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...you walk down the street and you see houses that are… mint green! Marigold and.. Prince purple!

The Haunted Houses of Cape May

Our Barrel Aged Series has been turning heads for what’s in the bottle, but the bottles themselves have been getting some notice, as well. Last year’s series was gorgeous, and this year’s is the perfect follow-up.

We got together with our Social Media & Design Alchemist Courtney Rosenberg, who was intimately involved in determining the theme for this series, as well as the creation of the art on their containers.

The brewery wanted to take a new direction in the second year of our Barrel Aged Series, moving away from the “boat-parts” theme of the first series. With the number of breweries popping up in Cape May County, many of them have ties to the sea — and we don’t blame them. The influence of the ocean is huge around here, and it’s an obvious choice to use in design.

“The boat-parts theme kind of ran its course,” she tells us. “You have to be creative in this business, so we were brainstorming for awhile. We came up with a few ideas, but they weren’t really coming to a full conceptualization.

“I was in the Tasting Room one day with Maddie, and we wanted to hit on something that was big in Cape May. We wanted to stay true to our upcoming redesign, so we went through a few choices. Bikes? Birds? Tides? Water? But we felt that they’d all been done.

“Then Maddie suggested ghost stories.”

And they knew they had a winning idea.

Courtney spent a lot of time researching the multitude of ghost stories that abound through our sleepy shore town.

“I read a lot of Craig McManus’s stories,” she says, “and I picked the ones that are sort of dark and ominous, but not screaming, like, THE GHOST OF THE UGLY MUG.”

The ones she settled on don’t tell the entire story, but pique interest just enough for you to want to know more.

“Just like the beer inside,” she says. “You want to know more about it.”

The design for the bottles was inspired by Cape May and its famed Victorian architecture.

“If you line all of the bottles up, this will look just like walking down a street in Cape May,” Courtney says. “Seeing all the Victorian houses, all the B&Bs — it’s just like walking down Decatur Street, Jackson Street, any of those streets. You’ll see the gingerbread, the colors, the whole nine. That’s some of the prettiest things that you notice on these houses. The attention to detail that, nowadays, doesn’t happen with vinyl siding,” she laughs.

Courtney admits that the colors might not make sense to someone who isn’t terribly familiar with Victorian architecture. “Why is this one pink? Why is this one yellow? These aren’t normal house colors these days. But you walk down the street and you see houses that are… mint green! Marigold and.. Prince purple!”

Courtney worked with Grandstand, our bottle supplier, and the head of their art department, Andy, to determine the final designs.

“We let them know details that we wanted, colors that we wanted, “ she says. “[Marketing Communications Manager] Alicia and I looked at a lot of pictures of Cape May, a lot of the things that we grew up with in Cape May and we worked with it from there.

“A lot of the colors are pulled from actual pictures of houses,” she says, Googling pictures of some of the gorgeous Victorian homes in Cape May, looking for examples of these color schemes.

“There it is,” she said, locating a picture that looked exactly like the bottle for Brothel Madam.

“The possibilities are endless in the colors that are used.”

Faithful fans of CMBC know that Courtney loves easter eggs: small details in the design that might go unnoticed if they’re not pointed out to you. This series is no different. For example, in the filigree above the doors on the Brothel Madam bottle, you may notice outlines of the state of New Jersey.

The windows on each of the bottles tie into the theme, as well.

“On the Brothel Madam bottle, the windows look like the shape of a woman,” Courtney tells us. “She’s our Brothel Madam. On Phantom Crew, you can see the soldiers’ helmets and the waves, and there are little life preservers at the corners of the door. For Higbee, the gingerbread at the bottom is the waves on the beach. And there’s the sunset in the windows.”

These were the first bottles Courtney designed with our new logo, and she says it was “like a breath of fresh air.” We loved the old logo, but after designing around it for four years, Courtney deserved a break.

“The old logo was everywhere,” she says. “And when we first started the brewery, it defined us. But the new one speaks to us.”

Little known fact: Brothel Madam actually hit shelves a few weeks before we revealed the new logo. None of our fans said a word about missing the old logo, and Courtney thinks the risk paid off.

“It was nerve wracking,” she says. “Now that it’s out there, that logo fits so well with Cape May. It’s whimsical, it’s airy. It fits in with the beauty you’ll find on the streets of town. We’re New Jersey Proud AF. But let us educate you as to why we’re proud of New Jersey instead of putting it in your face with bold colors.”

Courtney loves all of the bottles, but her favorite of the series hasn’t been released yet. We’ll let you know her thoughts in a future blog, but she has a very personal reason for loving it.

“It reminds me of Cape May as I know it.”

You’ll be able to check out Courtney’s work on Higbee and Phantom Crew — and the brewers’ work inside the bottle — this Saturday at the Brewtique at 11am.