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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company

Cape May IPA Makes Its Winning Soup Debut

Many Cape May couples spent the recent Valentine’s Day drinking wine, eating chocolate and making candlelit whoopee. Michael Keating and his better half shucked oysters until 3am.

Let’s back up.

Every February, Cape May’s Chamber of Commerce hosts a Chili and Chowder Challenge where commercial and home chefs enter recipes to be judged by the public. This year’s event took place at Congress Hall on February 15 and Mike, who happens to be executive chef of Cape May’s Blue Rose Inn and Restaurant, submitted an oyster chowder made with our Cape May IPA. The dish used about 32-ounces of beer and 100 Cape May Salts in a five-gallon batch… and beat out 20 other entries for first place in the chowder division.

And that’s not all. Last year, Mike’s Texas-style chili made with beef shoulder and CMB’s Scottish ale was also a blue-ribbon winner. Apparently, our beer is meant for soup.

This past Sunday, we caught up with Mike and his colleague/sister Courtney over chocolate porters at CMB and we have to say, we like these guys. Not just because they’re into beer (they brew their own at home and are regulars of our tasting room), but because they run an impressive operation. The Blue Rose is owned by their parents. Courtney is the office manager of many hats, including marketing and innkeeping. Mike’s wife Angela works by his side as pastry chef, and we’re surprised their four-year-old child isn’t yet answering phones. It’s very much a family affair, and yet no one has managed to kill anyone else.

“People are always going to clash,” explains Mike, “but family are more understanding when it happens.”

And it helps that everyone has the same philosophy when it comes to food.

“We’re very much a scratch kitchen,” Mike told us. “We do as much as we can by hand. We make our own bread and cheese and we smoke our own bacon, which we used in the winning chowder. It’s also important that we use local ingredients — like Cape May Roasters Coffee, the Cape May honey we use for glazing fingerling potatoes and, of course, Cape May Brewery Beer. It’s only going to make my product better.”

In the case of Mike’s chowder, the hoppiness of the CMB beer was an ideal match for the brininess of his Cape May Salt oysters — a marriage that might soon appear on the Blue Rose’s menu full-time.

Meantime, stop by the brewery and check out our soup-friendly brews. It’s a place where the world — or at least the tasting room — is your oyster.

Hungry taste-testers let their palettes decide. Photo courtesy of Cape May Chamber of Commerce.
Hungry taste-testers let their palettes decide at the 5th Annual Chili and Chowder Challenge. Photo courtesy of Cape May Chamber of Commerce.



What Went Down At The Monday Meeting, 3/2/15: Chai Beer, the Pope, and Frisbees

9:31: Production meeting commences! Brew Master Brian Hink lays out the immediate brew schedule: Coastal Evacuation on Tuesday and Wednesday (because liquor stores are “begging for it”) and Honey Porter Thursday and Friday. Full steam ahead — upcoming snowstorm be damned!

id-tap-that-beer-keg-party-funny-tshirt3009:34: Time for the meat of the morning’s discussion: how to avoid keg shortage scandals! (Okay, there are no keg shortage scandals — more like keg shortage “pickles,” as CMB president Ryan Krill calls them — but we’ve been watching a lot of House of Cards.) Bottom line: no one wants to “slam on the brewing brakes” because we’ve got more beer than containers to put it in, so… keg shopping here we come.

9:50: The one-off for One-Off Wednesday this week is Raspberry Coastal. Next week is ChaIPA – that’s right, Chai tea plus IPA. Fun fact: the ingredients in chai are good for everything from warding off the flu (cloves) to helping with digestion and motion sickness (ginger). There you have it — a beer that’s good for your health.

10:30: Full staff meeting begins! Sales rep Justin Vitti comes limping in, due to a recent Cross-Fit session at North Beach Health Club.

10:33: Time for an accounts update from Justin and his mustache: 132 in Jersey alone.  New on the list are Canal’s in Mount Ephraim and Connie Mac’s Irish Pub in Pennsauken.

10:38: Events report! Up first –at UNO Pizzeria and Grill in Maple Shade this Friday — will be a tap takeover and we do mean takeover. Nine CMB beers will be on the menu, many of which aren’t even available in CMB’s own tasting room any longer. In other words, it’s last call. Saturday is the Philly Craft Beer Festival where we’re expecting “well over a thousand people at each session,” says Justin. On March 12 is a tap takeover at The Ugly Mug in Cape May, during which time six CMB beers will be available, including the Coconut IPA dreamed up by Justin himself. March 13th is a Firkin Friday event at AC’s Gordon Ramsey Pub, and one at Grey Lodge Pub in Philadelphia, too, followed by the AC Beer and Music Festival on March 20th and 21st. The day after that, CMB will be at Wildwood’s Bridal Fair, because what bridezilla doesn’t need to chill out with a good beer? bride2

10:45: Graphic design guru Courtney Rosenberg reminds everyone that American Craft Beer Week is May 11-17, and CMB will be offering something special — possibly a home brewing course — so stay tuned. Also the Democratic National Convention is coming to Philadelphia in July of 2016, which may be an opportune time for a politically-charged beer. “Impeachment ale!” offers Justin. “The Pope is also coming to Philly this summer,” adds Brian, prompting Courtney to wonder aloud if a priestly pint would be offensive. Suggestions include: Pious Pale Ale and Infalliable IPA.

10:50: Taproom Manager Jim Zolna and Taproom Coordinator Ashley Sullivan update everyone on goings on at the tasting room, including an upcoming collaboration for Saint Baldrick’s Day, when area students and teachers raise money for childhood cancer research before shaving their heads in a show of solidarity. Last year, the effort generated over $40,000. Watch this space.

10:53: Discussion ensues over new CMB merchandise, including summer-friendly sweatshirts, tee-shirts and — ready for it? — frisbees! Available now for $6, including tax.

10:57: Two more 60-barrel fermenters are on their way, says Ryan.

11:00: Meeting dismissed. Cheers!

We’re Bringing Sexy Bock

Weiner means a lot of things to a lot of people. The menu staple at Hot Dog Tommy’s. Adorable puppies doing adorable things. That Congressman who took phallic… selfies. But at Cape May Brewery, “weiner” is what we’ve nicknamed our next release. It’s a Bock — aka Vienna-style lager — and ‘Vienna’ in German is ‘wein,’ so…. you see where we’re going with this. But for formal purposes, we’ve opted for a name with a little more pop culture pizazz — Bringing Sexy Bock — because this is one sexy brew.

img_5836-editBefore we get into all that, a little beer school: a lager is a lager because it’s fermented at a colder temperature — 50 degrees as opposed to 65ish, which would work for a regular old ale. Of course at this cooler temp the fermentation process takes longer, and that’s before you even get to the lagering (ie, cold storage) stage, where the beer sits at 32 degrees for at least six weeks. During this time, it clears itself of any “off” flavors that develop during fermentation. We’re speaking of diacetyl, which is akin to that fake butter flavor you get on movie theater popcorn, and DMS, similar in taste to cooked cabbage. So yea – best to wait those out.

“It’s the reason a lot of craft breweries don’t make lagers,” says Brew Master Brian. “You’re tying up a tank for twice as long.”

But if you’re willing to hang tight, well, what’s that they say about patience being a virtue?

Bringing Sexy Bock is smooth, clean and malty, with virtually no hop or yeast character. The flavor profile comes instead from a complex grain bill — we use five different kinds instead of the more typical one-two punch (single base grain and single specialty grain for mouthfeel).

The end result is full-bodied; when it hits your lips, you’re transported from Cape May to a broody German beer hall, stein in hand.

The end result is full-bodied; when it hits your lips, you’re transported from Cape May to a broody German beer hall, stein in hand. Just be careful how quickly you down that stein, reminds Brian — because it’s a bock, the brew’s got a higher ABV (6.9%) than your typical lager.

bringing sexy bock JT

We’re tapping it on March 5, as the third in a six-new-beers-in-six-weeks series. So come check out the weiner in our tasting room, and don’t be afraid to call it what it is, loud and proud — we’ve heard that some of you were a tad sheepish ordering Bringing Sexy Bock by name last year.

But CMB is not usually a place where embarrassment comes easy.

“We like Justin Timberlake around here, but he’s no T-Swift,” says Brian, without a hint of irony. “She’s Chris’ favorite. Personally, I’m a big Katy Perry fan.”

See what we mean?


Why It’s Hard To Spill Your Beer

What’s the latest research to come out of Princeton University? No, it doesn’t have to do with curing cancer, shifting the tides of climate change, determining extraterrestrial existence, or any other life-altering course of study you’d expect from the nation’s top institute of higher learning. Instead, it has to do with beer — specifically, why it doesn’t spill as easily as water. That’s right, the world’s greatest minds are busy analyzing slosh factor. LOL.

Princeton’s best fluid physicists teamed up with the French National Center for Scientific Research to build a device for shaking liquid. This contraption created waves — like the kind that happen when you walk glass in hand — and those waves were recorded and analyzed.

The high-tech slosh tester. Image courtesy of The Physics of Fluids Journal.
The high-tech slosh tester. Image courtesy of The Physics of Fluids Journal.

The results? Drinks with foam (ie, beer with head) are harder to spill, because that foam inhibits wave action by 90%.

All kidding aside, the research has big implications for the transportation of hazardous material, like oil. Add some foam to it, and we might see less high-stake spillage.

So there you have it. Princeton researchers saving the planet, one beer study at a time.

Big News On The Liquor License Front

We’ve been talking a lot lately about all of the alcohol-related legislation in front of Congress right now, including the oh-so-important Small BREW Act that would ease the tax burden of the craft brewer and, in the process, lessen the cost of your beers while allowing for job creation. A win-win for everyone. But there’s a new bill in town, this one specific to New Jersey, and its potential impact is also huge. So we’ll get off of our Small BREW-soapbox a minute to give you the facts. We’re talking about the proposal introduced last Wednesday by Assemblyman John Burzichelli that would allow for a new type of liquor license in our state.

At the moment, liquor licenses are to Jersey restauranteurs what overhead waves are to Jersey surfers. First, they’re elusive; up until this point, due to leftover Prohibition-era laws, only one license per every 3,000 people in a given municipality has been permitted. Next, they’re potentially devastating. Depending on the town, a license can run over a million dollars. For any small business owner, it’s a big investment, and a big risk. Kind of like going backside on a closeout swell, you better hope it pans out.


But the new law would temper that risk. If it passes, restaurateurs who find themselves unable to buy a license currently — either because it’s financially prohibitive or because their towns have reached maximum allowance — will have the option of purchasing a restricted version.

In other words, a business owner can pay an initial fee of between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the size of her establishment and how many hours she wants to serve libations, in order to pour alcohol tableside only. No bars allowed. Commercial kitchen required. The option to renew comes yearly, for a cost of between $1,500 and $10,000.

“It’s designed to… help encourage the restaurant industry to flourish and to give the little guy a chance of competing,” Burzichelli told The Record. And there are many who support him, from both the consumer and BYO-owner camps. There are also many who’ve got their hackles up, claiming they’ve shelled out tremendously for the right to pour and, even though they’d be awarded tax credits for their troubles, should reap the rewards of greater license exclusivity.

We’ll keep you posted on how all this pans out. In the meantime, how about a little refresher course…

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

1. American rock band 311 is releasing their own craft beer. Appropriately, it’s an amber ale, because amber is the color of your energy…

mars one2. People have volunteered for a one-way ticket to Mars as part of 2025’s Mars One project, and their stories are going viral. Good news for those selected: they can grow hops there. We know this thanks to a recent experiment using ORBITEC JSC MARS-1A REGOLITH SIMULANT, aka Mars dirt. “We hope to make the planet just slightly more appealing,” says researcher Kellie Gerardi.

3. Budweiser is losing their battle with craft beer, reports The New York Post. “We have been repositioning the brand and making it more relevant for younger adults, but it’s not an easy task,” says CFO Felipe Dutra. However, Bud also announced this week a huge boost in annual sales — we’re talking 5.9% — thanks to this year’s World Cup, of which parent company Anheuser-Busch In-Bev was a major sponsor.

Live Long and prosper with this Irish red brewed to honor he Vulcan homeland
Live Long and prosper with this Irish red brewed to honor the Vulcan homeland

4. Leonard Nimoy — who played Spock on “Star Trek” — has passed away at the age of 83. If you’re going to cheers to Leonard this weekend, consider doing it with a brew from Federation of Beer, whose goal is to unite trekkies and craft beer lovers with Klingon-inspired recipes.

5. Monarch Beverage, Indiana’s largest beer and wine distributor, is in hot water for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions to state lawmakers. Representing such big-brand names as Miller Coors and Corona Lite, Monarch’s accusations come at a time when Congress has contentious booze-related bills on its docket, including Indiana HB 1053, which would allow combo microbreweries/farm wineries/distilleries to sell libations from each arm of the business at one bar. One-stop shopping at its finest.

6. Llamas were on the loose yesterday, and the internet was in a tizzy over it. While we don’t have llamas in Cape May, we do have an alpaca farm, and it’s exactly 5.4 miles from CMB.

7. Australian actress Margot Robbie kicked Jimmy Fallon’s ass on The Tonight Show Thursday night in a game of Flip Cup. We don’t know what kind of beer was in those cups, but we like to think it was Devil’s Reach.

