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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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What To Drink On The Fourth Of July

Around these parts — and most parts, really — “Happy Fourth of July” is synonymous with “happy cookout.” So we nailed down CMBC’s Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke on which of our brews you should be drinking with your favorite barbeque foods this holiday.

“Some people believe sweetness complements sweetness and bitterness complements bitterness,” Hank says. “But for the most part, I think flavors can get overpowering this way. I prefer to think of beer as a palette cleanser between bites — something that’s not building on top of, but washing away.”

To that end, we present your firecrackin’ good Independence Day Menu…

bbq

Hamburgers/hotdogs: If you’re going to wreck your diet, Fourth of July is the time to do it, and the Blonde is the beverage to wash it all down with. “It’s a  crispy, hoppy beer that cuts through the fat,” Hank says.

Pasta salad/potato salad: These can be heavy on the vinegar, so it’s best to stick with something malty, like the ‘Jersey Fresh’-designated Honey Porter.

Watermelon: It’s the iconic summer fruit – pair it with the Tower 23 Berlier Weisse and you get some sour with your sweet.

Apple Pie: Arguably the most American of all desserts, this staple goes best with the Apple Bomb. “The apple flavor in the pie will bring out the apple flavor in the beer and vice versa,” says Hank.

Ribs with barbeque sauce: Honey Porter. ‘Nuff said.

Clam bakes/Lobster bakes: Because seafood has such a delicate flavor, stick with something that won’t overpower, like The Bog cranberry shandy. “Unless you’re the type of person who dumps a ton of Old Bay on your crabs,” Hank says. “In this case, your meal won’t be overwhelmed by a heavier beer, like Coastal Evacuation.”

Ice cream: Do as Mopman does and mix your Honey Porter or Stout with vanilla ice cream to make a beer float. “A fruity ice cream like strawberry will mix well with the Berliner,” Hank says. “That beer was originally served with syrup to add sweetness.”

The wild card: If you’re at kooky Great Aunt Bertha’s for the Fourth, and she’s serving less-than-traditional holiday fare that stumps you (Spam sushi, anyone?), fear not. “Cape May IPA goes well with anything,” Hank says.

Happy Independence Day, y’all.

 

Why I Ride: Kyle Konopka

Last week, we told you all about City to Shore, the mammoth biking fundraiser sponsored by the National MS Society. Until the October event, we’re profiling members of the Cape May Brew Co cycling team, to find out what inspires them. Hopefully it will encourage others to join their ranks. (Hint, hint.) First up:

Name: Kyle Konopka

Kyle (left) with team captain Stephan Briggs
Kyle (left) with team captain Stephan Briggs

Age: 26

Hometown: Philadelphia

Occupation: I work at a market research and consulting firm.

Number of years on the Cape May Brew Co Team: This will be my fourth.

How I got involved: I volunteered at the starting line in high school, but it was my friend and current team captain Stephan Briggs who encouraged me to participate.

Why I ride: There are two people who inspire me. The first is my aunt, who has MS. She is the most jovial and positive person, and it feels so unfair that she struggles because of this. And the other is my lovely girlfriend who suffers with another genetic disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The way I see it, any cure or progress with MS is progress for other genetic diseases.

Why I ride on the CMBC team: First off, I love beer, and I love drinking it. I mean, of all the teams I could support, why not a local company who sponsors us and gives us great kickbacks and delicious beer? I can’t imagine riding with any other group.

What my training looks like: I’m fortunate to live in a bikeable city so I ride to work every day, but I’m going to start logging more miles.

Fundraising Goal: $500

What I’ll feel like at the finish: I know it sounds corny, but I always tear up.

What I need people to know: Even a $5 or $10 donation makes a difference. Those add up.

City to Shore will take place on October 3 and 4. To join the team or make a contribution, visit the Cape May Brewing Co page at nationalmssociety.org.

If You Build It, They Will Clean

Remember when fearless leader Hank used the engineering skills he’d honed in his previous life in order to build our original 12-gallon brewhouse out of scrap material? And remember how, when we outgrew it, he turned that brewhouse into a keg washer?

Well, now we’ve outgrown the keg washer.

