2017-09-27 / Local News

Beth El congregant opens area’s first microbrewery & coffee house

MEET DAN NATKIN…
By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff

FAMILY: Wife Rachel; children Jacob, 16, Ethan, 13

AGE: 45

Hometown: East Greenwich

SYNAGOGUE: Cong. Beth El

HOBBIES: Camping, running

FAVORITE DOMESTIC BEER DESTINATIONS: Ashville, NC, and Richmond, VA

Having developed a love of great beers through his international business travels, Dan Natkin began making his own ales in the late 1990s. This was a time before craft beers were easy to find in liquor stores or restaurants. Most people’s knowledge of craft was Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams and microbreweries were still a good decade away from debuting in New Jersey.

At the time, Natkin enjoyed concocting recipes in his garage that could stand up to the beers he sampled worldwide. And perhaps his enjoyment of fermenting grains into humanity’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drink would have remained just a hobby if not for an encounter with his like-minded neighbor nine years ago.

Bonded by a love of beer and a passion for beer creation as well as good timing, Natkin and business partner Chuck Garrity in mid-August opened Death of the Fox Brewery in Clarksboro. Just a month after its opening, New Jersey’s first microbrewery that doubles as a coffee house, is enjoying brisk business, said Natkin, originally from Northeast Philadelphia.

“At first it was mostly locals; through mostly word of mouth, our customer base has grown wider and wider,” said Natkin, noting that a brew bus with stops at several local taverns was hitting their business later on the day that a Voice reporter stopped in to sample the beers.

Interest has spread within the South Jersey Jewish community as well. Natkin, a Beth El congregant, is working with Hazzan Alisa Pomerantz-Boro to set up a women’s event as well as with Rabbi Aaron Krupnick to schedule an upcoming Torah on Taps.

It all began on Halloween in 2008. Natkin’s home was a popular local trick-or-treat destination thanks to the beer samples he provided for the over-21 set. Unbeknownst to him, neighbor Chuck Garrity, 10 houses away, was also giving away home-brewed treats.

“His beer was fantastic; he had a much more advanced brewing system,” recalled Natkin

A discussion about brewing led to a friendship based on mutual passions. Over the years, the men have inspired each other to take their home brews to new heights. Then, in 2013, they made their first batch together. It was a tribute beer in memory of a friend who had passed away: a Chimay blue.

“It was a cold blustery day, but we had a great time together,” recalled Natkin. “At one point he said we should really do this full-time. I laughed him off. I love doing this but I didn’t see it happening.”

About a year later, after several successful batches, Garrity was laid off from his job as a healthcare management consultant and micro breweries were newly permitted to open in New Jersey. They took the plunge.

The brewery, located in a new strip mall in a Gloucester County community undergoing a construction boom, is named after a pre-Revolutionary War tavern located less than a mile from the site. The first organized hunting club in America, the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, would hold their hunts in the area and then gather to tell their tales over ales at a tavern known as the Death of the Fox Inn. The actual tavern has been restored and is now in the hands of private owners.

Designed as a modern take on a Revolutionary-era American tavern, the namesake microbrewery honors local history in other ways, such as in the names of some of its taps. Among them, Hanging Tory Brown Ale is named for a British sympathizer who was hanged on a tree on the tavern’s property.

Natkin said the two brew masters are adapting to the larger scale and the use of much more sophisticated brewing equipment.

“It is definitely a lot different,” said Natkin, who remains in his day job in the flooring industry while Garrity works at the brewery full-time. “It’s not just the scale piece. There’s a lot you can get away with garage brewing. If you mess something up, you dump five gallons and it’s not a big deal. If you mess something up here and have to dump 250 gallons, it’s a pretty big deal.”

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