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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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What’s Brewin’, Good Lookin’?

avalon-coffee-stoutFall’s a-brewin’ and so are we. But, really, that should come as no surprise. It’s kinda why we’re here. If we weren’t, we’d probably have to change our name.

But we’ve got a superior brew coming up for autumn — something that combines two of your favorite brewed beverages: beer and coffee.

And it’s not just any coffee we’re using. You know of our penchant for sourcing locally, right? Any time we can, we like to support our local businesses — and we’re pretty lucky to have some of the greatest coffee being roasted right up the street at Avalon Coffee.

We’re using their house roast: a blend of 100% Arabica Costa Rican, Kenya AA and Colombian Supremo beans. It’s not just for breakfast anymore!

Head Brewer Brian Hink — in addition to being a genius in the brewhouse — spent fifteen years in the coffee biz, so this is kind of a match made in sweet-aroma’d heaven.

The combination of coffee with a hearty stout is perfection in a glass. “The soft cocoa notes from the Latin American portion paired with the bright and juicy aspects of the Kenya makes it the perfect blend of beans,” he tells us, “wonderfully suited for our full-bodied and roasty stout.”

The really cool thing? The coffee ends up retaining all the caffeine it would have if you were to use it to make… well… coffee. We’re “dry-coffee-ing” the brew — pretty much the same process as dry-hopping a beer. So, we’ll end up pulling all the caffeine, but we’re not using the same amount of grounds that we would if we were brewing multiple barrels of coffee, so it won’t be quite as strong.

“At the ratio we used, you’re getting about a third of a cup of coffee per eight ounces of beer,” Brian says, “which comes out to around 60 milligrams of caffeine per pint of beer.” Still quite a bit of caffeine, “so it’s not recommended for pregnant women or people with heart conditions.” Who probably shouldn’t be drinking beer, anyway.

“Expect a rich blend of cocoa, slightly nutty, and fragrant coffee aromas paired with the roasty and slightly bitter notes of the base stout to create a beautifully full bodied cup of joe… er, beer,” Brian tells us.

They were brewing the Avalon Coffee Stout this past week, and the brewery — which already smells like the happiest place on earth — smelled like Juan Valdez decided to drink all the beer. It was glorious. It’ll be a few weeks before it’s ready, but, as far as we’re concerned, October 6th can’t come fast enough.

But, wait! There’s more!

We’ve got something else brewing that’s gonna knock your stockings off just in time for Christmas. Christmas 2017, that is. We’d get it out to you sooner, but, as you’ve probably learned by now, barrel-aging takes a looooong time. And this one will be so beautifully barrel-aged that the finished product will be well worth the wait.

If you’ve ever wanted to spend Christmas in Belgium — and, let’s face it, who hasn’t? — then this beer will be right up your abbey. A dark ale in the Trappist tradition, we’re just starting to brew this heavenly Christmas concoction this week. It’s unpasteurized and unfiltered, brewed by adding sugar to the wort kettle, then bottle-conditioned.

Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm tells us that “we added Dark Belgian Candi Syrup to the boil that adds a dark color as well as the flavors of plums, raisins, burnt sugar, and a slight molasses note. The candi syrup also makes up a large portion of the fermentable sugars, but contains no unfermentable dextrins like malt, resulting in a very dry body in the beer.”

He’s being pretty tight-lipped on this one, but Jimmy gave us an idea of what to expect. “It’ll have a very complex palate from the spicy and phenolic Belgian yeast, a sweetness reminiscent of caramel and dark fruits of the Candi Syrup, and notes of dried fruits, honey, vanilla, and a slight oak flavor from the Cognac barrels.”

This sounds like a tasty Christmas dessert! And with an ABV in the 9.5%-10.5% range, it’ll be the perfect brew to quaff during one of those large family dinners. Your crazy uncle’s ramblings will be that much more amusing. As Jimmy tells us, “It’ll be warming, dry, sweet, complex, and extremely satisfying.”

As we said, this brew will be coming at you next Christmas, so add it to your shopping list now. You won’t want to forget when it comes around next year. But, no worries. We’ll be sure to remind you. Just keep your eyes on the blog!

Go us!

unnamedWell… we were snubbed for an Emmy again this year. What the…?!? Those things are so political. You know, you have to kiss some major Hollywood butt; you have to have a publicist who’s willing to work 24/7 for you; you have to have to actually be on television. Come on. We had Zack!

