“The first batches weren't too great,” Janisch said. “Definitely wouldn't sell them in a tap room now. But I just kept on changing variables each time and worked on mastering the craft.”
Janisch soon realized home brewing was more than just a hobby, and moved operations to a brownstone at Hoboken's 702 Bloomfield St. in 2008.
Work “spiraled out of control quickly,” and his group needed more space, which they found at a three-bedroom apartment on 902 Washington St.
In 2014, along with his friends John Tucker Littleton and Zo Cuinan, he officially launched the award- winning 902 Brewing Company from that address.
Last month, the New Jersey Beer Company in North Bergen approached 902 Brewing Company about merging their operations. They agreed, and they’ll now form the single largest brewery in Hudson County, according to the NJ Beer Facebook page.
Though the companies will combine, their individual brews will continue being created at NJ Beer Co.
They do not yet have a name for the combined brewery, and an exact date for the merger hasn't been finalized, but is set for the near future, owners said.
“We realized it was a good thing for both of us, to bring both brands to the forefront,” said Don Vogt, 902's CFO.
“It's going to bring a bigger beer scene to Hudson County. More options. The main point is bringing better beer into the county,” Vogt said.
Though Vogt does not brew, he is friends with Colby, who approached him to assist with the business side of brewing, he said.
NJ Beer Co. Chairman Paul Silverman is the one who approached 902 Brewing, asking if they would be interested in bringing the brands together. “We actually talked about this over a year ago,” Vogt said.
Vogt said the company, which currently contract-brews with breweries in New York and Fairfield, N.J. (but has a small warehouse for inventory in Jersey City), was looking for a place to permanently house operations in, so the merger was a perfect opportunity for them.
“We actually looked at doing our own facility, but that probably wasn’t going to happen for about a year,” Vogt said.
Brands from both 902 and NJ Beer Co. will be available at the tap room in the NJ Beer Co. facility at 4201 Tonnelle Ave. in North Bergen after the merger becomes official, according to Vogt. The facility is open a few days a week for people to come in and pay to try the samples.
Both NJ Beer Co. and 902 already serve their brands statewide. However, the merger will allow 902 to brew and sell more beer overall.
“It's going to bring a bigger beer scene to Hudson County.” – Don Vogt
Janisch wants the merger to help improve the tap room experience in Hudson County. “Being contracted for the last few years, we really haven't had a tap room,” he said. “We'd like to really grow it, to where a lot of people come to our tap room in North Bergen and be able to get tons of new beers in a friendly environment.”
When the merger is complete, you'll be able to taste many of 902’s brews, including their flagship IPA’s such as Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken, P.A.T.H., and Black Dynomite, and NJ’s offerings, including Chairman of The Gourd Pumpkin Ale, LBPA, and Pit Boss, all at the NJ Beer tap room. And more beers will keep coming.
“We put out different beers every two weeks,” Vogt said. “We have seasonal beers, and what we call one-off beers. We’ll make one batch of beer one time and that’s it.”
NJ Beer Co. produces around 2,000 barrels of beer annually, according to a company representative. It first opened in May 2010.
Most of its beers are in kegs, but 20 percent is in cans. Pit Boss, one of their more recent offerings, began production in August 2016.
The brewery has their beers on tap at with Newark's Prudential Center, the Buffalo Wild Wings in Secaucus, among other places.
Hudson's other brewery and tastings
The combined brewery may be the largest, but it won’t be the only brewery in Hudson County. Departed Soles Brewing Company, which launched in Downtown Jersey City in 2015, offers gluten-free craft beers.
For those interested, NJ Beer now holds tastings and tours every Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Tastings are also available Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays from 3 to 9 p.m.
Contact 201-758-8342 for more information.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com