Which would you buy? New beers spark classic Central Jersey debate
As if alcohol doesn't start enough trouble, a set of brews set to launch on Friday is bound to give new life to an age-old war: whether or not there is a Central Jersey.
Departed Soles Brewing Company, located in Jersey City, has teamed up with a couple other breweries in the Garden State to create two beers that will be around for a limited time.
The brews, Central Jersey Does Exist and Central Jersey Doesn't Exist, are hitting the Departed Soles taproom on Dec. 23 at 2 p.m., in canned and draft form.
And the clashing products should be in liquor stores throughout New Jersey by year's end.
"If Central Jersey does exist, obviously those cans are going to move a lot better than the Central Jersey Doesn't Exist cans," said Brian Kulbacki, owner of Departed Soles.
Kulbacki, who grew up in East Brunswick and whose family hails from Bayonne, has some strong opinions on the topic.
"There are distinct differences as you travel the state, from team affiliations to accents, and Middlesex is a clear 'central' — a melting pot of everything," Kulbacki said. "It has 'middle' in the freaking name. Can we just stop with this nonsense?"
But that's not the conclusion from Jim Barbiere, owner of Kenilworth-based Two Ton Brewing, which collaborated with Departed Soles to create Central Jersey Doesn't Exist.
"The results of this ex-beer-iment clearly state that the concept of 'Central Jersey' is a figment of the collective imagination of millions of our beloved fellow New Jersey residents," Barbiere said. "That's it and that's all. This is the way. We must embrace it."
Central Jersey Does Exist is the product of a collaboration between Departed Soles and Cypress Brewing Company, based in Edison.
Both beers are lagers with 6% alcohol by volume, and both are made with ingredients from Rabbit Hill Malthouse, located in Cumberland County. But each has its unique style.
Where does North Jersey end and South Jersey begin?
Among the statewide distribution of the two new beers, 100 cans will feature a unique label that asks consumers to feed into the debate. "Show us your Jersey," it says, encouraging residents to use the blank New Jersey logo to draw their own map of the different regions.
This customer-submitted artwork will eventually be used on a gluten-free beer release down the road.
Sales volumes of the different beers may settle the Central Jersey debate once and for all, Kulbacki said — which will sell out the fastest?
As of now, there are no plans to release the special-edition beers at another time.
"Also, we're throwing out the disclaimer that the beer names are label designs do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the brewers or breweries that participated in the creation of this fine liquid," Kulbacki said.