Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beer Buzz: Exit 4 and 11 — Homegrown and Smart

Spirits Unlimited, Middletown, brings you two local labels Exit 4 and Exit 11. Available in our Domestic Beer section, against the wall at the Middletown store.


One has to commend the Flying Fish Brewing Company for innovation.

This New Jersey based microbrewery located in Cherry Hill, has created the perfect product line that stands out and is unique to the place it is produced from.

Living in the Garden State since early 2000, I know how exits on the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway serve to identify your existence on the map and situates you in context of others.

It is also a great icebreaker as in: “Oh you are off Exit 4, I used to live by Exit 8A myself. Funny we should meet.”

Sometimes exits work even better than Google maps or your lifeline, as in your GPS. Say for example, you live in a town in New Jersey that someone has not heard off and during a conversation when people ask you where you are from, you tell them the name of your hometown. Their response: A blank expression.

It is in moments like these that exits come handy. When they keep staring at you blankly, the immediate solution is tell them nearest exit on the NJTP or the GSP from your home. “Ahh,” they will say, “so you are from Central Jersey.” And with that you are one of them, you are not from nowhere anymore. You are in.

Conversely, if you try saying you are from Central Jersey to someone who asks you where you live, then they will stare blankly at you again. My suggestion, stick to the exits.

Exits work in this state. Whether you use them for your daily commute or as points of socio-cultural contact or to pass through the state. As such to have come with an idea that is so integral to life and living in this state, is a feather in Flying Fish’s cap.

The Exit Series, in the company’s own words, is a multi-year collection of extremely limited release beers celebrating the great state of New Jersey and the Jersey Turnpike.

Each beer in the product line will focus on the unique aspect of an individual exit, whether it’s an ingredient, attitude or weird event, the company says.

Further, smart people as they are, Flying Fish has declared that “the releases won’t follow a pattern, instead, they’ll bounce around the state as the whim strikes us.”

Clever. This way they are off the hook if nothing spectacular strikes them between Exits 4 and 11. It also gives them more flexibility in developing and marketing their product line.

The series was introduced with Exit 4, a Belgian-style beer that is hoppy, bordering on bitter on my palate. According to the company, Exit 4 was the first release because it was “close to home, right up the street from the Flying Fish brewery.”

On tasting it, I was quizzing myself as to what aspects of South Jersey — the Cherry Hill/ Mount Laurel area came to mind as I sipped. My first thought: I love shopping in Marlton, the Camden Aquarium is good for a day trip locally, and most important, Exit 4 is on my way to Philly or D.C.

Other than that, there is nothing striking about the area that came to my mind. It was and always has been, an exit on my way.

Similarly, the Exit 4 beer, in my opinion, borders on commonality. It aims to please, not excite. The company stuck to what it knows and does best, as in “because we were one of the first craft brewers to embrace Belgian-style beers, we’ve chosen as our representative beer, a Belgian trippel finished with plenty of American hops.”

On its Web site, the company describes it as a hazy “golden beer with the aroma of citrus and hints of banana and clove. Its predominant Belgian malt flavors give way to a subdued bitterness in the finish. Bottle conditioned, this beer will develop as it ages.”

Fast forward to Exit 11, the next release two weeks back. The theme is a confluence of flavors. American hops, characteristics of a wheat ale, and on the lighter side this time. As founder Gene Muller frames it: It’s for the summer!

In his words: Exit 11 is the point on the Turnpike where the Garden State Parkway branches off and takes hundreds of thousands of travelers to the renowned Jersey Shore. Our Exit 11 Wheat Ale is a fresh, citrus-y summer beer perfect for beachgoers and those who only wish they were headed ‘downa shore.’

Exit 11 is an American-style wheat beer brewed with English ale yeast and three Pacific Northwest hops, Columbus, Palisade and Amarillo. It is brewed with 50% Belgian pale malt and 50% white wheat, and is an ideal summer thirst quencher, with its bouquet of tangerines and apricots. Exit 11 is available only during this one-time release, and only until it sells out across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The next one in the series should be Exit 13A in my opinion. It is the largest hub of activity in the north with Elizabeth Seaport, the Newark Liberty International airport, the Turnpike, oil refineries, the looming skyline of Jersey City, Newark and New York City. It represents the rugged transition of the Garden State to that of an industrial power; the nerve center of the transportation sector of the tri-state area; and an indispensable and quite ugly section of the state that has potential to overwhelm and awe with equal force.

Unfortunately, Exit 13 A is not on the list at Flying Fish.

About Me

This blog is designed, edited and published by Somdatta Sengupta for Circus Liquors Inc. Content is supervised by Stuart Keats, Manager of Liquor Operations for Circus Liquors Inc. Site header created by Denise Reinle. Graphics support provided by Phyllis Vivoli. Content support provided by Mike DeNiro. Store Manager for Spirits Middletown is Ray Kimble. He can be reached at (732) 957 9700. For questions, comments or more information, write to Spirits Middletown at For placing orders or any form of assistance with your fine wine, beer or other party planning requirements, call the store directly at (732) 957 9700.