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Need for Better Beer Brings us Brooks Brewery in New Jersey

Need for Better Beer Brings us Brooks Brewery in New Jersey
Matt Saffer

Beer is by far one of the oldest beverages ever produced by human hands. Experts agree the first beer recipes date back to at least the fifth millennium BC, and there’s written proof of recipes recorded from Egypt and Mesopotamia.

From monasteries to artisanal brews in the pre-industrial revolution onwards, to the mass-produced products of industrial manufacturing, beer has evolved and grown alongside us.There’s little doubt how vital it has become as an economic driver (US revenues were more than $100 billion in 2015) and as a driver for scientific improvements in the fields of measuring, brewery construction and fermentation.

Beer is also really cool, and sometimes the urge to make it is overwhelming — especially when evolution is what you’re aiming for.

“I think it’s the next step for my bar … because we’ve done the craft beer, we’re still too small to compete now with anybody … I don’t have the buying power! The stuff I used to be first in line for I’ve been kicked to the curb because everybody wants this or that … so the next thing that’s going to make me stay relevant is make our own beer.”

Cassandra Russell owns Northside Lounge, home of Brooks Brewery. It was this urge to continue on a centuries-old tradition that turned a well-established craft beer bar in Manville, New Jersey, into the state’s FIRST to start as a pub, and then become licensed to open a brewery. But it wasn’t always like that. Flash back 12 years ago when Northside first opened…

Northside Lounge's Fran and Doug inside Brooks Brewery.
Northside Lounge’s Fran and Doug inside Brooks Brewery.

“When (Casey) originally opened the bar it was to cater more toward a different community,” says head brewer Doug Duschel.

“Corona, things like that, a lot of mass produced beers on tap … and it didn’t really sell that well … so she had a lot of friends like myself and my ilk, we’d come in and say, why don’t you put this on, or why don’t you put that on? Little by little she started taking stuff off and putting better beers on. Then she became one of the better craft beer bars in the area with 15 drafts.”

Pierwsze Piwo's grain bill is made up of pilsner malt and flaked corn.
Pierwsze Piwo’s grain bill is made up of pilsner malt and flaked corn.

On the eve of their 12th anniversary, Brooks Brewery poured its first brew; it’s first of many in a constantly changing world of beer.

The first offering is called Pierwsze Piwo. In keeping with the Polish heritage of Manville, this beer is aptly named in Polish, “First Beer.” It is a Bohemian-style lager with a bit more hop and malt to help it stand out as a first of many creative and bold beers to come.

The brew was made in a one barrel system in Northside’s newly opened brewery — better known as the basement.

“I’d rather just do single batches … one offs for the most part. I’m probably going to make a house beer which will be on all the time, something like a Belgian Golden, something like that style. But the other 3 taps will always change because me as a craft brew enthusiast I like to always go and have something different,” says Duschel.


The bar expanded to 20 taps with the opening of Brooks Brewery, four of which will always be reserved for Brooks Brewery beer. After the Pierwsze Piwo, the other three offerings are:


Verloren Valei

ABV: 8.9% | IBU: 23 IBU
Flemish for Lost Valley, this Belgian tripel is brewed with honey, coriander and fresh ginger. Smooth with a sweet malty finish.

IZZI Brown

ABV: 5.5% | IBU: 33
American brown ale using plenty of chocolate malt for a robust, assertive flavor. Not quite a porter, but full of flavor. This beer is named in honor of Stephen Izzi Rigging. Who, for 21 years employed the brewer and encouraged him to follow his dream.

Dr. Rudi

ABV: 6.6% | IBU: 55
An American IPA using a single hop in the boil and then dry hopped in the keg with Cashmere hops. Brewed with a peach­ ginger black tea and Dr. Rudi hops. This superior hop combination promises vibrant flavors of herbal lemongrass, pine and citrus.

Brooks Brewery will offer four of its own beers on tap at all times.
Brooks Brewery will offer four of its own beers on tap at all times.

By the time this article is published, Brooks Brewery will be less than one month old. But, as in any growing industry, its leaders are already thinking about the next step.

“We’re not getting any bigger than one barrel here … not going to get bigger than having 4 beers on draft … but there’s buildings down the street that are possibly for rent, so we may move into that and do a combo homebrew store and brewery … it’s a little bigger, but we’ll see,” says Duschel.

“I like the slow and steady, slow and steady wins the race … tomorrow is the 12 year anniversary as Northside Lounge and at least 3/4 of that has been craft beer. So it’s not just a local bar in Manville, it’s a craft beer bar that’s been well established for years, so this is the next step.”

Sounds like Brooks Brewery is definitely taking massive steps — all in the right direction.


Daily: 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.


100 Brooks Boulevard
Manville, NJ 08835


Mon-Tue: 5:00 p.m. – Midnight
Wed-Sun: 11:30 a.m. – Midnight

Bar chow available all the time.

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  1. Jim

    Always one of the better draft lists around. Now fresh beer, Brilliant. The outdoor patio rocks too! Congrats.

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