8. Senator James Inhofe — who will likely oppose the Small BREW Act, as one of his major campaign contributors is the National Beer Wholesalers Association — threw a snowball on the Senate floor this week. That’s right, a snowball. And on that note… time for a beer!

Take Me To Sexy Town

Cape May has been ranked one of the top 16 sexiest beach towns in America by datingadvice.com, and our brewery tours got a shout-out. We’re in good company — Malibu Beach, California and Kailuna-Kona, Hawaii also made the list. It’s appropriate timing, as Bringing Sexy Bock is our next big release, but more on that in a bit. Boom-chicka-wow-wow.

CMB growler on the beach

Three Cool Things

The past seven days have been groovy. Allow us to explain:

1. Cool meeting

Our president Ryan Krill, who also happens to be president of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, was in DC last Thursday (in a snazzy baby blue suit) for the 78th Annual Walk to Washington, one of the state’s oldest political traditions. It works thusly: Jersey’s movers and shakers (lawmakers, business owners, town leaders) take a four-hour train ride to the nation’s capital, where they discuss the state’s economic future with our Congressional delegation. The name of the event comes from all of the walking that happens on the train itself, when said movers and shakers start meeting, mingling and sharing ideas.

CMB President Ryan Krill on the Hill
CMB President Ryan Krill on the Hill

Of course, it was too cold to walk anywhere once everyone arrived in DC, Ryan says, but at the annual Beer and Wine reception hosted by the Kaufman Zita Group later in the evening, the mingling and idea-sharing continued (this time over drinks, courtesy of the guild).

house_of_cards2We’ll say this much — craft beer has many friends on The Hill, and not just because our senators like drinking it (boy, do they like drinking it) but because they see the importance of advocating for the entrepreneurs who make it. Forget what you’ve learned from House of Cards; politicians aren’t all bad.

Case in point: the Small BREW Act currently before the House, which would reduce taxes on a small brewery’s first 60,000 barrels. This would go a long way toward job creation, so keep your fingers crossed that the competing Fair BEER Act, which would extend aforementioned tax breaks to macro breweries, doesn’t split the vote.

These are the politics we can get behind.

 2. Cool hops:

We’ve spoken before about America-grown Citra, and its current reign as king of hops. But hops are a lot like movie stars – they’re only “it” for so long, before some sexy new thing comes along. Jennifer Lawrence replaced Julia Roberts as America’s sweetheart. Idris Elba might oust Daniel Craig as James Bond. And Nelson Sauvin is now buzzier than citra.

Nelson is a New Zealand hop, so it comes from the land of glacier hiking, bungee jumping and Lord of the Rings. A place that, because of its remote location, experiences virtually no hop diseases.

Nelson’s flavors are “crazy exotic,” according to Brew Master Brian, meaning you can expect to taste grapefruit, lychee and bittersweet gooseberry.

The plant’s flavors are “crazy exotic,” according to Brew Master Brian, meaning you can expect to taste grapefruit, lychee and bittersweet gooseberry. Named after the Sauvignon grape, the aroma it lends to a brew resembles that of your favorite white wine, except better.nelson sauvin hops

Only problem is, hops are a very seasonal crop. So, while home brewers have no trouble getting whatever kind they want in small doses, commercial brewers need to place their orders far in advance. Often years.

But CMB is not into waiting, and we’re not easily deterred. We put a call — okay, several — into our hop contractors, and they were able to secure us an 11-pound box of Nelson. No, it’s not much (we typically use a minimum of five to 10 pounds per batch of beer), but it’s enough to experiment with, so we’re thrilled. We’ll let you know what we come up with, and when our super limited release will be available. Watch this space.

 3. Cool press:

 Our Jersey Fresh Honey Porter was featured in this article from craftbeer.com about spring seasonals, along with only six other breweries from the northeast. Boom.

Our New Release Is The Bomb

It’s sounds like the episode of a sitcom: sweet mother makes apple butter for her family with huge pots in a suburban backyard and is mistaken for meth lab operator. But that’s exactly what might have happened to the mom of our guy Chris — she remembers a state police helicopter circling above her house during one of her frequent apple butter cooking marathons. And yet, more has come out of her recipe than a funny story… this was the inspiration for CMBC’s Apple Bomb beer.

apple bomb fermentation foam fail
The infamous Apple Bomb fermentation foam fiasco

A few Christmas seasons ago, in our original 12 gallon brew house, we also cooked apples down until they reduced to a butter, and we tossed the fruit of this labor (womp, womp) into a fermenter with some cinnamon and apple juice concentrate purchased from ShopRite. The resulting brew was so popular, we decided to do it again and again… and again. Each time, we’ve refined the process because, well, let’s just say we’ve experienced some funny stories of our own.

