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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Thoughts On The Expansion Completion

This Friday marks the ribbon cutting for the CMBC’s new location — 409 Breakwater — which means we’ll be all set up and ready to go with our new brewery in two days time. Here’s what some members of our team had to say about the milestone three-and-a-half years in the making:

Ryan Krill – CMBC President: “It’s easy to romanticize opening a brewery, but holy hell, it’s hard to make it happen. No one tells you if you’re making a mistake, either, so yea – there’s a lot of anxiety. But it’s exciting, too. We used to fantasize about this event back when the brewery was just a concept. We wondered what it would be like to have people caring about us and our expansion moves. Now that it’s come to fruition, we fantasize about taking it to the next level.”

Chris “Hank” Henke – Chief Operating Officer: “The opening feels like it’s been a long time coming. When you’re in the thick of it — installing the boiler, the glycol system, the steam lines and everything else — it feels like it’s dragging. You’re cursing and busting knuckles. But now, it’s bittersweet. When it’s done, and there’s nothing left to work on, you miss it. What do you do when it’s all done? I guess you start looking to build the next thing…”

Brian Hink – Lead Brewer: “I remember when Ryan first showed me the new building. It was creepy as hell, full of wooden tables that looked like they belonged in a 1980s pizza joint, and there were these low-hanging, flickering lights. There wasn’t even a key to get inside; we had to pick the lock with a knife. Ryan said we’d be brewing here within two years, and I thought to myself ‘Get the fuck out.’ Most people say they’re going to do something and maybe it happens. But Ryan operates on a different timeline. He’s a doer, and there’s never a dull moment.”

Bob Krill – Chief Mopman: To me, it was pretty quick to go from a 12-gallon can for making beer to what you see today. If you think about it from that perspective… in three-and-a-half years we’ve gone from a 12-gallon system to the monster we have now. It’s a game-changer, pretty phenomenal. Chris and Ryan deserve a lot of credit, as well as the whole conglameration of people from the Delaware River and Bay Authority — it took a lot of people juggling a lot of different balls to make this happen. So really, it’s amazing how fast it all happened. We’re witnessing the birth of a brewery. Up until this point, we’ve been micro, micro… and now we have this beast that’s going to produce a river of beer. It’s so exciting to to be a part of.  I feel like I’m freefalling, parachuting or something. Every second, I’m just enjoying the ride.

dirt

 

 

 

Eleventh-Hour Prep

Things may be business as usual at CMBC — we’re still mashing in, serving tasty beer, and attending very important meetings. Just yesterday, President Ryan Krill headed to Cherry Hill for an executive briefing with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno on ways to spur investment and job creation in New Jersey.

But there’s also been a greater-than-normal flurry of activity at our headquarters this past week. That’s because the long-anticipated ribbon cutting for our new building is this Friday. In just two days, state senators, congressmen, assemblymen, local entrepreneurs and other VIPs will descend upon 409 Breakwater to see what we’ve done with the place and help us to officially launch it.

Here are the finishing touches:

1. Sprucing up with some flowers:

This is the ‘before’ picture, taken just outside of our offices; we’ll be sure to post the ‘after’ shot, too, once it’s all complete. Expect some “colorful shit” (the landscaper’s words, not ours).

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2. Fixing that roof

When we first moved into this space over a year ago, the roof leaked from all four corners. We patched it and patched it some more, but now it’s finally getting redone. Our tireless team of seven (there’s one guy missing from this shot) began the job last Thursday, and they’ve worked every day since for eight-hour stretches in order to meet the Friday deadline. We asked Cody Short — third from the right — if he’s looking forward to a nice cold beer when this is all complete. “I’m too young to drink!” he told us. Here’s hoping he’s a rule-follower while roofing, too…

roof

 

3. Amping up the electric…

In order to power our new 30-barrel brewhouse and all of our new equipment — and thanks to five box trucks and 11 skilled technicians — we’ve upgraded our electric to 800 amps. For perspective, a large home (four bedrooms, garage, a few bathrooms) runs on a 200-0r-s0 amp system. So yea, that’s a lot of volts.

We asked CMBC’s Facility Tech Hot Carl, who worked as a lineman for the Navy in a past life, how dangerous this type of work is.