The system could only sanitize two containers at a time, and it took about eight minutes to go through one cycle. So Hank is busy fashioning us a new one out of stainless steel that will handle four kegs at once and take only four to five minutes per shot. Perhaps most exciting for our cellarmen? It’s about a foot lower to the ground, meaning they’ll expend less effort when lifting the 40-pound casks into place.

The project should take a couple of months to complete, since Hank is working on it when he’s not busy, you know, co-running a brewery. In the meantime, onwards and upwards…

Mopman sitting at our original brewhouse turned keg washer turned parts for new keg washer.
Mopman sitting at our original brewhouse turned keg washer turned parts for new keg washer.

Feeding The Cows

When our 30-foot silo arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to store our grain here!” And when our new mill arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to grind up our grain here!” And when our three-vessel brewhouse arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to mash our grain here!”

And then we brewed, and we got all: “What the HELL do we do with all this grain?!”

Vern!
Vern!

You see, making beer is a lot like making coffee. Those ground-up beans don’t disappear once you’re mug is full… they remain a sad, wet little clump in your Mr Coffee filter until you toss ‘em. And the malted barley used for beer doesn’t disappear, either. Once it’s done providing color, flavor, sugar and protein, it needs to be dealt with. Considering we’re going through 60,000 pounds of the stuff a month… it can be a bit of a problem.

We considered buying some self-dumping dumpsters. And then we considered buying a gooseneck trailer. And then we considered fencing in the back of the brewery and buying a bunch of pigs to eat the stuff. Hey, desperate times…

But then: Vernon Morin of Hidden Paradise Farms in Upper Township came along.

Vern owns the Morin Laboratories, Inc, for which he grows his own medicinal herbs used to treat everything from anxiety to lymes disease to the flu. In fact, Vern is the only person in the world to “extract herbs in an oral electrolyte concentrate” for the balancing of minerals.

“I discovered this when my daughter was going through chemotherapy,” he says. “We’d get home and have to take her right back to the hospital because her electrolytes were off, and I wanted to give her something more natural than Pedialyte. It’s helped a lot of people since.”

Vern and his wife Amelia also tend to 20 acres where they grow their own food in a biodynamic manner. Meaning? They only use what
comes from the earth. Instead of spraying harsh chemicals, for instance, they plant buckwheat that kills off dangerous weeds, or they use those weeds for fertilizer. If bugs are eating crops, they release up to 400 praying mantis egg cases and wait for these insects to feed on their natural prey.

So where does our spent grain come in?

Vern uses it as compost, as mulch to stamp out poison ivy, and also as a probiotic-rich dietary supplement for his 15 cows and 35 chickens.

“I’ve been watching the animals since they’ve started on it,” he says. “In just a little bit of time, I’ve seen them gaining weight faster and getting healthier.”

And its this kind of sustainable practice that will leave the planet just a bit healthier, too.

“You don’t have to destroy the earth in the process of making money,” Vern says. “This is a critical time… we have to take care of our home. That’s my big thing.”

Another big thing?

Vern says his aforementioned electrolyte concentrate, called SELECTROLYTES, can be taken prior to a night of drinking, before bed, and again in the morning as a hangover cure.
Cheers to joyful bovines and headache-free mornings.
cows

 

 

 

Party Like It’s 2011: CMBC Hosts Four-Year Anniversary Bash

A lot went down in 2011: Osama Bin Laden was killed, Google introduced their first social media platform, Beyonce got pregnant.

But while everyone hailed Queen B and scratched their heads over Google+ (seriously, does anyone understand it?), another far-less-publicized milestone happened on the Cape. At least, it was a milestone for three guys with a dream.

Over fourth of July weekend, Ryan Krill, Bob Krill and Chris Henke of the newly launched Cape May Brewing Company sold a keg of IPA to their first client: Cabanas Beach Bar and Grill.

The sale happened at a time when Ryan was still slaving away in a Manhattan cubicle, navigating the cutthroat intersection that is finance and real estate development. And Chris, who’d left a position designing commercial satellites, was delivering horse semen to veterinarians as a part-time courier  in order to make ends meet. They brewed 12 gallons per shot in a homemade system, choosing to cross their fingers and ignore those who said Jersey shore drinkers only want bottled Miller Lite.

