Stockton resident Adam Juncosa has been home brewing for over a decade. He’s won first round awards for pilsner and a specialty wood-aged beer from the National Homebrew Competition, and has had 13 self-made beers on tap at his home for neighborhood get-togethers. The irony is that he can’t even find a place in his town to purchase a pint of beer.
“Not having a place to buy a pint of beer anywhere in your town hurts,” Juncosa said in reference to the Stockton Inn being closed.
Juncosa, 38, and his wife, Karen Malzone, a Flemington native and teacher at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, are opening Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton, N.J., adjacent to the Stockton Eagle gas station and Cravings Restaurant in an old auto body shop on Route 29, mostly because Juncosa’s home brewing has, “become so large.”
The business name came from his mother calling him an “odd bird” and according to Juncosa, Malzone is very into nature, which is how the branding all came together.
Adam is a councilman in Stockton borough and has done his homework when it comes to area needs. He estimated that the closest place to enjoy draft beer from his upcoming location in Stockton is almost four miles away in every direction: The Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville to the north, Bell’s Tavern in Lambertville to the south, the Sergeantsville Inn to the east and Free Will Taproom to the west.
Adam had collaborated with the owners of Conclave Brewing in Raritan Township, where they were in the same home brew club called the ANNiHiLATED, which was an acronym for the the “Appropriately Named New Hope and Lambertville Association for Tasting Educating and Drinking.”
Juncosa is originally from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but loves Stockton.
“I plan on living here forever,” he said.
He’s also enthusiastic about the Stockton location because he believes the water there is superior.
“One of the big reasons we chose Stockton for a brewery is that water here is some of the best water in the world in my opinion,” said Juncosa.
Stockton has a town-wide deep well that passes through sandstone and shale rock, according to Juncosa, which he compares to German brewing water, and says his old house in Lumberville was the only place he had better water. Water is often cited as the most important ingredient in beer.
Odd Bird’s estimated opening date is around Labor Day, while they wait on state licensing. If it’s longer, the autumnal equinox might be a safer date, and Juncosa noted that they would have bike racks ready for the fall cyclists that swarm Hunterdon County and its environs.
The commute will be longer for Juncosa, however. He now has to walk about 300 feet from his Stockton residence to the new brewery, whereas before he was solely employed as a work-from-home high-level customer support computer engineer.
Once operational, the 1600-square-foot building will be home to a three and a half barrel brew house with seven barrel fermenters. Odd Bird will produce about 40 kegs of finished beer per brew day, with the bigger picture looking at about 100-200 barrels a year.
As for the beer itself, Juncosa plans on doing many low percentage classic style beers that work well with food: pilsners, German lagers, English bitters on hand pump, lots of Belgians, American IPAs and sour fruits. He aims for something a customer can have a pint or two of and not “kill your palette or knock you out.”
Odd Bird plans on doing “crowlers” — 32 oz. cans to go — and will fill larger growlers as well. But Juncosa also stressed, “We’re always going to have that unique one ‘odd bird’ beer on tap each week.”
The brewery will probably be open Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m, Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m., with Sunday hours evolving. Odd Bird will likely try to mirror the hours of Stockton Farmer’s Market.