“Let’s just say those guys doing the roofing should stay away from the wires,” he said. “You can definitely get fried.”

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electric

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(People Drinking) Blondes Have More Fun

Seagulls are squawking. It’s close to 80 degrees. And Sales Rep Richie came to work looking like a lobster. All of this amounts to one thing: summer is a-coming. Further proof? Our seasonal menu. Out today is — drum roll, please — The Blonde!

We hope we aren’t misleading you here. Despite its name, this beer doesn’t really fit the blonde category. You see, blonde usually refers to a style of “entry-level” craft beers — beverages with a malty aroma whose original purpose was to provide a  gentle transition for Coors-loving Americans.

But ours isn’t just a drink for people on the verge of a mass-market-to-artisanally-produced leap. It’s got enough character for those who jumped a long time ago.

The Blonde is part Kolsh-style, part Czech Pilsner-style, and entirely flavorful. Its brewed with a distinctive German yeast and noble hops that lend a soft, clean, grassy sort of bitterness. You’ll notice them, but you “won’t feel like you’re chewing on them,” says Lead Brewer Brian, adding that’s this is an ideal brew for after a hot summer activity. “At first we wanted to call it Lawnmower Ale because it tastes so great after something like yardwork, but DogFish Head already had the name.”

Come to the tasting room to see if you agree with Briguy. And in the meantime: SPF, guys, SPF.

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The Bog is Back – Tomorrow!

Here’s a sure sign of summer – the return of The Bog.

This was an accidental brew. Every year around Thanksgiving, we make a cranberry wheat beer, and in November of 2013, we added too much cranberry. The final product was undrinkably tart, so we added lemonade. Voila: an uber-drinkable shandy, perfect after a hot day on the beach. Now, The Bog has become one of our fastest selling recipes.

“We have a hard time keeping it in stock,” says Lead Brewer Brian.

Some customers prefer drinking it on its own; and yes, by ‘some customers’ we don’t just mean lemonade-loving ladies, but macho, macho men.

“Guys don’t admit it, but they love it,” says COO Hank.

And some of you prefer to mix and match.

“I love pairing The Bog with Tower 23,” says Tap Room Manager Jim. “It’s the perfect blend of sweet and sour.”

However you like it, rejoice! The Bog is back starting tomorrow, in all its refreshing, 3.9-percent-ABV glory.

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Mopman And The Military

CMBC co-owner Bob Krill – better known as Mopman — has made over 500 of our wooden tap handles. The originals were shaped like the state of New Jersey, and then came the square peg versions. But Bob’s done custom ones, too — for a watermelon wheat beer, for instance,

Mopman!
Mopman!

he once painted a Jersey-shaped handle to look like an actual watermelon, complete with seeds.

“Between my pharmaceutical consulting work, I do the odd jobs at the brewery,” says Bob. “I fill in the gaps, and I enjoy the more artsy stuff. Of course, these tap handles are a pain in the ass. We’re ordering professionally made ones, because otherwise doing this would be a full-time job!”

But Mopman is outdoing himself — PITA work or not. We’re talking about the special USCG handles he’s crafting for use at the US Coast Guard Harbor View All Hands Club. For the lay reader, that’s a really long name for the on-base bar at Training Center Cape May, where 4,000 military hopefuls come for boot camp each year. Here is where 83 percent of the Coast Guard’s entire workforce have endured eight workouts a day, every day, for eight weeks.

Almost finished!
Almost finished!

It’s fitting, then, that the process for making the Coast Guard tap handles would be no walk in the park. The tedious process includes cutting out wooden New Jerseys before sanding them, priming them and painting them the colors of the Coast Guard cutter racing stripe, red and white. Then Bob will put the hardware on, making sure it’s flush with the wood. In this case, that hardware is a blue Coast Guard medallion.

The finished product will be coming at a celebratory time for the base. The weekend of May 8 through 10 will be a festival commemorating Cape May’s official designation as a “Coast Guard community.” Reads a press release about the honor: “This reflects the deep and enduring nature of the relationships that the region’s residents share with Coast Guard personnel, families, and visitors.” Highlights will include a military parade and flyover, concerts, ship tours, and interactive marine exhibits.