CMBC has come a long way since then. Over 300 clients and more than 100 brews later, we’re still living the dream. And this coming Independence Day, we’ll host a party at the bar that started it all to celebrate the anniversary… and the fact that all those singing the bottled-Miller-Lite song appear to have been wrong.

“It’s fucking awesome,” Ryan says. “I was in Brooklyn last weekend. I stayed near my old apartment, and walked past my old office building, and it was like… I do not miss this shit at all. It felt like the Matrix or something, like you’re just part of this machine, fulfilling someone else’s dream, working in the cube and working for this tyrant who probably hated his life as much as I did. But I’m out of the system now. I’m out of the matrix.”

It’s purely coincidence that this escape from the matrix  happened for our guys on a Fourth of July weekend, a time to celebrate freedom and all of the things — like entrepreneurial spirit — that make America great. But it’s a happy coincidence, for sure.

So come be happy with us. The party starts at Cabanas on July 4 at 6pm and will feature live music and 12 CMBC brews, including special one-offs and lost kegs of seasonal beer, like the ForeShore Shandy and Richie’s Rad Pale Ale. Fireworks will shoot off over the water across the street around 9pm.

If nothing else, you can high-five Chris for getting out of the horse semen business.

Celebrate the holiday with a bang. Photo courtesy of clamshellfoundation.org.
Celebrate the holiday with a bang. Photo courtesy of clamshellfoundation.org.

Beer: It’s What’s For Dinner

Cape May has been known for its restaurant scene ever since The New York Times dubbed us the “culinary capital of New Jersey.” This summer, the island gets one more notch in its cutting board. The Exit Zero Cookhouse at 109 Sunset Boulevard opened three weeks ago — with our Honey Porter as a main ingredient — after much suspense!

Okay, that’s a lie. There was hardly any suspense surrounding the opening of this particular restaurant because owner Jack Wright — a journalist of 30 years and the publisher of Cape May’s peppy Exit Zero periodical — kept it under the radar in case the whole thing turned into a flaming disaster and he needed to go back to his day job with his tail tucked between his legs. (And that’s coming from your blogger who, full disclosure, is Jack’s wife.)

But!

Since the opening, the response has been pretty great. People are loving the menu that Jack describes as “all over the map… in a good way,” and they’re especially loving the Indian lineup, which includes coconut shrimp curry and shrimp Tikka Masala, among others.

So where does our beer factor in?

Along with rich chocolate, the ‘Jersey Fresh’-designated Honey Porter, which is made with 90 pounds of fresh Jersey honey in every 15-barrel batch, contributes to an intensely smoky flavor in the Cookhouse’s super spicy vegetarian chili recipe.

It might just be the spiciest dish in town.

“So far, three people have sent the plate back because they couldn’t handle it,” Jack says. “Half a dozen others have demanded we never change it.”

See where you stand on the polarizing recipe at the Cookhouse, open from 5pm every night but Sunday.

“I’m excited to work with CMBC because I see our companies as brothers from another mother,” Jack says. “It’s important to both Exit Zero and the brewery to be innovative and energetic, and we prioritize community involvement. Plus, Honey Porter is my favorite beer of all time.”

Honey Porter - on a table near you.
Honey Porter – on a table near you.

 

 

 

New Merch!

We’ve gotten eight new pieces of CMBC swag… and they’re for sale now online and in the tasting room. Here’s what our graphic designer, Courtney Rosenberg, had to say about the threads modeled here by the CMBC team:
Where does the inspiration for the designs come from? Like, do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea? 
My inspiration comes from our tasting room, the surf/boating lifestyle and styles that are trending right now in pop culture. Like I totally think Taylor Swift would rock the new flowy life preserver ladies’ tank next time she is hanging in Stone Harbor. Hint Hint, Tay Tay. I totally have woken up with ideas before and plugged them into my notes on the iPhone. Those crazy ideas are now beer labels and merch.
Bringing sexy back.
Bringing sexy back.
How collaborative is the designing? 
I want /ask for suggestions for the merch from everyone in the office, brewhouse and tasting room. The tasting room staff has the most interaction with the buyers so I like to go to them with rough ideas. Out of the tasting room staff Dan is very honest so he will tell me if something sucks, or he’ll geek out over a design he loves. Ryan and Ashley will often relay to me if they think a certain article of clothing will sell well and from there I will brainstorm ideas and then discuss with them further. Everything at CMBC is a team effort.
Operations manager Ashley shows off her swag.
Operations manager Ashley shows off her swag.
Wear it proud - Coastal Evacuation took home a silver medal from the Best of Craft Beer Awards.
Wear it proud – Coastal Evacuation took home a silver medal from the Best of Craft Beer Awards. 

