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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Come Shop With Our Elves…

No, you can’t just pour IPA into a stocking. But don’t freak out — we’ve got your back this holiday season. Consider the following your CMBC Shopping Syllabus:

BLACK FRIDAY: Yea, you’re likely still experiencing full-on food coma. But here’s a reason to leap off of the couch: We’ve launched our new pop-up shop. Browse our newest merchandise while CMBC beer ferments beside you.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: You already drink local libations… buying local swag is the next logical step. We know you have a lot of options, so to thank you for popping in to our pop-up shop, we’re offering 10% off for in-store purchases (merchandise, not beer) on November 28. If you choose to pair your purchase with a flight, well, who are we to stand in the way of inspired shopping?

CYBER MONDAY: Time for some mouse aerobics. We’re offering free shipping for any domestic online order all day on November 30. Man your cart here.
The pop-up shop, in all her glory.
The pop-up shop, in all her glory.

Homebrew Hero Of The Week

We’re proud to say that our team doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk. After a day on the job making and selling CMBC brews, members of our crew go home to make their own craft beers. Many even belong to the Cape May Brewers Guild, a collection of 15 or so homebrewers who gather at various locations once a month to talk technique and taste the fruits of their labors. Every three months, they hold an informal competition where the scratch-made brews are judged against each another.

Assistant Tasting Room Manager Dan Petela is one of these homebrew heroes. We caught up with him to ask all about his process and his passion…

Dan's setup!
Dan’s setup!

How long have you been homebrewing? About three years.

How’d you get into it? I got intro craft beer first, and always threw the idea around. But it wasn’t until I visited Cape May Brewing Company for the first time that I bought all of the stuff. At that time, they had their original, super small, 12-gallon system, and I was inspired.

What kind of equipment do you use and where did it come from? When I first started, I used a Home Depot Gatorade cooler as mash tun, and I actually still use that. Right now, I have a 15-gallon brewpot with a propane burner, and two kegs on tap for my ghetto homebuilt kegorator. Most of it was Christmas gifts.

What’s your method and why? Right now I do All-Grain Brewing versus Extract Brewing. It would be a lot easier and less time consuming to do the latter, but you get less control that way.

What was your best homebrew batch? Probably a double IPA with mosaic and citra hops. It won first place at the Cape May Brewers Guild competition.

And your biggest disaster? When I first got into it, I made a pumpkin beer and then left for the weekend. It fermented too much, so the pressure built up and the rubber stopper blew off. There was beer and pumpkin juice all over the ceiling and walls.

Dan!
Dan!

Why do you brew your own beer, when you could easily buy craft? I mean, what draws you to it? Well, you can’t always get exactly what you want on the shelves. Mostly, it’s just cool to experiment. At first I thought this would save me money, but it doesn’t. It costs about $50 per batch of beer. But it’s fun to share the finished product with friends. I share about half of every batch.

How much can you brew at once? About 10 gallons, but I do five at once.

Best tip for homebrewing? Just because something has been cleaned does not mean it’s been sanitized.

What’s your homebrewing goal? To keep learning new stuff… read the blogs, do the research, look recipes up online and tweak from there, take really good notes, take better notes…

What’s the best resource you’ve found? At first I got a lot from Home Brew Talk, which is a forum. Now, I’m following The Mad Fermentationist, which is a pretty cool blog.

Political Update!

Move over, corn on the cob.

On Monday, CMBC Prez Ryan Krill flew himself to Trenton for a hearing of the state Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources fmCommittee. The topic of discussion? Assembly Bill A-4389, which would allow certain breweries to sell their beer at farmers’ markets.

The definition of a farmers’ market is not “selling oranges by the side of the road,” Ryan reminded the CMBC team this week. It’s a place where at least two *actual* Jersey farmers gather to sell *actual* Jersey produce. We support these farmers by supplying them with spent grain and buying local ingredients whenever we can, which is to say: these are our people. Such bills have already passed in California, Maryland and Washington.

Ryan – along with the bill’s Assembly sponsor Assemblyman Craig Coughlin; Gene Muller of Flying Fish Brewery; Mike Kane of Keane Brewing Co.; and Eric Orlando, who handles lobbying for the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild — advocated for the bill and all of the good it would do. Think: bringing attention to Jersey’s artisanal business culture and growing agri-tourism industry.

There was opposition in the room, namely from the Wine Growers Association which represents the Jersey wineries already allowed to sell wine at farmers markets (cough, no fair, cough). But word on the mean streets of Trenton is that there is, in fact, support among committee members for this bill. We’ll find out if that’s true if and when the bill is put to a vote, a decision that comes down to many factors, including the support of Assembly leadership.

Watch this space.

A panoramic view of where the magic happens: NJ's Senate office.
A panoramic view of where the magic happens: the Assembly Committee Room at the State House in Trenton.

