Varitage Brew Works, located at 58 Washington Street, is Bloomfield’s first microbrewery. The brewery’s name is derived from the words “variety” and “heritage,” which illustrates what the owners want the new business to represent — the American Dream. Varitage Brew Works opened up to the Bloomfield community on the weekend of October 28th and 29th, 2023 — and we recently took a trip to the fairly new spot. Read on to learn more about Varitage Brew Works in Bloomfield and our chat with the owners in 2021.
Bringing the Beer to Bloomfield
Varitage Beer is founded and owned by Mark Costa and co-founded by Mark’s longtime friend Neil Levine, who has been a family friend for over 15 years. Neil brings over 30 years of finance and marketing experience to the team. The owners’ mission is to tell the stories of the “variety of heritages that make us who we are.”
“We like to say that our story pays homage to those who have come before us. It’s the story of my Azorean (Portuguese) heritage, my Italian heritage, my heritage of growing up in North Jersey as well as the history of our town of Bloomfield,” Mark, a 10-year resident of Bloomfield, told The Montclair Girl back in 2021. “The brand is personal to us, but more importantly I believe that our customers may also find it personal to them.”
^ Mark Costa, founder of Varitage Beer
The team worked long and hard to bring Varitage Beer to life.
“We went to town council meetings and advocated for a brewery-friendly ordinance that would allow a brewery to be part of our downtown districts rather than in an industrial park somewhere. We wanted to be in the heart of our town,” Mark shared. “We are truly thankful to our Mayor and Town Council for adopting the new ordinance.”
After scouting the area to find a location that would work for the brewery, the team finally found one that everyone “instantly fell in love with.”
“We will be located in the heart of the Bloomfield Center, which over the past few years has seen an amazing transition,” Mark says. “Our location is also a stone’s throw away from the Bloomfield Train station, which is the same train station I used when I was commuting to work [years ago]. I would daydream about becoming a brewer on those train rides and now I get to brew beer right next door. It’s a full-circle moment for me.”
About the Menu
Along with classic styles of ales and lagers, there are unique flavors for IPAs, sours, and pastry stouts.
“There will be a beer for everyone at Varitage. Whether you are chasing a beer with the hot new variety of hop, a pastry stout made with local delicacies, or looking to quench your thirst with a classic cream ale, our tap list will have something for you,” the founder said.
All the ales and lagers are made on the spot at the Washington Street location. Varitage also has plans to produce and serve hard seltzer, non-alcoholic craft sodas, and gluten-reduced beer. As of now, there are no plans to have food on the menu since food is not allowed within the brewery’s permit.
However, Mark said, “We are very fortunate to have a few great local eateries surrounding us. Our customers will be able to order food to-go from another establishment and are welcome to eat inside our taproom or vice versa. They can also order some beer to go for a nice lunch or dinner at another local eatery.”
Background on the Owner
The idea of opening a brewery has been a “passion project” of Mark’s for the past decade, after initially getting inspiration from his wine-making grandfather whom he’s never met.
^ Neil Levine, co-founder of Varitage Beer
“I started brewing beer at home and got completely hooked on the hobby. There was just something so romantic about the process to me,” the Nutley, NJ native said.
Years later, Mark started entering homebrew competitions across the country. He shared: “One competition, in particular, changed my life for good. I placed in the Best of Show round of competition based out of Illinois. My winning beer was selected to be showcased at a local brewery, Keg Grove Brewing Co., in Bloomington, Illinois. My wife Katie and I flew out to Illinois to brew our beer with Jeff at Keg Grove. That was the day that I decided I wanted to brew professionally.”
Eventually, Mark’s wife Katie convinced him to “take a leap of faith” and chase his dream. He then traded his career in digital advertising for a position at Jersey Girl Brewing as the assistant brewer to gain more experience and study “the science and culture behind craft beer.” Following that, Mark built his team and trademarked Varitage Brew Works.