Skip to content

Recent Articles


Zinburger: Not your average burger joint

It seems that across the Garden State a new burger joint opens each week. Places like Five Guys and Smashburger offer tempting patties piled high with fresh toppings and served with sides of thick crispy fries. Places that are good for a quick fix of an American classic.

Now there is a new player on the burger scene and they have upped the ante. Zinburger is not your typical burger place. Inventive toppings and sauces tempt diners with delicious choices. They also serve and promote wine, a sign that Zinburger is trying to elevate how people view a food that is typically considered casual.


Read the full story on New Jersey Newsroom here.



The Story Behind Infinium

(This article first appeared in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of the Ale Street News)




When the call came through to Jim Koch’s Boston office about three years ago he thought the person on the other end of the line was making a joke. The caller identified himself as Dr. Josef Schrädler, managing director of Germany’s famed and historic Weihenstephan Brewery. The thick German accent sounded authentic and the brewing terms were accurate. But, what this caller was proposing was so far removed from anything that had been done before that Koch was convinced it couldn’t be real.


The man on the other end of the line proposed that the two breweries collaborate on a beer.


Collaborations have become common in the brewing world, often bringing together breweries with different philosophies and strengths together to create a special, one time brew. However, for Weihenstephan, which dates back to the year 1040 and is firmly rooted in the old-world of brewing to reach out to an American brewery that is barely 26-years-old was something unheard of.


However, the call was legitimate and soon after Koch, the founder and brewer of Boston Beer, which makes the Samuel Adams lines of beers was at the historic Weihenstephan brewery located in the Bavarian city of Freising. Neither side, said Koch, was content on making just another collaboration beer, not content to just tweak an existing style.


No, Koch said they wanted to create something completely new and do it under the constraints of the Reinheitsgebot or German Purity Law, which states that beer is to be made with just four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast.


The vision, said Koch, was to make a Champagne-like beer.



So the two sides set to work. Weihenstephan, which has perfected the brewing process and employs some of the finest and most accomplished brewers and scientists in the business and Boston Beer, which routinely updates classic styles and isn’t afraid to take risks found a harmonious middle ground.


They named the beer Infinium. Packaged in cork-finished, foil topped 750ml bottles, it will be available beginning in December for a limited time. The beer is very dry with a bit of sweetness that belies its 10.3% alcohol by volume. It retails for about $20 a bottle and the breweries suggest serving it in a traditional Champagne flute.


Infinium, said Koch, challenges the very perception of beer in a very different way.


“This beer is truly a marriage of the German brewing heritage that our brewery has upheld for almost a thousand years, combined with new, innovative brewing techniques that take beer beyond what anyone expected to be possible under the constraints of the purity law,” said Dr. Schrädler in a statement.


How exactly the brewers were able to make a new style of beer while staying true to the Reinheitsgebot remains proprietary knowledge, said a Boston Beer spokeswoman who noted the breweries had applied for patents to trademark the process.


“We deconstructed the brewing process and put it together in a new way,” Koch said in an interview earlier this year while the beer was still being perfected and tweaked. “We need to patent the brewing method that creates the style. You can’t get there with out the brewing techniques that we developed.”


The beer was made in both the United States and in Germany, giving Infinium a global reach. Here in the US, Boston Beer contracted a winery in upstate New York to clarify and bottle the champagne-like brew.


Koch has admitted that it took longer than anticipated to get Infinium to the people, but in recent interviews and appearances has beamed like a proud father when talking about the collaboration.


When the partnership was announced a few years back, the breweries said they would likely do a trio of beer but there are no official plans in place for creating and releasing the remaining two.


For now, Boston Beer and Weihenstephan will give Infinium a chance to make its mark.


“We are all excited to finally share Infinium with drinkers this holiday season,” said Koch.





Talking Craftbeer on the Radio

Over the last several months, I’ve been fortunate to get to know and spend time with one of New York City’s great beer men, Jimmy Carbone.

Owner of Jimmy’s no. 43, creator and advocate of the Good Beer Seal and all around raconteur,  Jimmy is also the host of Beer Session’s Radio on the Heritage Network. A while back, I was invited to appear on the show and gladly accepted.

On Dec. 7 I had my chance to hit the airwaves and spent one of the most enjoyable hours talking beer with Jimmy and Ray Deter (Owner of d.b.a.).

Also on the panel was Warren Monteiro, who writes the beer sansei  column for Ale Street News and Jeremy Cowan the proprietor of Shmaltz Brewing.

You can listen to the broadcast here

Among other things, we talked about how the Indiana Breweries book came into existence and I floundered when asked about a beer and food pairing.

