With summer just around the bend, we’re well into the days of counting calories and eating right to drop the winter pounds and get that beach body back.
is doing its part on the lower calorie beer front. The local brew pub is about ready to roll out a brand new concoction called Woodbridge Light beer. This brew will become one of the six different brewed-on-premises beers offered year-round.
“We were looking for a beer that would fill the niche of those who drink (light beers),” said Mike Cerami, owner of J.J. Bitting, of the new Woodbridge Light. “It’s a very light beer, lower in calories, very bright and crisp.” The beer, he said, is similar to a domestic American lager.
The beer will be on tap in about a week, Cerami said, replacing the pilsner currently offered (fans of Rat Pack Pilsner, take note: You’ve got less than a week left to fill your growlers!).
Woodbridge Light is a beer more than two months in the making, conditioning in a tank visible in the main dining area since mid-March. The longer a beer conditions, explains Cerami, the lighter and smoother the beer will ultimately wind up being – two very important qualities to making a good light beer.
“We mill barley grain in the milling room downstairs, then it’s pneumatically blown up into a hopper at the top level,” explains Cerami of the beginning of the brewing process. 500 pounds of grain then steeps in 180 degree water to convert the starch of the grain into sugars, which will eventually be consumed by the yeast during fermentation. The mixture is then transferred to the kettle, where hops are added to balance the sweetness of the beer and add aroma.
“It’s then strained through a heat exchanger from boiling to the fermentation temperature, which is around 68 degrees,” says Cerami. It’s at this point that the yeast is added when the beer is moved to the tanks in the dining room for at least 21 days. When the beer is ready to be served, the temperature is dropped to allow the yeast to settle out before the beer is filtered out to one of six serving tanks in a cold room.
The process of making the beer – from the initial milling of the grains all the way through fermentation – takes a minimum of three weeks. J. J. Bitting brews all of their beer on the premises, brewing ten barrels at a time (the equivalent of 310 gallons, or 20 kegs, of beer).
In addition to the Woodbridge Light, popular standards such as the Raspberry Wheat, Avenel Amber, and Victoria’s Golden Ale remain on tap, as well as a stout (Black Jack) and the Garden State IPA. All told, six microbrewed beers are available at any given time.
The brew pub takes its name - and the building - from the old J.J. Bitting Coal and Feed Depot that operated on the site. Since it opened in 1997, the brewery makes the boast its the first business of its kind to operation in Woodbridge since the repeal of prohibition in 1933.