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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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We’re Building A Sour Brewery

Recently, we told you that that we put our 15-barrel brewhouse (the fourth of five brew system upgrades at CMBC) up for sale. What we didn’t tell you? WHY we’re so keen on unloading this equipment.

Our 15-bbl system, on its way to its new home, complete with brewhouse, boiler, auger and mill.
Our 15-bbl system, on its way to its new home, complete with brewhouse, boiler, auger and mill.

Now that we’ve struck a deal and officially kissed the brewhouse goodbye — it left on Monday to join Locust Lane Brewing in the Malvern area of Pennsylvania — we’ll come clean (or dirty, in this particular case).  We’re turning  her space, the 3,000-square-foot area attached to our tasting room, into a sour-only brewery.

Our production team will be the first tell you: sour beers are the new frontier in craft. Ryan believes they’re going to be the new IPA –meaning this style is on the cusp of a mega surge. It’s a surprising theory to some brewers, considering sour beers are made with hard-to-control bacteria strains that can easily contaminate beers not meant to be sour (and not meant to acquire that signature acidic flavor reminiscent of sour cherries or balsamic vinegar).

But having a space completely separate from our brewing headquaters to make these beers — coupled with our neurotic attention to cleanliness — allows us the freedom to brew without fear. And it allows visitors the opportunity to see the process up close. On a tour, you’ll get within inches of our equipment.

While Chris, predictably, has “no comment” (his enthusiasm is the understated kind), Ryan says he “couldn’t be more excited to make this happen, and to take Cape May’s production to the next level.”

Right now, we’re under construction, ripping out our concrete floors in order to install a new trench drain (thank you, Chris Archbold of Cape Concrete Designs). We’re moving out the cooler and dry goods that once resided here — they’ll be moving into a recently acquired unit, which we wrote about here — and we’re moving in four 15-barrel fermenting tanks. We’re also setting up 60 French oak wine barrels, which will be used to age our sour beers, and a one-barrel pilot brew system, which members of our staff will use to make experimental brews.

We’ll also be unveiling a new entrance to the brewery, which will mark the beginning of a self-guided tour in order to “elevate the whole customer experience,” says Ryan. No longer will you need to enter through the tasting room, THEN take a self-guided tour of the brewing space, only to return to the tasting room.

Of course, we’ll continue our regularly-scheduled brewing program in our 30-barrel brewhouse just across the way at Cape May Airport.

We’re expecting the whole operation to be complete within one month’s time… which means our New Year’s Resolution is all set: to bring you the best and most exciting beer possible. In the meantime, pardon our appearance.

 

Updates From Your Guild

December 7 marked the final Garden State Craft Brewers Guild meeting of the year, held at Forgotten Boardwalk Brewery in Cherry Hill. A record 65 people attended… although only two of them sported holiday-themed outfits.

“I’m very disappointed in the showing of holiday cheer here,” said Forgotten Boardwalk’s Jamie Queli, dressed in a ‘Happy Llamaka’ sweater picturing a Llama in Hasidic dress.Garden State Brewers Guild Logo

Regardless, the meeting — and the bottle-share shindig that followed — were a success. Here’s what went down:

  1. Our guy Ryan was reelected as president! This time around, he will serve a two year – instead of one-year – term, per a new policy.

“I’m stoked!” he said. “Among my goals for 2016 is developing subcommittees: marketing, government affairs and events. There are some very talented people in our guild who want to be involved. I want to give them an outlet.”

Also on Ryan’s agenda: working to reintroduce legislation that’s important for job creation, modernizing and cleaning up the by-laws, increasing allied trade memberhip, hosting a safety conference with fellow guilds and the safety ambassador from the Brewers Association, and getting the ball rolling on two new beer festivals.

  1. Ryan, far right, meets vendors at Monday's meeting.
    Ryan, far right, meets vendors at Monday’s meeting.

    Ryan gave the group a rundown of the year in review. Here are the highlights:

Last June, Guild representatives lobbied 10 Congressional Offices at a Brewers Association Hill Climb. They met face-to-face with Senator David Norcross and Congressman Bill Pascrell.

A new website was launched, and digital outreach increased via a more streamlined newsletter.

A Best Practices Document was unveiled, to guide new breweries as they navigate the confusing legalese surrounding Jersey tasting rooms.

Renowned beer writer Don Russell became first Executive Director.

The Guild hosted two successful beer festivals: Battleship and Brews by the Bay.

An economic impact report was developed, covering everything from the jobs provided by craft beer in New Jersey (9,500) to the number of Springsteen songs that mention beer (five).

The Guild collaborated with the Pennsylvania Brewers Guild for the first annual Mid-Atlantic Brewers Symposium.

Job creation legislation was lobbied for at the state level (more on that below).

