July 4th isn’t just a banner day for all of America, it’s a great day for the universe, for that’s when CMBC first burst onto the scene.
Can you believe it?!? Five years. A lot can happen in five years. There are nations that exist today that didn’t when the brewery was founded. (By five days, but still.) There are a bunch of four-year-olds who’ve never known a world without CMBC brew. (We judge their parents.)
But on Friday, July 29th, we’re gonna get down and get funky! (Brettanomyces-style.) We’ll be partying with giveaways, special merch, and, of course, beer.
Wayne and Garth won’t be there, but your favorite staff and Brew Crew members at CMBC will be. Memories will flow like… well… like beer. Because that will be flowing, too. Because, you know, that’s how we roll.
While the party goes on all day, you’ll be able to take exclusive tours of headquarters at 409 Breakwater Rd, led by the founders of CMBC: Ryan will be leading a tour at 4pm, Hank at 5pm, and Mop Man at 6pm. During the tour, you’ll be able to take get the inside scoop of what’s brewing at Cape May.
We brewed a special beer for our five-year anniversary, too! Anniversary Ale 5.0: the next wave in our quarterly double IPA project, we’ve brought together the slightly malty finish and piney and floral notes of the IPA with the hint of dankness and citrusy aroma from Coastal Evacuation. It won’t be on for long, but you’ll wish we’d been brewing it for the last five years.
You’ll get the chance to enter a drawing for a gift basket with a $100 value, as well as down a sneak tasting of the latest release in our Barrel Aged Series. Guests will be able to grab a commemorative pint glass with a tasting while relaxing in CMBC’s new, expanded beer garden. Special one-off recipes will be designed by each of the founders, and a Flagship Five-Year Firkin is in the works, showcasing one of our flagship brews.
It’s also the grand opening of the Brewtique! As you know, it’s been open for a bit, but we never really did this thing in style. To celebrate, we’ve got 5% off all swag on the 29th, as well as a whole line of new merch — including a 5-year commemorative jersey.
And the growler filler is up and running! It’ll fill your growler in under a minute with no waste (thank goodness!) and minimal oxygen seeping into your precious brew.
This is a rager for the ages. It’ll make Wayne and Garth proud.
It’s been five years. That’s a lifetime to a kindergartner! For the rest of us, 2011 was just a time when Lady Gaga seemed to be everywhere and we couldn’t tear ourselves away from Angry Birds. For the guys at CMBC, however, it was a time when they were feverishly working to get a tiny little craft brewery off the ground.
At the time, there were 18 breweries in New Jersey. Today, there are 43, with another 20 or so expected to open in the next few years.
Nonetheless, we’re expanding our beer garden! The current setup has served us well, but in these gorgeous summer days at the shore, we’re running out of room. People need places to sit to enjoy a tasty brew, and we can’t just let people with beer run pell mell through a functioning airport.
So, we’re pushing back into the parking lot behind the brewery, quintupling the size of the current beer garden. So much more room for activities!
Everyone loves that corner table that we have now — the squarish one with the table sort of low to the ground that can seat the entire population of Estonia. It’s great! Even if there’s only a couple of people in your party, someone will invariably ask to join you, and you get to make new friends. (That’s the best part of beer — making new friends. Well, that and everything else.) There’s going to be three of them now, so that sounds like three times as many new friends. (Someone may want to check our math.)
The new garden is going to be shaded, too. We’re still working out those details with the builder, but you can expect to find shelter from the hot Cape May sun. And the pouring rain that seems to be chasing us this summer.
When it gets chillier, you’ll just have to remember to bring your marshmallows. Fire pits! They’ll keep you toasty and you can make some s’mores. S’mores and Honey Porter sounds like a great combination to us.
“This expansion is going to allow our out-of-town visitors a lot of space to enjoy themselves, while ensuring that our locals don’t feel left out. Room for everyone!” Ryan says.
Well, maybe not everyone. There are 7 billion people on the planet.
Aren’t you happy that you’re one of the lucky ones who get to enjoy our beer?
