I’ve given quite a few talks on biking in New Jersey, and I always talk about the sites you’ll discover and how anything can be a destination. One example I use is Screamin’ Hill brewery, a farm brewery in the middle of rural New Jersey. And then I realized that aside from our first ride there (when it was closed), I’ve never given it its own blog post, just shared billing.
Time to fix that, and its fourth anniversary was a good excuse. Plus we wanted a shot at the free anniversary mugs. Little did we know that it opened two hours earlier than usual! The only reason we came home with one was because someone abandoned it by the plastic cups and one of the riders in the group was kind enough to hand it to us.
We discovered this place thanks to an article in Edible Jersey that described it as New Jersey’s first (and as of then only) farm brewery. Most of what goes into the beer is grown on the farm, and they have some funky offerings (what some friends would call “weird beer”). There’s IPA, wheat beer, fruit beer, pilsner, sour and more. Even one with tomato. So, yeah, you could say that’s weird. (I had the tomato one once. It doesn’t taste anything remotely like tomato juice mixed with beer.) Among the five beer drinkers I was with, however, one called it the best beer he’d had in a long time. Another noted how fresh the beers are.
What’s on tap varies according to what’s ready, and when they run out of something, they run out. Hours are incredbily limited — 3 pm to 8 pm on Fridays and 1 pm to 6 pm on Saturdays. BYO food. Really. It’s a very casual, picnic atmosphere with a few kids running around. (But no dogs.) We started out in the sun and ended up sprawled under a shady tree.
Even if you’re not much of a beer drinker, it’s a lovely bike ride. Once you get to the other side of US 130, the roads are pretty quiet, with a little bit of up and down as you get close to the farm (whose address, after all, includes the word hill).
Here’s a 17-mile route from the West Windsor library (not far from the Princeton Junction train station, for those who come by train):
This route is slightly different than what Google Maps offers up. First we go straight across Old Trenton Road and onto Windsor Edinburgh Road, rather than turning right, then left and left again onto Meadowbrook Road and crossing US 130 futher south. Windsor Road is a 50 mph road but usually doesn’t have much traffic, and we’ve always found the motorists considerate. It’s a well-known road among cyclists, hence the share the road signs.
If you’d rather avoid some of Windsor Road, here’s a variation. Turn onto Village Road West from North Post Road rather than continuing straight to Conover and skirting Mercer County Park. The road becomes New Village Road, then Village Road East (sorry, but this town isn’t very imaginative with its names) to South Lane to Windsor. It’s slightly longer, but not enough to matter. Village has bike lanes but more traffic. South Lane is quiet and no bike lanes. Conover is perhaps the quietest and is more interesting, while Edinburg Road also has bike lanes. Your call.
We also generally skip the Union Transportation Trail, going past it to the next intersection — Imlaystown Hightstown Road — and turn right. Then it’s essentially straight (with a quick left/right on Route 526) until Emleys Hill Road (look for the sign for Clayton Park). The roads are quiet.
If you do want to take the UTT, the trail goes further south than Google Maps shows. Stay on it until you get to the Cream Ridge Golf Course (across the road) and Davis Station Road. Or continue down to the next intersection — Burlington Path Road. That’s a slightly longer option, but then you get more car-free riding.
For those looking for a shorter ride, the UTT has a parking lot where my route crosses it at Herbert and Sharon Station roads.
Note this route goes past the new campsite in Mercer County Park.