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Eight & Sand Beer Co. | Gabagool Italian Pilsner

Eight & Sand Gobagool
Robbie Masso

“Gabagool? Over here!”

Eight & Sand Beer Co. has risen to become the face of brewing in Woodbury, New Jersey, since its founding in 2016. Named after a common railroad phrase meaning “quick and safe travels,” where Notch 8 was the quickest setting on certain trains and sand was used to prevent track slippages, Eight & Sand has embraced its New Jersey heritage.

The brewery’s beloved year-round rotation that includes IPA No. 2, Coffee Porter and their Hefeweizen, Monkey and the Engineer, has added a fourth standout with the recent release of Gabagool, a 5.1% Italian Pilsner. Eight & Sand has been stepping up its Lager game lately, with in-house releases of a Marzen, American Craft (or light) Lager, and Kölsch.

The Beer

Gabagool transitions between the Lager and IPA drinker, showcasing an all-continental malt and hop bill with traditional Lager yeast. An Italian Pilsner takes a traditionally made Lager and dry-hops it like an IPA. This combination, along with a long lagering time, results in a light-bodied, malt-forward, and semi-sweet Pilsner base that is countered with a sharp, but smooth, cut of grassy, black pepper hop finish from the dry-hopping process. This batch consists of all Saaz hops, and after experimenting with batches of Gabagool made with Perle, and then an all Tettnang batch in the past, Eight & Sand has found the balance and product they’ve been searching for with the Saaz hops.

“All future batches will be Saaz,” said head brewer Jon Defibaugh.

Eight & Sand Gobagool

The Beer Name

New Jersey residents take a lot of pride in their preferred choice of regional diction. North and South counties are notorious for their longstanding contention over the use of “pork roll” or “Taylor ham.” the pronunciation of water as “w-AH-ter” or “wooder,” and whether the iconic ice cream topping is called “jimmies” or “sprinkles,” but what unites the Jersey community is that capicola is called gabagool.

The name of this beer was inspired by Eight & Sand’s co-founder and owner, Chris Mazzone’s family tradition.

“My family and I share a special tradition by making our own capicola,” Mazzone said. “My great grandfather started it back in Italy and now my brother, my dad and our families get together each year to make it. The day takes a few hours to prep the meat before curing. During that time we laugh, we yell, we drink and two months later we’ve got our ‘gabagool.’”

It only felt right for the hit New Jersey-based show “The Sopranos” be the tongue-in-cheek reference on the label, a decision that excited many a local resident, with empty Gabagool cans even showing up in “The Sopranos” collector Facebook groups for its label.

Eight & Sand Gobagool Label

With Tony Soprano tattoos becoming as commonplace as pizza shops, the marriage of Eight & Sand’s Gabagool beer with its New Jersey roots serves as the perfect metaphor for this Italian Pilsner, which appeals to both IPA and Lager drinkers alike. A summer crusher in Eight & Sand’s outdoor area, and a cozy, hoppy comfort in the winter (which can also be enjoyed outside at Eight & Sand’s heated and enclosed “caboose” area), Gabagool is a Garden State gem.


Photos by Robbie Masso

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