That’s okay, though. We’re a finalist for something better than an Emmy: the 2016 New Jersey Manufacturing Awards Manufacturer of the Year!

We’re nominated in the Start-Up/Young Manufacturing Company category with two other wonderful companies. We wish we could all win, but, let’s face it, it’s gonna be a long ride home for two of us.

Now in its third year, the Manufacturing Awards honor the excellent manufacturing businesses that are part of the Made in New Jersey program. This program showcases the vast array of products available in the Garden State and the companies that manufacture them. Highlighting the contributions manufacturing makes to the state’s economy, the Made In New Jersey program features companies that are customer-focused, forward-thinking, continuously improving their productivity, and desire to grow and compete both locally and globally.

“It’s great to be one of the finalists,” Ryan says. “We love it when our beer wins awards, but there’s something special when we’re nominated as a company rather than our product. It means that we do more than just make great beer — it’s not just the brewers. It’s everyone at Cape May Brew Co. from the drivers to the Beertenders who work so hard to make this company great.”

Mop Man will be heading up to The Palace at Somerset Park on October 7th to make sure we win. It should be an interesting day: in addition to the awards, there are seminars and keynote speeches and a sweet lunch spread.

So, keep your fingers crossed for us! If (when) we win, we’ll be sure that you’re the first to know!

Brews by the Bay Recap

If you missed Brews by the Bay this weekend, we don’t know what to tell you. You snoozed and lost.

For those of us who were there, we had a freakin’ blast. Pepperwine, Nate McCormick, and Barrelhouse Blues Band rocked (and even played some Phish!), the food was great, the poochies were out in full force, and, of course, the beer was unparalleled.

It was the biggest turnout yet for Brews by the Bay. Some 1,191 revelers joined the nearly forty breweries on either side of the bay, the weather was gorgeous, and everyone was having a great time.

The talk of the festival was the collaboration brew between the two guilds. Some 400 festival attendees were aboard the 2:30 ferry from Cape May to Lewes, with the line winding throughout the ship as we waited patiently for the ferry to cross into Delaware waters to tap the keg. A nod to our Dutch forbears, Dua Poin was a Dutch Golden Ale with hibiscus, green cardamom, lemongrass, and lemon.

Holy hell, was it good! It’s got a whopping 3.99 rating on Untappd — and that’s where it will stay, because this special collaboration brew was only available on that ship. But we got some good reviews:

This came out great! The hibiscus & cardamom dominate the nose, the lemon & lemongrass sweeten the flavor of this delish Golden Ale!

Tastes like a Belgian double, but light. Very nice!

The reviews for the festival were great, too — the Facebook page is rated a 4.7.

Great festival overall. The boat ride makes it stand out compared to others and makes it worth the trip down to Cape May.

A wonderful beer festival. Excellent drinks from New Jersey brewers, great music by Pepperwine, and cool winds off the bay to keep the summer heat under control.

Great time and a very nice venue with the sea breeze on a warm day. Great to see so many new Brewers in the Garden State.

I had a great time. Everyone was great, friendly people, and no one was out of control. Great time and hope to go back next year.

It really was a great day. Check out the pictures below, and clear your schedule for next year!

CAPE MAY BREWERY TEAM RIDER – INSPIRATION

unnamedCMBC is gearing up for one of their major sponsorships of the year — the Cape May Brewery cycling team for Bike MS: City to Shore. The City to Shore website says, “Bike MS: City to Shore is more than a 125-mile ride. It’s an experience grounded in camaraderie and marked by passion, inspiration, determination and pure enjoyment.”

So, we’ve decided to take those five nouns — camaraderie, passion, inspiration, determination, and enjoyment — and assign them to each of our riders. Today’s installment: Inspiration.

Name: Kyle Konopka

Age: 27

Hometown: Haddon Heights, NJ

Occupation: Operations Manager @ NAXION Market Research and Consulting

Number of years on the CMBC team: 4

How did you get involved with the team? Our noble and current captain knew I loved riding bikes and invited me to join him to tackle the century ride.

Why do you want to fight MS? It is the most common autoimmune disorder affecting millions, so anything I can do to support the fight of this disease that affects so many is the least I can do. Also, any breakthrough in genetic diseases is a major win for all genetic diseases to help the fight.

Describe City to Shore (the ride) in three words: Electric, BRIDGE, Beer

bikems_kyleWhat does inspiration mean to you? Taking something in, milling it around in my head, and finally acting on what I took in.

