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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company

Sodas at CMBC

af5b5711-5057-4766-9179-ce1e26fac14dOur beer is great, but our sodas have been taking off like gangbusters. We realize that not everyone who comes to a brewery will want — nor should they have — a beer. We do try to be as family-friendly as possible.

We’ve been brewing them for a while, since Mop Mop had the idea back in 2014. “I noticed the designated drivers in our tasting room asking for diet Coke or Pepsi,” he says. “So I thought to myself: ‘Why not offer them craft soda?’”

We’ve been killing it in the soda department this year, so we sat down with Head Chef and soda guru JP Thomas to talk about all things soda.

The inspiration for sodas comes from JP listening to people at CMBC. “I try to match my soda to my Wednesday One-Off. Those ideas come from people around the brewery, from people I meet in the Tasting Room — just pulling ideas out of people’s minds, hearing what people would like to have.”

The one-offs come first, because they’re released on Wednesday, while the sodas come out on Thursday. “I try to line up my beer and then I try to make a soda that’s similar to the beer. But, it doesn’t always work out.” For example, next week, JP has a cream soda on tap and a Chai Tea Sexy Bock as the One-Off. A tea soda doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.

Regardless, we’re really going through the sodas. When we started in December, JP was brewing one 5.2-gallon sixtel a week — now he’s brewing three. “We’d blow through one before the next day.”

You really can’t argue with success.

The success is mainly due to JP’s use of all-natural ingredients. “Cane sugar, and I also use dark and light brown sugars, but the sodas are all-natural — there’s no artificial flavors. Most of my ingredients are natural fruits.”

Some of those ingredients are a little non-conventional. For example, this week’s creme soda not only has vanilla, but raisins, as well. “It kinda gives you that deep, dark undertone, like there’s something else in there, but you’re not really sure what it is. It adds that little bit of character to it, so it’s not just a vanilla soda.” JP does that frequently with his sodas: “Citrus sodas, you want to keep clean and crisp and really light and effervescent, but some of the other sodas you want to have that depth. You want to have some sort of background character to it.”

Great root beer. I’m the DD. — David Calvert, during his first visit to the Tasting Room, July 4th weekend

Brewing soda — as you might imagine — is a lot different from brewing beer. The big difference? “Time,” says JP. “There’s no waiting. I add flavors, my sugar, I strain it out, and it’s ready to go.” The entire process takes only a few hours, as opposed to the few weeks of fermentation that a beer requires. “The next day, I can sell it.”

"Your hands and feet are mangos&ltbr>You're gonna be a genius, anyway" -- Phish
“Your hands and feet are mangoes
You’re gonna be a genius anyway”
— Phish

He likes the Mango Habanero soda he brewed — he’s brewed it three times thus far. “People really like that one.” He counts that and the Pineapple Jalapeño as among his favorites. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the Carrot Cake soda, too. “People were saying, ‘You know, I tried it, and it was really interesting. It caught me off-guard. It tastes just like a carrot cake.'”

The sodas have been doing so well that bottling them is in CMBC’s long-term plans — Mop Man’s gonna be heading up this project. No specifics at the moment, but we have seen some bottle designs. And they’re awesome. And we’re not telling you what they are. You’ll just have to check back.

But, so far, JP’s loving it. He’d never brewed soda before CMBC, “I enjoy it a lot. The Ginger Ale’s awesome, it’s chopping thirty pounds of ginger — one pound of ginger per gallon. I really enjoy making that one.”

“The other ones, I literally go to the store, walk around, see what’s good, see what’s fresh: I’ll do that. This time of year, it’s just seeing what people like.” Orange soda? “Oh, I already did that.” Watermelon? “Yeah, I can do that.”

Well, it’s working, JP.

The next time you get stuck as the Designated Driver — someone has to be — make sure you check out one of JP’s creations. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Brews by the Bay 2016

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 2.04.01 PMWait. There’s a beer festival in Cape May?!? That’s like… having a beer festival in OUR OWN BACKYARD.

