We’ve been writing quite a bit about the Small BREW Actcurrently before Congress, and why it would go such a long way toward helping small brewers create jobs. (Cough, reduction of the federal excise tax applied to barrels of beer, cough.) We’ve also been writing about potential roadblocks, including lobbying by multinational breweries for their own, competing bill.
Well, good news!
A third horse has entered this race in the form of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. It’s a compromise bill in that it should appease the big guns, but it contains all of the elements of the Small BREW Act… in fact, it takes that bill one step further.
In a statement issued this week, Brewers Association President Bob Pease says: “Not only would this legislation recalibrate excise taxes—an issue for which we have long advocated—it would ease a number of burdens for brewers, including simplifying label approvals and repealing unnecessary inventory restrictions.”
Thanks to the man behind the plan, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), for fighting the good fight, and to our own President Ryan Krill, leader of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, for advocating on the Hill.
Jeff Likous of Beer-Stained Letter fame has put together a cool CMBC video that covers our latest expansion into a new building at Cape May Airport. Here’s what Jeff had to say about his process… and why he felt so inspired:
It became a better story because Ryan and Chris decided to keep the original CMBC location going for specialty beers. No one’s done that. Most of the situations involving moving into a new space have meant just that, moving out of the old. So this, as far as New Jersey craft brewing goes, was a new dimension.
All of the shooting was done over three days.
I don’t know if I was surprised, more like excited to watch CMBC. It’s not so much that the brewery grew, but how they managed the leaps. In a way, they kind of made it look easy, but there was plenty of hard work.
I spent probably 16 hours editing.
Cape May Brewery inspired some others to pursue brewing, because they demonstrated a path for opening on such a small scale and swiftly growing from there. Having a front seat to that has been a great pleasure for me.
I look for Cape May to be among the New Jersey breweries that people elsewhere in the country think of when they think of East Coast beers, in the same way, for example, Stone is synonymous with San Diego, or Anderson Valley/Lagunitas/Bear Republic are with Northern California. There’s been a gush of start-ups in New Jersey, and that has been the headline here for a while. But I think the next level for Jersey craft beer is how Jersey breweries will shape the state’s identity. A limelight that will shine on a lot of great beers, and I look for CMBC’s to be among them. – Jeff Linkous of Beer-Stained Letter. Read more from Jeff and see his cool Cape May Brewery video here.
Fathers Day is around the corner (you forgot a gift, didn’t you? How about one of these?) which means it’s time to spend some quality time with dear old dad.
That’s not a problem for CMBC co-owner Ryan Krill, whose father Bob (aka, Mopman) is also one of CMBC’s three owners.
In fact, Bob – who has spent 40 years as a pharmaceutical executive — is kind of like a dad to the entire brewery staff. He doles out the best one-liners (“Don’t overthink it; just drink it”), he makes dad jokes (“I hang around because someone has to keep an eye on Hank”), and he’s never afraid to boast paternal-style about all of his ‘kids’ (“I’m so proud of my association with this company and its team; I’m learning everyday.”)
But we’re pretty sure the CMBC team learns even more from him.
“A former colleague told me I should be saving my money for retirement,” Bob says. “So I can sit home or play golf? I don’t want an idle mind. I’d be dead within a year. I’d rather have this challenge… even if it means I’m out here sweating like a farm animal.”
So thanks for all that you do, Bob! And thanks, also, to all of you fathers out there, for working so hard.
In honor of the holiday, some of our staff have chimed in with some memorable bits of advice they’ve received from their own fathers. Just something to mull over while enjoying a pint with your favorite patriarch at the tasting room this weekend:
Jim Zolna, Brewtender: “Nothing wrong with screwing up, as long as you learn from it.”
Brian Hink, Lead Brewer: “Growing up a Philadelphia sports fan is a lifetime of disappointment” (which made being at the deciding game of the ’08 world series with my dad that much more special.)
Ashley Sundstrom, Operations Manager: My dad is a huge historian when it come to the Civil War. He owns a cannon, multiple uniforms, reproduction guns, etc. Growing up he instilled in me the importance of knowing history. His love for it inspired me to earn my BA in History from California State University Channel Islands which was the best decision I have have ever made when it came to my education. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my dad. Happy Father’s Day to Bud Sundstrom.
