Greg Zaccardi studied to be a chemist but somehow ended up brewing beer. “There’s actually a lot of chemistry involved in beer making,” he says by way of explanation. “You have to know how certain enzymes and molecules work and how to control each step to get the flavor and body you want.”
Greg is the founder and driving force behind the High Point Brewing Company in Butler, New Jersey, the first wheat-only microbrewery in the United States—at least when he started it in 1996. Now he also brews a couple of lagers and a pale ale.
When asked why wheat beer, Greg credits his German girlfriend (now his wife), who took him on his first trip to southern Germany. There he tasted some amazing wheat beers, called hefeweizen. It was the desire to recreate those sweet, rich flavors and creamy texture that led him to apprentice at a small German wheat brewery and then to fly straight home and start making his own brews.
Greg crafts his Ramstein wheat beers— Blonde, Classic, and Winter—with the same meticulous care he witnessed in Germany: He tailors the ratio of wheat to barley and of light- to dark-roast grains to each type of beer and determines the quantity of hops needed to achieve the flavor balance he’s after.
“My goal is to produce an elegant beer rooted in the European tradition but with a personality of its own, a beer that showcases the great ingredients we use,” says Greg. His grains and hops come from Germany, and he uses a proprietary yeast from a small brewery in Bavaria. “Yeast is critical,” he says. And this one gives his unfiltered weizens their distinctive overtones of banana, apple, and clove. Ramstein beers are available in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.