As the graphic designer, what’s YOUR favorite? 
I like them all! It’s a toss up though between the IPA shirt and the ladies’ life preserver tank. The IPA shirt is just a good frickin time. It’s bold and obviously the design stands out. So far I’ve had people ask me if the hop was an acorn or a “bud”, which I am okay with. The beer nerds will get what it is.
Event rep Amanda looking fresh.
Tasting Room Associate Amanda looking fresh.  
Sales rep Richie uses his hop tee as a blanket...
Sales rep Richie uses his hop tee as a blanket… 

Why the squid? And were there any other animals in the running for that shirt? 
So we had the anchor with hops last year and this year I wanted to do something different but in the same line-drawing style. I was searching online for different sea life and stumbled across different octopus and squid photos. From there I messed around with designs and made a drunk squid. I really wanted to do a shirt with horseshoe crabs or skates…next round.
Beware the kracken!
Beware the kracken! 

Fill In The Blank With Tasting Room Associate Courtney Gingrich

You may know 27-year-old Courtney G, whose been a member of the CMBC team since October of 2014, as a tour guide extraordinaire. But there’s a lot more to her than that (see: affinity for Sir Mix A Lot). Here, meet the girl behind the growler fills:

No, she's not related to the CMBC owners, but she IS part of the Cape May Brewery family...
No, she’s not related to the CMBC owners, but she IS part of the Cape May Brewery family…

I am from… Lititz, Pennsylvania.

The last time I laughed until I cried was… yesterday.

My favorite CMBC beer is… Apple Bomb

The band I’m embarrassed to admit I like is… The Backstreet Boys.

The greatest adventure I ever had was… playing softball in Hawaii with the University of Maine team.

The superpower I’d like most is… the power of flight.

My favorite non-CMBC craft beer is… Shipyard Pumpkinhead.

My favorite curseword is… S***, but bleep it out… I’m trying to become a teacher.

My favorite cartoon is… Rugrats.

My biggest fear is… weird textures. It stops me from eating most seafood and other things.

My favorite band/musician is… Carrie Underwood.

The question I hear most frequently while giving a CMBC tour is… Are you related to the owners?

The most famous person I’ve ever met was… Terry Francona.

My karaoke song is… “Baby got Back” by Sir Mix A Lot.

My biggest pet peeve is… wet socks.

The thing I can’t live without is... my car. A Scion tC.

I’m most proud of… the way I was raised and the person I’ve become. Is that too corny? Playing sports showed me the importance of being a well-rounded person, and of handling what gets thrown at me.

The sports teams I follow are: Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, Phillies. Also, I’m a Boston Red Sox fan. And Penn State Football! We Are!

If I could, I’d splurge on a… private island!

Something few people know about me is… there’s nothing you can say that surprises me or throws me off.

The job I would leave CMBC for is… my ultimate goal is to become an elementary school teacher, but I love my job right now.

The best advice I’ve ever received was… be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what they’re going through.

If I were an insect, I’d be a… lightning bug.

The best pick-up line I ever used was… they usually just come to me! I don’t practice them.

The dorkiest thing about me is… I like dinosaurs and sharks.

My hidden talent is… I can whistle really loudly.

I was drawn to CMBC because… I love the atmosphere here. Everyone is so helpful, and the environment is so welcoming.

 

 

 

Cape May Brew Co Fights MS

In 2011, Cape May Brewery President Ryan Krill was working to build his company’s client base to, well, greater than one. His equipment consisted of scrap parts and his beer roster included a single recipe. Considering the goal – to put south Jersey’s craft beer scene on the map — you could say that Ryan and his partners had their work cut out for them. And yet, there was another challenge they simply couldn’t resist: waging war against the crippling, degenerative disease that is Multiple Sclerosis.