The Garden State Brewers Guild and the Delaware Brewers Guild join forces once each year to bring you the greatest beer festival known to man — or, at the very least, the greatest two-state beer festival known to man.

(Yes, it’s the only two-state beer festival known to man. We’re cutting-edge, yo.)

September 10th will be a red-letter day. Beginning at 11:30 in the morning, you can get your sample on at the Cape May Ferry Terminal, then hop a ferry to the Delaware side and continue the festivities well into the evening.

ksnGjxrq9JJqyYF7fKylcAzfW-aZ89rBEfbmqeMqTsETrying to integrate the alcohol laws of the two states isn’t an easy job (thank goodness we’ve got Ryan diligently working with New Jersey’s legislators to modernize our sometimes-arcane laws). Your ticket on the Jersey side gets you fifteen 4-ounce pours — about the size of a large growler. No worries, though — you’ll be able to drink as much as you want — we’ll have additional tickets available for purchase. Once you head over to the Delaware side, it’s unlimited samples all evening! Boo-yah!

Many breweries will be supplying one-off beers, limited releases, small batch tastings, and award-winning brews from both states. Be sure to try them all!

CMBC and Dogfish Head will be taking over the taps on the ferries — which is at least as much fun as our floating brewery concept that fell through. In addition, the Guilds of the two states will be collaborating on a special brew, only to be found on the ferries. This tasty concoction will be available one day only, at Brews by the Bay.

vc_Y46fcpI-CZU7jnYXe3V10-osqxAwVh3i_ayURCVsYour Full Experience ticket gets you admission to both sides of the event — or you could purchase a ticket for only one side of the bay. No beer festival is complete without a souvenir glass, which is included in your ticket. There will be excellent food from local restaurants and food trucks available for purchase, as well as yard games, live music, and spectacular views of the Delaware Bay. While, obviously, you must be over 21 to drink, it’s a great day for the whole family — including your favorite four-legged friends! Don’t leave your poochie at home — bring him along!

Remember to B.Y.O.C. (bring your own chair), valid ID, lather on that sunblock on that late summer day, and prepare to have fun with hundreds of other craft beer lovers. This event will run Rain or Shine!

“Brews by the Bay is one of two beer festivals in New Jersey sponsored by the Guild,” says Ryan. “It’s a beautiful day down by the bay, and a great chance for craft beer lovers throughout the tri-state area to sample all the fantastic beer the area has to offer.”

Tickets will be on sale the day of the event at the gate. Full Experience ($70), Delaware Only and New Jersey Only ($40) will be $5 more at the door. See brewsbythebay.ticketleap.com for tickets and more information.

See you there!

IPA Day!

c3a68869-f14c-45df-ac19-770cc9a0635eCould you imagine a better idea for a holiday? Well, David Bowie’s birthday, maybe. But failing that, we can’t think of a better reason to celebrate.

IPA Day falls on the first Thursday in August each year — this year, August 4. Mark your calendars. It’s a day set aside to drink IPAs. (We usually reserve that for “days ending in Y,” but we’re willing to make this one a little special.)

The cool thing about this? It’s not borne of some corporate machine. It’s not TitanicBeer sponsoring this; it’s just a day to celebrate your love of independent, craft beer.

And what better beer to celebrate? It’s so diverse — the sheer number of flavors one can find under the umbrella of the IPA style can vary in character so wildly it’s like Kristen Wiig in a glass.

So, how do you celebrate?

Well… aside from the obvious?

Swing down to the Tasting Room — we’ve got a few special firkins up our sleeve. We’ve got a firkin of Sea Mistress Session IPA with Mosaic and Calypso hops, and a firkin of Cape May IPA with Calypso and Mandarina Bavaria hops. Both will be double dry-hopped, which sounds like an IPA lover’s paradise — they’ll get their usual dry-hop regimes followed by an additional round of dry-hopping in the firkin.

