Like many South Jersey brewery owners, Eric Leiner has a lot to be grateful for this holiday season.
After all, as one of at least a dozen new breweries in the region to open in 2016, Nale House is changing the landscape for beer enthusiasts.
Nale House opened its doors in Medford on April 29, Leiner says, and so far “exceeding expectations is an understatement.
“It’s been awesome,’’ he says, relaxing in the tasting room of the Main Street brewery on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. The cozy, rustic area is decorated with twinkling lights, tiny evergreens on every table and a wreath made for Leiner by his mom from old beer cans he’s collected for years.
Nale House is one of two breweries to open in the small downtown this year. The other, Lower Forge Brewery, is just up the street, making the town a real beer lover’s destination.
“We’ve had tons of town support, tons of local support,’’ Leiner says. “And we draw from far-away lands. Saturday afternoon, we’ll have a couple from Philadelphia here drinking beer. They came to Medford to drink beer!’’
He describes Friday nights where nearly every table is full of people enjoying food they brought in from area restaurants or made at home.
“They are not having it delivered because they were sitting here. These guests were thinking of coming here as early as Tuesday or Wednesday … We are on people’s frontal lobes early in the week. And that’s a really good feeling.’’
Leiner, his wife Beth, a nurse practitioner, and their infant son Eric Jr., are planning a move to Medford Lakes, buying a house in Beth's hometown.
Before opening the brewery, the Nale House space housed Leiner’s home brewing supply business, Hoptopus’s Garden.
Leiner — who describes himself as a “driveway-trained home brewer’’ — has several partners in the brewery, all of whom are actively involved in the business. That list includes Medford financial advisor Thomas Warner; Dr. Michael Gollotto, an anesthesiologist; “Uncle’’ Tony Zappy; and Dave and Sandy Harris.
“To start, everybody had something to bring to the table,’’ Leiner says.
That includes working shifts in the tasting room, where holiday beers are added to the Nale House offerings.
It’s clear a lot of time goes into the naming of beers that flow from these taps.
For instance, Moscow to Minsk, a Belgian dark ale, was inspired not just by a favorite “Seinfeld’’ episode (“Rochelle, Rochelle,’’ anyone?), but by a favorite Italian dessert.
“I try to be inspired by something when I am going to be doing a specialty beer, when it’s not just grain, yeast, water and hops. My buddy worked for Marc Vetri, and I had some of his panettone. Pannetone. I started looking at the history of the dessert, and where it came from. And then I started really looking into what was in panettone – cherries, apricots, raisins. It all pairs well with a dark Belgian. And ‘Seinfeld,’ that was really bringing up the rear.’’
Other seasonal brews include Yellow Haze of the Sun, a beer named for a favorite Neil Young song, and Cow Tippin’, a popular Chocolate Coffee Stout made with coffee from Harvest, beans from a local coffee roaster. Nale House typically has seven beers, plus one nitro beer on tap. Other favorites include Tea Bag Bourbon Oaked Porter, and Hops in a Bucket, with a nod to the Grateful Dead.
When Nale House guests are done enjoying the beers, they can do a little holiday shopping. The brewery offers gift cards and Nale House swag in specially wrapped beach pails, as well as growlers and T-shirts.
32 N. Main St., Medford. Call (609) 432-6672 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forgotten Boardwalk is known for its quirky beers, drawn from co-owner Jamie Queli’s passion for New Jersey, history and folklore.
The Cherry Hill brewery is decked out for the holidays, with a Christmas tree and a 1920s radio, where guests can nestle down with a brew and listen to the famous Orson Welles’ radio drama “The War on the Worlds,’’ an adaptation of the H.G. Wells’ s novel.
Not the most traditional way to usher in the season? This is no common brewery.
As for the libations, among the offerings on tap at Forgotten Boardwalk is Ginger Snap Cookie, a winter holiday spin on the brewery’s most popular brew, Funnel Cake, with the addition of molasses, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and a bit of orange peel dust.
“It’s available in bars and restaurants, and we’re getting a really good response,’’ Queli said.
In January, Forgotten Boardwalk will add a new IPA, a 6 percent ABV beer called Mister Watson, Come Here I Want to See You.
The name, of course, is a nod at the first words ever spoken over a telephone.
1940 Olney Ave., Cherry Hill. Visit https://www.forgottenboardwalk.com/ or call (856) 437-0709.
Over at Eight & Sand Brewing in Woodbury, sales manager Joshua Kizitaff is excited about the latest beer on tap.
“We just finished brewing an all-English-style barley wine this week. It will be ready for consumption before the holiday.
