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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Hop Report

Attention hopheads.

We’ve got good news and bad news, and all of it has to do with the recently released Hop Acreage Report from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. (Yes, even the acronym for this department – USDA-NASS – is a mouthful.)

First, the good news: hop acreage is up. Sixteen percent, to be exact, when looking at the numbers from last year’s harvest and this year’s

The little guys that lend flavor, aroma and bitterness to your beer: hops. Image courtesy newplantbeer.com.
The little guys that lend flavor, aroma and bitterness to your beer: hops. Image courtesy newplantbeer.com.

planting. Even better, the hop flowers in the ground are the ones you’ve been lusting after.

“The aroma varieties where supply was not meeting demand have increased sharply,” reports Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association, in a recent article. “These acreage increases are a great sign that dealers and growers are highly tuned in to brewer needs (albeit with a few year lag on new hop varieties).”

So what are the hot new in-the-ground varieties? The BA calls them the “winners” of the acreage report: Simcoe, Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic. We call most of them frequent ingredients at CMBC!

And now for the bad news…

These are all Northwest hops, grown in the Northwest part of the country… you know, the same place that’s been dealing with a devastating drought. Many farmers are now facing state-mandated water restrictions, a big problem since hops require up to three gallons of water per plant per day.

“Although I would summarize the acreage numbers are exactly what brewers (collectively) wanted to see (though individual brewers may be various levels of pleased), the yield question is huge,” says Watson. “A low yielding crop could easily swing a five million pound projected increase (over 2014) to a five million – or in worst case scenarios – ten million pound decrease.”

In other words: just because these hops have been planted doesn’t mean they’ll grow. Mother Nature will have the final say in that.

Watson suggests a rain dance. We second it.

Brews By The Bay: The Lowdown

The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild is spreading the good word about Jersey’s craft beer scene. But it can’t fight the good fight without money.

“So we’re doing what we do best,” says Guild/Cape May Brew Co President Ryan Krill.

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Flying High

Woodbine-based aerial advertising company High Exposure has been in business for 22 years and, in that time, owner Dave Dempsey has seen some wild messages. We asked him for his favorite.

banner“This is going to sound corny,” he said, “but we once flew a big read heart and the message: True love waits for marriage.”

Another unlikely request? A “happy birthday” banner flown over the grave of a dead man.

Now, CMBC is getting in on the cool aerial action, with our own set of over-the-ocean advertisements.

We won’t tell you what they say (you’ll have to look up for that) but we will tell you that they’ll fly at an altitude of 500 feet, travel between Cape May and Sea Isle City, and move at a speed of 50 miles-per-hour. All letters will be five-feet-by-three-feet, so you should have no trouble spotting them from the beach.

Or, feel free to watch the pilots take off in Woodbine between 10 and 11am, Fridays through Mondays.banner2

“The planes get within five feet of the ground for pick-up,” says Dempsey.

It may sound like a nerve-wracking gig, but it’s not half bad.

“On the best days, flying a banner plane is like waterskiing on glass,” Dempsey says. “It’s the best office in the world, with the windows open on either side. You can take your hands off of the controls and just enjoy the ride.”

Be sure to post photos of our planes – flying July 3, 6, 15, 24, and 27 — to the CMBC Facebook page. You might even win a free Frisbee...

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Farewell, Brew Dog

Last week, Max passed away of congestive heart failure. A 17-year-old Maltese, he belonged to Mop Man, aka Bob Krill, but he was a mascot for the entire brewery.

“We had him for four years,” Bob says. “He became like a little person to us, a part of the family… even though he could be a real pain.”bob

When Max used to come to CMBC, he’d growl at customers, or whoever entered the office. Hey, we never said he was a willing mascot.

But he had his irresistible charms, too.

“He loved bologna,” Bob says. “When you pulled it out, he’d do the Maltese two-step. And whenever I’d stop at a Wawa, Max expected a SlimJim. He’d jump up and down, and if you came back without one, he’d look at you like: Where’s my damn SlimJim?”

So raise your next glass to Max, forever a member of the Cape May Brewery fold.

Here’s hoping there’s a lot of beef jerky at that big dog park in the sky.

CMBC President Ryan Krill cuddles up with Max.
CMBC President Ryan Krill cuddles up with Max.
Max, in all his glory.
Max, with the wind in his hair.
Max, with Mopman, in all his glory.
Max, with Mopman, in all his glory.

What To Drink On The Fourth Of July

Around these parts — and most parts, really — “Happy Fourth of July” is synonymous with “happy cookout.” So we nailed down CMBC’s Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke on which of our brews you should be drinking with your favorite barbeque foods this holiday.

“Some people believe sweetness complements sweetness and bitterness complements bitterness,” Hank says. “But for the most part, I think flavors can get overpowering this way. I prefer to think of beer as a palette cleanser between bites — something that’s not building on top of, but washing away.”

