Way, way back, what feels like many centuries ago, not long before COVID began, we had plans for a second partnership with the Surfrider Foundation, an activist network dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches.
We partnered with them last year to bring about Twin Fin, a kettle-soured, session, New England IPA, right around Earth Day. We had plans to repeat the partnership this year, and… well… you probably can surmise what happened.
We called it Cutback — a crisp, refreshing, classic American Pale Ale, blending old-school malts with new-school hopping techniques. Since the partnership with Surfrider lends itself to referencing surfing terms, we wanted to honor their mission with an appropriate name. In surfing, a “cutback” is when a surfer changes direction, using his or her rails to go back toward the breaking point of the wave. It positions the surfer back to the “power source”: the steepest, most enjoyable part of the wave.
Everything was ready to go for an awesome Tasting Room-only release: the ingredients were in-house, the partnership was coming together, and, most importantly, the label was approved by the TTB.
Then… everything got put on hold. And, in the intervening months, the more common definition of the word “cutback” began being applied everywhere, including things to which it had never been applied before.
At this point, you’re probably ready for a good cutback, and, since we had an approved name and label and a great beer to go with it, we’ve got a great Cutback for you.
“We knew we were going to do an Earth Day beer again,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink, “and we wanted to name it something that didn’t necessarily tie it to Earth Day but could imply that it was connected. In hindsight it was quite fortuitous because, surprise! Life was canceled for Earth Day and we ended up not releasing the beer.”
So, once Earth Day 2020 was more-or-less canceled, we had to do a bit of a cutback ourselves, changing direction on this beer to find a way to still bring it to you. While Earth Day celebrations were a bust, its ideals are ones that we hold dear at Cape May Brewing Company. So, we weren’t too eager to let an opportunity to, at the very least, let our fans know where we stand.
“We’re in a shore community a few stone-throws away from the ocean,” Brian says, “so it’s imperative that we keep our beaches clean. Not only our beaches but every aspect of our community — the Starbucks cup you throw out the window will eventually make it down to the beach, spoiling the natural beauty we’ve all come to cherish.”
And… we really like this beer.
“A straightforward American Pale Ale,” Brian says, deprecatingly, “with some new school hopping techniques and a classic malt bill, how cutting edge of us!”
“Once we resumed Back Door Releases,” Brian says, “this was one I didn’t want to see fade away.”
And for good reason. Cutback has an intriguingly simplistic malt bill of Maris Otter and Crystal 20.
“It’s a really nice malt bill,” Brian says, “and very different than most other beers we’re brewing these days. The malt character is more similar to Cape May IPA than any of our other hoppy offerings: a touch of sweetness in the background, a hint of nuttiness — definitely malty.”
Combine the sweet-maltiness of the grain bill with a bill of fruity hops: Mosaic and Calypso. While Mosaic is usually known to be a little dank, a little grassy, it also has some nice fruit undertones that are brought to the forefront by Calypso and magnified by the sweetness of the malt.
“The hop profile is very fruity,” Brian says. “It definitely leans into Mosaic’s fruitier side as opposed to its more dank elements, which is nice, but where it differs from old-school pale ales is in the bitterness.”
“There’s a firm bitterness,” Brian says, “but it’s not tongue-coating, burn-your-palate-out kind of bitterness: it’s more of a soft, well-rounded bitterness. It’s more aggressively hopped on the hot side, leaning into the ‘classic’ aspect in this American Pale Ale, but the fruitiness and aromatic qualities differ from Pale Ales of yesteryear.”
Fermented with our “old workhorse” of London Ale III, in Cutback, you’ll find less of that dank piney, grassiness and more melon and fruit-orchard fruitiness — definitely quaffable.
“The delicate bitterness acts as a counterbalance to the fruity aromatics, the malt bill shines through, and it has the drinkability you’d expect in a classic American Pale Ale, yet with a newer school twist,” Brian says. “It’s tasty, and definitely something I’ll be enjoying on these hot, humid days.”
We seem to be having a lot more of those these days, don’t we?
Cutback releases from the Tasting Room on Monday, specifically timed to coincide with our post-shutdown reopening! You’ll be able to grab it on tap as well as in four-packs of 16-ounce cans for $11.99 + tax.