Head Brewer Brian Hink says, “Both beers will be ultra juicy and fruity, with the Sea Mistress going from the usual fruity and citrus filled field aromas towards over ripened mangoes and bubble gum, and the IPA transitioning from the usual piney and floral notes to juicy clementines and tangerines, with a touch of stone fruit in the background.”

So, get out there and celebrate all things IPA, particularly on social media. Tweet about which IPA you’re drinking, and use the hashtag #IPAday. Post your photos to Facebook and Instagram with the same hashtag. Tag us in them, too, since we know that you’ll be drinking our brews and not some inferior product.

(Though, make sure you use the lowercase “d”, otherwise it looks like iPad Day. We’re sure that’s a fun day, too, but not nearly as fun as IPA Day.)

In addition, we’ll have our usual Coastal Evacuation and our flagship IPA on tap. Sea Mistress should be around, as well, though we’ll probably be out of the Anniversary Ale by then. (Man, that stuff went fast. We’re lucky we squirreled a few kegs away for the party on the 29th.)

(And seriously. Why isn’t Bowie’s birthday a national holiday?!?)

The Keel in Video and Print

Take a look inside the sour brewery at CMBC! In our new video, you’ll hear the guys talking about The Keel, barrel-aging, what else is going on in the sour brewery, and some of the unique fermentations we’ve got going on.

And Brian talks about the future of sour beer: “Everyone talks about wine being the complex drink. These sour beers blow wine out of the water. That’s where beer’s going. These sour beers; these adventurous beers. It’s challenging the pallette.”

And The Keel just got a pretty great review from MyCentralJersey.com!

“Last month, the brewery released its first bottled offering, a 6.6 percent ABV American wild ale named The Keel. Chocolate funk greets me as I eagerly take the first sip that reveals a light wood character mixed with a puckering wine grape tannin assertiveness. There’s a caramel sweetness that serves as a steady bass line in the background, while letting the other flavors: a lactic bite, earthy pepper and dried red stone fruit step forward. And maybe it’s just because of where the beer was made, but there’s a perceived saltiness, like that first breath of sea air in the morning down the shore. Pair with a good French triple crème cheese.”

March of the Clydesdales

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In the worst alliance since The Joker and Harley Quinn, the US Department of Justice has approved the merger of SABMiller and A-B InBev. The two largest brewers on the planet have joined forces.

Awesome. More crappy beer for everyone.

With this merger, Big Beer becomes TitanicBeer — we can only hope that the same fate awaits. (Though, you know, without 1500 people losing their lives. Just the ship going down and everyone living happily ever after.)

“With today’s agreement, we have taken a significant step forward on the transaction, which will create the world’s first truly global brewer,” said Carlos Brito, the CEO of A-B InBev, as if he expects everyone to start rejoicing in the streets at this news, gloriously opening cans of Budweiser while choirs of angels sing and rainbows stream from the cans’ open mouths.


There’s something to be said for globalization. We care about what happens to people the world over. However, we doubt that TitanicBeer is going to care about people as much as they care about the bottom line.

They’re certainly not going to care what you want, dear beer drinker.

Thankfully, though, all is not lost. The DoJ made them make some serious concessions — including selling off MillerCoors.

Our thoughts on selling MillerCoors

“The remedy we secured will help preserve and promote competition in the multi-billion dollar U.S. beer industry,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sonia Pfaffenroth in the Justice Department’s release on the matter. “The two largest U.S. brewers – ABI and MillerCoors – will now remain independent competitors after the deal.”

It’s a small concession in an otherwise detrimental merger. To be completely honest, the difference in size between TitanicBeer with MillerCoors and TitanicBeer without MillerCoors is completely negligible, as far as we’re concerned. We can’t compete with any of them.

Regardless, it would appear that the DoJ actually listened to the little guys out there. In addition to having to divest MillerCoors, A-B InBev has to drop their Voluntary Anheuser-Busch Incentive for Performance plan — that incentive structure in place to encourage distributors to sell less independent beer.

