ABERDEEN, NJ — If you grew up around the area you most likely made many movie memories at the locally famous Bow Tie Strathmore Cinemas, on Route 34 in Aberdeen. At one time it was the place to go for movies. When the theater closed down, it was the end of an era. Now you can make totally new memories there and still enjoy a part of the nostalgia of the Bow Tie. The former theater is now the Alternate Ending Beer Co. and the brewpub pays homage to its iconic predecessor. When you enter, a merchandise stand, refurbished movie theater seats and a gigantic movie screen await you. While the movie theater, a longtime staple in the community, is no longer there, its legacy is far from gone. Alternate Ending Beer Co. honors its location’s roots, while creating a new and unique spot for everyone to enjoy.
Founder Scott Novick was working in corporate America when he decided to chase his dreams of becoming a brewer. His career path took an unexpected turn and had an alternate ending- which inspired the brewery’s theme.
“It’s his alternate ending, the alternate ending for the building and an alternate ending for the community,” Marketing and Creative Director Alexis Castellano said.
Castellano, who is also Novick’s sister, said she and her brother grew up watching movies at the Bow Tie Cinemas theater. Once Novick heard that the theater was not renewing its lease, he knew this would be the perfect location to carry out his passion.
“People really identify with this place as part of their childhood, their teenage years and their adulthood, so it was very important for Scott to preserve some of that nostalgia,” Castellano said.
Two years since its inception and in the middle of a pandemic, Alternate Ending Beer Co. defied all odds and officially opened on Oct. 28. It is open from Wednesdays and Thursdays between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m., Fridays between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.
Award-winning Brendan Arnold is the head brewer at Alternate Ending Beer Co. With the help of Novick and Steve Grodzinsky, the assistant brewer, he has created the different homemade beers they have on tap. Their ingredients are sourced across the globe, with the water close to home. Castellano said the filtered water is from the township's water line.
Arnold served as a brewmaster in Kansas for seven years before joining the Alternate Ending Beer Co. team. He also earned an Advanced Brewing Theory certificate from the Siebel Institute of Technology.
“I wanted to have the education to really look at the beer from a scientific and molecular level,” Arnold said. “I think some of the best beer in the world is brewed when you look at it scientifically and not just for fun.”
Arnold’s favorite beer at Alternate Ending Beer Co. is the ‘Royal Rug,’ a traditional German pilsner.
Alternate Ending Beer Co. serves some guest beers, including a gluten free one. With a liquor license, Alternate Ending Beer Co. also has a bar full of local liquors, from gin to vodka. With a variety of drinks, the brewpub ensures there are options for everyone.
Besides beer and cocktails straight off the tap, the brewpub has partnered with Asbury Park’s Talula’s Pizza. Co-owners Steve and Shanti Mignogna have brought over some fan favorites, like their famous apple cider donuts, salads and the concept of sourdough pizza. The rest of the items are original to the brewpub.
“Everything else is new and unique to the brewery but it feels very Talula’s because we make everything from scratch and use high quality ingredients,” Shanti said. “We’re still fermenting and pickling our hearts out over here, just like we do at our restaurant.”
The menu is specifically created to complement the beer.
“We’re so inspired by the beer and the theater,” Shanti said. “There’s just so many different components and fun things to riff off of here.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Alternate Ending Beer Co. is limited in its operations. Outdoor seating is available at a first come, first served basis and indoor dining is functioning at 25 percent capacity. Patrons are able to make reservations here.
The brewery had many plans prior to the pandemic, including weekly movie nights. Castellano said they will begin hosting them once it is safe to do so. They plan to show classic movies, like Dr. Strangelove. They are also planning a Sunday brunch option where parents can come eat, drink and watch a family-friendly movie with their children.
Alternate Ending Beer Co. is not taking health and safety precautions lightly. Guests who dine indoors receive a copy of house rules. Some rules include temperature checks upon arrival, providing contact information for possible contact tracing and wearing masks, except for when eating and drinking.
While everyone anxiously waits for the pandemic to end, Alternate Ending Beer Co. is playing movies in the background, hosting events and serving delicious drinks and palatable food to the community.
“When you come here, you’re really coming for an experience. It’s not just coming for a meal or a beer,” Castellano said. “There’s just a feeling when you come here that it’s really something different. Every single thing in this place had thought put into it and I think that translates.”
To keep up with Alternate Ending Beer Co., you can sign up for their weekly newsletter on their website and visit their social media pages at the handle @aebeerco.