At an on-base barbeque on Saturday, CMBC will be pouring, so we hope to see you there. In the meantime, check out Bob’s tap handles for sale in our tasting room… sir, yes, sir!

Mopman's workshop... including the scarecrow he made for a scarecrow contest at Cape May's Emlen Physick Estate last year. Back then, he had a pumpkin for a head.
Mopman’s workshop… including the scarecrow he made for a scarecrow contest at Cape May’s Emlen Physick Estate last year. Back then, he had a pumpkin for a head. (The scarecrow, not Bob.)

T-Party

And we’re one step closer to a completed expansion!

The glycol chiller.
The glycol chiller.

You may have seen the oh-so-important glycol chiller which sits just outside of our headquarters. This is the piece of equipment that, despite its name, won’t actually chill anything. Instead, it will extract heat from the liquid chemical propylene glycol before pumping it to our fermenters via piping in the ceiling of the brewery. Once it’s arrived, this glycol will regulate the temperature of said fermenters. Then, after it’s exhausted, the glycol will make its way back to the chiller where it’ll be prepped for action once again… and on and on it will go, in one continuous loop.

Make sense?

This week, the ‘T’ fittings for the glycol system’s piping arrived, and our guys Hank and Hot Carl attached a handy-dandy valve to each one. These valves will allow certain tanks to be taken offline when necessary.

“It wouldn’t normally be tricky,” says Carl, “but in the brewery there are so many fermenters and a whole bunch that haven’t been moved into the new building yet, so we basically have to pipe them before they’ve arrived.”

Hypothetical piping: the CMBC challenge of the week. Also, a pretty good name for a band.

A whole lotta Ts.
Hank, Carl and a whole lotta Ts.

The List: What In-The-Know Drinkers Will Be Talking About This Weekend

1. Fortune magazine has rounded up the wackiest beers out there, including that one brewed with whale testicles smoked in sheep poop…

The beauty beer. Via Forbes.
The beauty beer. Via Forbes.

2. After a battle that lasted three years, a unanimous decision has been made: craft brewers in Florida are finally allowed to sell their beer inhalf-gallon growlers. Now the only state holding out? Utah.

3. The Atlantic breaks it down: the fascinating history of the beer garden… and why fire played a part.

4. A Japanese company is marketing their beer to women as a beauty product because it’s made with wrinkle-fighting collagen, but the science isn’t pretty.

5. Gizmodo says beer cocktails are now the thing to drink… if you don’t want to get blotto.

6. Gone are the days of kitchen counter beer pong – an enterprising Canadian named Jeff Nybo has invented a tricked-out table that keeps score for you, complete with ball washers.

7. Technology monolith Apple had a #beerbash for Earth Day and Pharrell Williams performed while CEO Tim Cook and former VP Al Gore danced along.

8. We all scream for ice cream… and some of us scream about it. Ben and Jerry’s has teamed up with Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing for the making of a Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. “It’s bad for children who will start looking at beer as the next step after ice cream,” says Bruce Lee Livingston, CEO of Alcohol Justice watchdog group.

9. Scotland’s BrewDog brewery – self-described “beacon of non-conformity in an increasingly monotone corporate desert” — is planning to launch a “Beer Hotel” in which the company’s own beers will be on tap… in the bedrooms.

10. More than any other sport, major league soccer shares the same fan demographic as craft beer: millenials. Which explains why MLS is the only sport that doesn’t treat craft beer “like third-class citizens.”

11. A Wisconsin woman broke into a house to steal beer, cheese and perfume. “The pungent robber is being held on a tentative charge of burglary,” reports The Daily Mail.

12. Not one but THREE baseball fans used their beers to catch fly balls this week. “With the rough chances of catching a foul ball sitting at one in 1,189,” reports mlb.com, “the odds of catching one in a full beer is (carry the two, multiply by the remainder …) are much smaller than that.” In unrelated news, sports fans may soon be pouring their own drinks thanks to “beer robots.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=McJAbVW-bDg

Beer Run

The Boston Marathon is the biggest running-related story this week (have you seen the video of bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory crossing the finish line yet? What a tear jerker), but when you’ve finished bingeing on that coverage, check out Cape May’s own rad running moment of the week: A successful 5k at our place.

