Back in 2013, Flounder Brewing Co. was based in an industrial park in Hillsborough, New Jersey. As the craft brewery steadily built up its reputation and increased brewing capacity, founder Jeremy Lees began to have thoughts about expanding the venture.
“Around that time we received a call from Ed Clerico, who owned a farm around the corner that started to turn over to a unique mixed-use property,” recalls Lees, who originally started out home brewing. “On this property was a 250-year-old Dutch barn that Ed wanted to see get its new life in some way or another, and he thought brewery.”
“When I visited and toured the run-down barns, I also thought brewery,” explains Lees, who is now the brewery’s president.
Taking a break from brewery duties, we spoke to Lees about the importance of keeping things local and the challenges of maintaining a 250-year-old barn. We also touched on the joys of brewing with porcini mushrooms.
Connecting Beer to Agriculture
Lees pinpoints the brewery’s Hill Street Honey Blonde Ale as a beer that encapsulates the Flounder Brewing ethos. The flagship brew comes from an old home brew recipe that has been tweaked over the years.
Additionally, the brew is imbued with a sense of heritage. “It features honey to pay homage to my grandfather, who was a beekeeper. It also uses Jersey Fresh hops, so it is a registered Made With Jersey Fresh ingredients product to showcase beer’s connection to agriculture.”
Read more: Brew your own beer—no hops required!
Loving Local Hops
Along with crafting beers that utilize local hops and New Jersey grain, Lees says some of the brewery’s other locally sourced ingredients include tapping into the bounty of an on-site mushroom farmer and securing oats and fruits from nearby farms.
Spotlighting Porcini Mushrooms
“Our head brewer, Doug, is always experimenting and pushing boundaries,” says Lees when asked to highlight some of the brewery’s most adventurous offerings. “So I would say Deciduous Transformation, which is a light-flavored and bodied beer with porcini mushrooms.”
Read more: Grow your own mushrooms for flavor and profit!
Respecting the Age
Addressing the challenges of running a brewery out of a 250-year-old barn, Lees says that the main consideration is “just making sure people respect the age, especially hosting private parties. We want to make sure nothing is attached to the old wood, and we continue to showcase the amazing aesthetic.”
Local Beer as the Centerpiece
Reflecting on the Flounder Brewing Co. journey to date, Lees says that it’s a rewarding feeling “seeing all of the visitors every time we are open enjoying the beers, enjoying the vibe this 250-year-old barn creates and seeing friendship and community with awesome locally made beer as the centerpiece.”
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