Key Lime Corrosion
Make It Better: it’s one of our Core Values, and how we approach a lot of things at Cape May Brewing Company. From improving our beers to finding ways to improve functionalities in the office, we’re always looking for ways to Make It Better.
And this ethos extends to things that don’t even need to be made better: we believe that things that are already pretty good on their own can always be improved.
Take, for example, our unique sour IPA, Corrosion. By most accounts, Corrosion is an awesome beer — Sour. IPA. BOOM. You wouldn’t think that there are many ways we could improve upon it.
Yet… we did it: Key Lime Corrosion is available now in the Brewtique!
We know that there are a lot of you out there who agree with Lauren — there’ve been more than a few requests for us to keep Corrosion in tall boys.
“However, from a production standpoint, I understand why we didn’t,” she continues. “Brewing a kettle sour can significantly slow down your brewhouse if the batch is being difficult.”
With a kettle sour, there’s the added variable of lactobacillus, a microorganism that sours the beer. And, while we generally know how those little guys do their thing, on occasion, they can be a little sluggish, forcing us to tie up the brewhouse a little longer than expected, throwing off our entire schedule.
But, if you’d like to consider Key Lime Corrosion a bright side of COVID, you can. Since bars and restaurants were closed, we dialed back our draft-only offerings, focusing on only the beers that we package in cans, in turn freeing up some space in the schedule for a Tasting Room-only release like Key Lime Corrosion.
We’ve actually been brewing Key Lime Corrosion in one manner or another for almost four years, but always as a one-off. The first time we brewed it was for a pie-themed event for Philly Beer Week back in 2016: after that, it became an extraordinarily successful one-off, brewing a few kegs each time Corrosion was available.
“It’s always gone over extremely well,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink, “and definitely became a staff favorite.”
To put its reception in context, the last time we had Key Lime Corrosion as a one-off was as recent as this February: also known as the dead of winter in Cape May.
“The keg went on tap at noon and kicked around 7 that night,” Brian recalls.
It usually takes a full week to kick a one-off keg in February — sometimes longer than that, and you might find two one-offs on the menu the following Wednesday.
“But Key Lime Corrosion?” Brian continues. “We kicked that keg in under 7 hours! Then, in addition to that one-off, we also did a pin. The pin went on tap on Friday around 6 or 7 and kicked on Saturday around 4, so that didn’t even last 6 hours of being open. So either the employees just drank all of it for shifties — which isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility –, or people really like this beer.”
Over the past four years or so, we’ve been tweaking Key Lime Corrosion to get it to the point where we thought we could really scale it up. For the first iteration for Philly Beer Week back in 2016, we used an extract to add the lime flavor without any tartness. Since then, we’ve been tweaking how we added the time, getting it to the point where we were happy how the tartness of the lime worked with the tartness of Corrosion.
“We’ve always kept Corrosion on the lighter end of the acidity spectrum for our sour beers,” Brian explains. “Beers like Tower 23 or Old Salt always had more upfront acidity, whereas Corrosion — which began its life way back in the day as a blend of Tower 23 and Coastal Evacuation — naturally had less acidity to it than our other sours.”
So, this time around — which was the first time we made more than a few kegs at a time — we dialed back the acidity a little more than usual, knowing that we’d pick up a good amount from the lime juice, as well.
With all the acid in this beer, at Straight to the Pint, we were wondering if there was a possibility that we’d end up in a Frankenstein’s lab situation, with things bubbling over everywhere. Lauren put our minds at ease:
“Outside of our regular concerns with lactobacillus,” she explains, “we actually don’t have to worry too much about lacto because the acidification happens to the wort. Once it is at the desired pH, we continue with the brewing process by boiling which effectively kills the lacto.”
“We pull off samples of a representative base beer and tinker with dosage rates until we get it to a point where we like it,” she explains. “I think a lot of credit should go to Matt on this one because he built a calculator to determine our dilution rates when we scale up. It makes our lives so much easier.”
Brian found Matt’s calculator invaluable, as well.
“Being able to quickly and efficiently — and most importantly, accurately — make small scale trials is key,” he says. “This calculator became my new best friend a year ago, effectively cutting out a lot of time each time I do a benchtop trial. Some beers, like with That Cherry Lime Good Good, I do 10-20 different benchtop trials before dialing in the final fruit additions, so Matt saves me a bunch of calculation time on those beers.”
“Key Lime Corrosion is an IPA through and through,” Brian says. “Hoppy, nice mouthfeel, brilliant aroma, but it’s also quite different because there’s hardly a trace of bitterness and it’s pretty damn sour, too.”
Brian is interested to see the reception of Key Lime Corrosion.
“Have the one-offs always done so well because the Brew Crew drinks it all up? Are the old school Corrosion fans going to snatch it up?” he wonders. “But I think the biggest thing is that this is our first Tasting Room-only release since the pandemic hit, so how is it going to do?”
Regardless of the reception, Brian is looking forward to drinking some Key Lime Corrosion out of his “favorite beer drinking glass while listening to some tasty jams.”
Lauren’s looking forward to this one, too.
“I plan on hoarding as much of this as I can and try — but fail — to make it last,” she tells us. “I can’t wait to sit out on my porch and people watch with this beer.”
Key Lime Corrosion is available on Friday, only in the Brewtique. Four-packs are $14.99+tax, and you can order online for curbside pickup or home delivery. Enjoy!