d met her roommate on Facebook. I thought of all the beer in her very near future.

Inevitably, the change of seasons conjures up nostalgic moments in each of our lives and for me the fall is about digging out my favorite jeans and enjoying a beer or two while I reminisce about my college crew. Luckily for me and other beer lovers, we have tons of great brews to choose from right here in the Garden State!

Local Jersey breweries have been pouring up delicious drinks for decades now. Whether you like yours light, high octane, with a touch of sweetness, or perhaps on the bitter side, you can find a New Jersey-made brew to please your palate. If you are a die-hard wine drinker, try a wine-like ale from Belgium or look for a Lambic style. These sips are usually higher in alcohol and have a bit more finesse than fizz.

Every beer falls into one of two basic categories: Ale or Lager. Basically, the difference is in the type of yeast used and the fermentation. Unless you want to brew your own there’s no need to get too technical. For love of your home state and in celebration of the season I suggest this weekend you pick up a six pack and sip your way through to find your fave. For information on a brewfest near you and to find your closest craft brewer go to

One of my faves for fall-

Flying Fish Brewing Company-Extra Pale Ale

This brew is a little party in your mouth, with bursts of bitterness and plenty of flavor—it’s great at a tailgate!>

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