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“Kölsches are so crisp and clean that it is difficult to make a good one because there is nothing to hide behind if there are any off-flavors.”

Finisher

The journey is its own reward.

Go the distance.

Work hard, play hard.

You’re always out to better yourself. Your biggest competition is you. You push yourself each and every day to get better and better, and you don’t take good enough as success.

And, for that, you deserve a beer.

That’s why, on Saturday, in conjunction with the inaugural Beach to Brewery 10K, we’ll be releasing Finisher, a Kölsch-style ale, to celebrate the winner in each of us.

“When Cape May Running Company came to us with this opportunity, we loved the idea,” says Events Coordinator Randi Friel. “And you know CMBC: if we’ve got a chance to brew a special beer for something in the community, we’re going to jump at the opportunity to Be a Good Neighbor.” 

On Saturday, over 400 runners will convene at Beach and Broadway in downtown Cape May, then wind their way 6.2 miles up Seashore Road, over the canal, and through the woods to grandmother’s house — or, more accurately, to the Tasting Room.

Benefiting our good friends at Surfrider Foundation South Jersey, word about this race traveled fast. Even with four tiers of registration, the race sold out in less than a week. 

Then, later that day, our BikeMS: City to Shore team will finish their race and convene back at the Tasting Room for their celebration.

It’s gonna be a big day at the Tasting Room, and we’re ridiculously excited.

“Sounds like a great day to release a lower-alcohol, yet highly flavorful beer,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink. “It’s the perfect beer to reach for post-run/bike/workout.” 

When it comes to refreshing beers, it doesn’t get much more refreshing than a delicious Kölsch. We hadn’t brewed a Kölsch for several years, but we came back hard with the style this year. 

“We used to a beer called Cape May Blonde that was a Kölsch, and we did that for many years,” Brian, our repository of institutional memory, says. “It always did well in the summer, was a really clean and easy drinking beer, and definitely has a good amount of similarities with both of the Kölsches we did this summer.”

We brewed up Wild Wooder for Morey’s Piers’ 50th anniversary, and it was wildly well-received.

So, why not round two?

“Kölsches are awesome! That’s why we did two this year,” Brian says. “They’re definitely similar to each other in the sense they’re cool-fermented with clean ale strains and then lagered for a bit, and they both use a lot of wheat in the grain bill, and they both have a light and refreshing body.”

Finisher and Wild Wooder are both quite similar; however, they’re really differentiated in their use of hops. Wild Wooder is a little more traditional in terms of Kölsches, keeping to the traditional German hops of Saaz and Hallertau Blanc. Finisher, on the other hand, is single-hopped with Lemondrop.

“I wanted an excuse to play with Lemondrop,” Brian says. 

The good folks over at Hopsteiner — they’re the ones who developed Lemondrop — asked us to brew a beer showcasing one of their hops to pour in conjunction with Hop Selection, an annual event where selected breweries are invited to Yakima to choose their hops for the following season.

“They have beer stations in all the sensory rooms,” Brian explains, “so when you’re done the hop-rubbings and making selections, you can enjoy a beer or two to reward yourself for your hard work. The timing made sense to combine these two projects.”

They ask a handful of breweries to brew a beer for them — maybe ten or fifteen. Brian remembers seeing names like Stone and Ballast Point when he was out there last year, so we’re in some good company.

“They’ve asked us a few times, but we never really had the opportunity,” Brian says. “But now, since we’re brewing more Tasting Room-only beers, it’s easy for us to brew up something smaller and send some of it out to Washington while keeping some for our local fans.”

Hopsteiner had two hops in mind for us to use: Lotus and Lemondrop. Both relatively new varieties of hops, we would have loved to work with either. However, Lotus was a bit more aggressive than we wanted for Finisher.

“Lotus would be great for an IPA,” Brian explains, “but I knew we wanted to do a lighter beer for Beach to Brewery. And, really, that’s what you’re looking for during Hop Selection. After smelling hops all day, you want a nice palate refresher.”

And he found that in Lemondrop.

“Lemondrop is pretty low in alpha acids,” Brian explains, “yielding a very clean, soft bitterness. But it’s a newer American hop, so it has a great aroma: bright, lemongrass, herbaceous — it was really a great hop for Finisher.”

Finisher’s malt profile of pilsner, wheat, and flaked wheat come together to complement the Lemondrop hops.

“Flaked wheat offers slightly fuller body, better head retention, and tends to be a little more aromatic,” Brian says, “all perfect things to complement an easy-drinking, refreshing Kölsch.”

All of this comes together to create an active and lively brew, something simple and easy-drinking.

“Kölsches are so crisp and clean that it is difficult to make a good one because there is nothing to hide behind if there are any off-flavors,” Lauren explains. “And Finisher is a good one.”

It’s perfect to sip after crossing the finish line.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the pace-setter, setting a new personal record, just having a good time,” Brian says. “Just enjoy a beer afterward and be glad you finished what you set out to do.”

Or… even if you simply want to enjoy a Finisher after a long day.

“I do not run unless something is chasing me,” Lauren laughs. “But I would enjoy this as a shifty, so, close enough? I’m happy to have an offering that isn’t a total hop bomb or something that is weighed down by a bunch of other crazy additions.”  

Ultimately, Brian is relatively pleased with Finisher.

“It came together really nicely,” he says. “It’s an extremely delicate beer, so balance was key. It’s very drinkable, interesting enough to put back a few of ‘em.”

Finisher is available in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans for $13.49, only from our Tasting Room. Since we’re hosting the runners in the Beach to Brewery 10K on Saturday, we’re closing down the Tasting Room to the general public until noon, giving them a chance to bask in their glory.

With a tall, frosty Finisher, of course.