This article was written by Maureen Fitzpatrick, contributor to Visit South Jersey and author of ‘A Guide To New Jersey Craft Breweries, South Jersey.’
It’s a rare day when you walk to the backyard of an attractive business and see beautiful green Centennial hops climbing a trellis. But that’s just what you’d expect after meeting a fun-loving man named Chris Mattern, owner of the “tiny” brewery on our next stop – Eclipse Brewing. He’s a man who enjoys the simple things in life, like horticulture and homebrewing. On October 8th, 2016, Chris did something else he’s always wanted to do, an idea sparked by his wife Beth; he opened a craft brewery in Merchantville, New Jersey. And though small, perhaps one of the smallest in the state, the beer at Eclipse Brewing is big on taste.
After looking for a suitable location, Merchantville emerged as a winner, a town that has lots of appeal but needed the foot traffic and pep of a craft brewery. Indeed, the addition of Eclipse has forged many relationships between the brewery and several restaurants through what Chris wittily calls “cross-pollination.” The quaint, house-style brewery is close to many restaurants of different cultures including Japanese and Indian, as well as higher-end restaurants. Grab a growler before trying one or get some takeout to bring into the tasting room. Everyone benefits, especially you.
Eclipse, though tiny, brews enough beer to fill eighteen taps. Try one of the IPAs. There is usually more than one delicious style on tap. Though the taps change, you might be lucky to try the mole porter, with just enough wow factor to taste the peppery heat and chocolate without burning your tongue, or maybe you’ll get to drink the delicious Coconut Cream Ale. There is usually something with coconut on the tap menu. Or try the more traditional DIPA or Wit, both excellent choices brewed by the knowledgeable Chris.
Eclipse is the place to come if you have a friend who is new to the craft beer scene. They serve more soft-noted fruity beers than most. And for the veteran drinker, you’ll certainly have your choice of IPAs, stouts, wheats, and ales. It’s amazing all that Chris can create. Perhaps this is why PHL 17 rated them Best Brewery in their Top Spots!
The tasting room offers plenty of space to enjoy a conversation with a neighbor or a stranger, and some friendships have already been formed here. Chris tells the story of two neighbors who lived two doors away for years, but only met at the brewery. How is that for bringing people together? While enjoying the tasting room, make sure you look at the maps on the wall and place a pin where you are from. You’ll be surprised to see that people from as far away as Ghana, Australia, and Canada have enjoyed beer at Eclipse.
Next time you are in Merchantville, be sure to stop at the little house on the corner next to the Merchantville biking and walking trail. There will be an Eclipse Brewing sign out front. There are plenty of parking spaces in the big lot next to and behind the brewery. Then head through the front door. You’ll feel like you’re coming home. You might never want to leave.
For a bit of adventure, Eclipse offers unique events such as the Birds and Beers happening on May 23rd and June 17th. This event centers around open discussions on area birds. You might also want to see if there is room for the June 1st and June 15th “Learn to Brew” class. Check Eclipse’s Facebook Page for more details. Eclipse is located at 25 East Park Avenue in Merchantville, New Jersey, and is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4pm to 9pm, Friday from 4pm to 10pm, Saturday from 12pm to 10pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 8pm.