Justin Vitti, Sales Rep: So, I have thought long and hard on specific fatherly advice that I’ve received over the years… And what pops out most is recent conversations with my six-year-old daughter… “Sophia, make sure you know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek and who the important people are in them!” She is a fan of Leia and r2d2. I think that is sage advice, if anything…
Sam Douglass, Tasting Room Associate: “It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t, and it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.”
Jake Smith, Brewer: “Walk it off.”
Richie Rallo, Sales Rep: “Get a fucking job.”
CSR, aka Courtney Rosenberg, Graphic Designer: “The bands that have little to no props are the best to see live.”
Dan Petela: “Stop picking at it.”
Interested in taking dad on a father’s day tour of CMBC? Here’s the weekend schedule for both of our buildings:
OG: 1,3,5 & 7
OG: 1,2,3,4,5,6 & 7
HQ: 1,3 & 5
OG: 1,3,5 & 7
HQ: 1,3 & 5
**Sign ups for HQ are with the assigned greeter on Saturday and Sunday. Tours are cut off at 25 people, first come-first serve. Please show up 15 minutes beforehand.
Our first grain delivery since the installation of our new, 30-foot silo has arrived, after a long trip from Germany (we like Germany’s product because it’s so pure). Driver George Hartley of Compatible Technology International loaded it up in Lyndonville, Vermont and drove the cargo to the CMBC headquarters, where we peppered him with questions:
Drive all night? No. Left at 8:30 in the morning yesterday and slept at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.
How much grain are you delivering, exactly? 49,990 pounds.
What’s it like driving that? After 36 years, nothing to it.
Explain how you transfer it to the silo? I have a blower on the back of my truck that blows air from a pressurized tank. The air blows the grain into a stainless steel hose that connects to the top of the silo.
What could go wrong? Not much, unless you get a clog, but that’s unlikely.
How many breweries are on your roster? Ten of us do around 70 I think, all over the eastern seaboard. We go to Miller, Yuengling and Budweiser every once in a while, but mostly it’s microbreweries.
Considering the current boom, business must be good? It hasn’t stopped. Even during the recession, people had no money, but they never stopped drinking.
Does beer taste better when you’re the one delivering a main ingredient? Sometimes I think that.
Who’s got the best beer? Harpoon, for my liking.
Have you tried ours? Not yet.
Then we’ll scratch that answer from the record. Ha!
Only kidding. Okay.
Ever have any incidents on the road? Spilled grain on the highway? No, and let’s keep it that way.
Do you get much attention en route? Once in a while. You know that thing they’re doing, the fracking? People wonder if that’s what I’m up to.
Well this is less controversial. And cleaner.
Is your truck airtight? It has to be for me to build up pressure. But I have a valve open so we don’t build up too much.
Or… the tank explodes? I don’t know if it could or not! I wouldn’t want to open up one of the hatches when it was like that.
How long does it take to unload? One hour.
Is it difficult to drive all this way for one hour, before getting right back on the road? It’ll be nice because I’m empty now.
Feels different? Lighter.
What’s your gas mileage? About 5.5 miles per gallon loaded; eight miles per gallon when I’m not.
Where you off to now? Utica, New York.
Can we take your picture? I suppose. But let me put my hat on.
… No, we’re not talking about the iconic Milton Bradley game, although that would be cool. We’re talking about something potentially even more fun that. What could possibly be better than the most nostalgic pastime involving pretend naval strategy the world has ever seen, you ask? How about the longest-running beer festival in New Jersey, where CMBC will be pouring on June 27. Happening from 12:30-4:30pm, the 19th annual event is run by the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild and held along the Camden waterfront on the nation’s most decorated battleship, the BB-62.
“More than at any other beer festival in the state, the people serving here will be brewers and brewery owners, as opposed to event reps,” says Guild/CMBC President Ryan Krill.
And they’ll be serving in a pretty kickass location. The ship has seen every war and major conflict from World War II to the Persia Gulf, and she’s been home to over 55,000 sailors. The beer event will take place on her fantail, aka the one-time launchpad for propeller planes and helicopters.
“To sample delicious New Jersey craft beer from such a unique location is truly memorable,” says the ship’s VP of Marketing, Jack Willard. “Plus we offer some amazing views of the Philly skyline and Delaware River. It’s truly inspiring to be aboard.”
