Last month’s bike ride to Screamin’ Hill sparked a discussion of other area breweries — places I, as someone who doesn’t love beer, hadn’t heard of. But, hey, they make good bike-ride destinations. And the one four of us cycled to on Sunday definitely is out of the ordinary.
You see, the Referend Bier Blendery in Pennington (or perhaps it’s really Hopewell Township) believes in using the bacteria in the air for spontaneous fermentation. I’m not going to claim I understood everything about this approach, which goes back to the ancients and has at its core “as little interference as possible” in the process. But even I know that using a truck parked outside to house “The Coolship” is out of the ordinary.
The blendery part of the name reflects that the brewer blends batches and ingredients, much as a vintner does with wine.
As for the beers … there were several that use local fruit, like Belgian lambic beers. That gets a thumbs up from me. I opted for one with sour cherries and and raspberries, and no carbonation. I found it light and refreshing (never mind the 6% alcohol).
Quite a range of colors in our picks:
The dark one, by the way, was a dark ale aged 22 months in port, red wine and bourbon barrels and refermented with local aronia (had to look that up — chokeberries) and elderberries. Oh, you could taste that port and bourbon.
As for the others, one was a golden ale fermented in an oak barrel, and pluots were mixed into another. There’s one with peaches that I’d try next time,
No, these aren’t the beers you’re used to. So perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m the one who liked it best. But even if it’s not your style, 5 ounces are worth a try.
So how did we get there?
It’s actually a pretty nice ride from Turning Basin Park in Princeton, using the D&R Canal towpath (part of the East Coast Greenway) and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail for most of it. Note: This is not the default Google Maps choice, but we wanted more trail and less road.
We left the LHT at Blackwell Road, when you exit Mercer Meadows Park and are about to enter Rosedale Park. We turned left, or west, on this low-traffic, no-shoulder road and went straight. We had to cross Route 31 at the Pennington Circle — watch for your opening and take the lane. After another half-mile or so we turned left onto Reed Road (bike lane!) for another half mile until we reached the blendery in a light industrial area on the right.
All told, it was probably 25 miles round-trip.
More about biking the 22-mile Lawrence Hopewell Trail here.
Still curious? New Jersey requires breweries serving the public to offer a tour. These can be self-guided, as is the case here. So here are a couple of the descriptions we read:
And on the way back? A stop for ice cream in Lawrenceville. The Purple Cow Ice Cream shop is just off the LHT on Main Street, and you can’t beat a generous half-scoops for just $2.50. I had come the day before on a kid-friendly ride; without them I went for a kid-friendly Holy Cow the chocolate chip cookie dough and M&Ms.
Can’t beat this philosophy: