Nick Jiorle and his partners Bert and Dani Roling operate Wild Air Beerworks on Main Street in Asbury Park.
Doug “Phresh” Phillips is one of the brewers at Wild Air Beerworks in Asbury Park.
By WILLIAM CLARK
If you are ever in Wild Air Beerworks on Main Street in Asbury Park and see a person walk out from a hidden doorway in the wall of bookshelves, your eyes did not deceive. It is just one of the employees exiting the office.
The books on the shelves are just decorative, chopped off an inch from the spine and affixed to the wall. Some customers have gotten frustrated that they weren’t able to take a title from the shelf but the brewery solved that issue by placing a smaller shelf that serves as a mini library for people to take actual books.
If the ambiance doesn’t signal a connection to literature, then the names of each beer certainly will. Each are references to book characters or plot points.
There’s Minderbinder’s Oktoberfest, a reference to the character in Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22” and Beautiful Little Fool, a Fruited Kettle Sour which takes its name from a staple of high school books lists: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”
Then there’s Amor Fati, a Kellerbier whose name matches its origins.
“It’s a reference to [Friedrich] Nietzsche,” Co-founder Nick Jiorle said. “It means love of fate because that beer didn’t necessarily come out the way we envisioned it, but it tasted great. So the concept of Amor Fati means to find a way to appreciate the circumstances you have. Sometimes the beer tells us what it’s really called.”
Jiorle and his partners Bert and Dani Roling opened Wild Air Beerworks in September 2022. The three have known each other for years and dove into the brewing game from separate career paths. Jiorle’s background is in marketing. Bert Roling was a web designer and his wife continues to work as an occupational therapist part time. It’s their second beer venture after Last Wave Brewing in Point Pleasant Beach.
It would have been easy to expand to a second location for Last Wave but the trio didn’t think that would work.
“Asbury is just an entirely different set of people,” Dani said. “They appreciate different things.”
Then there’s the case of the beer. Wild Air’s focus is different.
“At least as a beer consumer myself, I would love to go to two different breweries and have two different feels and get educated differently at both,” Roling said.
The poetic nature of the brewery comes through in more than just the names and atmosphere. All three spoke with a musical elegance about how they view their choice of beers and the brewing process itself, describing their creations with the thoughtful care that any writer would take when characterizing a matter close to their heart.
“Brewers tend to be heady,” Roling said. “We’re almost terribly thoughtful and some of the things that we were talking about like the gentle nuances of lagers and some of the wilder side with some of the longer barrel aged sour beer just fit really well with those deep themes in literature.”
Even the simplest conversation about the name of the brewery evoked a thoughtful explanation from Jiorle.
“Beer, basically made by yeast, which is quite literally wild air just floating around, is what turns sugary water into libation,” he said.
The artistry of the brewery certainly fits with the vibe of the city. Wild Air has even looked for ways to integrate itself into the city by working with the Asbury Park Book Cooperative to host poetry readings or by using the former barrels of Asbury Park Distillery in its aging process for some of its specialty beers. Those books that make up the faux shelves were purchased from a sale at the city’s library. Many still have the spine labels that librarians had stuck to them when they were first added to the library’s collection.
“I’d like to become more of a hub for the community, giving people space to do different things,” Jiorle said. “Selling beer, drinking beer and helping people along the way is kind of what we’ve always focused on and it’s worked really well.”
Roling echoes that point of community in addition to commerce.
“If we wanted to make a lot of beer, we probably would have had a Last Wave 2 at a warehouse somewhere deep in the state,” he said. “The goal has never been to blast beer out to the masses and make hundreds of thousands of barrels like Sam Adams. It’s to dive into the intricacies of what beer can be.”