I’ve been having fun lately with these Q&A posts, and I’m hoping that you have been enjoying them too! I love shining the spotlight on other interesting people in the craft-beer world (especially when they are nekkid) and finding out what they have to say about their particular ‘thang’.
Today’s Q&A is with Mike Kivowitz, who is the guy responsible for NewJerseyCraftBeer.com and is solely responsible for getting the word out about the craft-beer scene here in NJ! Well, maybe Mike is not solely responsible, but he sure plays a big part in it!
Anyway, here’s Mike. Feel free to ask your own questions in the comments section, and if think you might want to be the subject of a Q&A post, hit us up!
In a nutshell, tell us a little bit about yourself.
By the time I was 30 I found the love of my life, have a great job, an awesome house and a passion for beer, the Internet and being creative.
What’s the main thing you’d like people to know about your site, NewJerseyCraftBeer.com
I changed the domain to reflect the correct branding. We are all about unopinionated content. The site is about promoting craft beer in the state. All the good stuff and where to find that hop juice we all love so much!
What was the reason, or reasons you decided to start the site? What’s its purpose? Why should people visit?
I moved around Jersey and finally settled on an area with a minimal selection of bars compared to my previous home, so I built a beer site to change that. The purpose is to promote the beer. Tell people where to go to drink, what is on tap and help the industry grow.
What are you most proud of regarding the site?
The Membership Club. For a minimal cost per year, Members can save a ton of money at places time and time again. Go explore!
What are some of the unexpected surprises you’ve had working with the site?
The reception from the community. Jerseyeans are thirsty and really want to go places. I think the community loves to talk beer and when I ask “whatcha drinking?”, they all tell us for example.
What are your go-to Jersey-brewed beers?
In the summer, it’s Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer. Been that way for 5 years even though it’s changed profiles often, I still go back to it. I don’t have another beer that I consider a go-to beer, especially with the new breweries, NJ Beer Co, Kane, Carton and the others not even out yet, it’s too hard to pick a go-to beer. Many of the NJ guys are doing draft only and nanos too, so it’s hard to have something as a staple in the fridge.
What about non-Jersey beers? What are some of your current favorites?
Oh jeeeez, you’re in trouble now! Dales Pale is always in the fridge! I love Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA too. Those are probably my top two, I can drink you all the time without getting bored beers. I tend to switch up beers with every trip to the store though.
Besides me, 😉 who do you think are some of the unsung stars of the craft beer scene here in NJ?
This is a great question. See, I’m a newbie in the beer scene, but what I do know is that people like Mark Haynie, Jeff Linkous, John Holl and Tara Nurin who have been writing about beer for years are important, but more than those lovely people, it’s the bar owners who actually give a shit about what they are drinking and selling and aren’t just in it for the trend, the money and the quick customers.
It’s people like Vito Forte at Copper Mine Pub, Kevin Torpey at Somerset Hills Hotel/Tap Room and Jay Rose at Joe Canals West Deptford. The people that are bringing in craft, moving the product and living the product. The guys and girls behind the scenes at the distributors who deliver the product. I will probably get into trouble for not mentioning certain people, so I’m just going to say that it’s a big circle and we are all in this together. Breweries, distributors, bar owners, bloggers, reporters and of course, the consumers.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for craft-beer lovers in New Jersey?
How many paragraphs do I have? The challenges are simple. Many people are lazy and don’t want to drive 2 minutes to have a drink. They want it in their backyard. NJ is not a bar state yet. It’s too spread out and it’s dangerous and illegal to drink and drive. Public Transportation is awful in NJ! I can’t get to the next county over from my house via Bus without going to a county the other direction, it’s off and needs to be fixed so we can travel places.
Aside from being lazy, the people are not ready for this yet. By this I mean, the scene, the beer, the talks, the experience. Beer people are a passionate bunch and love to chat beer. They are not ready for a website to expose where they’e been drinking for years to the public. They want it to be their secret.
Restaurants, bars, beer stores are not ready either. Theirs an influx of customers eager to drink, but aren’t aware of what anything is. They are new, they are learning. I learn something new daily too, it’s OK, so let’s learn together.
NJ’s government is stuck in 1940 with their liquor laws and it changes hourly, the folks at the ABC just make up things that are not in the law books, with that being said, it’s to protect the people from harm, I get that. It’s time to wake up and change the laws.
The economy is struggling and these local businesses can use help. The way to help them is to actually help them. Allow breweries to sell more than 2 six packs or growlers at a tour/tasting. Allow brewpubs to sell to bars and other restaurants. I can go on with that struggle.
So, I guess to sum it up, growth. We will all grow together if we all grow together. Start to travel and explore, folks!
Is New Jersey a good place for beer-lovers to be?
HELL YES! It’s between two beer lover paradises. We have more beer available to us in NJ than any other state in the Nation. So we don’t get Russian River, ok, but Cali doesn’t get to have Cape May Brewing! Beer is an experience and a travel-friendly hobby.
Do you think New Jersey will ever be considered a “beer-mecca” like Colorado, California and other States are? Why? Why not?
Yes, if our availability increases as it has recently, then yeah. People will jump over the Delaware and Hudson to grab beer and go home. My NYC friends often come to NJ to get cases and bombers just go home. It’s cheaper with a big selection. You can find so much good stuff, it’s crazy.
Are you a homebrewer? What kind of beers do you cook up for yourself?
Yes, a really bad one. I brew IPAs cause I can hide my mistakes. I’m not good, but practice would help.
Now for the climactic question. What was your reaction when you heard that Beyonce’ was pregnant?
I found out while flipping through the channels during the VMAs. My wife mentioned it and I was so excited. She seems like she and her entourage would make great parents. Maybe she can babysit my kid in February once he is born!