Only in New Jersey, it seems, would a brewery label its beers after exits on the state's turnpike. But that's what the Flying Fish Brewery in Cherry Hill is starting to do, and the NJ Turnpike Authority is not happy.
"Alcohol and transportation don't really work well together," Turnpike spokesman Joe Orlando said.
The brewery started with an Exit 4 beer, and is currently fermenting an Exit 11 batch with a summertime wheat flavor reflecting all the motorists who use that exit to get down to the Jersey Shore.
"We'd always say we're from New Jersey, and they'd say 'What exit?'" Flying Fish spokesman Gene Muller said about the decision to go with Exit beers. "So let's have fun, celebrate New Jersey." Manhattan and Brooklyn beer drinkers, too, can sample the suds; Exit beers will be available in both boroughs by the end of the summer.
As an example, he suggested an Exit 10 beer might be a "light" beer, in honor of New Jerseyan Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb.
The brewer's Web site, exitseries.com, is soliciting ideas for all 28 of the Turnpike's exits, though Muller admitted one that won't make it.
"The obvious one, 'Why don't you make a beer that smells like the refineries up north?'"
The Turnpike, of course, doesn't like any of the ideas, and sent a letter to Flying Fish demanding the removal of "all references to the word "turnpike" from its Web site and all other marketing media, as well as "a disclaimer indicating that the Exit Series is in no way affiliated with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority."
Shortly after that letter, such a disclaimer appeared on the Web site. Muller noted, "We drive on the same roads as everyone else. We're not promoting drinking and driving at all."
Muller, who noted that sales are doing better than expected, added, "Bruce Springsteen writes a song about driving illegally on the Turnpike and avoiding state troopers and he's in the New Jersey Hall of Fame."
Countered Orlando: "State agencies, interstate roadways, alcohol, it's just not the tie-in that we really can allow."