Turnpike Beer

A brew that honors the turnpike and angers anti-drinking advocates

A New Jersey brewery is using the state's congested and often-derided turnpike to promote its beer, and that's not going over too well with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and a group that opposes drinking and driving.

Cherry Hill-based Flying Fish Brewing Co. (motto: "Proudly Brewed in New Jersey: You Got a Problem with That?") is releasing a special beer -- The Exit Series -- in honor of turnpike exits, one at a time.

The beers are being made in limited runs and sold in 750 milliliter wine-size bottles. The first, a Belgian-style ale, came out earlier this year in honor of Exit 4, the exit nearest the industrial park that Flying Fish calls home. The next beer, Exit 11 Hoppy American Wheat Ale, is scheduled to hit bars and stores next week. The intersection of styles is a tribute to Woodbridge's exit, where the Turnpike meets the Garden State Parkway.

It's a bad idea to associate a highway with alcohol, said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the Turnpike Authority. The brewery has disclaimers to let you know the beer isn't endorsed by the authority.

"There's been a brokered peace here," Orlando said. "But don't expect to see it in any of our rest areas."

That's not good enough for Mindy Lazar, executive director of New Jersey's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense," she said. "This is almost a mockery."

"The one thing that both of us agree is drinking and driving is never an option," said Brewery president Gene Mueller.  Mueller initially wanted each beer's alcohol content match the exit number -- Exit 6 beer, for instance, would have 6 percent alcohol. Most beers have about 5 percent alcohol.

"But then we thought pretty quickly that Exits 1, 2 and 3 were going to be pretty boring for brewing, and then Exits 16, 17 and 18 were going to be really dangerous."

The company plans to introduce more exit beers every few months but Mueller says he's not sure if all 29 exits will get their own beers.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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