“A barley wine is a strong ale with dark fruit and bittersweet characteristics. It will be a high percentage beer at 10 percent. Our barley wine is closer to an English style, which is not overly hopped and has an amazing balance between the malt and the hops. We are also going to age some of this batch in bourbon barrels for about 4 to 6 months, as well.’’
For beer names, Eight & Sand keeps it simple, so this is just Eight & Sand English-Style Barleywine. Subsequent barley wines will get numbers, just like subsequent train cars would.
1003 N. Evergreen Ave., Woodbury. Call (856) 537-1339 or visit http://www.eightandsandbeer.com.
Devil’s Creek: If you are a big fan of holiday brews, this Collingswood brewery may be just the place. According to co-owner Kathy Abate, Devil's Creek is brewing a Pecan Pie Stout soon. Already on tap is Jolly Quad (Belgian, 11 percent), Honey Saison (6.5 percent), and Caramel Apple Brown Ale (5.4 percent).
1 Powell Lane, Collingswood. Call (856) 425-2520 or visit http://devilscreekbrewery.com.
Double Nickel: Lots of South Jersey breweries have fun merch for sale for beer lovers – growlers, T-shirts, hoodies and ornaments.
Double Nickel also has a fun winter hat that would make a good stocking stuffer.
As for holiday beer, the brewery offers Below Zero Winter Ale (formerly Snow Way Out), a 7.8 percenter brewed with cinnamon and cardamom.
“The description we use on the packing is the following: ‘In frigid temperatures and roaring winds, it's time to light the fire. Brewed with cinnamon and cardamom, our delicious spiced ale will give a new meaning to surviving Below Zero,’’ says Double Nickel rep John Dalsey.
Below Zero is available on tap at bars, restaurants and is also featured at the Waterfront Winterfest at Penns Landing. You can look for it in four-packs at area liquor stores.
1585 NJ-73, Pennsauken Township. Call (856) 356-2499 or visit http://dnbcbeer.com/
Flying Fish: South Jersey’s largest brewery has no shortage of beer options any time of year.
In addition to sipping your way through all those ‘’Exits’’ and “Fish’’ beers (Hopfish, Red Fish etc.) — on separate visits, of course — you also can check out their Grand Cru Winter Reserve or Belgian Winter Warmer.
900 Kennedy Blvd., Somerdale. Call (856) 504-3442 or visit https://www.flyingfish.com.
Human Village: Like many South Jersey breweries, this woman-owned brewery is celebrating its first holiday season. Celebrate with Gingerbread House, a spiced Dark Christmas Ale that clocks in at 5.5 percent. A nitro version is also planned.
148 S Broadway, Pitman. Call (856) 556-0639 or visit http://www.humanvillagebrewingco.com.
Lunacy: In Magnolia, Santa’s got a brand new beer. Well, actually, it’s Mrs. Claus Draus, a strong (10.1 percent) Belgian ale brewed with cherry and local honey, and it’s not so much new as back for the holiday season. Other merry-sounding beers include Rocket Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout and Cranberry Wheat Gose.
In addition to being a part of the Ugly Sweater Beer Lunacy will host its own Ugly Sweater Extravaganza Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. Fill a growler for a chance to win a prize
214 Davis Road, Magnolia. Call (856) 282-6300 or visit http://lunacybrewingcompany.com.
Spellbound: Barley wine is also on tap at Spellbound Brewery in Mount Holly. The beer is brewed in Heaven Hill barrels, and is an anniversary beer. Also seasonal are Spellbound’s Ginger Bread Brown Ale and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale.
0 Lippincott Lane, Mount Holly. Call (609) 832-0077 or http://www.spellboundbrewing.com/#!contact/ce84 .
Tomfoolery: If you visit the Hammonton brewery soon, you may get the last of a Graham Cracker Porter (5.6 percent). This weekend, you can imbibe the Christmas Ale. Headed to the taps on Dec. 22 is a Spruce Ale, followed on Dec. 29 by a Mummer’s Ale.
334 Washington St. N #24, Hammonton. Call (609).561-1762 or visit http://tomfoolerybrewing.com.
Tonewood Brewing: The holidays get even cheerier with this Oaklyn brewery’s Belgian Dark Strong. Belgian Dark Strong is a 9.3 percent beer with notes of stone fruits and molasses. Keep your eyes out for a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter, which may arrive before Santa.
215 W. Clinton Ave., Oaklyn. Visit http://www.tonewoodbrewing.com/.
Village Idiot: At this Mount Holly brewery, you can chase a Philly Pretzel Traditional Ale (5.6 percent) with a seasonal Notafingah Winter Spiced Ale (7.5 percent).
42 High St., Mount Holly, Call (609) 975-9270 or visit http://villageidiotbrewing.com.