Guests will have the option of taking a tour, which means checking out the tomahawk missile launchers in the Combat Engagement Center, strolling through the officer quarters, and learning about life aboard a “floating city.”
“But this has to take place upon arrival,” Jack says. “We don’t want people walking around a 16-inch gun turret after a few beers.”
Added bonus? The world’s largest rubber ducky will be on site for the festival as well. Clocking in at 11 tons, it stands six stories tall and “spreads joy around the world.” You can’t make this stuff up.
For more information, see here, or watch the recap below of years past, courtesy of battleshipnewjersey.org. Nothing pretend about it…
Last Wednesday, Ryan Krill put on both of his leadership hats – President of Cape May Brewing Company and President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild – and advocated for David in a very David-and-Goliath-style fight. Along with 150 craft beer industry peers, he attended Washington DC’s annual Hill Climb, where the goal was simple: garner support from our nation’s legislators for the Small BREW Act.
You might remember there being buzz about the Small BREW Act immediately following last February’s Super Bowl. A $9-million-dollar Budweiser commercial aired during the game, raising the collective hackles of the craft-drinking world by suggesting “real” beer is the macro stuff, and everything else is for fussy girly-boys. The ad ignited a firestorm on social media, with bloggers likening Bud to Mardi Gras runoff and Twitter users calling out the beer’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch In-Bev, for its hypocrisy: poo-poo’ing microbreweries while simultaneously engaging in a “microbrewery buying binge.”
But it did more than that.
The commercial also angered legislators on Capitol Hill from all sides of the political spectrum. Less than 24 hours after the ad cracked wise about pumpkin peach ales, lawmakers reintroduced The Small BREW (or Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce) Act, meant to protect the little guys who make innovative beers. If passed, the legislation will drop the federal excise tax per barrel from $7 to $3.50 for the first 60,000 barrels a small brewery makes. And it will save that brewery an extra $2 on every barrel after that, up to two million.
It’s an important savings when you consider that, as of now, current taxes equal a whopping 40 percent of a craft beer’s retail price (and only 21.5% of a macro beer’s retail price). A new calibration will allow start-ups to invest in local communities by allowing them to invest in more people.
“As you know, craft beer is labor intensive,” says Barb Fusco, spokesperson for the Brewer’s Association, which sponsors the Hill Climb. “An economic impact study reveals that the Small BREW Act would generate over 5,000 new jobs in the first 12 to 18 months after implementation, and this number will grow to 6,400 after five years.
And these numbers aren’t just good for the country’s economy, but for its spirit.
“As mainstreet USA businesses grow, so does entrepreneurialism,” says Barb.
So what’s the problem?
In a recently published Congress Blog piece, brewery owners Scott Newman-Bale, Bill Covaleski and Bill Butcher put it this way:
“Threatened by our small breweries’ increasing – but still minor market share – big brewers are actively engaged in a mission to slow our growth and stifle us competitively. We recognize that such activities are part and parcel of doing business, but this time the drama isn’t playing out in the expected venues, bars and store shelves, but rather in the halls of government.”
Backed by The Beer Institute, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, and the four major, multinational beer corporations, a competing bill called the Fair BEER Act has been introduced.
“It mirrors our bill, but it’s designed to muddy the waters,” says Ryan. “It’s designed as a roadblock, so that senators think, ‘OK, we have two similar bills, so why can’t everyone involved just work it out amongst themselves?’”
But the bills only look similar on the surface. The BEER Act legislation would extend the aforementioned benefits to all of the big-gun breweries who already pay lower taxes, who’ve cut thousands of jobs in recent years, and who send much of their profits overseas. If The Beer Institute is successful in its lobbying, the BEER Act could split the vote. (An iconographic comparison between the two pieces of legislation can be found here.)
But take heart.
During the Hill Climb, 315 congressional offices were visited by craft beer advocates, and 153 of these were member-level meetings, meaning an actual member of Congress – as opposed to a support staffer – was present. Ryan, along with Gene Muller of Flying Fish, visited 10 congressional offices and met face-to-face with Senator Donald Norcross and Congressman Bill Pascrell.
“I’m pretty confident we might be able to pull this off,” he says. “There’s a lot of positive energy surrounding this bill.”
In the meantime, if you’d like to help the cause, visit brewersassociation.org and click the brown support tab at the top of the screen in order to contact your congressman.