  1. Don gave his director’s report, which included a positive review of last week’s state lobby session. For the event — which was modeled after a Brewers Association Hill Climb – Don, Ryan,
    Our guy Chris with Gene Muller of Flying Fish.
    Our guy Chris with Gene Muller of Flying Fish.

    Gene Muller of Flying Fish, Mike Kane of Kane Brewing, and Guild lobbyist Eric Orlando headed to the State House in Trenton for four hours in order to discuss with policymakers Jersey’s emerging craft beer industry, as well as its challenges.

  1. Eric gave the legislative report which included an update on the pending, small-brewery legislation that was discussed at the aforementioned lobby day. (Think: a bill that would allow for the sale of beer at local farmers markets, a bill that would allow for the consumption of food at certain brewery tasting rooms, and a bill that would allow brewpubs to self-distribute a small amount of beer.)

“The Assembly was in session on this day,” Eric explained. “We set up in the hall that connects to the caucus rooms, so we were able to interact with all 80 members. The reception was really positive – the legislatures were surprised to learn how many breweries are present within their respective districts, or interested to know how they can get a brewery into their district. I think there is support for this package of bills. Whether or not they go to a vote depends on many factors, including whether there is support for them from legislative leadership.”

  1. Guild leadership reminded everyone to sign up for the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference, put on by the Brewers Association this spring in Philadelphia (watch this space for updates), and click here for a refresher on last year’s event.
  1. Guild leadership informed the group of FIVE recent brewery openings (Man Skirt in Hackettstown, Berlin Brewing in Berlin, Double Nickel in Pennsauken, Tomfoolery in Hammonton, and Belford Brewing in Belford.)
  1. Then, everyone ate pizza, drank Jersey fresh beer, participated in a raffle drawing, and perused the offerings of nine different vendors, selling everything from legal services to insurance to brewers grain.

Considering there will be 60 breweries and counting in New Jersey come 2016, there was a lot to celebrate.

 

Our Sales Team Is Growing

Chuck!
Chuck!

Up until this point, Justin Vitti and Richie Rallo have been peddling our pints all by themselves. And they’ve done a great job bringing our account total throughout New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania past the 300 mark.

But as we grow, we need more manpower.

Enter Charles “The Chuck” Wray, CMBC’s new brand ambassador, who will be responsible

Bill!
Bill!

for quality control at off-premise accounts in the Garden State — making sure our bottles are cold, our shelf talkers and other materials are in the right spot, and ultimately that our clients and customers are happy. (No worries — he’ll still be be involved with repping CMBC events, too.) Chuck, who studied public relations, advertising, marketing, and graphic design at Susquehanna University (whew, what a course-load) is a self-described “craft beer nerd,” which makes him a perfect face for CMBC. (A perfect face, save for the fact that he refuses to grow a beard, like the the majority of our male team members, but we’ll let that slide.)

Also coming on board? Cape May native/former CMBC beertender Bill McCaughey, who left us for Philadelphia in October. (Although he still comes back home once a month for his duties with the National Guard.) In the city, Bill bartends at Tavern on Broad and Tap and Kitchen where, he told us while on a run by the Schuylkill River, he meets a ton of people excited about Cape May beer. As the newest sales representative for Philly, he’s stoked to meet even more. “I believe in the company, and I believe in the product,” he says.

Best of luck, guys. We know you’ll do Cape May proud.

 

CMBC Joins The Christmas Parade

Darren, the locally-famous Underdog, with our Court at last year's parade.
Darren, the locally-famous Underdog, with our Court at last year’s parade.

This Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the West Cape May Community Christmas Parade, the most spirited holiday event this side of the North Pole.

In the lineup will be red and green-bedazzled floats from all of the local community groups, TWENTY bands (of the marching and string variety), members of the US Coast Guard, Mummers, and all of the dancing candy canes/twirling snowflakes/smiling reindeer you’ve come to expect from the island’s most elaborate holiday fete. It’s an affair that lasts four hours, one that draws hot chocolate-toting spectators from all over the tri-state area.

And this year, there’s a new float in town. Big thanks to the CMBC elves for coordinating our entry: Graphic Designer/Social Media Coordinator, Courtney Rosenberg; beertenders Courtney Gingrich and  Maddie Macauley; and tasting room manager Heather Mangano.

That’s right, come December 5, we’ll will be taking our spot two places in front of Underdog who’s well known for her appearance in every Cape May parade. “We’re pretty in the back,” Courtney says, “helping Santa spread his holiday cheer… er, beer.”

As for what our float will look like?

“We’re Griswold-ing out our beer trailer and Hank Nugget,” says sales rep Justin Vitti, who will be driving said ‘Hank Nugget,’ CMBC’s 2016 Ford Transit Connect, alongside his six-year-old daughter Sophia. “We just need to decide if we’ll need a generator, or if we’ll be plugging into a USB charger through the dash.”