Steven Haggart, Danni Hegler
Steven Haggart, Danni Hegler

On Sunday morning, about 355 participants braved the wind – think 17-mile-an-hour gusts – for a race that began and ended at the brewery. Director Ken Culbertson of Good Day for a Run told us that he gets a high demand for events “just like this” (ie, events with access to alcohol), and so he simply gave the  lushes athletes what they want.

People showed up from as far as Manhattan, Philadelphia and Maryland, and one guy came all the way from England just for the this! (Okay, Steven Haggart actually left the UK a year ago to live in LBI, so technically he

Kelli McGugan, Erinn Westerfer
Kelli McGugan, Erinn Westerfer

came all the way from central Jersey, but it’s our blog and we’ll say what we want.)

It’s a funny thing – both the running and craft beer worlds are experiencing a massive boom, and yet both remain close-knit, supportive communities. Communities with an overlapping demographic.

“Why would you do a 5k without beer?” said Brian Gilan of we-forgot-to-ask-where. “Running is the risk; beer is the reward.”

And then there was Erinn Westerfer of Philadelphia, who said: “My mom just texted me to say the only reason I run fast is because of beer at the finish line.”

Or Monica and Domenick Versaggi, also of Philadelphia, who said, “The beer is what we run for, and we miss Cape May’s when we’re not here.”

Carl and Peach
Carl and Peach

Of course, others are in it for the friendly competition – like our own Facility Technician, Carl Hudson, who placed second in his age group.

Carl’s SO Peach (no last name, like Madonna) told us that she’d been planning on making him a shirt to race in with “I’ll get up when I’m ready” printed on the back, in case he crashed and burned, but that Carl didn’t need it because he’s been faithfully training with his coach, an English Springer Spaniel named Beatrice. Also, he had a goal in mind: beating CMB sales rep Justin Vitti, which he was able to do.

Justin’s response: “Carl ran a good race and it shows that he has a lot of experience. Proof of his experience? I

Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

saw the quote that Jesus wrote in their yearbook about some track meet they ran in their new Air Sandals circa 16 AD or something… I will let him have his moment as he probably doesn’t have many of them left.”

Justin Vitti
Justin Vitti

Yet another of CMB’s employees in the race this day? Taproom Associate Steve Wilson.

“Beer goes with running because beer goes with everything,” he said. “Except driving. And flying. And pregnancy.”

Which we think someone should print on a tee-shirt.

Until next time, CMB fans… happy running!

A New Home For Our Grain

Those crafty ancient Greeks. They invented spiral staircases, lighthouses, even indoor plumbing. We assume CMB sales rep Justin Vitti pays silent homage for the latter every time he hits play on an Enya CD and sinks into his nightly bubble bath. But never mind all that.

Today, we’re especially thankful to the Greeks for their other invention — the grain silo.

That’s because – drum roll, please — we’re about to get one of our own. The sexy cylinder will be coming from Lancaster in approximately a month, and she’ll stand right outside of our headquarters. Thirty feet tall and 12 feet wide, she’ll need to be assembled onsite and, thanks to Cape Concrete Designs, we’ve already had her pad laid out.

Capacity is 120,000 pounds, so every silo fill will last us approximately one month, drastically cutting down on deliveries. Currently, we receive shipments of 55-pound grain bags, 40 to a skid. But now, 60 tons of the good stuff will come at once in a special truck complete with a mechanism for blowing said cargo into place.

From here, the grain will be sucked through an auger pipe via rotating coils into our mill for grinding. The resulting product, a rough flour called grist, will then makes its way into the grist case until the time comes for mashing in and making tasty beer.

When the silo arrives, we’ll keep you updated with photos, including one of the windsock our resident pilot/President Ryan Krill intends to pop on top. Opa!

Silo spot... pre-concrete
Silo spot… pre-concrete

 

Gordon Ramsay Says Cape May Beer Makes Everything Alright

Let’s say you’ve never seen one of Gordon Ramsay’s television programs – Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and MasterChef, among others. And let’s say you’ve never heard of his 25 restaurants or their 15 – fifteen! – Michelin stars. And let’s say you’ve never caught his guest appearances on American Idol or The Simpsons. (What are you, living under a rock?) You’ve likely still heard of the Scottish chef’s legendary temper. A temper that’s kept in check, come to find out, by Cape May Brewery beer.