“Independent distributors that sell ABI’s beer will have the freedom to sell and promote the variety of beers that many Americans drink,” says the DoJ.

We’re sure they’ll eventually find a loophole, however.

They’ve also instituted a cap on distribution. The decision forces A-B to not purchase a distributor if it would result in more than 10% of its annual volume being distributed through wholly-owned distributorships in the US.

However, since they currently run at about 7%, A-B InBev actually has room to grow in this respect.

CEO of the Brewers Association, Bob Pease, said, “While we continue to believe that the merger of the world’s two largest brewers is bad for both the beer industry and consumers, the DOJ’s significant requirements… appear to address some of our major apprehensions with the merger. With effective enforcement of these provisions, small brewers can rely on their independent distributor partners to access the market. This will help ensure that beer enthusiasts can continue to enjoy a vast variety of options from the more than 4,600 breweries in the U.S.”

There’s a bright side. There’s always a bright side. We tend to find it in a pint glass — not metaphorically like some broken down drunk, but literally: we will continue to brew the bright side.

Fundamentally, this merger isn’t going to affect what we do on a daily basis — we’re still going to brew great beer, we’re still going to be inventive and creative with what we do, we’re still going to listen to what our visitors and customers tell us. We guarantee that.

It will affect our growth, however. The American beer market is as much about psychology as it is tradition: the average American sees a clydesdale and needs to pop open a can of Bud. That’s not going to change. (And we don’t blame them; clydesdales are gorgeous.)

With this merger, though, they’ll be seeing many more clydesdales.

How do you guys fight this? Know. Your. Brew. Know who makes what’s in your glass. Know who owns them. Take the time to find out. You fight this the same way you fight anything in a capitalist society: with your money.

In the meantime, it’s back to business as usual at CMBC. We’ve got a five-year anniversary to worry about.

Welcome aboard Mark Graves!

FullSizeRender 4There’s a new brewer at CMBC, and we’re thrilled to have him aboard! Mark Graves — resident of Medford Lakes, he joins us after three years at Manayunk Brewing Company and Flying Fish.

A former band geek, he’s turned that geekery into brewing. He’s been teaching high school marching band in Burlington Township for six years, after having marched professionally in a drum and bugle corps playing trumpet and mellophone, travelling the country for five years.

And take it from us, if you want to know where the party is, always ask the band. Always.

But brewing excited his creative side, while blending it with science. “It was kind of inspiring,” Mark says. “Especially working in restaurants when I was younger, it excited me. All the flavors and intricacies of it.”

The creativity of our brews is what drew him to CMBC. “There’s a lot of variety. There are exciting beers; it’s not the same thing day in and day out.” Personally, he counts Summer Catch and Corrosion among his favorites.

He really liked the people here, too. (We don’t blame him.) “It seemed like there were a lot of young, hungry employees. I really liked the feel of it; how everyone was pushing toward the same goal.”

Mark hasn’t really had the chance to explore Cape May, yet — at least not farther than Big Wave Burritos — but he likes the town thus far. Nonetheless, he has some experience with Cape May Airport: as the grandson of a pilot, he took flying lessons as a teenager. “The runway that they’re tearing up, I landed and took off from.”

A few years ago, Mark made a few stops down to the brewery, back when we were just making the move from our old 12-gallon system to the 15-barrel system. He ran into Ryan and asked him how to get into the industry. Mark took his advice to heart, and we’re happy to see it!

Well, we’re glad you made it back down, Mark! Welcome aboard!

CMBC at the DNC

"Look what you've done.<br>I'm not angry, just disappointed." -- GW's face
“Look what you’ve done. I’m not angry, just disappointed.” — GW’s face

In case you missed it, it’s election season in America: that quadrennial headache that starts so much earlier than it needs to and doesn’t ever really seem to go away. It’s a peculiarity that our Founding Fathers didn’t really think through: that, eventually, the two-party system that George Washington warned us not to have would cause everyone to hate each other every four years.