Oh, the dilemmas of an elf-in-training.

If you happen to find yourself on the parade route – kicking off from the WCM Banquet Hall at 5pm, heading east on Perry and moving onto Carpenter Lane – look for us.

And have a very hoppy holiday season.

wcm

Number Crunch

This week, during the inaugural Trenton Lobby Day, the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild will advocate for the craft beer industry in front of our state leaders. To show how Garden State Brewers Guild Logobeneficial the work of small brewers can be to the local economy, they’ll present this economic impact report, put together by Guild (and CMBC) President Ryan Krill, and Guild Director Don Russell.

To see if there’s anything else worth adding to our list of important factoids, we called Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association.

Bart gave us a figure — 1.5% — and told us this is the maximum share Jersey craft brewers would have had of the in-state craft market last year, if every drop of their beer had been sold in New Jersey. Which, of course, it wasn’t.

Meaning? There’s a ton of craft beer in this state – the market share is somewhere in the low teens, and that’s enough to generate an economic impact of $1.2 billion – but not a lot of it is Jersey craft.

“In other words, there’s huge opportunity here for in-state producers,” Bart explained, “and 30% of economic impact comes from producers.”

Just a little something to mull over while you sip your morning coffee (or morning pint… we don’t judge).

Going Off…

Last Monday, members of our management, production, and tasting room crews took part in a beer-tasting training session put together by Head Brewer Brian Hink. Sounds awesome, right? We mean… what could be bad about drinking on the clock?

Here’s the catch: it was an off-flavor training session. The goal was not simply to sip and savor, but to familiarize our senses with six common, sometimes unsavory off-flavors that show up in beer, so we can better decipher them, and better understand the important roles they play (because some of these off-flavors DO, in fact, play important roles).

In other words… anyone up for a hint of stomach bile?

A video from the renowned Cicerone Certification Program walked our team through the basic mechanism of flavor perception. And here’s the takeaway: Taste isn’t down to the tongue only.

“Olfactory sensations are processed in such a way by the brain, that we end up believing all flavor comes from the mouth,” explained our trusty narrator. “But the nose is just as important.”

With this in mind, we went over various ways to smell a beer before drinking it, to make sure we’re always receiving the full taste experience. The idea is to try out each method, and find which works best for you:

  • The Distant Sniff, whereby one swirls a beer to release aromas, and then holds the beer six to eight inches below the nose (a good method for “extremely volatile” flavors).
  • The Short Sniff, whereby one swirls his beer, holds it directly under his nose,  and takes two to three quick sniffs in a row.
  • The Long Sniff, whereby one swirls his beer, raises it to his nose, and takes one long, deep sniff at least two seconds long.
  • The Covered Sniff, whereby one swirls his beer for at least five seconds while clasping one hand over the glass, brings it to his nose, and takes one long, deep sniff.

Then, our staff each received six small pours of Yuengling Lite beer, all infused with a different off-flavor, plus a control tasting. After that, we swirled and sipped. Our directions were to look to our past experiences for help in labeling the flavors we perceived. And this led to just a little bit of class-clowning, with statements like:

“This one smells like childbirth!”

OR

“I’m getting a lot of purple here…”

But, for the most part, we took it seriously and had a good time comparing notes. No worries… we took some for you.

Diacetyl (2,3 Butanedione): A desirable flavor in some ales, stouts and lagers, this can also be the not-so-desirable by-product of rushing a brew schedule. It takes like liquid butter or, more specifically, buttered popcorn.

DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide): A desirable flavor for some pale lagers and ales, this can also be the result of bacterial contamination. Although unusual in commercial beer, it does happen. You’ll know it if you smell spoiled shellfish, or rotten vegetables.

Acetaldehyde: Present in all beers, and signature in some, it can also be a buzz-kill at high concentrations. Think emulsion paint, green apples, or — our guys said — PVC pipe glue.

Lightstruck (3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, or 3MBT): This is the result of light exposure, either real or fluorescent. Many people don’t find it that off-putting; others can’t handle the skunky aroma.

Papery (Trans-2-nonenal): This is one of several flavor compounds associated with too much oxygen getting into a beer, and it can turn your beverage into liquid cardboard within 24 hours. That’s what we call a bad day’s work.

Infection: A scary name indicating a bile, or stomach acid-flavoring due to dirty draft lines. Some sour beer fans may not be put off, due to the vinegary taste.

Remember: None of the bacteria that lives in beer will make you sick, but it does change flavor. So, may your next pint be on point and off-flavor free. (Unless you like that sort of thing, of course.)

cups

Reviews Of The Week

We’ve been named one of THE TOP 50 BREWERIES IN AMERICA by Yahoo Travel, who’ve highlighted one brewery from each state based on scores from brewery rating app Untappd. (We have an overall score of 3.62 out of 5, which puts us on top!) Reads the write-up:

“Cape May is touristy in a fun way, and Cape May Brewing Company is fun in a tasty way.”

