Kegs & Corks: Tuckahoe Brewing Co.

Tuckahoe Brewing Company, now only in its second business year, began as merely a shared dream. Tim Hanna, Matt McDevitt, and Chris Konicki, all full-time teachers at Mainland High School, along with friend Jim McAfee envisioned the perfect post-retirement project – their very own brewery. Matt had been home brewing for more than ten years before any business plan was solidified and brought a great deal of experience to what “initially began as a fun idea,” explains Tim. Yet, Tuckahoe Brewing Company quickly evolved into “something more than an excuse to get together and drink beer,” jokes Tim, and these co-owners decided to act upon New Jersey’s recent microbrewery trend. “We didn’t want that window of opportunity to close,” explains Tim. They acted quickly and were granted a license in December of 2011.

Since its beginnings, Tuckahoe Brewing Co. has already seen one expansion and is poised to undergo several more upgrades as its following continues to build. In May of 2013, its building was reconfigured to include a more spacious tap room and a brand new bar, making it much more tasting-friendly. Tuckahoe Brewing Co.’s bar includes a six tap kegerator which features their flagship Dennis Creek Pale Ale and a number of their seasonal ales such as the Holly Beach Pumpkin Ale and the Marshallville Wit.

Tuckahoe Brewing Co.’s current facility allows them the capacity to produce 7 barrels, or 210-220 gallons, each week. At this rate the brewery is classified as a “nanobrewery” according to industry standards, but rest assured that they are selling every drop that they make. “We are all committed to growing the business ourselves,” states Tim . And having already expanded their brewing capacity by 50% and recently installed a bottling line, Tuckahoe Brewing Company is most definitely on the brink of major growth. The brewery has graduated from 22 oz. hand bottling to an advanced automated process thanks to this new technology and will soon distribute their brews both at their home location and at retailers throughout the county in cases and six packs. Expect to see Tuckahoe 12 oz. bottles on the shelves of Gleeson’s Discount Liquors and Circle Liquors soon.

This major step in branding their acclaimed ales, porters, and stouts finally “puts a face” to the Tuckahoe Brewing Co. name. After giving us a sneak preview of the Tuckahoe Brewing Co. labeling and packaging, Tim gave us a quick rundown of the brewing process and the significance of each piece of equipment. Tour patrons can expect to learn the same inside scoop on the crucial steps of brewing, from the mash tun to the boil kettles, the fermenters to the heat exchanger, and finally from the bright tanks to the uni tanks. After the completion of the fermentation process, all spent grain is picked up by a local farmer who feeds his livestock with this brewing byproduct.

Next, resident brewmaster Matt McDevitt gave us the rundown on Tuckahoe Brewing Co.’s main beers and the inspiration behind their flavors, titles, and overall feel. The Dennis Creek Pale Ale is not only Tuckahoe Brewing Co.’s flagship ale, but also their most talked about. “As far as pale ale, Sierra Nevada is really one brewery to respect. Their model and presence in craft beer is to be admired,” states Matt. Matt also made specific mention of Flying Fish Brewing Co. of Somerdale and its current president Gene Muller as a major contributor to the creative process and conception of Tuckahoe’s pale ale. Tuckahoe Brewing Co.’s co-owners also admire the way that Yards has connected itself to its native city of Philadelphia in its branding and have thus done the same in naming their brews. Matt describes the Dennis Creek pale ale as a “pale ale for the shore crowd”, with a mid level (5.5%) alcohol content and a “clean, crisp” finish. There’s no overwhelming “hoppy” flavors and it continues to be a best seller throughout the summer season.

The Marshallville Wit, also named for a historical Cape May County location, is a white Belgian ale lightly hopped and perfectly spiced. Matt utilizes clover, coriander, orange peel, and seeds paradise spice to give this wit a mildly spicy kick. Tuckahoe Brewing Co.’s Steelmantown Porter was the first of their brews to, as Matt puts it, “stray from tradition”. With hints of vanilla bean, American Red Oak, and Scottish peat, the porter has a “smoky edge” and “feels like you’re at a summer bonfire or BBQ,” states Matt. Last but certainly not least, Tuckahoe’s Holly Beach Pumpkin Ale is a perfect Halloween treat and an ideal addition to Thanksgiving dinner. “Every brewery does pumpkin ale differently, but in ours, cinnamon plays the largest role,” explains Matt. Ginger, nutmeg, all spice, and clove also add unique touches to Holly Beach Pumpkin Ale’s savory flavor.

For your very own experience of these and more of the brewery’s house beers, stop by Saturdays from noon to 5 pm for a $5 tour and tasting. Though a relative newcomer to the NJ brewery scene, Tuckahoe Brewing Co. is without a doubt a flavorful force to be reckoned with.

By Megan Kummer