What is it about riding City to Shore that inspires you? This is an easy one. At the start you look around and see hundreds of other cyclists and volunteers all united for one cause. Now THAT is inspiring. It continues on the ride because at every rest stop there are more volunteers willing to help you in anyway. There are cyclists lined up from, literally, City to Shore all aiming to fight MS. Finally, at the end there are people cheering you on as you pedal to the finish. I tear up every year.

What goes through your mind as you’re riding 125 miles? There are many different types of people on this ride. I am happy and proud to be one of them. Also, I am not looking forward to the bridges.

What are some other things that inspire you? My parents, family, and friends. Those around me who are so passionate about life inspire me to live a better life..

What are some ways you try to spread inspiration in your daily life? Riding my bike. I know it seems like a simple and silly answer, but riding my bike is one of the ways I got involved with City to Shore. Beyond that if you commute to work on a bike or use a bike to get around, I like to think others will see you and be inspired to try to do more on a bike.

Describe City to Shore (the beer) in three words: Refreshing, inspirational, scrumptious

Of the other nouns — camaraderie, enjoyment, passion, and determination — which one speaks most to you regarding the City to Shore ride and why? Awesome. I love this ride. It’s so much fun. A bunch of my friends and family do it (why they are any other team besides CMBC is beyond me). Family and friends are often at the finish line to cheer me on as I go by. Plus, what better way to celebrate the ride than to have a few of the best brews in NJ from CMBC!

City to Shore will take place on September 24 and 25. To make a contribution, visit the Cape May Brewing Co page at nationalmssociety.org.

Meet Chris!

unnamedHey, y’all! Meet Chris Olexa!

Beertender Chris graduated from Lower Cape May Regional, then went to Atlantic Cape Community College and CDA Technical Institute in Jacksonville, FL. He’s been with us since June and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Can you blame him?

He’s a great guy with a great attitude who just seems to love life. Be sure to say hi the next time you’re down!

I AM FROM…  Cape May, New Jersey
MY FAVORITE CMBC BEER IS… Corrosion Sour IPA
THE GREATEST ADVENTURE I EVER HAD WAS…  Going to Commercial Diving School in Jacksonville, FL.
MY FAVORITE HOBBY IS… going fishing
THE SUPERPOWER I’D LIKE TO HAVE IS… the ability to become invisible
MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME IS… The Perfect Storm
MY FAVORITE CARTOON IS… Scooby-Doo
THE BEST PICKUP LINE I EVER HEARD WAS… Did you sit in a pile of sugar? Because you have a pretty sweet ass.
THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON I’VE EVER MET WAS… Taylor Swift
MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… Lazy people
THE SPORTS TEAMS I FOLLOW ARE… None. I watch NASCAR… #18  Kyle Busch all day
THE BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED IS…  Use your past to help and better your future.
IF I WERE AN ANIMAL, I WOULD BE… Probably a sloth, they get to hang out all day and move in slow motion.
I WAS DRAWN TO CMBC BECAUSE… The awesome beer.
IF I HAD TO NAME A CMBC BEER TOMORROW, I WOULD CALL IT… Nectar of the Gods
MY FAVORITE BAND IS… Atreyu
MY KARAOKE SONG IS… Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down
IF I WERE A CMBC BEER, I WOULD BE… A Rusty Cranberry. Half Corrosion Sour IPA and half Cranberry Shandy

New Toy!

cellometer-x2-image-cytometer-mainIf there’s one thing we love at CMBC… well, that would be beer. (We love beer. It’s the best.)

If there are two things we love at CMBC… well, that’s our fans. (We love you guys. You’re the best.)

Okay. We love lots of things at CMBC. One of them is new toys. (We love new toys. They’re the best.)

We just got a doozie of a new toy at CMBC, and it’s really going to put the nerd into “beer nerd”. It’s called a Cellometer, and it’s like Hank at his fermentation-nerdiest crossed with Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club with a heaping dose of pocket protector and all wrapped up neatly in some headgear. At math camp.

So, what is a Cellometer and what does it do? In the simplest terms and the most convenient definition: it’s a piece of machinery that counts cells. As you probably know, yeast is a very basic single-celled organism, and they’re a little on the fragile side. The nature of the beast is that our harvested yeast slurry will contain some dead (or “non-viable”) cells. The only way to tell how much of the slurry was viable was by looking at it under a microscope and doing our best to count those little buggers.

