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“Cape May Brewing Company is just going to keep improving,” Mark says.

Packaging Manager Mark Graves

2018 has been a whirlwind for us. We produced and sold an insane amount of beer. We’re tremendously gratified by that fact, knowing that we have only our fans to thank.

But, as part of that growth, we’ve had to do some rearranging of personnel, making several of new hires and moving around some Brew Crew into positions we never knew we needed.

One of those new positions is Packaging Manager. And, when we needed someone to step up and lead our excellent packaging crew, we looked no further than Brewer Mark Graves.

IMG_9479It’s a well-known fact in brewing circles that, if you eventually want to be a brewer, the place to get started is on the packaging line.

“I think a lot of people start in packaging,” Mark said. “That’s where I started in Manayunk. Just cleaning and filling kegs. Really, at first, just cleaning kegs. I worked my way up and finally made it to Brewer.”

Mark’s been a brewer for almost five years, so he considers this next step in his career as a “fun challenge.”

“It’s a different side of the brewery,” he says, “one I haven’t really been at since the beginning of my career. I really enjoy the technology and the logistics of it.”

The job is still in its evolutionary stages, but Mark will essentially be making sure that all of the beer we produce gets to our fans safely, timely, and with as little beer-killing oxygen as possible.

“It was getting to the point where we had enough packaging people in two shifts that they just needed a little direction,” Mark says. “They’re a great crew, but they needed some organization, some direction, and someone to lead them forward.”

In addition, particularly with our recent Tasting Room-only releases, we’ve needed many, many more aluminum cans coming through the door. We’ve had about a dozen of these releases, and, even though we’re only releasing a hundred or so cases at a time, each can requires as much work as did Cape May IPA on its first canning run.

IMG_9483“As we get bigger,” Mark says, “everything’s becoming more taxing for one person to do. The things that need to be handled in one day are becoming too much for Brian and Jimmy.”

One of the things he’s looking forward to is becoming very proficient at something that’s relatively entry-level in the brewing world.

“‘Oh, I’m just filling kegs,’” Mark jokes. “Okay, but did you actually fill the kegs? Did you fill it the right way? Are you sure there’s not just foam in there? ‘I filled three sixtels.’ Okay, but you were supposed to fill three more.”

And that’s not meant to slight our guys on the packaging line at all. They’re a good crew. However, they’re human, and, as such, prone to mistakes. Now, with someone dedicated to watching the packaging line, those mistakes can be fixed a lot faster.

“It’s not a lack of quality in the department and I’m going to get them in line,” Mark says. “We’ve got a great crew, it’s just trying to get it focused and running more efficiently.”

One of the challenges Mark faces is learning how to manage people effectively.

“It’s a challenge to learn how to manage people and manage people the right way,” he says, “politely, and not directly yelling at them. Hopefully, leading indirectly and leading by example and teaching them things that might be over their heads or they might not be seeing right away.”

He’s also looking forward to moving the brewery forward and learning the area of production more intricately.

IMG_1328“Hopefully, that means better quality beer going out that has a better shelf-life,” he explains. “I’d also like to make the floor more efficient so that when emergencies happen and we’re down a man that we can take it in stride.”

Mark misses brewing “a little bit.”

“Brewing is always fun,” he says, “but it was putting a hurtin’ on my body after a while. I still feel like I’m part of the process, though.”

Essentially, this new position means better beer for you, dear reader.

“Cape May Brewing Company is just going to keep improving,” Mark says. “As we improve our processes and get better quality equipment, it’s just going to be better beer that lasts longer and tastes cleaner.

“We’re always looking to Make it Better, and this is just one more example of that.”

Looking forward to great things, Mark!