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STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS POH

For so many Americans this has been the decade of our discontent. Terrorism, war, economic hardship, political strife, nature’s fury and our own man-made disasters have combined to deliver seemingly endless blows against the normally resilient national spirit. The onslaught of bad news has eroded our confidence in our institutions, our government, and in ourselves—causing a great number of our citizens to be swept up in the current atmosphere of anger, distrust and cynicism. But despite these hard times, the vast majority of Americans begin their day with a bit of hope, a dash of optimism and a good cup of coffee. And for those daily commuters from Woodbridge, New Jersey that are lucky enough to travel to work by train, the coffee is provided free of charge by the gracious and accommodating staff at the J. J. BITTING BREWING COMPANY.

I began my own quest for that gratis daily grind with some degree of hesitation. There was the enticement of getting to meet Republican Congressman Leonard Lance, New Jersey’s only member of the elite bipartisan House Small Brewers Caucus. But after two decades of a relatively peaceful lifestyle in a small river community on the Delaware River, I no longer relished the thought of a rush hour jaunt into the hectic, more heavily populated environs of the eastern central portion of the state. And after many years of quaffing quality craft beer in outstanding brewpubs from the coast of Maine to the mountains of California, what could be possibly waiting in Woodbridge that would make this trip worth my while? 



Photo by Edward F Petersen     
Clock  a top J.J. Bitting brewing Co. in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
CLOCK ATOP J.J. BITTING BREWING COMPANY IN WOODBRIDGE, NJ





J.J. Bittings Brewing Co. in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
J.J. Bitting Brewing Co.
THE J.J. BITTING BREWING COMPANY INHABITS THE BUILDING WHICH HOUSED THE J.J. BITTING COAL COMPANY IN THE EARLY 1900'S. AT THE TIME, THE STURDY BRICK EDIFICE BUILT RIGHT ALONG THE TRACKS AS A RAIL ROAD DEPOT WAS THE TALLEST BUILDING IN WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY. THE STRUCTURE SAT VACANT FOR 35 YEARS UNTIL 1997 WHEN ENTREPRENEUR MIKE CERAMI IN AN INSPIRED ENDEAVOR BROUGHT IT BACK TO LIFE AS ONE OF THE PREMIER BREW PUBS IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES.


J.J. Bitting Coal Company as seen in American Public House Review
J.J. Bitting Coal Co.


The main dining room at J.J. Bitting Brewing Company as seen in American Public House Review
THE COMFORTABLE AND DRAMATIC MAIN DINING ROOM SURROUNDS THE FERMENTATION ROOM




Taps at J.J. Bitting Brewing Company in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
BEAUTIFUL CARVED WOODEN TAP HANDLES DISPENSE FRESH, DELICIOUS BEER BREWED ON THE PREMISES




The brew house at J.J. Bitting Brewing Company in Woodbridge, New Jersey as seen in American Public House Review
 WORK GOES ON ABOVE YOU AS YOU SIP YOUR PINT AT THE BAR





James Moss, Brewer at J.J. Bitting in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
BREWER JAMES MOSS ORIGINALLY FROM OREGON NEAR EUGENE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY DROP OF THE  DELECTABLE AMBER ELIXIRS SERVED AT J.J. BITTING BREWING COMPANY.

sign at J.J. Bitting Brewing co. in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE MAIN BREWHOUSE IS UP IN THE TOWER. A CRANE WAS ESSENTIAL IN GETTING THE TANK AND KETTLES THROUGH THE HIGH WINDOWS  TO THEIR PERCH DURING THE RENOVATION.



Tom Paffrath and James Moss at J.J. Bitting Brewing Co. in Woodbridge< NJ as seen in American Public House Review
JAMES MOSS HEAD BREWER (right) AND TOM PAFFRATH, BREWING CONSULTANT AND MEMBER OF THE WHALES BREW CLUB

Second floor dining room at J.J. Bitting in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
ATTENTION TO DETAIL, A CASUAL AMBIANCE, AND A REVERENCE FOR FINE ART ENHANCE YOUR BITTING EXPERIENCE.




