A tale of three breweries
HAMMONTON - It could be considered the best of times in the age of the brewery in Hammonton as three unique breweries have made it their home, each bringing with them new faces, new experiences and new horizons.
The town is known as the “Blueberry Capital of the World,” but Hammonton’s three breweries — Tomfoolery Brewing Company, Three 3’s Brewing Company and Vinyl Brewing Company — are working to ensure that it also becomes an epicenter for craft beer in New Jersey.
“I think we [Vinyl] are one piece of a greater whole and Hammonton is on the cusp of being known as one of the great beer towns in New Jersey,” said Vinyl Brewing Company owner Jim Sacco.
While each brewery offers distinctly unique experiences, each owner traveled a strikingly similar path to becoming a brewery owner — they each started out by brewing at home.
“I started home brewing about a dozen years ago,” said Shawn Grigus, who owns Tomfoolery along with his wife, Gayle D’Abate. Eventually, he said, he decided the time was right to fulfill his life-long dream of owning his own business. After opening a home brewing supply business, Grigus knew that “the next level was the brewery.” Tomfoolery has now been open for more than two years.
Mike Geller, of Three 3’s, did not expect to open his own business. He had a stable career in the corporate world and home brewing was simply a hobby — a hobby that Geller quickly realized was his passion. When the opportunity arose to run his own brewery, Geller left the corporate world to own and operate Three 3’s along with his parents, Diane and Marc Geller, and his brother Jon.
“It’s something that just happened,” smiled Geller. After about a year of owning and operating Three 3’s, it does not seem that Geller has any regrets.
“I was a home brewer for over a decade and after brewing at another commercial brewery decided I wanted to pursue the dream I had for so long,” said Sacco about his path to opening his own brewery. It was not a path he would walk alone though. Sacco’s aunt and uncle, Sue and Tom Puentes, decided to join their nephew’s pursuit to fulfill their own dream of owning a bar. As of September 2017, all of their dreams became a reality.
Despite the similar beginnings, each brewery brings a little something different to Hammonton and the brewery experience. At Tomfoolery, visitors can expect a warehouse feel, or as Grigus describes it “We want it to feel kind of like you are sitting in your garage with family and friends.” Visitors can expect an educational experience as well since both Grigus and D’Abate are self-described “nerds” who are passionate about the whole brewing process.
However, those are not the only things that make the place unique. “The thing we have that no one else does is that this space was Hammonton’s first brewery,” said D’Abate about its Washington Street location. “This building is a part of Hammonton’s history and we want to be a part of it, too,” he said.
Just across the street from Tomfoolery, the Three 3’s offers an almost industrial-like atmosphere, with large brewing equipment visible immediately when walking into the building. The large, almost intimidating looking equipment does not distract from the cozy, welcoming atmosphere, though.
“Everyone is welcome. If you want to bring your dog — as long as they are well-behaved — they are welcome,” said Geller.
Three 3’s also has a “bring your own” policy where visitors are more than welcome to bring their own food to go along with the variety of beers that are offered. While Geller certainly wants Three 3’s to be a great place to hang out, he also wants it to be place of education where people can learn exactly what goes into beer making.
Walking into Vinyl Brewing on 12th Street, there is most definitely a bar vibe, with a large bar taking center stage and televisions for patrons viewing pleasure. However, Vinyl’s most unique feature is its walls, or rather lack thereof.
“I’d like to think that our tasting room stands out a little bit. Our three glass garage doors give patrons a nice view of 12th Street and we have several different types of seating for whatever mood you’re in,” said Sacco.
The large glass garage doors line the street and on nice days at least one of those doors is open — creating an almost backyard party feel that draws craft beer enthusiasts and families alike.
Of course, you cannot talk about breweries without talking about their beer. True to their home brewing background, each brewery offers a variety of original beers. Plus, they each offer a little something special on a regular basis.
For example, at Tomfoolery there is a small batch beer every Thursday on top of its regular selection of beers.
At Three 3’s, it is not uncommon to find new and/or limited release beers to go along with its usual beers on tap. “The amount of tools in our arsenal are pretty vast as far as creating different flavors,” said Geller.
Over at Vinyl, one-off batches are a part of its tradition, but some old favorites may be making a reappearance.
Each brewery appears to have a bright horizon in the future, along with craft beer in general in Hammonton. Each has a plan to expand its reach in Hammonton and beyond. But at the end of the day, the breweries want to educate people on where beer comes from and how it’s made, all while providing a fun and welcoming atmosphere.
• Tomfoolery Brewing Company is located at 334 N. Washington St. Unit 24B. It can be reached at 609-561-1762. To learn more about the Tomfoolery, please visit its website at www.tomfoolerybrewing.com.
• Three 3’s Brewing Company is located at 50 13th St. They can be contacted through email at: email@example.com. To learn more about Three 3’s, please visit its website at www.three3sbrewing.com.
• Vinyl Brewing Company is located at 300B 12th St. Its phone number is: 609-666-5460. To learn more about Vinyl Brewing Company, please visit its website at www.vinylbrewingnj.com.