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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company

Production Manager For Hire

Ready for the biggest understatement of this blog thus far? We’ve been growing a lot this year. (Read: our new brew system. Our expansion into a second building. Our new bottling line.)

And all this growth means we need more hands on deck, er, brewhouse.

This is why we’re currently hiring a production manager. We’ve already had interest in the position from all over the eastern seaboard, which is great. (We’re offering a relocation package, so don’t be put off if you’re not currently on the Cape.)

In case you haven’t come across our want ad yet, allow us to elaborate. In a nutshell: you must be awesome.

In a non-nutshell: you must exhibit excellent interpersonal skills, as you’ll be managing, directing and assisting our brew team. In other words, the fermentation, maturation and packaging fates of our beer will be your duty to oversee. And the standard operating procedures for the brewhouse, cellar and packaging processes will be your job to create.

You’ll ensure the consistency of our beers, and be in charge of initiating troubleshooting measures as needed. You’ll also assist in production forecasting and planning, while maintaining an inventory of brewing supplies. Working with senior production staff, you’ll help grow and train the production team, until its primed for world domination. Just seeing if you’re paying attention. You’ll actually help grow and train the production team so that it can continue putting South Jersey craft beer on the map, in the most efficient way possible.

And since we’re totes neurotic about cleanliness, we’ll need you to ensure stellar sanitation, too.

For the rest of the job responsibilities and all of the requirements, including at least five years of proven brewing experience in a packaging facility over 5,000 barrels, a degree from a professional brewing education program, and the ability to lift up to lift 55 pounds, see here.

And good luck.

Bring On The Bottling!

After a year of building, CMBC’s resident engineer/Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke has completed our bottling line. Well, almost.

“Now I’m trying to figure out how to upgrade it,” he says.

Can you tell this is the guy who, as a child, shunned board games and toy guns in favor of taking apart the telephone?

The bottling line is a mix of ingenuity, used eBay parts and patience.

“I basically walk around it with a wrench, fixing whatever goes wrong,” Chris says. “All bottling lines are a constant headache.”

But, as temperamental as the thing can be, it’s also extraordinarily practical, allowing us to fill between 24 and 30 bottles per minute. In a day’s work, we can get through 24 barrels of tasty beer.

We asked Chris to walk us through the process, and he was kind enough to draw us a diagram, which we’ve uploaded for your viewing pleasure. Key below. Oh, and those three circles with antennae represent the three men it takes to man this operation. Hey, he’s an engineer… not an artist.

1. The depalletizer. This is essentially a giant conveyor belt “built like a tank” out of quarter-inch stainless steel. We got it from Wachusett Brewing Company in Massachusetts, and with a forklift, we lift a pallet of bottles onto it. This is the kick-off.

2. The transition. This is where that pallet of bottles is sorted into a single row, so that they can be fed into the labeler. It’s something Chris built entirely from hand, using some parts that came with the depalletizer, and others he sourced from eBay.

3. The labeler. This came from a company in California who sold it, bought it back, and then refurbished it. “There’s not a single piece of new equipment on this line,” Chris says. It’s set up to receive six bottles at a time.

4. Conveyor belt. Built entirely from scratch. If you get too many bottles here, they can cause a traffic jam… and a Lucille-Ball-at-the-chocolate-factory type of episode.

5. Pusher. Another “beast,” according to Chris. Grabs the bottles from the conveyor belt and “jams them through the twist rinser.”

6. Twist rinser. Plastic rails flip bottles upside down here, so that they can be blasted with sterile water to rid them of any cardboard dust. Also came from Wachusett Brewing.

7. Little jobbie, or what Chris calls the section he custom made from aluminum plates, Unistrut, aka “the erector set for adults,” as well as parts from the industrial supply company McMaster-Carr. It assembles a row of bottles out of the twist rinser, and then shoves them via an air cylinder onto the bottler when a built-in sensor says “go.”

8. Bottler. Came used from a brewery in Ohio. It purges the bottles with CO2 to remove any air. Then it fills six of them at a time. Then caps six at a time.

9. Accumulation table. Here, the bottles collect once they come out of the bottler. If the person (usually Tony) manning this station walks away, a jam so great happens “you better start drinking some bottles!” Chris says. Any low fills (aka duds) we keep for ourselves. The rest are moved by hand into six-packs and then cases, which hold 24 bottles. These boxes are assembled in advance, and take about half a day of manpower.

10. Case sealer. Appropriately named, as it seals the cases.

11. Roller coaster ride. The conveyor belt that brings the sealed cases to the pallet wrapper.

12. Pallet wrapper. Came with the building (which used to house a wallpaper swatch company, remember.) Gets our pallets ready for shipping to accounts all over south Jersey. Beer bottled so far includes Honey Porter, Mop Water and Coastal Evacuation. Look for them on shelves near you, and happy drinking.

Fill 'em up!
Bottles move out of the bottler, after being capped, onto the accumulation table.
Chris and Jake oversee the bottling of Mop Water.
Chris, Nick and Andrew oversee the movement of Mop Water bottles, after being labeled, as they make their way through the twist rinser.