The hour flew by and I hope I have a chance to do it again.

If you’re not a fan of the program, give it a listen. You will be.

John Holl chatting it up on Beer Sessions Radio


Give the Gift of NJ #Craftbeer

For the beer lover there is an endless supply of gift ideas that crop up around this time of year. Glassware, bottle openers, books, apparel and even beer itself are all great ideas.  There are homebrew kits and instructional DVDs that can bring hours of enjoyment.


The New Jersey Beer Co. has gotten a little creative with its holiday offerings and is selling memberships to its Reserve Club, an exclusive group that is eligible for insider benefits and the opportunity to brew on NJBC’s 10-barrel system.


The first 200 people to sign up for the $100 memberships will receive a second year in the club at no additional cost. Members will receive a growler of each of the brewery’s four seasonal beers before they go on sale to the public as well as a first chance to sample and purchase small-batch special releases.  A brewery t-shirt and 20% off all merchandise from the brewery store for the duration of membership is also included.


Steinberg plans to hold several members-only events at the North Bergen, NJ brewery and regular opportunities to brew alongside the New Jersey Beer Co. staff, something many home brewers will appreciate.


“We want to give people a chance to experience the brewery in a deeper way,” said Matt Steinberg, the brewery president. “This is more than the standard tour and tastings we currently offer, it’s really a chance to be part of the brewery family and connect with like-minded people.”


Memberships to the Reserve Club are available at or by contacting Steinberg via email at


(This article appeared in the December 2010/January 2011 Issue of the Ale Street News)



Talking Turkey (Beer) on News 12

On the morning before Thanksgiving, I was on News12 New Jersey talking about four beers that would likely go well with the big turkey dinner.

I chose:

I traveled to Nashville right after the taping and personally enjoyed a variety pack (Pale Ale, Dos Perros, Sly Rye Porter and Hefeweizen) from Yazoo Brewing.





Talking #craftbeer on @News12nj This Wednesday Morning

While I’m usually stuck on the page or computer screen, occasionally I’ll branch out to other mediums.

This Wednesday (11/24/2010) I’ll be on the News 12 New Jersey morning show in the 8 a.m. hour talking about some craft beer options for your Thanksgiving Day dinner.

I’ll be pouring four beers including Infinium from Sam Adams and Weihenstephaner and the English Mild from the New Jersey Beer Co.

What are the other two?

Tune in this Wednesday and find out!




Cork-Finished Beer—Lay Them Down or Stand Them Up?

Cork-finished bottles stand out on shelves. Just a little taller than the other bottles, there is something a bit more formal about them. Beers finished with a cork and secured with a cage are a sign of something special, a reminder of the wonderful fermented beverage’s bottled beginnings and an enticement to spend a few more dollars on a beer the breweries have deemed above average.

Read the full article on here.



Pass the Sweet Potato Beer, Please

The orange earthy vegetable has earned its place in the glass

Long before he opened for business, Sean Wilson decided he wanted to use local ingredients as often as possible when it came to making his beers. The founder of Durham, North Carolina’s Fullsteam Brewery surveyed the state’s agricultural scene and realized that it was the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the nation.  Putting the starchy orange vegetable into a lager just made sense.

Read the full story here.


The End of History happens this Friday night.

A few months back Scottish microbrewery Brewdog announced that they had created “the world’s strongest beer.”  The brewery said it would release just a dozen bottles of the  55% alcohol brew and that it would come packaged in a stuffed animal. Don’t think teddy bear, think taxidermy.

The End of History

From the official announcement:

“This blond Belgian ale is infused with nettles from the Scottish Highlands and Fresh juniper berries. Only 12 bottles have been made and each comes with its own certificate and is presented in a stuffed stoat or grey squirrel. The striking packaging was created by a very talented taxidermist and all the animals used were road kill. This release is a limited run of 11 bottles, 7 stoats and 4 grey squirrels. Each ones comes with its own certificate of authenticity.”

Bloggers in the industry swooned, major media outlets wrote about it and featured it on newscasts. Amazingly all of the available bottles (costing up to $1,100) sold out.

Brewdog did give one bottle to the website BeerTap TV and this weekend, during a live broadcast at the Beer Bloggers Conference the show will open the bottle and conduct a live review. It’ll be interesting to hear what the folks who get a sip or two have to say.




Headed to Boulder,CO later this week.

The first ever Beer Bloggers Conference will be held later this weekend in Boulder, CO.

This will be my second trip to Colorado in six weeks and I am excited to check out a few of the breweries in town.

The conference itself has a pretty interesting line up. More to come later this week.