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East Coast Beer Co. is moving to Belmar

This article originally appeared in the Asbury Park Press.

The East Coast Beer Co. has found a new home.

The company, which launched in Point Pleasant Beach in 2007, plans to move into new digs on Main Street in Belmar by July, according to company co-founder John Merklin of Brick.

East Coast Beer Co.'s beers have been pretty closely associated with the Garden State since the company's debut release in 2010, Beach Haus American Pilsner. But, for the early part of the company's history it worked as a contract brewer, developing their recipes locally and then renting brewing time from a larger facility located in Rochester, N.Y., Merklin said.

"It's a lot closer to brew beer in Belmar than in Rochester, it costs less to ship the beer, but what we're really excited about is that Brian (Ciriaco) and I, who's my co-founder and high school buddy, we both got into this to be a Jersey Shore craft beer company," said Merklin. "We wanted to put our dot on the map, so to speak, in the craft brewing landscape. And now, to be able to do it, we're going to get super-creative with the beers and the products we're going to put out.

"It's even more of an opportunity for us to connect with everybody, the folks and the fans. That's kind of the one thing that's been missing for fans of Beach Haus beers: they want to come out and see us, and we're giving them the opportunity to do that."

Currently, the company boasts a roaster of four beers: in addition to the original Beach Haus, there's the dark lager Beach Haus Winter Rental, the American amber ale Beach Haus Kick Back and the India Pale Ale Beach Haus Cruiser IPA.

All four of the company's creations to date have complex, well-balanced flavor profiles that show as much love to smooth malts as they do to the biting and hip hops.

"We know there's much more to beer than hops right now," said Merklin. "That's not to say that we won't do some bigger, hoppier beers. In fact, we definitely will. But for right now, we want to make really well-balanced beers that you can have a couple of. That's what it comes down to.

"'Sessionable' is the word that folks use right now. We kind of like that lifestyle element. You just don't have one or two Beach Hauses, you can have three or four of them in a session. That's kind of what we're going for with those beers. Even our IPA, where right now so much of the focus is on hops, we wanted to kind of go and do a little bit of a retrospective with our IPA, Cruiser, and we gave it that malt balance that the style was originally based on."

Under the company's current contract brewer arrangement, they create their beers in 500-barrel batches, which doesn't leave a lot of room for thinking outside of the box, Merklin said.

"It's kind of handcuffed us as far as putting out new styles and really experimenting and trying unique, novelty things," he said. "(In Belmar) we'll be able to do as small as 12-barrel batches now. We could do something just for the town of Belmar, and we plan on doing that."

The new location is at Eighth Avenue and Main Street in the borough, the former site of Freedman's Bakery.