Skip to content

Brewing Up a Storm

Exploring Southern New Jersey’s Craft Beer Revolution

Owner Teddy, Gary and Donna Padussis at Whale Tale Brewery

Nestled among the picturesque landscapes of southern New Jersey, a quiet revolution is brewing—quite literally. The craft beer scene in this region is experiencing a renaissance, with breweries popping up like mushrooms after a summer rain. From quaint towns to bustling cities, the brewery culture is flourishing, offering locals and visitors alike a taste of something truly unique.

Gone are the days when beer enthusiasts had to settle for mass-produced, one-size-fits-all brews. Southern New Jersey’s breweries are breaking the mold, crafting unique and innovative beers that cater to a variety of palates. Whether you’re a fan of hoppy IPAs, rich stouts, or refreshing sours, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant brewing community.

What sets the breweries of southern New Jersey apart is not just the quality of their beer but also the passion and creativity that go into every batch. Local brewers are constantly pushing boundaries, experimenting with new flavors and techniques to create beers that are as diverse as they are delicious.

It’s not just about the beer; it’s about community. Southern New Jersey’s breweries have become gathering spots for friends and families to come together, share a pint, and create lasting memories. Taprooms buzz with laughter and conversation as patrons bond over their love of good beer and good company.

There are currently close to 150 breweries in New Jersey, and although the majority of them are in the northern part of the state, Atlantic, Gloucester, Cumberland, Ocean, Burlington, and Salem Counties account for 66 of them. It wasn’t that many years ago when that total was only two; they were Atlantic City’s Tun Tavern and Flying Fish in Cherry Hill (later relocated to Somerdale). While the Tun still exists, Flying Fish was sold to a Maryland-based brewery in February of this year. The name will continue, but the brewery will no longer exist in Garden State.

Back in those days, there was little respect for the beer scene in the south. I recall one brewer saying to me, “Do your brewers add cow sh*t to their beer to give it a South Jersey taste?” Well, that viewpoint has definitely changed, and for the better. As an example, in 2021, Atlantic City’s The Seed: A Living Beer Project was named the best new brewery in the United States by readers of USA Today. Company management was quoted as saying, “While we try to honor both art and science in our beer, the most important governing force, from our standpoint, is nature's variability. From the subtlest differences in wheat harvests and the sugar content changes in post-frost feral grapes to the unending range of flavor and aroma compounds that various living microbes can produce,. The set of naturally occurring variables is infinite. This limitless opportunity for experimentation is what fuels our obsessive passion and inspiration for telling a story through nature’s ingredients.”

CRAFT BEER | Bonesaw Brewing Co. | Glassboro NJ
Bonesaw Brewing Company is a brewery located in Glassboro New Jersey. Open 7 days week and distributed in NJ offering a variety of craft beer styles.

Other southern New Jersey breweries have also received national recognition. Take Bonesaw Brewing Company in Glassboro, which opened in late 2018. Company owners brought in celebrated brewer AJ Stoll, himself the winner of over 100 medals in national and international competitions. In fact, the brewery just won a gold medal at the recent World Beer Cup in Las Vegas. The company has been so successful that a second location, called the Bonesaw Pilot House,medal recently commenced operations within the Deptford Mall.

Gary Monterosso with AJ Stoll of Bonesaw Brewing Company

Another company that is expanding is Swedesboro Brewing Company. Recognized by USA Today as the second-best new brewery in the country in 2022, owner Marvin Bowe recently completed the purchase of Devil’s Creek Brewery in Collingswood. After extensive renovations, it will reopen as The Raccoon Taproom, a nod to the company mascot. In addition, Swedesboro has announced a partnership with the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team. The Raccoon Saloon will host a dozen beers, including a seltzer bar.

Probably the most recognizable brewery in the south is Cape May Brewery, which was founded in 2011. Cape May has won awards for excellence multiple times in regional and national competitions, and their distribution arm extends beyond New Jersey and into Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, a new brewery, to be called Wander Back Beerworks and located in Vineland, is being started by one of the founders of Cape May Brewery. Chris Henke left Cape May in 2019 and is partnering with two other former employees of the company, Brian Hink, the original Head Brewer, and Justin Vitti, the former General Manager of Sales and Distribution. Both Hink and Vitti left in 2022. This name of the brewery makes sense when you read Chris Henke’s words, “We were wandering back to beer and wandering back to our first friends in brewing. It worked out.” Although I suspect it may be a while before a tasting room comes into existence, brewing is taking place at Hidden Sands Brewing Company in Egg Harbor Township.

Wander Back Beerworks : Lager Beer Brewery in South Jersey
Perfectly Cromulent IPA and Lager brewed in South Jersey with barley grown and malted in South Jersey. This beer is Future Proof! Wander Back Beerworks : A Brewing Company
L-R: Brian Hink, Chris Henke, Justin Vitti of Wander Back Beerworks

In its history, Vineland has had three breweries: Blue Collar, Turtle Stone,: and Brinx Jones, but none lasted longer than four years. Wander Back’s business plan calls for a tasting room to be constructed in the downtown area.

As we know, not all breweries are destined for success. As in any industry, there are companies that will succeed and others that will fail. CoHo Brewing Company in Cape May Court House was listed for sale during the summer of 2023. At the very beginning of 2024, Gary and Donna Padussis, along with their son Teddy, purchased CoHo, renaming it Whale Tale Brewing Company.

Transitioning into the beer business can be overwhelming, but the Padussis’ are up for the challenge. They started by retaining brewer Justin Fesler. As Gary Padussis explained, “We truly liked the brewmaster, Justin. We kept most of CoHo’s beers, but we are introducing some new ones.” In addition, there is construction that will create a space that should make Whale Tale a destination for parties and get-togethers.

Whale Tale Brewing Company tasting room

As we raise our glasses to the thriving brewery scene in southern New Jersey, let us toast the brewers who pour their hearts into every keg, the patrons who support local businesses with pride, and the spirit of innovation that flows through every glass. When you find yourself in the southern part of the state, stop into a local brewery, savor a pint of liquid artistry, and witness firsthand the sudsy revolution that is sweeping through this corner of the Garden State. Cheers!

Note: For a complete county-by-county listing of the breweries in New Jersey, I highly recommend you visit: