- August 27, 2015
Beer enthusiast and New Jersey native, Jamie Queli who once brewed beer as a hobby, opened Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Co. in 2014. At just 31 years of age, she is the 2nd youngest female brewery owner in the U.S.! However the modest Queli says, “That’s a title that cannot be earned; I didn’t choose my gender or my age.”
Located in Cherry Hill, NJ, the brewery and boardwalk themed tasting room was completely designed by Queli herself. Complete with two skeeball games, a spin wheel and funhouse mirrors, she envisioned a brewery that would instill memories of the Jersey shore, while creating an exciting experience for visitors. “I wanted to take a turn-of-the-century boardwalk and modernize the colors. All the photographs on the walls are in black and white and from a different era, but the walls are painted soft blues and bright pinks. The process of creating the space was quite an adventure, and I am fairly positive I drove the architect and contractor nuts. I would get phone calls from them at 7AM asking, ‘Are you positive you want one bathroom door painted purple, the other one painted blue, and the last one painted pink?’ I was massively controlling about every detail.”
Spending much of her young life at the Jersey shore, Queli looked at Forgotten Boardwalk as an adult representation of her childhood, “There’s something magical about the ocean air, summertime weather, carnival rides and boardwalk food,” she says. Even as an adult, Queli would visit shorelines and coasts, seeking out the odd history of these places. Many of the tales she was told were lost stories, but ones that were not completely forgotten – they became the foundation of the vision she had for the brewery, and the beer.
With such beers as Funnel Cake and Shore Shiver, the names and branding of Forgotten Boardwalk’s beers are whimsical, while each has an interesting story to tell. “We are aiming to be raconteurs that are quirky, witty and conversational,” says Queli. There is even a story behind the cat, affectionately named, “Growler” who appears on their company logo. “We wanted a mascot to tell our story,” says Queli. “Growler is based on the feral cats that live under the boardwalks at the shore. We gave her a third eye so she would be all knowing, and a bit of a jester. Just imagine the behavior of cats; they can be very laissez faire. We thought a cat could have seen all the old history.”
Many people ask Queli if it’s tough for a woman to survive in the male dominated beer industry, but to that question she replies, “I don’t think it was harder to open a brewery as a woman. I think the industry in general is tough to get into.” She has faced several obstacles along the way, but keeps her eye on the prize and stays focused on her primary goal – brewing some of the best beers that New Jersey has to offer. Her advice to others interested in opening a brewery? “Cultivate what you will stand for. There are a lot of companies brewing beer right now; you have to stand out.”
She relies on Forgotten Boardwalk’s Brewmaster, David Bronstein (formerly of Sly Fox) to deliver clean and consistent beers. Queli gloats, “He can brew every style of beer! He is a hell of a worker and a gentleman. I can gush about him all day, but I know he guides the company in the right direction. With him in this role, I don’t have to worry about the brewhouse.”
For those interested in getting a peek at the brewery and tasting some of their delicious brews, the brewery is open to the public Thursday through Sunday. In addition to boardwalk-style fun and games, those who tour the facility will learn a great deal about the brewing process. Queli says, “Our tasting room specialists are great, and very knowledgeable. They’ll inform guests of the ingredients used to brew each beer and of course visitors are welcome to sample our wares.”