Now, we can take a sample, shoot it up with two colors of fluorescent dye, and some of that dye will make the living (or “viable”) cells light up, and the rest of it will make the non-viable cells light up. From there, we put the sample in this bad boy, and, with a combination of a fluorescent-sensitive camera and a PC, it counts the cells for us, giving us a total count and a percentage of viability.

And the one we’re getting — the Nexcelom Cellometer X2 — is pretty killer. “The operator can see a preview of the sample as the computer sees it to ensure that it is correct and it is counting all of the cells that should be counted,” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm. “So while it eliminates much of the human error associated with cell-counting, we can also eliminate the stringent restrictions of computer-error as well.”

Accurate cell counts of yeast samples are essential to making good and consistent beer. On our end, we really just make wort — it’s the yeast that turns that wort into heavenly, heavenly beer. Inconsistency in the amount of yeast added to the wort — a.k.a. the “pitching rate” — can cause quite a bit of variation in the taste of a specific brew.

“For example, under-pitching will stress out the yeast, which will lead to a sluggish fermentation, which in turn can result in a lower fermentation temperature, which alters the production rate of esters and phenols,” Jimmy patiently explains. “Low pitching rates also result in more oxygen being available to each individual yeast cell, which means they will spend more time and effort turning sugars into new yeast cells (reproducing) instead of producing alcohol, so the ABV ends up low.”

We really can’t blame the yeasties for choosing reproduction over work, but a low ABV is simply uncalled for.

This machine is going to help our production in a multitude of ways. We can ensure that the yeast we harvest is healthy and that subsequent batches of brew are properly fermented. We can track the generations of yeast and their overall viability, allowing us to plan our ordering a little better.

Most importantly, however, we’ll be sure that we’re pitching the correct number of viable cells into every batch of beer. That means that your beer is as good as it possibly can be, dear beer drinker, every single time.

The Cellometer — which we’re thinking of calling CeeLo — will live on the laboratory table at HQ, forever connected by USB to one of the computers over there. Jimmy and Head Brewer Brian Hink will be running the tests. “At the start, we will keep it to just us two so we can be assured the tests themselves are being done the same way each time so we have consistent results,” Jimmy says. “If we have numerous people running the tests, then small variations in the sample handling can result in large variations of the results.”

The dream is to one day have a separate lab that’s a little more extensive than a table set up on the side of the brewery, with a full-time Laboratory Technician running things. So, if you understood all of this blog — even before we wrote it — that could be you!

In the meantime, Jimmy, Brian, CeeLo, and the rest of us will keep plugging away, making your favorite beer. Stop down and say hi!

Brews By the Bay — LAST CHANCE

 

img_7791

Like Van Halen once said, “Don’t want to wait ’til tomorrow. Why put it off another day?”

They were talking about, what?, life? We, however, are talking about Brews by the Bay.

Not only will we have an excellent variety of beers, killer food, a jammin’ band, and fun times to be had, but the weather on Saturday will be nearly perfect.

High in the mid-80s, light breeze coming in off the bay, sunshine at all the right times and just enough cloud cover to give a respite between the rays. This is perfect beer-drinking weather.

capture2(Actually, we believe that simply having weather is enough to constitute “perfect beer-drinking weather,” but that’s entirely beside the point.)

And no rain! It’s gonna be a be-a-ooooo-tiful day!

Did you check out the lineup?

Remember those top ten reasons?

And you got all your deets?

Only one thing left to do… get your tickets RIGHT NOW!

(And here’s some Van Halen just because it’s a great video.)

Ryan and the Roundtable

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno with Ryan
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno with Ryan

Last week, Ryan headed to Cape May Winery for a roundtable Agritourism discussion with Cape May County wineries, distilleries, and breweries, as well as some of the leaders in New Jersey politics. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno was on hand, as well as Anthony Minnick, Director of New Jersey’s Division of Travel & Tourism, and all of the county’s freeholders.

Ryan wore his Guild hat, representing all the state’s breweries, and his CMBC hat. With only one head, it’s difficult to do.

The day was a chance for the owners to discuss the various issues currently facing them, and how our government can help.

Ryan had previously met the Lt. Governor on several occasions, and has a high opinion of her. “Lt. Governor Guadagno is great,” Ryan says, “because she genuinely wants to help, and she’s here to make things happen.”