Now, we just sit back and wish Facebook had a Pokémon/politics filter.

One of the interesting things about presidential politics is the nominating conventions. They’re week-long parties held in large cities in swing states, more of a means to “rally the base” than to actually select a candidate. Both parties’ candidates — for better or for worse — have been known for weeks. While this year might be the longest time within memory that the selection process has played out, these things are basically a coronation for the person the electorate selected weeks ago.

And for balloons. Let’s not forget the balloons.

So, while the Elephants are scurried away in Cleveland this week, the Donkeys will be relatively close to home next week, in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. We don’t know how much brotherly love there will be, but we can at least guarantee that some decent beer will be flowing.

CMBC received a request from the Brewers Association to provide beer for the opening reception of the Democratic National Convention at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the Kimmel Center.

How cool?!? It’s like Billy Beer, but better. The sitting President of the United States may very well quaff a Coastal Evacuation. Regardless of your political beliefs, that’s pretty awesome.

We’re also sending along some stickers and coasters, so, maybe, we’ll see some swag on one of those sweet-ass Caddys that drive the President around.

Well… we can hope….

In addition to the opening reception, Ryan was invited to attend an event for the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. At their event on Tuesday, Ryan will be mixing with the mayors of Boston, New York, DC, Philly, New Orleans, San Francisco, and several hundred others, on a wide range of issues affecting the independent brewer. These guys (and accomplished women) can’t do much about these issues as mayors, but they have the tendency to rise up the political ladder — Bernie Sanders, for example, was once the mayor of Burlington, VT.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” Ryan says, “not only as an independent brewery, but for the Guild, as well. We’ll get a chance to show off what we do, and hopefully plant some seeds for the future.”

Check out our ass!
Check out our ass!

One of the fun things going on in Philly to welcome the DNC is that there are donkeys everywhere! Not actual donkeys, mind you — that would probably make Philly smell even worse than usual. These little guys are made of fiberglass, painted by an artist, and smell… well… like one would expect a painted, fiberglass donkey to smell. There are 57 scattered throughout the city — one for each state and territory. Those of us who participated in last month’s Philly Beer Week are clamoring to get pictures with our respective donkeys.

Help us out! If you’re in Philly next week, head over to Duross & Langel on 13th with some CMBC swag and grab a picture!

Philly’s definitely going to be rocking next week. We’re proud to be a part of it.

Ryan On the Radio

Take a listen to Ryan on the radio with Al Gattullo of Craft Beer Cast on AM 970 – The Answer, talking about five years of growth, the beer garden expansion, the craft beer explosion in New Jersey, plans for the future, and soap. (Ryan comes in around 29:00.)

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We’ve Come So Far

This is almost adorable.

A little over three months into CMBC’s infancy, Beer Stained Letter caught up with Ryan during the Somers Point Beer Festival in October of 2011 to see how things were going. He talks about the unsustainability of commercial brewing with a homewbrew system that could only handle 13 gallons and his thrill at getting “over 100 people” every weekend.

Steppin’ up. We’ve done it since the beginning, we’ve done it for five years, and we’re continuing to do it today.

I Remember When…

Five years of business means five years of memories. Some good, some bad, some funny, some potentially causing a nineteen-car pileup on Cape May Bridge. (There are some things that even “Justin Visible” can’t make disappear.)

We caught up with some of your favorite CMBC staff members for their favorite memories.

And check out the slideshow at the end for some pictures of a much younger staff!IMG_8476

Brian Hink – Brew Crew Member since May 2013

In February of 2015, when I was still the only brewer on staff, I had a trip to Colorado planned. I already planned on a 16-hour double batch brew-day to finish the brews for the week, but a snowstorm was pending, threatening 8+ inches of snow. I knew that if we got that much I would, at best, be delayed on the brew’s start, and at worst not get the brew in and screw up our production schedule. With that in mind, I crashed at the office, back when we used to have a couch in there, and snowed myself in at the brewery. Woke up at 4am to start the brews with over a foot of snow on the ground, and it was 11am before anyone else was able to make it in, but the IPA came out great!