Beer is temporary. It’s been around for some 7,000 years, but it doesn’t stick around forever. We don’t argue with that — we make it for you to drink. We don’t make it so that it sits in some dusty museum somewhere, to be gazed at by future generations. We make it, you drink it. That’s how this works.
Furthermore, alcohol and memories aren’t exactly simpatico.
Because of that, our history is fleeting. That’s kind of why we have this blog: to keep some sort of record of what we do, because, otherwise, we’re just sort of throwing things against a wall and hoping they stick. Sort of how everyone’s Italian grandmother checks to see if the spaghetti’s done.
To help us out, Rutgers University’s Sinclair Collection has started archiving the history of craft beer in New Jersey. The Sinclair Collection is the largest collection of New Jersey artifacts in the state, with thousands of books, pamphlets, periodicals, genealogies, agricultural records, meeting minutes, rare books, art books, manuscripts, and whatnot, dating back nearly 500 years.
We got an email from Processing Archivist Tara Maharjan asking for “labels, coasters, stickers, or any kind of promotional materials” from Cape May Brewing Company.
How cool is that?!? The State University of New Jersey wants to document beer! What a strange relationship: college and beer. Who’dathunkit?
So we gave Tara a call to find out about the Sinclair Collection itself, what it is that a Processing Archivist might do on a daily basis, and why they decided to cover craft beer.
As the Processing Archivist, Tara is saddled with a pretty large task. “When we get a collection in, usually it’s in boxes with papers just thrown in. It’s a mess. I put them into an order that would make sense to people — whether it’s chronological or by topic. Then I create a ‘finding aid’ that explains how it’s organized.”
Sounds like a herculean task to us. Marketing Guru Alicia Grasso can’t even keep her MacBook desktop organized.
Tara’s pretty fond of the New Jersey Cookbook Collection. “They are so local,” she says. The Collection has cookbooks from churches and PTAs, as well as a menu collection from various restaurants, trade catalogues, and so forth. As Tara is someone who enjoys cooking, she likes testing out some of the recipes in those books, but she’s also been employed as a cookbook librarian — which we didn’t even know was a thing.
Tara recently stumbled upon Salute to New Jersey: a collection of original New Jersey recipes and historical anecdotes. Within its pages, she found a recipe for Dey Mansion Orange Cake. Since Colonel Theunis Dey was one of the signers of the original charter for Queens College — which eventually became Rutgers — she felt duty-bound to bake a cake. She writes about it at the collection’s blog What Exit.
Craft beer was of particular interest to Tara. “I’m a beer drinker,” she tells us. (Can you blame her?) “When I travel, I like to go to places where there are local breweries.”
As she traveled, she was starting to pick up coasters and stickers, and decided she was going to make a list of the breweries in the state. “I started to realize that some of them had already closed, or had plans to open and couldn’t get the proper permits. I wanted to make sure that we were preserving the history of the breweries that stayed open in the state. The history isn’t necessarily exciting to people right now, but as long as we’re collecting and we have these things, they can be preserved for the future.”
Well, we think it’s pretty exciting, Tara!
She sent an email out to the various breweries in June, and has received a great response. In addition to coasters and stickers, menus and various other promotional materials, she once came in to work to find a tap handle on her desk. “It was a random find on my desk one day.”
Tara has a personal connection to the brewery, as well. She interned under Hank’s father, who’s an archivist at Princeton Theological Seminary. “That’s how I found out about CMBC.” She’s been down to CMBC twice, having actually gotten her first growler here. She’s a big fan of the sours, and really enjoys The Bog.
Since she’s such a fan of the sours, we were telling her all about the Stow Away Series. “I won’t say no if you guys want to mail me some beer,” she jokes. “I won’t be sad.”
Well, we’re glad you found us, Tara! If you make it down this summer, you have to bring us some Dey Mansion Orange Cake. We’ll trade you a bottle of The Keel. That bottle needs to be in the collection.
Nitro. It’s all the rage these days, and most people just sort of nod knowingly when it’s mentioned in conversation. “Why, yessss…,” they say, “Nitro….” They know it’s got a special tap and does… something… to the beer, but really we think that everyone’s just sitting there thinking about the American Gladiator from the 90s.