To that end, we present your firecrackin’ good Independence Day Menu…

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Hamburgers/hotdogs: If you’re going to wreck your diet, Fourth of July is the time to do it, and the Blonde is the beverage to wash it all down with. “It’s a  crispy, hoppy beer that cuts through the fat,” Hank says.

Pasta salad/potato salad: These can be heavy on the vinegar, so it’s best to stick with something malty, like the ‘Jersey Fresh’-designated Honey Porter.

Watermelon: It’s the iconic summer fruit – pair it with the Tower 23 Berlier Weisse and you get some sour with your sweet.

Apple Pie: Arguably the most American of all desserts, this staple goes best with the Apple Bomb. “The apple flavor in the pie will bring out the apple flavor in the beer and vice versa,” says Hank.

Ribs with barbeque sauce: Honey Porter. ‘Nuff said.

Clam bakes/Lobster bakes: Because seafood has such a delicate flavor, stick with something that won’t overpower, like The Bog cranberry shandy. “Unless you’re the type of person who dumps a ton of Old Bay on your crabs,” Hank says. “In this case, your meal won’t be overwhelmed by a heavier beer, like Coastal Evacuation.”

Ice cream: Do as Mopman does and mix your Honey Porter or Stout with vanilla ice cream to make a beer float. “A fruity ice cream like strawberry will mix well with the Berliner,” Hank says. “That beer was originally served with syrup to add sweetness.”

The wild card: If you’re at kooky Great Aunt Bertha’s for the Fourth, and she’s serving less-than-traditional holiday fare that stumps you (Spam sushi, anyone?), fear not. “Cape May IPA goes well with anything,” Hank says.

Happy Independence Day, y’all.

 

Why I Ride: Kyle Konopka

Last week, we told you all about City to Shore, the mammoth biking fundraiser sponsored by the National MS Society. Until the October event, we’re profiling members of the Cape May Brew Co cycling team, to find out what inspires them. Hopefully it will encourage others to join their ranks. (Hint, hint.) First up:

Name: Kyle Konopka

Kyle (left) with team captain Stephan Briggs
Kyle (left) with team captain Stephan Briggs

Age: 26

Hometown: Philadelphia

Occupation: I work at a market research and consulting firm.

Number of years on the Cape May Brew Co Team: This will be my fourth.

How I got involved: I volunteered at the starting line in high school, but it was my friend and current team captain Stephan Briggs who encouraged me to participate.

Why I ride: There are two people who inspire me. The first is my aunt, who has MS. She is the most jovial and positive person, and it feels so unfair that she struggles because of this. And the other is my lovely girlfriend who suffers with another genetic disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The way I see it, any cure or progress with MS is progress for other genetic diseases.

Why I ride on the CMBC team: First off, I love beer, and I love drinking it. I mean, of all the teams I could support, why not a local company who sponsors us and gives us great kickbacks and delicious beer? I can’t imagine riding with any other group.

What my training looks like: I’m fortunate to live in a bikeable city so I ride to work every day, but I’m going to start logging more miles.

Fundraising Goal: $500

What I’ll feel like at the finish: I know it sounds corny, but I always tear up.

What I need people to know: Even a $5 or $10 donation makes a difference. Those add up.

City to Shore will take place on October 3 and 4. To join the team or make a contribution, visit the Cape May Brewing Co page at nationalmssociety.org.

If You Build It, They Will Clean

Remember when fearless leader Hank used the engineering skills he’d honed in his previous life in order to build our original 12-gallon brewhouse out of scrap material? And remember how, when we outgrew it, he turned that brewhouse into a keg washer?

Well, now we’ve outgrown the keg washer.

The system could only sanitize two containers at a time, and it took about eight minutes to go through one cycle. So Hank is busy fashioning us a new one out of stainless steel that will handle four kegs at once and take only four to five minutes per shot. Perhaps most exciting for our cellarmen? It’s about a foot lower to the ground, meaning they’ll expend less effort when lifting the 40-pound casks into place.

The project should take a couple of months to complete, since Hank is working on it when he’s not busy, you know, co-running a brewery. In the meantime, onwards and upwards…

Mopman sitting at our original brewhouse turned keg washer turned parts for new keg washer.
Mopman sitting at our original brewhouse turned keg washer turned parts for new keg washer.

Feeding The Cows

When our 30-foot silo arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to store our grain here!” And when our new mill arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to grind up our grain here!” And when our three-vessel brewhouse arrived, we were all: “Can’t wait to mash our grain here!”

And then we brewed, and we got all: “What the HELL do we do with all this grain?!”

Vern!
Vern!