IMG_7388Courtney Rosenberg – Brew Crew Member since September 2013

One memory is when Ryan and Chris called Maggie (our Operations Manager at the time) and I to come “check out our new building and new fermenter”. Well, we put on our coats and hats (since it was November at the time and SNOWING) and walked over to 409 Breakwater. We approached the building and the boys were explaining to us what the building was recently used for storage and shelter during a hurricane. So, as we’re listening, we see Paul and Brian putting straps on the fermenter and telling us that we’re all there to help move the tank. Fast forward to Maggie and I pushing the tank, Brian and Ryan looking like sled dogs pulling the tank, Paul (muscle man) taking photos and Chris riding on top like a bucking bronco. Everyone in the complex stopped their cars and were laughing.

Another memory is when we were all finished working our butts off for Brews by the Bay 2014. We all went to Ryan/Chris’s after and had a BBQ, played yard games, rocked out to Taylor Swift (and other music of course) and watched an insane thunderstorm roll in over the water. We were all sunburnt to a crisp and exhausted but had an amazing time. It’s one of those nights that you look back on and be like, “Damn, I have some pretty cool coworkers. Plus, I am awesome at ladder golf!”

IMG_0673Andrew Ewing – Brew Crew Member since March 2014

I remember when I had my first day working at the brewery, when there was just one office that everyone shared. It felt like we were a family working so closely together towards a badass goal, brew the best beer we could! I remember my first day like it was yesterday and I had a personal goal of becoming a brewer here. Two years after that first day my dream became reality and I’m loving every minute of it!


Justin Vitti – Brew Crew Member since April 2014

We just started using the beer trailer and we were pouring beer at the Annual Crab Festival at the Emlen Physick Estate. The pour Minivan (T01) just couldn’t handle towing it home – it shorted out all of the brake lights and turn signals. In the interest of safety, Chris switched vehicles with me as long as I would follow him in our reliable Box Truck (T02). So we are cruising along thru Cape May and Chris makes it to Ryan’s house with the trailer and I continue on to Building 96 (there wasn’t much of HQ then). When I get back to unload all of the empties, it turns out that we had inadvertently left a partial keg on the lift gate, OUTSIDE of the door. Just sitting there on the ledge the entire ride home from Cape May….Over the Bridge, around the bends and turns… Oops! That would have been a mess and probably the end of my CMBC career if it had fallen off. I don’t know if I have ever told Chris or Ryan about this story.

Another great story was my first 4th of July weekend in the tasting room. We show up for work ready to kick off a holiday weekend, and it is rainy and we have NO power, no internet, no anything, except one outlet and a string of lights working… We proceed to get ready to open and climb up the 20ft ladder to run an extension cord all the way across the ceiling, down to a register. Doors open on time, CASH ONLY! Within an hour or so of opening, lights come back on, music kicks in and we are already rocking! There was a line around the front of the building that day and it never stopped!

Alicia Grasso – Brew Crew Member since January 2015

06122042-0736-4b92-aa5a-df4954b65ec4I remember one very early Friday morning when a British reporter from the CBS Morning show called me about a newswire he received from the Associated Press about a “Pope Beer” that the Cape May Brewing Company had scheduled to release upon the Pope’s arrival to Philadelphia last September. Since that bleary-eyed moment, my phone did not stop ringing for the entire day (month, for that matter!). I fielded calls and inquiries from international news agencies, television stations, and hungry reporters for what felt like an eternity. When the #YOPO story went viral, it was a defining moment for the brewery– they’d created something so special and so unique having plugged the awesomeness that is craft beer into the globally recognized homecoming of the Pope– all right in our backyard. I was so thrilled to be a part of that whirlwind of excitement and so proud of the brewery!

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