Can you blame them? That show was awesome. We’d kill at the Eliminator.
So we sat down with our own American Gladiator, Hank, to find out what the deal is with nitro beer. We should know better than to talk to an engineer about anything remotely scientific, but we waded through the science-talk, only seldomly wishing we’d paid more attention in high school chemistry. After quite a bit of chit chat about Juno — you can take the boy out of NASA, but you can’t take NASA out of the boy — we got the lowdown on all things nitro.
In a nutshell, “It’s a flat beer that pours very creamy.”
(Okay, Hank, but we’ve got a whole blog to fill.)
“I spent a good six months before we did our first nitro, just trying to learn everything I could about how to do it and how to do it right. There’s not a lot of information out there,” Hank tells us. “So I went back to old documents, and that’s how I figured out what a nitro beer really is: just flat beer,” he says, laughing. “Flat beer served under high pressure.”
Back in the day, the English were using hand pumps. The Irish thought that hand pumps were alright, but “you’re letting air back into the tank and they’re giant messes, so they wanted a way to push the beer out.” Hand pumped beer is brewed much the same as a nitrogenated beer — very low carbonation, and they’re served through a sparkler, “which makes it nice and fluffy.” Think of that particular stout from St. James’s Gate in Dublin.
This high pressure — two to three times higher than normal — requires nitrogen, because if you serve it under that amount of pressure with CO2, it overcarbonates the beer.
Our beers like to be poured at 10-12 psi carbon dioxide; however, our nitro is poured at 30 psi. If that were CO2, that would put the beer out of equilibrium and you’d have a ridiculously foamy beer. You want a good head on your beer, but a full glass of foam is an entirely different story. The nitrogen lets you boost the pressure to 30 psi without overcarbonating the beer.
In the tank, we carbonate the beer less than a standard beer because the nitrogen and nitro tap are going to do the work for us. A regular beer is carbonated to about 2.7 volumes of CO2 — which means that for every keg of pure liquid, 2.7 kegs of CO2 are dissolved into it, creating carbonation. For a nitro beer, that number drops below two.
Since the carbonation is intentionally low within the brew, you need the addition of nitrogen and a special tap to make up for it. In a nitro tap, there’s a small disk with tiny holes called the sparkler. “It takes high pressure to go through those very tiny holes, and what those tiny holes do is foam up the beer.”
When it goes through the sparkler, it’s not just releasing CO2 and nitrogen from the beer, it’s picking up the nitrogen in the atmosphere. Little known fact: our atmosphere is over 80% nitrogen, so the planet Earth helps to nitrogenate your brew.
We knew it was doing something more than just keeping us alive.
The beer has a very different feel when it’s on nitro. “When a beer is very carbonated, you get a lot of aroma, and it sort of feels like seltzer water. It’s very tingly. When you have a low-carbonated beer, it’s very smooth, it can be very creamy. And a nice creamy head doesn’t hurt. It’s kind of like what an espresso machine does: it whips up the milk.”
Nitros are big these days because they give the consumer another way to experience a beer that they already know. This is a whole new experience for that same beer. “It changes your perception of the beer,” Hank says. “The King Porter Stomp is one that definitely works really well, gives it a whole different mouthfeel. It tastes almost like a milkshake. Honey Porter is really nice on nitrogen, and we’ve got that one coming out soon.”
But IPAs on nitro are really big these days. “Standard carbonation can accentuate the bitterness,” Hank tells us, “so the perceived bitterness in IPAs on nitro can drop down in a good way, but it still has all that hop flavor.”
“All you could ever get on nitro before were heavy beers: porters and stouts,” says Director of Sales Justin Vitti. “When people started to experiment with IPAs — how do you keep the hop characteristic of the beer? That’s what I think draws people to it. After so many years of having dark, heavy beers, now they get to try their old favorites with a new twist.”
So now that you know all there is to know about nitrogenated beer, head down to the Tasting Room and check out some of your old favorites on nitro. We’ve got our IPA, and our Honey Porter taps next week.
