NJ beer: For National Beer Day, vegan beers on tap at NJ VegFest Asbury Park pop-up

by Alex Biese, Asbury Park Press

Navigating the state’s booming craft beer scene can be tricky business for vegans.

Yes, it’s true: in addition to hops and malts, beer can sometimes include animal products that those living a plant-based lifestyle will want to avoid, such as lactose or honey.

Anyone with dietary restrictions, allergies or sensitives should consult a brewery’s tasting notes or speak with the bartender in a given tasting room; most breweries are also happy to answer questions and comments left on their social media channels.

But safe harbor and happy drinking can be found at New Jersey VegFest’s next Asbury Park vegan pop-up shop, happening Sunday, April 7 at the historic Convention Hall on the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

To mark Sunday’s dedication as National Beer Day, the event will feature 10 vegan beers from across the country, including New Jersey brews Asbury Park Blonde and Asbury Park Roasted Stout from Asbury Park Brewery as well as Hopfish IPA and Red Fish hoppy red ale from Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somderdale.

Whether it’s celebrating the 45th anniversary of original music landmark the Stone Pony, getting in on the fun when arena rockers Panic! at the Disco play a surprise show in town or hosting an Autism awareness benefit, it seems like when the Asbury Park community comes together the brewery bearing the city’s name is there.

“We brew in Asbury, hire people from Asbury, relate to and resonate with our local community so much that we just want to be a part of all of the great things happening in our city,” brewery founder Jeff Plate said. “Of course it’s great promotion for us to be seen all around town, but through our work with local charities and donating beer to fundraising events we feel we have an opportunity to give back and make an impact, and it’s an opportunity we cannot miss.”

Since opening in 2016, the Asbury Park Brewery has only brewed one non-vegan beer; the first batch of Naive Melody, the brewery’s kettle sour ale with fresh ginger, contained Greek yogurt, but even that beer is now vegan.

Some breweries, Plate explained, will use honey to add sugars, and utilize lactose for both sweetness and a creamy texture.

But Asbury Park Brewery is on a mission to make its beer incredibly accessible, with Plate telling us they plan to tackle the difficult task of crafting a gluten-free beer in the future.

“We wanted,” Plate said, “to create beers for as wide an audience as possible.”

Saturday’s event will also include complimentary beer-paired food samples from Green Cart Catering, a cornucopia of plant-based food options for purchase and live music by Dan Amato and the Sentimental Gentlemen, Rainbow Full of Sound, Dots Will Echo and Shlomo Franklin.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with New Jersey VegFest season pass holders allowed to enter at 10 a.m. Convention Hall is at 1300 Ocean Ave. and tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the door.

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