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A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Cape May Brewery’s Ribbon Cutting

In case you drove by CMBC last Friday and saw parked at our entrance a fully-extended scissor lift complete with a Cape May Brewery banner alerting dignitaries and members of the press where to turn, and in case you wondered what the heck was going on, we’ll break it down for you. May 8 marked the official opening of CMBC’s second brewery at Cape May Airport. With a buzzy ribbon cutting ceremony, we launched 409 Breakwater, the 15,000 square-foot warehouse that we’ve been renovating for over a year and a half, and we dedicated the 30-barrel brewhouse inside. The day, in a nutshell, was great. The day not-in-a-nutshell is below.

Presenting: the ribbon cutting in review:

The oh-shit scenario: Mere moments before go-time, we realized our ribbon was for too short, only about eight feet long, for an event like this. Thanks to Courtney for an 11th-hour run to the party store for a spare. Crisis averted!

The welcome: President Ryan Krill gave the opening remarks, explaining the condition of the building when he first took it over (spiders, animal urine, and a front door lock that needed to be picked with a knife), and how humbled he feels to be where he is now, with 30 employees and counting. The new space “allows us to give back to the community that supported us in the beginning, and what better way to do that than over a beer,” he said.

The jokes: When it was their respective turns to make a speech, both Freeholder Will Morey and the Mayor of Lower Township, Michael Beck, cracked wise about CMBC’s original brewhouse being an old washing machine. (No, it wasn’t actually a converted Maytag, but it was a homemade system.) For coming so far in such a short amount of time, “a tip of the mug to you,” Beck said.

The food: Flight Deck Diner catered the afternoon’s reception. Said owner Sean McMullen: “It was easy to do; beer drinkers tend to be innovative and up for anything.” Among the tasty menu items were roasted summer vegetable sliders complete with Devil’s Reach Belgian Strong Ale-infused mustard.

The DRBA: The Executive Director of the Delaware River and Bay Authority Scott A Green said he met recently with a major local institution who also wants to move to the airport, and this institution’s president asked him: “So what do you think is leading to the rebirth of airport, if you could sum it up in one word?” Scott’s answer? Beer. “The brewery has gotten people to look behind the fence,” he said.

The presidential shout-out: Said Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi: “President Reagan always said that small businesses and entrepreneurs are responsible for almost all economic growth in this country, and that’s true, and that’s what you see here today, a company with vision, dedication and hard work…. Cheers!”

The confession: Congressman Frank LoBiondo called Cape May Brewery a great example of the American dream. Later, during the reception, he confided: “The Bog is my new favorite beer of all time. It’s got a unique taste, very refreshing. And it goes down very easy, which can be… dangerous.”

The big picture: Senator Jeff Van Drew told the crowd that this country and this state were built by people who believed they could succeed despite overwhelming odds, and that in this spirit, CMBC has taken something that was nothing, and turned it into something extraordinary. “I really believe the best is still ahead of you,” he said.

The young entrepreneurs: Among the afternoon’s honored guests were Cape May’s up-and-coming crop of culturally and business-savvy entrepreneurs. Said Jonathan Hirsch of the Montreal Inn: “People come into our restaurant and even into our liquor store requesting fresh and local. It’s wonderful to have the brewery for them here… and it helps that the beer is phenomenal.” Also in attendance? Chris Cooke from the eclectic Washington Street Mall shop called Across the Way. “The brewery draws the very demographic Cape May needs,” he said. “These are the people who will keep the town moving forward, and keep us from fading out as a Victorian resort.”

The moms: We spoke with the mothers of CMBC’s fearless leaders Ryan and Chris, who told us: “Words cannot describe how proud we are.” Although they also said that, at the beginning, they were a little shell-shocked when the guys told them they’d be going from “making beer on someone’s patio” to opening an actual, fully-fledged brewery. “The first few times we saw the hop plants they were growing, we assumed they were marijuana!”

The cut! Photo by Sandy Maloney, courtesy of Exit Zero magazine.
The cut! Photo by Sandy Maloney, courtesy of Exit Zero magazine.