Have you ever picked up a nickname? Something people start calling you because they’re either mean, or too stupid to remember your real name, or because there are so many Steves in the dorm that it just makes sense to refer to them all by last name?
In middle school, CMBC Storyteller Scott Armato was nicknamed Flipper. No reason. No context whatsoever. Rob Jones just turned around in Mr. Grunwell’s class one day and called him Flipper. Of all things! He doesn’t look like a dolphin. He doesn’t particularly act like a dolphin. No logic behind it whatsoever. It was just a thing that evil middle schoolers began calling him until he decided to own it. “Yeah, I’m Flipper. What up?” If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Particularly in middle school.
We here at CMBC have nicknames for things, too. Chris Henke = Hank. But that one makes sense. You have no idea how many Chrisses there are at Villanova.
But what about Mop Man? Or The Shower? Or The Root of All Evil? Or even HQ and OG? We just start referring to things in shorthand… and eventually they get printed on a bottle. It’s kinda cool.
So, this week we decided to find out where those nicknames come from. We know you’ve been wondering.
When the guys first opened the brewery, they were sitting around trying to decide what everyone’s title would be. It was decided that Ryan would be president and Chris vice president, but when they asked Bob what he wanted to be, he said he didn’t need any titles. After forty years in the pharmaceutical business, he’d had plenty, so he suggested just being “the mop man.” Five years later, he says, “You gotta watch what you ask for. Sometimes it sticks.”
Mop Man is, of course, a huge fan of the brew that bears his name, Mop Water. There had been multiple requests for a pumpkin beer, but Chris, instead, came up with a five spiced ale. Bob’s first reaction: “Okay, but who’s gonna order Mop Water?” After multiple taste tests, during which the guys wondered, Too much vanilla? and Not enough nutmeg?, Bob finally said, “Don’t overthink it, just drink it!” — which is still printed on the label.
Wise man, that Mop Man.
CMBC Graphic Designer and Social Media Manager Courtney Rosenberg relays the story of The Shower: “I was actually beertending at the time, and a dude came in from an early morning kegs and eggs held in North Wildwood, so he was a little tuned up to begin with. He wanted something light — and me being the responsible beertender I was, not high in ABV.” It was a hot day at the Jersey Shore, so refreshment was inevitable. He asked Courtney what she was drinking — an unnamed mixture of Foreshore Shandy (surprise) and Tower 23. This sweaty denizen of the shore was a big fan of The Bog, so they mixed that with Tower 23, and the rest is history. Shandy + Tower = Shower. The original name was “The Dirty Jersey Shower,” but we actually like New Jersey and would never impugn our beloved state in such a way. (At least, not in public.) Try one the next time you’re at the Tasting Room, and thank nameless keg-and-egger.
Root of All Evil
One of our regulars, John Thomas, loves to mix our root beer with Devil’s Reach. (Seriously, how tasty does that sound?!?) Not too much root beer, of course — just about 2 oz — then fill the pint glass to the rim with Devil’s Reach. Devil = evil. (And, DUDE! We just realized that “devil” is “evil” with a D in front of it! WTF?!? MIND! BLOWN!) Anyway, since the Devil is evil and it was mixed with root beer, the name becomes pretty self-explanatory.
HQ and OG
Pop culture rears its ugly head from time to time. After construction on our new building was complete, we needed some way to refer to the two buildings. The new building, since it was filled with computers and technology and all manner of frightening and imposing equipment — and, you know, offices — was definitely to be christened “Headquarters,” but what to call the old building? It was our original location, it had style, some danger, and ballz — it was the Original Gangsta. Since we move fast at CMBC, calling it OG just made everyone’s lives easier.
So, stop on down to OG for a Shower. Mop Man assures us it’s quite tasty, and certainly not the Root of All Evil.
Last week, Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm and the CMBC crew headed over to Shiloh, NJ, to check out Rabbit Hill Farms.
“Idyllic,” Jimmy says about the farm. “Just rolling hills of wheat and barley. There were deer bounding all over the place. It was just beautiful.”
Our staff spent the day out there, riding on tractors and prancing through fields of barley. “It’s the stuff life is made of,” Jimmy says.