“It only takes a moment,” Barb says.
And if the Hill Climb has taught us anything, that’s a moment well spent.
Our brews have taken home two more awards, this time from the World Beer Championships, bringing our 2015 total up to 13. Huzzah!
We’ll get to the winning beers in a minute, but first, a little about the WBC.
“Ours is the oldest international beer competition in America, since 1994,” says Jerald O’Kennard, Director of The Beverage Testing Institute, which puts on the whole shebang. “And we were the first to use the consumer accepted 100-point scale for beer to succinctly and quantitatively communicate a beer’s level of quality to consumers.”
Other things that set WBC apart?
A dedicated tasting lab with a climate-controlled storage facility, no more than 35 products tasted by judges in a given day in order to limit palette fatigue, and morning-only tastings since that’s when tastebuds are most sensitive.
“We provide an environment for highly experienced and trained professionals in the beer trade to evaluate a brewer’s creative expression
and decide if they made good choices to arrive at a pleasurable product, and then measure that level of pleasure with our hedonically-based scale that holistically measures the total experience of a beer, not simply the sum of its components.”
We’re not totally sure what ‘hedonically-based scale’ means, but we do know we love the super flowery descriptions the WBC judges derive from it. We’ve included them below so you can get a kick out of them, too.
Flavors of buoyant orange marmalade, anyone?
Devil’s Reach (silver medal, 86 points): Aromas of lemon pepper muffin, quiche, and caramelized carrots with a supple, lively, effervescent, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, engaging, medium-length orange marmalade, pepper, and turnips finish. A zesty, peppery Belgian ale that will pair well.
Tripel Wreck (bronze medal, 84 points): Aromas of cheese popcorn, bean salad, fruit pastry, and bark and leaves with a supple, tangy, effervescent, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, buoyant orange marmalade, salt and pepper, honeyed spiced apple, and carrots finish. A earthy, fruity beer for the table.
We’ve hired a new cellarman! Except she’s not a cellarman at all.
Thirty-six-year-old Dawn Bailey was born and raised in Lower Township, but left for a time to work in warehouses belonging to Colgate-Palmolive and Chelten House, makers of organic spaghetti sauce, in the north Jersey town of Parsippany. Here, she operated forklifts and supplied materials to production lines. But Cape May County tugged at her heart and, in 2010, she came back to work for the Lower Township Public Works Department.
We like to think the local beer had something to do with her decision to move home…
“Beer has something to do with a lot of things,” she says. “With Public Works, I rode on the back of a trash truck until the brewery job became available. I thought: I’d love to go to work liking what I do.’”
Now, Dawn’s position is still heavy on the manual labor. Today alone, she cleaned 36 sixtels and 62 half-kegs – the latter weigh 30 pounds each –before rolling them onto palettes. But the physical tax is worth being part of the CMBC crew, Dawn says.
“I still feel in awe,” she told us. “It’s like ‘holy cow’ when you see how much work goes into making good beer, but to see the final product… that’s so rewarding. And there’s a sense of community here. When I was working for the Public Works Department, for instance, one of my colleagues passed away in a car accident. Cape May Brewery raised money for the family.”
As for what to call her – cellarman, cellarwoman, cool-ass chick making a name for herself in a male-dominated world – Dawn says she doesn’t care.
“I don’t think the labels matter,” she says. “What matters is that we all like beer. We’re just a bunch of people who love making it, and everyone does their part.”
So we’re excited to announce: beginning this Friday, CMBC will offer handmade mahogany growler carriers that have been crafted by local woodworker and Lower Cape May Regional High School shop teacher of 15 years Mark Haibach. Thanks to the caddys, which fit two 64-ounce bottles each, no longer will your beer be rolling around in the backseat of your car… and it’ll stay put in style. We sat down with Mark to get the scoop:
How did you get hooked up with the brewery? I happen to live directly across the street. But actually, I’ve only been visiting since about November. I was uneducated about craft beer. Many of my friends enjoy it and they drink IPAs, so I thought craft beer meant IPAs, which I don’t love. Then I discovered how wrong I was.
What prompted you to make these custom carriers? I enjoy visiting different breweries and over spring break, I visited one in Lancaster. I had to park five or six blocks away, so I ended up walking quite a ways with my four kids and my two growlers clanking together. I realized this isn’t going to work for me, so I designed a caddy for my own personal use. Shortly after, [CMBC President] Ryan Krill spoke at the school where I teach as part of Cape May Forum, so I invited him to come see the caddy in my classroom. We set up a meeting and he immediately placed an order.
