Boardwalk fries, Hoffman’s ice cream, Italian subs from Joe Leone’s… just a couple of treats that highlight a day trip to Point Beach. Maybe it’s time to add a pint from Last Wave Brewing to that list. Located on Bay Ave. in Point Pleasant Beach, this small craft brewery has become a staple in the popular Shore town while incrementally building a following throughout the state.
Last Wave is a marriage of two passions: surfing and beer. While the brewery opened in 2017, owners Nick Jiorle and Bert Roling have been involved in the craft beer world for over 15 years.
“Beer has been [something] we’ve always supremely enjoyed…it’s always been a flavor contributor to travel and life,” says Roling. And, as for catching waves? “We love surfing, we love being by the ocean, and when we started talking about opening up a brewery it wasn’t a question of whether or not it would be surf-themed, it was more of a question as to what the name was going to be.”
Aptly named after the final wave of every surf session, Last Wave provides a beer experience that stirs up the same satisfaction and stoke created by a great day on your board.
Nothing is better after a successful day on the water than having a few beers with your friends. If you’ve managed to avoid getting thrashed by the waves, the last thing you want is to get put on your ass by an overly aggressive, high-ABV brew. Last Wave is committed to crafting what they refer to as “crushable” beers in the 5-8% ABV range.
“A lot of beer that is getting the attention is the 11% stout or the triple-dry-hopped IPA, but [we] think the majority of people enjoy drinking beer they can have more than one of,” says Jiorle. “We want to create an experience where you can come enjoy with your friends… do you really want to drink one 10% IPA and be tapped out for the rest of the day?”
While IPA and its myriad variations (hoppy, hazy, imperial, double, triple, dry-hopped, West Coast, New England etc.) have dominated the craft scene for as long as we can remember, demand for traditional, recognizable styles of beer is growing. And the brewers who are able to deliver on various beer styles, like Last Wave, are benefiting from this change in the consumer base. But, the key for brewers who promise a Berliner Weisse, or a gose, or an Irish red, or heck, even an American lager, is execution.
“One of the best compliments that I’ve ever received is that all of our beers taste as they should,” Jiorle says. “We’ve looked more to the flavor and the experience than the alcohol content. Accessible, drinkable beers that still have a complex flavor and executed to style. People can come in and enjoy a few different beers without feeling like they’re going to act a fool by the time they leave.”
All of the above is not to suggest that Last Wave has turned their back on IPA fans; their brewing philosophy is one of inclusion; that is, having something for everyone. The taproom in Point Pleasant typically has almost 20 offerings on tap with a handful of varieties that will please any hop-fiend.
“We have like six hoppy beers but they are all distinctly different; one’s a session, one’s a caramel malt like a Sierra Nevada,” Roling says. “Then we have three fruited sours on, two lagers on, a Scotch-style ale with peated smoke malt. When you walk in here, you can get beer-flavored beer, you can get new-school stuff, you can get whatever you want. … [People] can access beer here in a way that they maybe haven’t before. We have a lot of options.”
Apparently the madness in their methods is paying off because it was standing-room-only when we visited Last Wave earlier this month. For a brewery located in a town that’s largely viewed as a destination only in the summer (a view we do not share; Point Beach is great year-round), the off-season support is impressive.
“We are not necessarily trying to be the beer that everyone’s talking about, but we’re kind of like the worst-kept secret. People always ask, ‘How long have you guys been open?’ But you come in and it’s always crowded here,” Jiorle says.
Last Wave’s unassuming staff creates a vibe in the taproom that truly aligns with their ethos of accessibility and “spreading the stoke.” We highly recommend planning a visit; however, if you can’t make it to Point Beach, you can still get your hands on some Last Wave beer. Their products can be found in over 60 restaurants and 100 liquor stores from Warren to Cape May county (check the “beer-finder” on their site).
The offerings may vary by location but the one beer you’re most likely to find on tap and in cans is their flagship brew, A-frame: a super smooth IPA that boasts some new tropical and classic C hop notes with a touch of caramel malt. It’s very drinkable and lends itself well to food pairings. While A-frame has been around as long as the brewery has, it’s popularity continues to grow and is a perfect introduction to the lineup at Last Wave.
Cheers and @ us with the surf report.