In other media news, thanks to Cyd Katz of New Jersey Isn’t Boring for this fun write-up about CMBC.

Here’s an excerpt:

“As someone who is partial to Belgian style ales and Sour beer, I was very happy to see it on their draft menu. Usually you will see the standard style beers at a craft brewery – IPA, Stout, Wheat etc, but Cape May Brewing Co really has something for every beer fan.”

Aw, shucks.

Courtesy Cyd Katz
Courtesy Cyd Katz

Make It Rain… Canned Vegetables

We’re still collecting non-perishable items for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, and — for anyone who brings in four food foodbankdonations — we’re still offering $1 off any six-pack or growler fill to go. But because we want this to be the most productive food drive in CMBC history, we’ve added a little extra incentive.

In order to make the canned peas flow like beer, we’re kicking off a raffle drawing. Bring in four items to donate, and you’ll be entered to win a Cape May Brew Co gift basket worth $100. We’re talking about gift certificates and some of our hottest merchandise for you to use, or for you to use as a kickass re-gift come Christmas… we won’t tell.

You’ve got from now until December 14. Show the brewtender the goods, fill out the ticket she hands you, and wait for us to announce a winner on our social media channels on December 15.

Let’s make it happen.

Fill In The Blank With… Steve Wilson

You’ve been seeing his smiling face behind our bar for a year and a half. Now, we’ve interrupted his day of garage cleaning so you can get to know him on a deeper level. Can we get a slow clap for brewtender Steve Wilson?

steve wilsonI AM FROM… Cape May.

MY FAVORITE CMBC BEER IS… changing all of the time. Right now, it’s Crusty Barnacle. Normally, City to Shore.

MY FAVORITE HOBBY IS… homebrewing.

THE GREATEST ADVENTURE I EVER HAD WAS… marrying my wife two months ago.

THE SUPERPOWER I’D LIKE TO HAVE IS…  time travel.

AND IF I COULD TIME TRAVEL, I’D GO… just a few minutes back. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

MY FAVORITE NON-CMBC CRAFT BEER IS… Carton Boat from Carton Brewing.

MY FAVORITE CARTOON IS… Family Guy.

MY BIGGEST FEAR IS… none.

THE QUESTION I HEAR MOST FREQUENTLY WHILE AT WORK IS… What’s the lightest beer you have? Right now, it’s Ebb Tide.

THE JOB I’D LEAVE CMBC FOR IS… to start my own brewery.

THE MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE I’VE EVER MET WERE… magicians Penn and Teller.

MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… mouth-breathers.

THE SPORTS TEAMS I FOLLOW ARE… the Phillies or the Eagles, but none really.

IF I COULD, I’D SPLURGE ON… a boat.

SOMETHING NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT ME IS… that’s a secret.

THE BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED IS… lefty loosey, righty tighty.

IF I WERE AN ANIMAL, I WOULD BE… a bird. An eagle. But not a bald eagle..

THE BEST PICK-UP LINE I EVER HEARD WAS… ‘You gonna eat that?’

MY HIDDEN TALENT IS… I can juggle.

I WAS DRAWN TO CMBC BECAUSE… of the beer!

IF I HAD TO NAME A CMBC BEER TOMORROW, I WOULD CALL IT… Tadpole. And it would be a heavy stout.

Welcome To The Family, Unit 8

Big news, guys: we’re expanding again. This time, into Unit 8 — the former site of Ocean Interiors, which you’ll know as the DRBA-owned building to the left of our tasting room when approaching from the front. Also: the place that used to lend us its forklift when we were just starting out. (Thank you, John DeBaun!)

We know – the dust has barely settled from our last big expansion. Consider perpetual dust-settling the new normal at CMBC.

“What makes Cape May Brewing Company so exciting is that it’s an ongoing project,” says our prez Ryan. “It’s never-ending.”

Right now, we’re working with an architect – one with much experience in the food and beverage world – on a plan for the building, which will provide both general warehousing and a store area. We anticipate opening in the spring if not before, pending lease approval from the ABC, a whole lot of elbow grease, and the acquisition of one “big-ass cooler.”

Unit 8 will provide us with a temporary solution for our space issues, until we’re able to build a new tasting room, also at Cape May Airport. That project is in the design phase right now, with the next step being city approvals.

“We want to offer the best experience and beer possible,” Ryan says. “We want to get as close to perfect as we can. As we continue to grow and people enjoy our product more and more, more people visit and we need a larger space to accommodate them. So, I guess you could say what drives us is the pursuit of perfection.”

Watch this space.

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