Wanted: New Home For Our Brewhouse

It’s a bittersweet day at Cape May Brewing Company. We’ve listed our 15-barrel system — complete with brewhouse, boiler, auger and mill –for sale on probrewer.com. For the uninitiated, that’s like Craigslist for beer-making equipment.

The system is two years old. We bought it new and sight-unseen from quality supplier GW Kent, while the whole thing was attached to the back of a semi en route to Michigan. It’s been good to us. We’ve also been good to it.

“We’re neurotic about maintaining everything,” says CMBC Prez Ryan Krill.

We’ve also been neurotic about upgrading everything, to make sure the equipment runs as efficiently as possible. For instance, we had a custom stainless steel fabricator come to the brewery, get inside the machine, and expand the tiny drain port the brewhouse came with by cutting a three-inch hole in the bottom. Viva la process flow!

“Any kinks have been worked out,” Ryan says. “This is the reason you never want to buy the first model of a new car.”

We’re hoping our system — the fourth in CMBC history — finds a good home, perhaps with a brewery that’s been in our shoes, like Rare Bird in Travers City, Michigan, who purchased our three-barrel system, the third in CMBC history, a few years ago.

While we’ll miss our trusty setup — this is where we truly began to cut our teeth, Ryan says — we’re feeling a bit like the parents of a kid going off to college… we’re eyeing up her room. The plan is to turn the brew system’s space — the area attached to our tasting room — into something functional and exciting, once a buyer comes forward. We’re talking about a space for fermenting and barrel ageing our sours. Meantime, we’ll continue brewing in our 30-barrel system at the CMBC headquarters just across the way.

That one, we have no plans to sell.

For now.

Ain't she a beaut? Our 15-bbl system, for sale now.
Ain’t she a beaut? Our 15-bbl system, for sale now.



Smooth Sail Pale Ale: Out Now

Think of it as “IPA lite,” says CMBC Prez Ryan Krill. Formerly known as the Cape May Pale Ale (“a sexy beer with an unsexy name,” also according to Ryan), we’ve branded this iteration as Smooth Sail because it’s easy drinking.

We brew it with the Zythos hop blend which lends notes of pineapple and, more subtlety, pine. It’s ever-so-slightly spicy, and mixed with some experimental varieties to add even more complexity.

The final product weighs in at 4.8%.

“This is perfect for people who are tired of the 8% double IPAs, but find session IPAs too light,” says COO Chris “Hank” Henke. “Smooth Sail falls right in the middle.”

Come taste for yourself, on tap in our tasting room now.

CMBCs Chuck Wray throws back a Smooth Sail Pale Ale on the patio.
The best place to throw back a Smooth Sail? The CMBC patio…

CMBC Speaks At Sustainability Conference

It wouldn’t be college without beer, right?

Our President, Ryan Krill, completed his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Villanova University before moving on to study real estatevill development at NYU. On October 7, he revisited his Philly stomping grounds in order to speak on campus at a sustainable career panel for students wondering what to do with their lives. (We’re looking at you, fellow philosophy majors.)

“I’d heard of the brewery because I have friends and colleagues who visit often, and they talk about how amazing the beer is,” said event organizer and Villanova Sustainability Manager Liesel Schwarz.  “Ryan was a perfect example to the students of what can happen when you have a passion and follow it through, even if it takes you down an unexpected path.”

Ryan was among five presenters, all Villanova alumni who’ve started their own businesses. None hail from what Liesel calls “stereotypically sustainable fields” like environmental science. Rather, attendees heard from a lawyer, a waste management exec, and heads of different engineering firms.

“It reinforced for me that you don’t have to be creating solar panels to act sustainably,” Ryan says.

As part of his own PechaKucha slideshow, our guy went over all of the ways CMBC minds the environment, including the use of refillable pint glasses and growlers; the lack of a New Jersey distributor, which limits carbon emission; and the installation of a silo, which limits the need for delivery trucks and grain bags.

Response from students, Liesel says, was wonderful.

“We had close to 50 in attendance,” she told us. “Which is pretty great, considering it’s finals week.”

Following the event, everyone was invited to a reception with Cape May beer on tap… a pretty good way to calm those pre-test nerves, if we do say so ourselves.

Ryan, on the far left, next to Liesel and the rest of the sustainability presenters.



And The Nomination Goes To…

Congratulations to CMBC co-founder and president of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, Ryan Krill. The Brewers Association (BA) hasvote accepted his nomination to stand for a voting member position on their board of directors.

Reminder: The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade organization meant to protect the interests of craft brewers. Currently, the association represents more than 2,800 American breweries and 45,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association, as well as beer distributors, marketers, and allied trade peeps. The BA works to ensure the quality and availability of necessary beer-making ingredients, advocates for job creation legislation and ethical trade practices, compiles resources that are beneficial to the industry, and otherwise celebrates and nourishes a healthy and collaborative craft brewing community.