You see, making beer is a lot like making coffee. Those ground-up beans don’t disappear once you’re mug is full… they remain a sad, wet little clump in your Mr Coffee filter until you toss ‘em. And the malted barley used for beer doesn’t disappear, either. Once it’s done providing color, flavor, sugar and protein, it needs to be dealt with. Considering we’re going through 60,000 pounds of the stuff a month… it can be a bit of a problem.

We considered buying some self-dumping dumpsters. And then we considered buying a gooseneck trailer. And then we considered fencing in the back of the brewery and buying a bunch of pigs to eat the stuff. Hey, desperate times…

But then: Vernon Morin of Hidden Paradise Farms in Upper Township came along.

Vern owns the Morin Laboratories, Inc, for which he grows his own medicinal herbs used to treat everything from anxiety to lymes disease to the flu. In fact, Vern is the only person in the world to “extract herbs in an oral electrolyte concentrate” for the balancing of minerals.

“I discovered this when my daughter was going through chemotherapy,” he says. “We’d get home and have to take her right back to the hospital because her electrolytes were off, and I wanted to give her something more natural than Pedialyte. It’s helped a lot of people since.”

Vern and his wife Amelia also tend to 20 acres where they grow their own food in a biodynamic manner. Meaning? They only use what
comes from the earth. Instead of spraying harsh chemicals, for instance, they plant buckwheat that kills off dangerous weeds, or they use those weeds for fertilizer. If bugs are eating crops, they release up to 400 praying mantis egg cases and wait for these insects to feed on their natural prey.

So where does our spent grain come in?

Vern uses it as compost, as mulch to stamp out poison ivy, and also as a probiotic-rich dietary supplement for his 15 cows and 35 chickens.

“I’ve been watching the animals since they’ve started on it,” he says. “In just a little bit of time, I’ve seen them gaining weight faster and getting healthier.”

And its this kind of sustainable practice that will leave the planet just a bit healthier, too.

“You don’t have to destroy the earth in the process of making money,” Vern says. “This is a critical time… we have to take care of our home. That’s my big thing.”

Another big thing?

Vern says his aforementioned electrolyte concentrate, called SELECTROLYTES, can be taken prior to a night of drinking, before bed, and again in the morning as a hangover cure.
Cheers to joyful bovines and headache-free mornings.
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Party Like It’s 2011: CMBC Hosts Four-Year Anniversary Bash

A lot went down in 2011: Osama Bin Laden was killed, Google introduced their first social media platform, Beyonce got pregnant.

But while everyone hailed Queen B and scratched their heads over Google+ (seriously, does anyone understand it?), another far-less-publicized milestone happened on the Cape. At least, it was a milestone for three guys with a dream.

Over fourth of July weekend, Ryan Krill, Bob Krill and Chris Henke of the newly launched Cape May Brewing Company sold a keg of IPA to their first client: Cabanas Beach Bar and Grill.

The sale happened at a time when Ryan was still slaving away in a Manhattan cubicle, navigating the cutthroat intersection that is finance and real estate development. And Chris, who’d left a position designing commercial satellites, was delivering horse semen to veterinarians as a part-time courier  in order to make ends meet. They brewed 12 gallons per shot in a homemade system, choosing to cross their fingers and ignore those who said Jersey shore drinkers only want bottled Miller Lite.

CMBC has come a long way since then. Over 300 clients and more than 100 brews later, we’re still living the dream. And this coming Independence Day, we’ll host a party at the bar that started it all to celebrate the anniversary… and the fact that all those singing the bottled-Miller-Lite song appear to have been wrong.

“It’s fucking awesome,” Ryan says. “I was in Brooklyn last weekend. I stayed near my old apartment, and walked past my old office building, and it was like… I do not miss this shit at all. It felt like the Matrix or something, like you’re just part of this machine, fulfilling someone else’s dream, working in the cube and working for this tyrant who probably hated his life as much as I did. But I’m out of the system now. I’m out of the matrix.”

It’s purely coincidence that this escape from the matrix  happened for our guys on a Fourth of July weekend, a time to celebrate freedom and all of the things — like entrepreneurial spirit — that make America great. But it’s a happy coincidence, for sure.

So come be happy with us. The party starts at Cabanas on July 4 at 6pm and will feature live music and 12 CMBC brews, including special one-offs and lost kegs of seasonal beer, like the ForeShore Shandy and Richie’s Rad Pale Ale. Fireworks will shoot off over the water across the street around 9pm.

If nothing else, you can high-five Chris for getting out of the horse semen business.

Celebrate the holiday with a bang. Photo courtesy of clamshellfoundation.org.
Celebrate the holiday with a bang. Photo courtesy of clamshellfoundation.org.

Beer: It’s What’s For Dinner

Cape May has been known for its restaurant scene ever since The New 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.)

But!

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.”

Honey Porter - on a table near you.
Honey Porter – on a table near you.

 

 

 

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