The intent of the day was to engage with our peers and help steer the discussion from its traditional focus on wineries and into a more inclusive discussion involving the distilleries and breweries. “It’s important to have a constant dialogue,” Ryan tells us.

“The Agri-Tourism Roundtable served as a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship and start an open discussion between state government and the growing winery and brewery industries in New Jersey,” Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno said. “By working together, we can continue to strengthen local economies and create more jobs for our residents.”

Primarily, Ryan’s focus of the day was to address the disparity in regulation between wineries and breweries. While the wineries have a great deal of regulation to deal with on their own, they seem to have quite a bit more leeway than the rest of us.

Ryan waits to speak to Lt. Governor Guadagno
Ryan waits to speak to Lt. Governor Guadagno

“Wineries are different,” Ryan says, “but we would like parity. There’s no reason someone should be able to go to a winery and have to do things differently than you do at a brewery. For instance, at breweries you have to get a tour, and we can’t serve food, so there’s all these gray areas with beer, and we want to have them all aligned.”

It only seems fair that if we’re all basically doing the same thing and attempting to achieve the same goals that we should all have to play by the same rules. It doesn’t make sense that a winery can serve you a seven-course meal paired beautifully with their wine selections where we get slapped on the wrist if we attempt to sell you a bag of Herr’s.

However, fighting the long-established special interest groups in New Jersey is always an uphill climb. As with just about everything these days, everybody has issues, and everybody’s issues are the most important. Sometimes, it’s difficult to be heard in a melee of self-interest. 

“To have been invited to the table and to have been listened to is huge,” Ryan says. “It says how far we’ve come in a short period of time.”

There’s more work to be done, but “people are paying attention to breweries.”

Augtoberfest!

The Brew Crew was on hand for a celebration of all things German with the Lakewood BlueClaws with their first ever AUGtoberfest celebration. The team wore lederhosen jerseys, and there was plenty of CMBC beer on hand to keep the record crowd refreshed on the crisp, late-Summer night.

20160831_181353The CMBC crew snagged a bus from the brewery, picked up a few stragglers in Galloway, and headed up to FirstEnergy Park. First of all, if you’ve never been on a bus with 20 brewery employees, you haven’t lived. There were singalongs and jokes galore. It should be noted, however, that while none of us will get very far on The Voice, maybe a spot on America’s Funniest Home Videos or Tosh.0 could be in our future. But we’ll stick to brewing your favorite beer for our day jobs.

Once we arrived, we were well-prepared to cheer the BlueClaws to victory against the Kannapolis Intimidators. And CMBC was well-represented in the park — our banner hanging proudly overhead as we walked through the gate and shots of our glorious beer appearing in Technicolor on the outfield jumbo screen.

You really couldn’t miss our brews; as soon as you walk through the gate there was Summer Catch being poured right behind home plate. The Bog and IPA were down the first base line, Devil’s Reach down the third base line, and Mop Water was in bottles throughout the park. You really can’t beat having your favorite Cape May brews and our national pastime together under one roof.

Mop Man was on hand to throw out the first pitch, and he didn’t just toss it out like so many former Presidents. This one definitely had some mustard on it. Check him out in the video below.

We cheered Lakewood for a few innings with little action, then Kannapolis pulled ahead early, scoring two runs in the top of the second and another four in the third inning. Things started to get a bit testy — even with the lead, Kannapolis couldn’t keep their cool, with their third baseman and manager both being ejected from the game. Welcome to Jersey, fellas!

We cheered them on, and Lakewood eventually got on the board in the bottom of the ninth, scoring one run. If you want to know all the deets, check here.

In the end, the loss didn’t matter, really. Lakewood’s still five games in first place in the South Atlantic League Northern Division, so they’re headed to the playoffs! You’ve got a few more games to see at FirstEnergy Park, so get down there and enjoy America’s Favorite Pastime and some Cape May beer.

In the meantime, check out the pictures below. It really was a great night.

Press of AC Love

South Jersey’s burgeoning craft beer scene got some love from the largest newspaper in the area this week. All of the area breweries are given some major time, and we’re among them.

In the video, you’ll hear regular beer lovers talking about why they love craft beer, some of your favorite owners (hi, Ryan!) talking about why they love the industry, and some of your favorite brewers (hi, Brian!) talking about the camaraderie in the industry.

The best part about this video? You’ll be able to check out all of these breweries at Brews by the Bay this weekend. Get your tickets here!

Check it out!

 

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