Things You Should Know Before Drinking This Thanksgiving

This holiday may be all about the bird – and, you know, the gratitude – but beer should also play a starring role. Here’s why:

Credit drinkingmadeeasy.com
Credit drinkingmadeeasy.com

Pilgrims loved beer.

There’s a legend that the pilgrims only came ashore when their alcohol ran dry… funny, but also grounded in fact. Water was not safe to consume aboard the Mayflower, so beer was clutch. Enter tipsy English separatists. Remember: if your cornucopia is full of craft this holiday season, you’re only following tradition.

Native Americans also enjoyed beer.

It’s been long believed that colonists introduced American Indians to brewing, but recent studies suggest they already had it down, with corn as a main ingredient.

We’re making something special for Drinksgiving.

Traditionally, the day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest drinking day of the year. Of course, our customers aren’t looking to get wild — they prefer to remember the beer they’re drinking. So we recommend picking up a growler of something fun to sip with the extended family. Enter our One-Off Wednesday concoction for next week. We’re calling it Apple Pie, as this is our Apple Bomb brew conditioned with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and vanilla. It will hold you over through the holiday, since we’re closed on Thanksgiving. And it’s an appropriate choice, considering the libations served by Native Americans that first Thanksgiving season were likely also apple heavy.

And we’ve got growlers full of The Bog.

This is the beer on our menu — a cranberry wheat-based brew — that goes best with turkey, according to Head Brewer Brian Hink. “It’s light and refreshing with a bit of sweetness, so it goes well with the whole savory, rich, buttery feast,” he says. The Bog also pairs well with turducken, in case that’s more your speed.

Beer=gratitude.

Or, at least, it should. At last count, there were over 4,000 craft breweries across America, meaning we’ve got an endless supply of innovative options at our fingertips. And that’s one heck of a reason to toast before a turkey dinner, don’t you think?

Welcome Back, Staff Series!

Remember our employee series, whereby one employee at a time conceived of a new beer for our tasting room repertoire? It led to such inspired recipes as Andrew’s Snag and Drop and Jim’s Triple Wreck.

Now, the employee series is back. Only this time around, we’re changing things up. Rather than leave each staff member up to his or her own devices, we’re having our individual teams, well, work in teams. First up, the tasting room crew with their Crusty Barnacle Pale Ale, the brainchild of Dan Petela and Jim Zolna.

“Everyone worked on ideas for two weeks and had a vote to choose the beer,” says Operations Manager Ashley Sundstrom. “They took part in a ‘brew day,’ which is a full, in-depth educational day to better understand the brewing process in order to provide our customers with a better experience while taking tours in our Tasting Room. The staff spent eight hours with Brian, learning everything there is to know about brewing beer.”

Their 6.3% pale ale is made with oats, which lend greater head retention and a creamier mouthfeel. These things go a long way toward creating a “pillowy, fluffy” beer, Brian says, even despite a low gravity. And a Brettanomyces yeast strain adds some exotic tropical notes of papaya and pineapple.

We’ve got a sweetspot for Crusty Barnacle, also, because it was the last beer brewed in our 15-barrel brew system, which is being decommissioned for sale in December, so that we can turn its space into our sour-only brewery.

Try it out for yourself — on tap beginning November 20.

beerd

Tis The Season For Giving

Still looking for a way to get on Santa’s good list?

For the third year in a row, we’re hosting a collection for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. This non-profit feeds more than one million people per year, and provides food assistance to over 250 charities throughout Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic Counties.

“Any legitimate place providing food to the underprivileged in these areas is likely getting the bulk of their donations through us,” says Executive Director Evelyn Benton. “We’re thrilled when organizations like the brewery think outside of themselves to contribute.”

CFBNJFrom now through December 14, non-perishable food items will be accepted at the tasting room. Canned fish and meat, canned or boxed meals, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, and canned fruits and vegetables are especially welcome. No glass, cellophane, soda, bottled water or baby food, please.

For every four items you donate, you’ll receive one dollar off of any 64-ounce growler fill or any six-pack to go. Because of your generosity, we contributed 146 pounds of food to the cause last year, and we’d really love to top this number in 2015.

“We’re in a position of high visibility,” says our prez, Ryan Krill. “It’s not all about great beer; it’s about taking our momentum and putting it to use for the public good.”

Don’t forget – you also have the option of donating a dollar to play the Hook and Ring Toss game set up in our tasting room. All proceeds will be gifted to the FoodBank.

Remember: beer tastes better after a good deed.

The Flights Take Off

Up until this point, when you’ve ordered a tasting – four, four-ounce pours – at our tasting room, we’ve given you four wooden tokens which you then exchange – one at a time — for beer at the bar. This can mean waiting in line four separate times. But now, we’re reinventing the system, and it’s working out pretty great.

