Cranberry Wheat with Orange
Once upon a time, in the days before The Bog, Cape May Brewing Co. dreamed up a delicious Cranberry Wheat — tart and full of body, it was instantly loved by the scores of fans we had at the time.
Then we switched cranberry suppliers, and the resulting beer was so tart that we had to shandy it up.
And The Bog was born.
And it was good.
So good, in fact, that its Cranberry Wheat parentage fell by the wayside, all but forgotten by everyone except the most ardent of CMBC fans.
Yet, like the torch-wielding townspeople at the end of nearly every fairy tale, those ardent fans have been clamoring for its return. And, unlike the inhabitants of the castle that those torch-wielding townspeople are attempting to breach, we’ve been wanting to come out. Come out with the beer, of course.
So we have. Kinda.
Like the newly-transformed castle-dweller, we emerge from our seclusion in the west wing with new life.
So, to much fanfare (composed by Alan Menken), we bring forth Cranberry Wheat with Orange.
“Let me put it this way,” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm, “the last time we did Cranberry Wheat was so long ago that it’s not in ekos_ and I have no idea when it was we last did it. It was long before my time here.”
Luckily, Head Brewer Brian Hink has the memory of a heavily-bearded elephant.
Cranberry Wheat was great for autumn — ridiculously crisp and refreshing, it had enough tang to keep it interesting, thanks to the cranberries. A delicious brew, but we had bigger fish to fry.
“The Bog had become such a monster that our customers pretty much demanded we keep the Bog rolling as long as we could,” Brian says, “so we took the last two autumns off from brewing Cranberry Wheat.”
And for good reason. For one, The Bog is awesome. It’s one of our most highly-anticipated beers, by far. And, for two, as great a beer that Cranberry Wheat was, “it was always missing a little something,” Brian says.
We wanted another fruit beer for the autumn, so resurrecting Cranberry Wheat seemed like a logical choice. And, since cranberries are as iconically New Jersey agriculture as are tomatoes, we wanted to add a little something to it.
“Adding the orange component to the Cranberry Wheat seemed like a natural progression for this beer, especially for the Fall season,” Jimmy says. “Cranberry and orange are a great combination for the season as we start to approach Thanksgiving. The citrusy sweetness from the orange can be quite sharp, as can the tart sweetness from the cranberry, so they play off each other well without taking away from either flavor.”
The cranberries in Cranberry Wheat with Orange are still the primary guitar riff with the oranges are more of an obbligato — unnecessary but beautiful.
“It’s like the cello part in Nirvana’s version of ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’,” Jimmy says. “It’s certainly not required for that song, but it really makes their version stand out among all the others.”
“It also adds a classic bread-like aroma,” Jimmy says.
While the cranberries and oranges in this beer are the primary flavors, without the wheat providing some extra body and mouthfeel, this beer would fall flat. When designing a fruit beer, it’s best to let the fruit be the frontman of the group, otherwise a complex grain bill like a rich German lager “just muddies the water and gets in the way of the fruit aspect,” Brian says.
“The proteins in the wheat help to aid in head retention,” he says, “which makes for a more aromatic beer.”
We balanced the recipe out with a small amount of Bravo hops, “just so you know it’s a beer,” Jimmy says. With the bitterness and tartness from the fruits, the last thing we’d want to do with this brew is overdo it in the hops department.
The result is one of our most perfect autumn offerings, easy-drinking and refreshing. Like an autumnal version of The Bog but with the added citrus of the oranges.
“There’ll be plenty of our regulars who are happy to see this up on the board,” Jimmy says. “They can get their fix!”
So, stop down for your fix. Cranberry Wheat with Oranges is on tap now, but won’t be around long.