Cape May has been known for its restaurant scene ever since TheNew York Times dubbed us the “culinary capital of New Jersey.” This summer, the island gets one more notch in its cutting board. The Exit Zero Cookhouse at 109 Sunset Boulevard opened three weeks ago — with our Honey Porter as a main ingredient — after much suspense!
Okay, that’s a lie. There was hardly any suspense surrounding the opening of this particular restaurant because owner Jack Wright — a journalist of 30 years and the publisher of Cape May’s peppy Exit Zero periodical — kept it under the radar in case the whole thing turned into a flaming disaster and he needed to go back to his day job with his tail tucked between his legs. (And that’s coming from your blogger who, full disclosure, is Jack’s wife.)
Since the opening, the response has been pretty great. People are loving the menu that Jack describes as “all over the map… in a good way,” and they’re especially loving the Indian lineup, which includes coconut shrimp curry and shrimp Tikka Masala, among others.
So where does our beer factor in?
Along with rich chocolate, the ‘Jersey Fresh’-designated Honey Porter, which is made with 90 pounds of fresh Jersey honey in every 15-barrel batch, contributes to an intensely smoky flavor in the Cookhouse’s super spicy vegetarian chili recipe.
It might just be the spiciest dish in town.
“So far, three people have sent the plate back because they couldn’t handle it,” Jack says. “Half a dozen others have demanded we never change it.”
See where you stand on the polarizing recipe at the Cookhouse, open from 5pm every night but Sunday.
“I’m excited to work with CMBC because I see our companies as brothers from another mother,” Jack says. “It’s important to both Exit Zero and the brewery to be innovative and energetic, and we prioritize community involvement. Plus, Honey Porter is my favorite beer of all time.”
We’ve gotten eight new pieces of CMBC swag… and they’re for sale now online and in the tasting room. Here’s what our graphic designer, Courtney Rosenberg, had to say about the threads modeled here by the CMBC team:
Where does the inspiration for the designs come from? Like, do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea?
My inspiration comes from our tasting room, the surf/boating lifestyle and styles that are trending right now in pop culture. Like I totally think Taylor Swift would rock the new flowy life preserver ladies’ tank next time she is hanging in Stone Harbor. Hint Hint, Tay Tay. I totally have woken up with ideas before and plugged them into my notes on the iPhone. Those crazy ideas are now beer labels and merch.
How collaborative is the designing?
I want /ask for suggestions for the merch from everyone in the office, brewhouse and tasting room. The tasting room staff has the most interaction with the buyers so I like to go to them with rough ideas. Out of the tasting room staff Dan is very honest so he will tell me if something sucks, or he’ll geek out over a design he loves. Ryan and Ashley will often relay to me if they think a certain article of clothing will sell well and from there I will brainstorm ideas and then discuss with them further. Everything at CMBC is a team effort.
As the graphic designer, what’s YOUR favorite?
I like them all! It’s a toss up though between the IPA shirt and the ladies’ life preserver tank. The IPA shirt is just a good frickin time. It’s bold and obviously the design stands out. So far I’ve had people ask me if the hop was an acorn or a “bud”, which I am okay with. The beer nerds will get what it is.
Why the squid? And were there any other animals in the running for that shirt?
So we had the anchor with hops last year and this year I wanted to do something different but in the same line-drawing style. I was searching online for different sea life and stumbled across different octopus and squid photos. From there I messed around with designs and made a drunk squid. I really wanted to do a shirt with horseshoe crabs or skates…next round.
You may know 27-year-old Courtney G, whose been a member of the CMBC team since October of 2014, as a tour guide extraordinaire. But there’s a lot more to her than that (see: affinity for Sir Mix A Lot). Here, meet the girl behind the growler fills:
I am from… Lititz, Pennsylvania.
The last time I laughed until I cried was… yesterday.
My favorite CMBC beer is… Apple Bomb
The band I’m embarrassed to admit I like is… The Backstreet Boys.
The greatest adventure I ever had was… playing softball in Hawaii with the University of Maine team.
The superpower I’d like most is… the power of flight.
My favorite non-CMBC craft beer is… Shipyard Pumpkinhead.
My favorite curseword is… S***, but bleep it out… I’m trying to become a teacher.
My favorite cartoon is…Rugrats.
My biggest fear is… weird textures. It stops me from eating most seafood and other things.
My favorite band/musician is… Carrie Underwood.