Two of the BA’s eight packaging brewery positions are currently up for grabs, open for three-year terms beginning February of 2016, and Ryan is the only contender from the MidAtlantic Region. If successful in his bid, he will become one of the select brewers “really steering the BA,” according to Rob Tod, Vice Chair of the Brewers Association Board, in a recent post. And he’ll apply the same passion he brings to Cape May Brew Co and the great Garden State.

Voting is open to BA members until Halloween. In the meantime, check out Ryan’s campaign video below:



Field Trip: Mid-Atlantic Brewers Symposium

Last weekend, at the invitation of our neighboring brewers guild, The Brewers of Pennsylvania, CMBC co-owners Chris and Ryan headed to Bethlehem for the first annual Mid-Atlantic Brewers Symposium. The two-day affair was held in SteelStacks, a 10-acre venue that was once home to the nation’s second largest steel manufacturer, and featured ten 45-minute seminars run by industry leaders. The focus? A one-two punch of brewing science and brewing business, covering everything from sanitation to brewhouse technology to the trends that will move our industry forward.

Among the symposium speakers were JB Shireman, Executive Director of the Beverage Intelligence Group for First Beverage Group, an MAadvising and investment firm for “transformational” beverage brands; Robert Seaman, plant manager for Yuengling; Dick Cantwell, Quality Ambassador for the Brewers Association who famously resigned from the Elysian Brewing Company he co-founded when they were acquired by Anheuser-Busch; and Bill Clement, Stanley Cup Champion.
“In a business climate where we often have to do more with less,” Clement said, “our personal performance as an everyday leader is crucial not only to our organization’s victories, but also our individual successes.”

We asked Dan Labert, Executive Director for The Brewers of PA, why they brought The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild in on this symposium, rather than keeping all of these seeds of wisdom for themselves [insert maniacal laughter here]. Here is what he had to say:

“With so many new breweries entering the scene, there is real value in fostering a collaborative industry. Although every brewer is in competition with others in market, there is a general feeling to focus more on creating higher quality products. This can only be done by knowing ‘who are the people in your neighborhood?’ Yes, you can sing the song from Mister Rogers. This is why associations exist. Although many focus on advocacy, the hallway magic that could develop through educational gatherings offers real return on investment. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a PA & NJ collaborative beer develop as a result of the Brewers of Pennsylvania Symposium? If so, the consumers win again thanks to craft brewers! State guilds working together also sends a message that craft brewers are united and cannot be divided. The Brewers of Pennsylvania look forward to more opportunities with neighbors on all borders.”
Proof of this collaborative mindset? Happening concurrently with the symposium was an Oktoberfest presented by Yuengling… and complete with wiener dog races. They poured beer from us as well as Flying Fish, and proceeds will benefit The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild.
Cheers to good neighbors.


An Update From The Guild

On October 5, approximately 40 members of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild held their monthly meeting at Kane Brewing Company. Garden State Brewers Guild LogoHere’s what you need to know:

  1. Don Russell ran the show for the first time as Executive Director.
  2. All agreed that last month’s Brews by the Bay festival was a grand time — it drew over 1,000 people to the Cape May terminal of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.
  3. Michael Halfacre, former Director of the New Jersey Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and current Guild lawyer, sponsored the meeting, and gave a rundown of the step-by-step process for new breweries looking to obtain a licence.
  4. The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild has hit a record high of 85 members.
  5. November’s meeting will see nominations for the Guild’s Board of Directors. Stay tuned…

And The Newest Beer On Tap Is…

It’s Harvest time. Kind of like Hammer time, only cooler.

This week, our 6.2 percent Harvest Season Ale became available. Previously, we brewed this beer with pomace, or the crushed grape skins winethat remain after the liquid has been pressed out. But we wanted a wee bit more wine character this time around, so we made this batch with Merlot grape juice. It’s a perfect brew for all the wine lovers coming to Cape May Airport, our homebase, for the Cape May Wine Fest this weekend. On October 10 and 11, between noon and 5pm at Naval Air Station Wildwood, expect food trucks, live music and — of course — tasty libations.

For those who aren’t into fusion, no worries — the beer still tastes like beer, just with a little something special.

Speaking of something special, the Harvest Season Ale is made with our Saison yeast strain, and since ‘saison’ stands for ‘season’ in French… Well, you see what we did there.

A la votre!

Broadcast Brews

richzeoli_hs2015Mark your calendars: On Friday October 16 between 3 and 6pm, Rich Zeoli of Philadelphia-based WPHT CBS Radio (the flagship station for Philadelphia Phillies coverage) will conduct a live broadcast out of our tasting room.
Well known for his work in media training and public speaking, as well as a high-profile client roster that includes Fortune 500 executives, national television personalities, and bestselling authors, Zeoli is also a beer enthusiast. His show covers everything from national policy to the economy to pop-up beer gardens. On the 16th, he’ll delve into CMBC’s recent expansion, as well as its recent (and tasty) releases.
Listen to the show by tuning into 1210AM, or by accessing Rich Zeoli’s page at tunein.com.

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