This 580 acre farm was started by Abe Bakker — “A real salt-of-the-earth guy” — thirty years ago, growing potatoes. They were instrumental in developing the Jersey Fresh program, particularly for potatoes. If you’ve ever bought a bag of Jersey Fresh potatoes, these people actually designed the bag.
But, as you probably know, most people don’t really have brand loyalty toward potatoes. We don’t even know what that means. We didn’t even know potatoes had brands.
So, they’ve decided to branch out into something with a little more brand loyalty. Barley…?
“We’ve grown potatoes for five generations, and potatoes have always been one of our main crops,” says Hillary Barile of Rabbit Hill. “We have, in the past few years, realized that potatoes aren’t really a profitable crop to grow in New Jersey anymore. We wanted to grow something we’d really enjoy, and my brother’s been a homebrewer for about ten years.” Brother Blair wanted to make a beer made entirely out of ingredients he grew himself.
“It seemed like we should grow something that would be fun for us to grow and a challenge for us to grow, and barley hasn’t really been grown in New Jersey for about 100 years. It’s potentially profitable with all of the breweries in New Jersey, and the demand for beers that are produced locally with local ingredients. We wanted to tap into the rising desire for the consumer to know what’s in their food and that it’s something that came from somewhere that they can feel good about.”
CMBC was the first brewery they contacted when they started growing barley. “We saw last year that they were the first beer with the Jersey Fresh designation, on the Honey Porter, and we realized that they were a brewery that was really excited about producing beer with local ingredients.”
Ain’t that the truth!
Rabbit Hill Farms was one of the first farms in the state to participate in the Jersey Fresh program. They’ve produced under the brand almost since its inception. “We’re really proud to be a Jersey Fresh supplier,” Hillary says.
We’ll be getting some base malt from these guys — pilsner or two-row. Eventually, they plan to expand into aromatics, caramels, maybe crystals. The climate in New Jersey isn’t great for barley — far too wet, as you may have noticed recently — so we’ll be working with them to develop their system.
When they made the decision to grow barley for brewing, Blair mentioned that they’d have to learn how to malt the barley. Undaunted, Hillary said, “Well, I’m sure we can figure that out.”
You know how we like to keep things local at CMBC, and we’re glad to hear that news traveled all the way to Shiloh. Really, it’s not all that far — and Rabbit Hill Farm takes up about half the town.
They should be around for awhile, too. They’ve just gotten their farm preservation designation, so the land will be used for agriculture in perpetuity.
In addition to Rabbit Hill, we’re looking toward several local farms to supply our hops — so it looks like a 100% New Jersey beer isn’t far from a possibility.
“When we were working on Beets by May, we discussed a 100% Jersey beer as a possibility,” Jimmy tells us. “Rabbit Hill contacted us at that time and we thought, ‘Perfect!'”
Details are still up in the air, but look for a release sometime in the fall.
Keepin’ it local, keepin’ it good. That’s what we like to see!
Today, to mark this momentous occasion, we’ve brewed the next release of our quarterly double IPA: Anniversary Ale 5.0.
Bridging elements from two of our core IPAs – the slightly malty finish with piney and floral notes of Cape May IPA combined with a hint of dankness and citrusy aroma from Coastal Evacuation, Anniversary Ale 5.0 is a nod to everything we’ve brewed up so far while keeping an exciting eye on the greatness still to come.
We’ve come so far in five years — from brewing 12-gallon batches to brewing 4,500 barrels last year. This beer is as much a celebration of us as it is a gift to you, our fans.
We’ll be partying hearty all month long! Plans are in the works for an anniversary bash and some serious fun times ahead. Watch this space!
As we draw closer to Independence Day, we here at CMBC like to pause for a moment and reflect on our independence — our independence from Big Beer.
You may be familiar with the Brewers Association definition of a craft brewer: small, independent and traditional. These descriptors are further clarified: small means less than 6 million barrels, independent means less than 25% of the brewery is controlled by a non-craft brewer, and traditional means that a majority of its total beverage volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.