The question I hear most frequently while giving a CMBC tour is… Are you related to the owners?
The most famous person I’ve ever met was… Terry Francona.
My karaoke song is… “Baby got Back” by Sir Mix A Lot.
My biggest pet peeve is… wet socks.
The thing I can’t live without is... my car. A Scion tC.
I’m most proud of… the way I was raised and the person I’ve become. Is that too corny? Playing sports showed me the importance of being a well-rounded person, and of handling what gets thrown at me.
The sports teams I follow are: Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, Phillies. Also, I’m a Boston Red Sox fan. And Penn State Football! We Are!
If I could, I’d splurge on a… private island!
Something few people know about me is… there’s nothing you can say that surprises me or throws me off.
The job I would leave CMBC for is… my ultimate goal is to become an elementary school teacher, but I love my job right now.
The best advice I’ve ever received was… be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what they’re going through.
If I were an insect, I’d be a… lightning bug.
The best pick-up line I ever used was… they usually just come to me! I don’t practice them.
The dorkiest thing about me is… I like dinosaurs and sharks.
My hidden talent is… I can whistle really loudly.
I was drawn to CMBC because… I love the atmosphere here. Everyone is so helpful, and the environment is so welcoming.
In 2011, Cape May Brewery President Ryan Krill was working to build his company’s client base to, well, greater than one. His equipment consisted of scrap parts and his beer roster included a single recipe. Considering the goal – to put south Jersey’s craft beer scene on the map — you could say that Ryan and his partners had their work cut out for them. And yet, there was another challenge they simply couldn’t resist: waging war against the crippling, degenerative disease that is Multiple Sclerosis.
“It’s never been about efficiencies or bottom lines only,” says Ryan, whose aunt suffers from MS. “We’ve always wanted to be a company engaged with the community.”
That first year, between brewing sessions, Ryan created a CMBC-sponsored team of cyclists. The group of nine – an unlikely set representing 20-somethings, 60-somethings and generations in between — raised over $10,000 for MS research before participating, along with 7,000 others, in an awareness-raising ride called City to Shore. Starting locations for the event — one of 100 campaigns put on by the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation — varied, but the CMBC team chose an 80-mile route beginning in Cherry Hill and ending in Ocean City. The brewery also released a special City to Shore beer, proceeds from which were donated to the cause.
The ride – and the beer – have happened every fall since.
“I’ve participated in a lot of competitive sporting events throughout my life, including competitive cycling,” says real estate developer MacKenzie Thorn, team captain from 2011 to 2014. “And this is the most fun I’ve ever had. There are riders of all abilities, and no one is in it to win anything, but to do something worthwhile and have a really great time.”
Ryan and MacKenzie met in graduate school at New York University, where they bonded over a shared love of biking. For a few years, they each participated in City to Shore as part of the largest friends-and-family team in program history, Team Tanya. When that group disbanded, neither was willing to say goodbye to the ride, and the incentive for the CMBC team was born.
As the brewery has grown – Cape May is on track to become the state’s third largest producer of craft beer this year — so has this team. Last year, 18 people registered, and more are expected to sign up for 2015. In total, the group has raised $46,952, with no signs of slowing down.
But it’s not all work and no play.
The energy of the actual day, participants attest, is more fun than competitive, with volunteers cheering along the course, live bands stationed throughout, and rest stops offering everything from chicken sandwiches to power bars to ants-on-a-log.
“You can definitely consume more calories than you burn,” jokes MacKenzie. “And when you’re sporting a brewery jersey, you can definitely make friends, too. Other riders always want to talk with you… and find out whether you’ve got beer in your water bottle.”
But the real draw of City to Shore is how humbling it can be.
“After five or six hours of biking, you’re definitely tired,” says Stephan Briggs, who’s been passed the team-captain torch for 2015. “And yet it’s so energizing. For the last few miles, you are speechless, with goosebumps in a way. People are lining the streets with cowbells, cheering and clapping, including people with MS. Many of them are crying and thanking you, and it’s just overwhelming.”
Steve, a biomedical engineer, is familiar on a professional level with the effects of the disease – how it interrupts the flow of information between brain and body, and attacks the nervous system in an unpredictable way, leading to chronic pain, difficulty walking, or even blindness. Steve is also familiar on a personal level.
“One of my best friend’s parents both suffer from MS,” he says. “When the brewery asked me to fill MacKenzie’s large shoes this year, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. The least I can do as someone not affected is help those who are.”
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.