Ramsay, raising a glass of CMB beer, next to our guy Brian and Caesars President Kevin Orooo
Ramsay, raising a glass of CMB beer, next to our guy Brian and Caesars President Kevin Ortzman.

But before we get to that, some GR history:

This is the guy who says even his own mum is appalled at the extent of his cursing.  A guy who once kicked a food critic out of his restaurant and allegedly shoved a contestant on one of his shows, resulting in a sprained ankle. A guy who hired a private detective to tail his father-in-law when he suspected the man of bankrolling a mistress on his dime. A guy who’s feuded with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali. A guy who names the turkeys he raises after celebrity chef peers.

In line with reality TV dogma, that kind of behavior garners a hefty following. So, unsurprisingly, the excitement surrounding the grand opening of the new Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill in Atlantic City’s Caesars Casino yesterday was palpable. Ramsay himself was set to be there – tapping a CMB firkin — after all.

By 5pm, the cask sat in position at the top of the grand steps leading to the Roman Coliseum-motiffed restaurant. Beside it stood Ramsay’s guards – both real and Praetorian – as well as the 200 Casino big-wigs, reporters, and members of the public who’d been invited. When the man of the hour appeared, the crowd that had gathered in the lobby below took a collective breath and began tapping furiously at their cell phone cameras.

“Anyone who says Atlantic City is in decline is full of utter horseshit,” Ramsay said into his mic, likely glad his mother was not in attendance, before thanking the requisite people.

Just then, an Irish bagpiper named Alex McKee who says there is never anything under his kilt but lipstick (womp, womp) began leading a procession of tartan-clad, Scottish flag-waving staffers and CMB’s own Brew Master, Brian Hink, across the lobby, through security and to the foot of the stairs. When they arrived, Ramsay began tapping at the firkin with a wooden mallet in order to fill his glass with the delicious brew inside: South Jersey Seccession Session Scottish Ale conditioned with Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean. When the cask remained uptapped, Brian lept up the stairs to help in applying just the right amount of force.

“Man, that was nerve-wracking,” Bri-guy said later, over passed hors d’oeuvres. “There were so many cameras and so many people, and it’s hard to know until you do it if the beer has settled enough to avoid a blast of foam when tapped.” But no catastrophes this day.

“Very beautiful,” Ramsay said after his first sip.

Sweet treats, UK style.
Sweet treats, UK style.

Around this time, your blogger – who had earned entry to the event by tucking in behind the bagpipe procession – accidentally stepped out of bounds while looking for a bathroom, and was not immediately allowed back in to the event for lack of a proper wristband… doh! At least that’s what security said, but we’re suspicious it might, also, have had something to do with said blogger’s egregious farmer’s tan, which she’d regrettably acquired earlier in the day, but we digress.

After 35 minutes of sweet-talking her way through three layers of food-and-beverage management, your blogger finally managed to regain entry. Only problem? By now, all star-struck groupies who had not yet gotten a moment of face-time with Ramsay were going full-on 12-year-old-girl-at-Justin-Bieber-concert. As the star made his way through throngs of grown men throwing elbows and even one middle-aged southern woman who yelled between sobs that she’s been waiting her whole life for THIS MOMENT, we shouted one question at Ramsay that managed to catch his attention: Why, of all the craft breweries out there, is it important to have Cape May’s beer on tap?

Gordon Ramsay, flanked.
Gordon Ramsay, flanked.

“I started tasting that stuff a long time ago,” he said. “After a long day in the kitchen, it makes everything alright.”

And knowing what a day in the kitchen can look like for Ramsay – the man’s pastry chef once called the police on him, citing abusive behavior – we’re very flattered.

As for whether all that temper stuff is real, or merely a show put on for the cameras, we asked Casino President Kevin Ortzman.

“Gordon Ramsay is a wonderful partner,” he said. “But he has very high standards. Cape May Brewing Company fits in with that.”

So while GR may be the culinary villain America loves to hate, he’s a-ok by us. Even if we were nearly booted from his pub.

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