Angry Erik celebrates five years of brewing


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Photos



  • Angry Erik Brewing's "Brew Crew"




  • PHOTOS COURTESY ANGRY ERIK BREWING Erik and Heide Hassing, co-owners of Angry Erik Brewing




  • Angry Erik Brewing in Branchville




  • Tapping some Angry Erik Brew.




BRANCHVILLE — Erik and Heide Hassing started home brewing in 1998 in a tiny New York City apartment on the upper East side. What started in a small flat has since frothed over as Angry Erik Brewing has become so successful, they're about to move into larger quarters.

In the beginning, Heide was a graduate student as a Biochemist and Erik was a prosecutor in the Bronx. With each subsequent move, first to a bigger apartment in New Jersey, then to a home in Sussex County, the couple's brewing endeavors increased to the point where they were making more beer than they could drink and then started sharing with neighbors.

“It was when we were making more beer than the neighbors could drink that we thought about a business plan,” Heide said. “Both of us being from rural towns, Erik in Flagstaff, Arizona and myself from Jay, Maine, we wanted the business close to home in rural Sussex County.”

The search for a location began, but at the time, there were not that many business locations available that suited the Hassings' needs for both space and cost. Angry Erik, LLC, opened at 10 Millpond Drive in Lafayette in 2014.

“To date, we have brewed more than 70 different beers encompassing a wide variety of different styles and flavors, and that list is always growing,” Heide said. “Most of the beers that we choose to make are styles and flavors that we enjoy including IPA's, Pale Ales, Stouts, Porters, Blondes, Belgian Abbey Ales, Saisons, Fruit beers and even a few off the wall varieties like our Mary Shroom brewed with rosemary and six different mushroom varieties.”

Neither of the Hassings are from Belgium, but they feel that Belgian-style beers are often a great introduction for "newbies" into the craft beer world.

“When we opened in 2014, craft beer was still very new to the area,” Heide said, “Now many of those beers, such as The Dainty Viking, an Elderflower Blonde, have become cult favorites with our customers and remain very popular options even amongst established craft beer connoisseurs.”

Angry Erik Brewery self-distributes its beer to more than 90 different restaurants and bars in Northern New Jersey, with the heaviest concentration being in Sussex County. They don't have a very active sales force (having only two full-time and five part-time employees) so most of their clients actually contact them, initially, asking how to get Angry Erik beer in their establishment.

“We try to build good relationships with the restaurants and bars to whom we deliver our beer,” Heide said. “And since we do not serve food and close early (at 8 p.m.), whenever possible, we send our customers to those restaurants that carry our product when they leave here.”

Visitors to Angry Erik find the tours of the brewery informative and fun. The Hassings said that current NJ State Law requires that every customer must receive a tour of the facility if they are enjoying a pint or sampler in their tasting room. For this reason, they are doing tours all-day long and must keep them brief, yet informative. Their tours walk visitors through the brew house in about five minutes with one of the brewery's knowledgeable staff as a personal tour-guide who explains the beer making process and answers any questions possible.

If there is a question to which the staff do not know the answer, one of the owners is generally available to visit with customers and answer questions in the tasting room.

Angry Erik gets a lot of repeat customers, and their tasting menu changes weekly.

“We brew a different beer every week and the rotate beers on our seven taplines in our tasting room so that there is a new beer on tap almost every weekend (and sometimes changes throughout the weekend as well),” Heide said. “This way everybody gets to see the favorites come and go and sometimes find new favorites too.”

The tasting menu is kept up to date on a daily basis on their website: www.angryerik.com

The Hassings have lived in Sussex County for 13 years and enjoy living and operating a business here.

“In fact, opening the brewery has been a great way to meet friends and neighbors and to become an important part of the community,” Heide said. “Lafayette is geographically in the center of the County and so is easily accessible from any part of the county. It has been a very welcoming community and we look forward to or new home (only one mile away) in Hampton Township sometime this spring as well.”

As to that new location, in May, 2018 the Hassings purchased and broke ground on a property that lies immediately adjacent to the Paulinskill Trail at 2 Camre Drive in Hampton Township. They began construction shortly thereafter in July. The new facility is 7,000 square feet and will be three times the size of the current brewery, both in the tasting room and the production area, with an 800 square foot patio space surrounded by an additional lawn available for outdoor seating. The building should be completed in several weeks, and they will then begin moving equipment — both new and old — into the new space.

“We look forward to being able to increase our production and specifically to increase our packaging capability,” the Hassings said, “The building itself fits right into idyllic Sussex County with a red barn exterior and the tasting room will have a Nordic theme to match the Angry Erik brand.”

Angry Erik Brewing, LLC, is located at 10 Millpond Drive, Unit 8 in Lafayette and will move this spring to 2 Camre Drive in Hampton. For information, call (862)432-9003, e-mail: info@angryerik.com, visit www.angryerik.com or find Angry Erik Brewing on Facebook. Tours and Tastings are held: Thursdays from 5-8 p.m., Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m, Saturdays from 12-8 p.m. and Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to bring family, friends and munchies.






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