“People are going crazy for the new way,” says Tasting Room Manager Heather Mangano.

Allow CMBC Brewtender Courtney Gingrich to give you the deets here, then come check it out for yourself…

insta

 

Fork(Lift) It Over

At a brewery, there are several things the OSHA acronym could stand for, like: Outrageously Satisfying Hop Aroma. Or: Oh, Shit – Hefeweizen Allergy!

But this week, we’re talking about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency tasked with regulating workplace safety. On Monday, Krishna Jagannathan — who works for OSHA Consultation with the NJ Department of Labor — stopped by our place to assist in-house Safety Manager Jake Smith in executing a forklift safety presentation.

“This was all part of a voluntary audit Cape May Brewing Company signed up for,” Krishna explains. “They’re the only craft brewery in New Jersey to engage this consultation service. And if I were to venture a guess, most small businesses do not have formal forklift training.”

This can be problematic, considering how deceptively dangerous forklift operation can be.

“Most people assume it’s similar to driving a car, but this is not at all the case,” Krishna says. “On a forklift, which tends to weigh more than your average passenger vehicle, the steering wheel is in the back, so with every move you make, your backend will swing out. And since loads are carried in front, view is obstructed. Unlike in a car, which will hit something and stop, forklifts have these two sharp things in front that will continue going forward and through… through a foot, an ankle, a human, a wall, or a palette of product.”

Proof that missteps can be devastating? Forklifts are the source of one percent of industrial accidents, but the injuries sustained from these accidents constitute over 10 percent of all physical injuries in the workplace.

To make sure our guys are up to snuff, they underwent a verbal and video presentation, as well as written and driving tests. The production team passed with flying colors, and then enjoyed a shift drink. Because after a long day of talking tip-over rates and load balance, a cool glass of City to Shore Double IPA is a safe (heh) bet.

forklift

For any breweries (or other businesses) interested in securing Krishna for their own forklift training, he can be reached at [email protected]

November Stout

Few things are certain. Among them: Death. Taxes. And pumpkin-flavored brews taking over liquor store shelves come October. But how long does the pumpkin madness last? According to a new report from the Brewers Association, not as long as you might think. In fact, says the BA’s Chief Economist Bart Watson, “November 1 marks a sharp shift in beer lover interest.” Pumpkin beers fall out of favor, experiencing a drop in popularity second only to the fall from grace experienced by Christmas-themed beers after December 25.

But between gourd-graced labels and bottles rife with reindeer, what is there? In other words, who’s the hero of November beer?

Based on a cross-section of data, including your Google searches, the answer is… many different brews. We’re talking Scottish ales, amber lagers, specialty releases and more. But one category that stands out among the crowd is — drum roll, please — stout.

“Interest starts building as early as August,” Bart writes, “but there’s a noticeable jump come November 1… The jump between October and November is the largest of the year.”

Well good news, gang… we’re on trend! Our Cape May Stout is coming back on tap in the not-so-distant future (watch this space). An “even-keeled” beer, according to Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke, the brew is similar to a ‘session stout’ — low in alcohol, high in roasty-toasty goodness.

We’ll be ready to pour you a tasting… all November long. In the meantime, here’s the stats:

 

Graphs courtesy of Brewers Association
Graphs courtesy of Brewers Association

Credit: Brewers Association

 

A Hairy Award

Cape May Brew Co sales rep Justin Vitti says there are three things you can expect at a craft brewery: good beer, sarcasm, and facial hair. That last one is especially applicable at CMBC during No Shave November. Last year at this time, our male team members joined guys across the globe in raising awareness for men’s health issues by proudly sporting beards and ‘staches for all the world (or at least, all the tasting room) to see. You can still donate to their page HERE.

Photo credit: The Gothamist
Photo credit: The Gothamist

Some of our guys are still sporting this facial hair proudly, perhaps none more so than Justin,  who took first place last Saturday in the Hungarian Mustache category at the 2015 US National Beard and Mustache Championships held at King’s Theater in Brooklyn. He won’t tell us how many people he was up against, just that “it wasn’t an easy win,” so you’ll have to draw your own conclusions.

Reported the New York Daily News: “The smell of draft beer lingered in the air — along with pungent whiffs of mustache wax — as a shaggy set of deadly serious competitors sized each other up…”

One of these competitors styled his beard into the Nike swoosh (he called it the intersection of “art and copyright infringement”). Another turned his beard into a birdcage where his head =’ed the bird. But Justin was the only one dressed as Teddy Roosevelt. Because when you’ve got facial hair game this strong, you do what you want.

If you’d like to contribute to the cause — helping stamp out men’s cancers, that is, not supporting eccentric facial hair competitions — make a donation here.

The Cape May Brew Co team thanks you.

 

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