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Five Things We’re Excited About in 2015

Ah, the beginning of a new year. It’s a time to reflect — perhaps over a Honey Porter — on events past. At Cape May Brewing Company, a lot’s gone down.

We launched in July of 2011 with an airport hangar, a used Quizno fridge that smelled of deli meat, and a 12-gallon pilot brew system concocted from scrapyard keg shells, hot water heaters found on eBay, and stainless steel tanks dug out of Jersey recycling plants. To our, ahem, one client, we delivered beer in a hand-me-down Mazda MVP. (Yea, that’s a minivan alright.)

But since then, Ryan Krill and Chris “Hank” Henke, our intrepid owners/good booze

Ryan Krill & Chris "Hank" Henke (photo credit Frank Weiss, courtesy Exit Zero Magazine)
Co-founders Ryan Krill & Chris “Hank” Henke (photo credit Frank Weiss, courtesy Exit Zero Magazine)

ambassadors, have taken steps – like adding a tasting room, updating equipment, and landing a distributor — to prime this beachside brewery for world domination. Or, at least, putting south Jersey’s craft beer scene on the map.

Other brewers told us it couldn’t be done. They said everyone “down the shore” drinks bottled lite beer only. But we’ve forgiven them — after all, not everyone knows how good an IPA tastes in a place with salty ocean breezes.

Now, we’ve got upwards of 200 clients (not counting that random guy who drove a CMB keg to North Carolina before serving it illegally) and over 40 recipes on our docket. But we’re only getting bigger.

Here’s what’s on tap (womp, womp) for 2015:

  1. Expansion: Our current tasting room may be the largest of its kind in the state, and we may be able to brew 500 gallons of beer at one time with our current setup, but it’s not enough. So we took over another section of the Cape May Airport’s industrial complex – the 15,000 square-foot building formerly owned by the Tomwar wallpaper company. When we started our renovation a little more than a year ago, the space smelled of sewage gas, having sat vacant for over a decade. “You could have filmed a murder movie here,” Ryan says. But we did some sprucing, and are now in the process of moving 14 tanks into position for a three-vessel brew house capable of producing 15,000 barrels a year. Quite the far cry from our original pilot apparatus, eh? For 2016, we’re looking into a second tap room and an outdoor beer garden in the spirit of Brooklyn’s DeKalb market. We do have a thing for shipping containers…
  2. Bottling: We’re now home to the little bottling line that could — part handmade (thanks to Hank’s engineering skills), and part kickass, industrial mechanism that cost a bloody fortune. That’s right, expect to see our brews coming at you in six-pack form in the very near future.
  3. Homemade Soda: We’ve been inspired by Hotlips. (We know — isn’t everyone?) But we actually mean the Portland pizza company that makes pop from all-natural ingredients. Think pure cane sugar, organic lemon juice, sparkling water, and straight-from-the-ground fruit. We’ve been experimenting with a few flavors (watermelon mint, gingerale and rootbeer) but we’ve got more cool carbonations coming. So far, we’re the only ones in Jersey doing it, and it all feels very full-circle — back when we were more hobby-business than business-business, our first batches of beer were delivered in repurposed soda kegs. Says Ryan: “Unlike with beer, soda production is rarely a transparent process. Our goal is to change that.”
  4. Malt Vinegar: The word ‘artisanal’ is sure having a moment in the sun, isn’t it? We’re exjersey fresh logocited to compound the sustainability fad by introducing homemade malt vinegar. Did you know the condiment is actually just beer, with a bacteria introduced to eat off all the alcohol? Quick — grab some fish and chips!
  5. Jersey Fresh: Now for some very sweet news — the New Jersey Department of Agriculture offers a “Jersey Fresh” label to products made from local agricultural ingredients of the highest quality. After much paperwork and several USDA inspections, our honey porter passed the test, thanks to the 90 pounds of homegrown honey used in every 15 barrels of brew.