Any misgivings about the excursion were instantly dispelled upon entering the impressive 100 year old brick structure that originally housed the J.J. Bitting Coal and Feed Depot. The operation thrived into the mid-twentieth century, but eventually yielded to those market forces that moved the majority of people and goods from the railways to the roadways. A number of different businesses occupied the space after the depot closed; but eventually the site was abandoned until the inspired redevelopment that led to the establishment of the brewery and restaurant in 1997.

Having been brought up in a devout Catholic family with ties scattered about the city of New York, I learned firsthand at a very young age the difference between a church and a cathedral. And if J. J. BITTING was under the administration of the Holy See it would be the basilica of brewpubs!

After a second dose of caffeine and some self-guided exploration of the facility, Ed Petersen, the magazine’s creative director, and I made ready for the main event. The pols and the press were quickly put into position, and shortly thereafter Congressman Lance presented Mike Ceramic, the owner of J. J. BITTING with a signed copy of House Resolution 1297, which officially acknowledges the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week.



Train sculpture outside J.J. Bitting Brewing Co. in Woodbrdge, NJ as seen in American Public Hpuse Review
A SCULPTURE BY GLENN MURGACZ COMMEMORATES THE BUILDING'S TRACK SIDE PAST. IT ALSO CELBRATES LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORTED BY OWNER MIKE CERAMI WHICH ARE ENGRAVED UPON IT.




J.J. Bitting Brewing Co.in Woodbridge, NJ owner Mike Cerami and Congressman Leonard Lance as seen in American Public House Review
CONGRESSMAN LEONARD LANCE (left) AND J.J. BITTINGS OWNER MIKE CERAMI OBSERVE THE CONTENTS OF THE"MASH TUN." MR. LANCE SERVES ON A CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS COMMITTED TO PROMOTING THE BUSINESS OF SMALLER, CRAFT BEER BREWERS.

J.J. Bitting Brewing Co. owner Mike Cerami and Woodbridge, NJ and Mayor John McCormac as seen in American Public House Review
"DECISION 2010" AND THE WINNER IS. . . THE CONGRESSMAN MAKES HIS CHOICE AS JOHN McCORMAC; THE WELL RESPECTED MAYOR OF WOODBRIDGE EARGERLY AWAITS THE OUTCOME.





With the formalities now attended to, the tour and tasting commenced. Finally there was the chance to trade in the contents of the coffee pot in favor of the contents of the copper pot. While it is not the policy of American Public House Review to endorse political candidates or their parties, we will certainly recognize and hold in high regard any individual that reflects our taste in beer. Both the Honorable Representative from New Jersey’s 7th district and I picked the Garden State India Pale Ale as our personal favorite.

As the morning progressed into afternoon, I had the chance to embrace small pieces of several American stories: the entrepreneur, the brewer, the mentor, the mayor and the United States Congressman. All of these tales had a common thread, they were the accounts of human beings that had brought to their work passion, dedication, integrity and caring for their fellowman. These were the narratives of optimism that are so badly needed in these troubling times—and the reasons why we as a people will ultimately rebuild, and renew America’s promise.

As I hoisted a final pint of cask conditioned IPA, I remembered the Latin phrase, In vino veritas, “in wine there is truth,” and to that I might add,
In cervisia speramusIn beer there is hope!



Growlers at J.J. Bitting Brewing Company in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
TAKE HOME A GROWLER OF YOUR FAVORITE NECTAR




Click here for a more in depth perspective on H.R.1297 and the politics and particulars of the craft brewing industry.

www.beerstainedlletter.blogspot.com






Photo by Edward F. Petersen                
beer menu at J.J. Bitting Brewing Company in Woodbridge, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
J.J. Bitting



J.J. BITTING BREWING CO.


33 MAIN STREET

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY

732-634-2929

www.njbrewpubs.com

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