These days, we’re noticing a distinction between craft beer and crafty beer. Craft beer is what we do: lovingly, with attention to fresh local ingredients, and not being afraid to push the envelope a little bit. For example, one of our clients suggested a beet beer. Enter Beets by May.
Crafty beer is what the big guys do: mass produce something that is nearly guaranteed to have limited appeal, make it feel local, and call it craft. If one of their clients asked them for beet beer, they’d tell them to beet it. (And you thought we were done with beet puns.)
Example: This weekend, at a series of Phish concerts at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, they advertised Craft Beer for $10 — 25% more than what they were getting for Bud. When asked what beer it was, we were told “Goose Island.” What she failed to add was, “…a fully-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch.”
The notion of beer independence is important. We’re independent enough to be able to try new things. If they work, great. If not… well… it’s beer. Even if it sits on tap for months on end, eventually, someone’s going to drink it.
The big guys aren’t willing to take a gamble like that. The bottom line is what’s important for them, and not much else.
And watching the bottom line isn’t necessarily a bad thing — they have shareholders that they need to look out for. It’s when they start trying to pass off their swill as craft that we start to take a little offense.
In recent years, we’ve started to see the shift in terminology: from craft beer to indie beer.
INDEPENDENCE! John Adams’s work was not in vain! (His cousin Sam, on the other hand….)
Indie brewers need to stick together — which is why the distinction in the Brewers Association’s definition is important. We can have stake in each other — up to 25%. And that’s our philosophy over here at CMBC: the more people know about independent craft beer — whether it’s ours or the guys up the street — the better it is for all of us. That’s how we encourage innovation and remain independent.
With the ABInBev/SABMiller merger on the horizon — making two giants into a goliath — this claim of independence becomes more important than ever. Judging from Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease’s OpEd in the New York Times earlier this month, us little guys are in for a rough ride.
ABInBev recently introduced an incentive program for distributors which pays them on a sliding scale based on how much of their beer they sell. This is basically a disincentive to sell independent beer — the more of the little guys they sell, the less money they make from Anheuser-Busch.
What does that mean to you, dear beer drinker? Less variety, fewer choices, and crap beer.
Caveat emptor, guys. The battle for independence started at Lexington and Concord in 1775, and it’s still being waged today.
So, on this most precious of national holidays, assert your independence by drinking independent beer. Budweiser may be red, white, and blue, and they can change its name to America if they want to, but it doesn’t make what’s inside that can either independent, craft, or even good.
Now that you have your three bottles of The Keel, are you wondering what to do with them? Well, besides drink them, of course. Our Head Chef JP Thomas comes through again, creating a scrumdiddlyumptious three-course meal, with each course containing The Keel as an ingredient. Cook ’em up and down what’s left during the meal.
Tomato Mozzarella Salad
3 Whole Tomatoes, sliced
12oz Buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced to match the tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Keel Balsamic Reduction
Layer tomatoes and mozzarella slices, sprinkle with torn basil leaves, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and The Keel reduction to finish.
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup The Keel
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
Mix over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved completely. Bring to a boil, and reduce to low heat. Simmer until volume is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Cool before using.
Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
3 lbs steak — your favorite cut for grilling: NY Strip, Flank, London Broil, T-Bone, Sirloin, etc.
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup fresh parsley
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 Tbsp red chili flakes
2 Tbsp shallots
2 oz The Keel
3 limes, juiced
Salt, pepper, and oil as needed
Place all ingredients in blender until smooth. Slowly add oil to help sauce puree.
Place half of sauce in a bowl, set half aside.
Add steaks to bowl and rub to coat. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes, then place on a pre-heated grill. Grill over medium heat until done to your preference. Baste meat while grilling with marinade.
Allow meat to rest 5 to 7 minutes before serving. Drizzle with remaining sauce.
Cheesecake with Raspberry Keel Sauce
5 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
4 oz The Keel
2 oz Chambord or other raspberry liqueur
Make your favorite cheesecake.
Place all ingredients (not the cheesecake!) in a small pot over medium low heat. Stir slowly and use back of spoon to crush raspberries. Simmer until volume is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Strain, cool, and serve.