The New Jersey Turnpike doesn’t inspire much besides bad jokes, but it is the inspiration behind Cherry Hill, N.J.’s Flying Fish Brewery’s Exit Series, where the brewery creates a limited-release big-bottle beer that riffs on a Turnpike exit, in no particular order. The second in the series, Exit 11, a hoppy, American-style wheat ale brewed with English yeast, goes public today, which has beer geeks thrilled. Guess who’s not so thrilled? Mothers Against Drunk Driving!
A spokesperson for M.A.D.D. ripped the Exit Series, telling the A.P., “The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn’t make any kind of sense. This is almost a mockery.” Grub Street spoke with Flying Fish brewery owner Gene Muller to get his take on it.
Did you consider the possibility that people would associate drinking and driving with the beer?
We all agree that drinking and driving is a bad thing. But we thought a lot about it and made sure that there wasn’t anything about the beer would give the impression that is was about that. I mean, there are Budweiser billboards on highways and there’s a Budweiser logo on a NASCAR racecar going 200 miles an hour. We’re a little company and if someone wants to beat someone up, it’s going to be the little guy.
Did anyone from M.A.D.D. ever contact you?
I’ve not spoken to anyone at M.A.D.D. At the beginning [of the Exit Series program], the Turnpike Authority lawyers contacted us and made sure we had no mention of the Turnpike on the web site. I think the AP reporter just called her for a quote and it was more ‘ready, fire, aim.’ She spoke before she knew what it was. But they threw the tomato at us.
Kind of interesting timing, considering the new beer is launching.
I have to say the timing is perfect.
Tell me about the Exit 11. I can never find my way around in that state.
It’s the crossroads of New Jersey, where the Garden State Parkway comes in. The beer represents the crossroads - it’s a hefeweizen, but made with American hops and English yeast, so you don’t get those banana or clove flavors. It’s 6.2% alcohol.
So, no hard feelings about the situation?
We just want to celebrate New Jersey. I mean, someone’s got to!