Climax Brewing Shoots for Perfection

climax brewing

With his 20th Anniversary brewed and put in bottles — two versions in fact, a Barleywine and an IPA used from the second runnings — David Hoffmann has stuck to his convictions. He and his father Kurt opened the Climax Brewing production facility in 1996.

And he isn’t against telling you either.

“I’m a Reinheitsgebot guy. I’m against putting weird crap into beer,” he said unapologetically. “That’s our forte.  When I make a style, I go right to the style book and they fit right into that.

“If you close your eyes and drink it, it will be what the description says. You’re going to say ‘yeah, that’s right, I just tasted everything that I just read exactly in this beer.’”

Brewing ESBs, IPAs, Brown Ales and Helles, Hoffmann owns and runs New Jersey’s oldest microbrewery.

He says he has tried to capitalize on being different by being classic, but not many consumers care about that anymore.

“The beer business trend now it’s all about the weird and unusual and sour crap,” he said. “At Climax Brewing, sour beer goes down the drain not in the bottle. Sorry, that’s my feeling on it. It’s probably harsh and old-school, but that’s what it is.”

climax brewing

Hoffmann says that the state’s laws are very tough on growth of the craft brewing industry, which is why he is only now just starting to build out a true 1,500 square foot taproom and is currently looking into raising $40,000 for the improvements to his 1,000-barrel per year facility through a crowd-funding website.

“New Jersey has the most restrictive brewing laws out of all 50 states,” he declared. “You don’t want to open a brewery here.”

New Jersey only had less than 10 craft beer producers, Hoffmann said, before laws about three years ago flexed a bit, giving the opportunity for smaller facilities to exist.

Now, more than 30 are expected to open in 2016 alone.

“It’s never going to change because the laws are old,” he said, “then we have the Licensed Beverage Association which is 10,000 strong so they pay for their politicians and get their agendas passed through.”

He hopes that the younger generation of brewers won’t overstep the current, more flexible laws, which could hamper the future of growth.

“Some of these new guys abuse the rules,” he said. “They open a 2-3 bbls brewery and don’t sell off-premise. Half of the sales should be off premise [according to the law], so it’s a free-for-all and these little guys are in for a rude awakening.

“Sooner or later the state is going to lay [the law] down.”

Hoffmann began brewing in his mid-teens and has been brewing for more than 30 years now. His father Kurt, a German immigrant, introduced him to German beer early and it was David that convinced his father to open up the back of his machine shop in the 90s to begin the brewery.

Kurt Hoffmann died in March unexpectedly, leaving David now to run the brewery.

Because of his father’s death,Hoffmann has pushed back the celebration for the 20th anniversary until the late spring while he tends to other matters.

The brewery, which has been mentioned by “The Beer Hunter” Michael Jackson in his books and has been featured in beer documentaries, is still chugging along and Hoffmann says his brewery is always a welcome oasis to any brewer that wants to stop by for a pint.

“If you are a brewer, you don’t pay anything in my brewery,” he said. “If you are in the industry, you don’t pay anything, that’s my courtesy to all the other breweries.”

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