“It’s never been about efficiencies or bottom lines only,” says Ryan, whose aunt suffers from MS. “We’ve always wanted to be a company engaged with the community.”

That first year, between brewing sessions, Ryan created a CMBC-sponsored team of cyclists. The group of nine – an unlikely set mssrepresenting 20-somethings, 60-somethings and generations in between — raised over $10,000 for MS research before participating, along with 7,000 others, in an awareness-raising ride called City to Shore. Starting locations for the event — one of 100 campaigns put on by the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation — varied, but the CMBC team chose an 80-mile route beginning in Cherry Hill and ending in Ocean City. The brewery also released a special City to Shore beer, proceeds from which were donated to the cause.

The ride – and the beer – have happened every fall since.

“I’ve participated in a lot of competitive sporting events throughout my life, including competitive cycling,” says real estate developer MacKenzie Thorn, team captain from 2011 to 2014. “And this is the most fun I’ve ever had. There are riders of all abilities, and no one is in it to win anything, but to do something worthwhile and have a really great time.”

Ryan and MacKenzie met in graduate school at New York University, where they bonded over a shared love of biking. For a few years, they each participated in City to Shore as part of the largest friends-and-family team in program history, Team Tanya. When that group disbanded, neither was willing to say goodbye to the ride, and the incentive for the CMBC team was born.

As the brewery has grown – Cape May is on track to become the state’s third largest producer of craft beer this year — so has this team. Last year, 18 people registered, and more are expected to sign up for 2015. In total, the group has raised $46,952, with no signs of slowing down.

But it’s not all work and no play.

The energy of the actual day, participants attest, is more fun than competitive, with volunteers cheering along the course, live bands stationed throughout, and rest stops offering everything from chicken sandwiches to power bars to ants-on-a-log.

“You can definitely consume more calories than you burn,” jokes MacKenzie. “And when you’re sporting a brewery jersey, you can definitely make friends, too. Other riders always want to talk with you… and find out whether you’ve got beer in your water bottle.”

But the real draw of City to Shore is how humbling it can be.

“After five or six hours of biking, you’re definitely tired,” says Stephan Briggs, who’s been passed the team-captain torch for 2015. “And yet it’s so energizing. For the last few miles, you are speechless, with goosebumps in a way. People are lining the streets with cowbells, cheering and clapping, including people with MS. Many of them are crying and thanking you, and it’s just overwhelming.”

Steve, a biomedical engineer, is familiar on a professional level with the effects of the disease – how it interrupts the flow of information between brain and body, and attacks the nervous system in an unpredictable way, leading to chronic pain, difficulty walking, or even blindness. Steve is also familiar on a personal level.

“One of my best friend’s parents both suffer from MS,” he says. “When the brewery asked me to fill MacKenzie’s large shoes this year, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. The least I can do as someone not affected is help those who are.”

This year’s City to Shore will take place on October 3 and 4. If you would like to join the team or make a contribution — no donation amount is too small – visit the Cape May Brewing Co page at nationalmssociety.org.

 

The 2014 CMBC team!
The 2014 CMBC team!

Update: Small BREW Act

We’ve been writing quite a bit about the Small BREW Act currently before Congress, and why it would go such a long way toward helping small brewers create jobs. (Cough, reduction of the federal excise tax applied to barrels of beer, cough.) We’ve also been writing about potential roadblocks, including lobbying by multinational breweries for their own, competing bill.  BA

Well, good news!

A third horse has entered this race in the form of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. It’s a compromise bill in that it should appease the big guns, but it contains all of the elements of the Small BREW Act… in fact, it takes that bill one step further.

In a statement issued this week, Brewers Association President Bob Pease says: “Not only would this legislation recalibrate excise taxes—an issue for which we have long advocated—it would ease a number of burdens for brewers, including simplifying label approvals and repealing unnecessary inventory restrictions.”

Thanks to the man behind the plan, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), for fighting the good fight, and to our own President Ryan Krill, leader of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, for advocating on the Hill.

We’re one step closer to greater job creation.

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