What do your students think of the carriers? Fortunately, most of them don’t know what a growler is! But a few tell me their parents are going to love it.
What sets yours apart from other wooden growler carriers people might see online? The craftsmanship. A lot of the others I’ve seen are more boxy. You’ll see with these, there’s a great attention to detail. All edges are rounded over and everything is completely sanded, and instead of using a nail gun, which leaves unsightly holes, we used glue and round head brass nails. Plus, these will be coming from a block and a half away… can’t get much more local than that.
How many wood pieces are you assembling to make one carrier? About 12.
How long does it take to make one? Hard to say because I don’t make one at a time, but the first one I designed start to finish was probably a couple of hours. I’ve been a woodworker for 30 years, so it kind of comes naturally to me. My goal is to get to a point where I can get 50 a week… that would be my ultimate goal.
What’s the process like? The biggest thing for us was getting the wood burner — Yesterday, my wife and I sat on the back deck with a blow torch for three hours, heating the branding iron and burning the logo.
I’m guessing there’s not a lot of room for error? I burned 110 sides yesterday and I think I messed up six of them.
What else should people know? These are going to be truly family made. My wife helps with sanding, finishing and making some of parts, and even some of the holes will be drilled by my kids — I’ve got four, ages six through 10 — who like to help in my shop.
What’s in YOUR growler? Well, my wife’s favorite is a mix of the Tower 23 and the Bog. I love the King Porter Stomp or Honey Porter.
You’ve taught many of the CMBC employees in woodshop. Who was the best and who was the worst? The best was Steve Wilson from the tasting room. He did an amazing cedar chest with zebrawood. Just beautiful.
The growler carriers are $40 and available in the CMBC tasting room beginning Friday, June 12.
On this island, it’s hard to throw a Cape May Brew Co frisbee without hitting a person exercising. There are runners on the promenade. Surfers on the beach. Even a retro rollerblader or two weaving throughout the historic district.
And to cater to all of the athletes, there are races. Boy, are there races. We’ve got turkey trots, glow runs, nun runs, a Run to the Taproom 5K, even the Ocean Drive Marathon which kicks off here every spring.
But there’s nothing quite like this Sunday’s award-winning Escape the Cape. Not in Cape May,
not anywhere. It’s why we’re so proud to be among the sponsors.
Now in its third year, the event — comprised of a sprint triathlon (.35-mile swim, 12.5-mile bike, 5k run) as well as an international triathlon (1-mile swim, 25-mile bike, 5-mile run) — requires participants to jump 12-feet from the deck of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into the Delaware Bay for the first leg of competition. At 8am on June 14, a record 1,700 athletes will take the plunge. Some of them will require the coaxing of a certified sports psychologist.
“Regular doctors talk you off of the ledge,” says event organizer Steve Del Monte of DelMo Sports. “He’ll have you leaping from it.”
Don’t worry – no one’s been injured in the race’s history. Save for our President Ryan Krill, who was set to participate in last year’s event until, just prior to the race, he nearly sliced off his thumb while installing a projector in the CMBC tasting room. You think jumping from a ferry is tough? Try balancing over a bar while cutting zip ties from a conduit.
Anywho, immediately following the competition will be an after-party at the ferry featuring barbeque, lawn games, and a special Pale Ale brew from yours truly called, appropriately, Escape the Cape.
“Cape May Brewery is a great partner,” Steve says. “The beer for this event – kind of like jumping from a ferry – is something you can’t get anywhere else. CMBC aspires to expose its brand to as many people as possible without losing touch with what makes them special, and DelMo Sports has the same goal. We may be in very different fields, but that’s where we connect; that’s at the center of it all.”
As for the beer itself?
“The primary purpose was to make something refreshing for after a tough workout,” says Lead Brewer Brian. “At the same time, we made sure it has an edge because, I mean, these people are jumping off of a ferry. They’re pretty badass.”
So there you have it: a badass race and some badass beer… not a poor way to spend a Sunday. Of course, if you can’t get to the ferry for the big event, we’ll be tapping Escape the Cape in the tasting room on Friday, and pouring until we run out.