“The name for the beer came about because, in the early days, we underestimated how easily the sugars from 55 gallons of juice would ferment, so the fermenter kind of blew up,” says Chris. “The floor of the brew house was covered in two inches worth of foam.”

But no worries – the beer itself was delicious, and CMBC’s Apple Bomb has only gotten tastier since. Just not in the way you might think.

“It’s one of the hardest beers to describe,” says Brew Master Brian. “With a name like Apple Bomb, you expect it to be a cider, which is a lot like alcoholic apple juice. But this still tastes like a beer.”

Show bout them apples bomb graphicure, the fruit lends a little bit of tartness, but not so much that the hop note is masked, or the biscuit malts don’t come through. That’s because, unlike with a cider, all of the apple juice that goes into this beverage is converted to alcohol – hence the 8% ABV.

For your drinking pleasure, we’re releasing it Thursday, February 26 (it’s the second in a six-new-beers-in-six-weeks series), so come check it out in our tasting room. You know what they say: an apple beer a day keeps the doctor away, or some such thing.

As for Chris’ mom? She’s still operating her “lab.” Says Chris: “I’ve got apple butter in my fridge from three years ago.”

What Went Down At The Monday Meeting: 2/23/15

9:30: Chatter about the weekend ensues. Fearless leader Ryan Krill was in DC for the 78th Annual Walk to Washington where legislators had opportunity to mingle with Jersey’s craft beer makers. “Those senator guys can drink,” says Ryan. “I felt like an old man.” Meanwhile, Brew Master Brian Hink discusses his trip to Colorado, where he visited Avery Brewery. “They collect and repurpose CO2 with what looks like a fucking nuclear reactor,” he says. “Very impressive.” Both men are wearing the same CMB hat, complete with puff ball on top.

9:31: Production meeting commences. Brian has not yet had time to update the white board on which the brew schedule is usually written. “What the fuck?” jokes Ryan, although its hard to take him seriously in said puffy hat.

9:33: About the tap room, Brian says: “Everything’s kicking on us!” So, on deck for brewing is Cape May IPA, followed by Cape May Saison, and the new Take Five Session IPA. Bottling of Coastal Evacuation will happen on Friday.

9:42: New brew house update: it ships next week!

Devil's Reach Gone Wild is this week's one-off Wednesday beer geek's delight
Devil’s Reach Gone Wild is this week’s one-off Wednesday beer geek’s delight

9:43: New brewer update: Jake Smith starts training tomorrow! “We’ll give him a raise to $.08 an hour,” says Ryan. But in all seriousness, Brian is pumped for the help; last Tuesday he had a 14-hour day that started at 4am — ah, the life of a brewer.

9:44: Time to talk about this week’s Wednesday one-off, Devil’s Reach Gone Wild, which is theDevil’s Reach IPA fermented with wild yeast from grapes that grew right outside of the brewery. “I’m really excited for this one; it’s a beer geek thing,” says Brian. As for taste, expect it to be very wine-like, super dry, and not at all oaky.

AC Beer Fest9:47: AC BeerFest is coming up! Discussion ensues over whether it’s best to transport CMB brews there via firkins or pins. (If you’re wondering what the firk a firkin is, or if you’re too pin-headed to know what a pin is, click here.)

9:51: Speaking of pins, one of ours “blew up” last Friday. “It was in an outside cooler, and it was so cold it froze,” explains Brian. “As things freeze, they swell. It made a hot mess.”

10:30: Full staff meeting begins! Ryan shows everyone the plans for CMB’s next, next big expansion, coming at you spring of 2016. If all goes well, added on to our new 15,000 square foot-building will be another 5,000 square-foot tasting room, plus beer garden and 120-space parking lot. Bartender extraordinaire Jim Zolna wonders aloud which parking spot is his. “You’re over here,” says Ryan, pointing to the blueprint. “Can’t be too close to a school or it violates that law…” (We kid, we kid.)We're-Expanding-med

10:33: Richie Rallo, Justin Vitti, and Justin Vitti’s mustache update everyone on new clients, including farm-to-table friendly Red Hen restaurant in Swedesboro and Red Robin in Mays Landing. That brings the total number of accounts up to — drum roll, please — 149 in Jersey and 71 in Pennsylvania.

10:56: Ryan adds that Cape May’s own Congress Hall is installing a new draught system and putting CMB on tap. Also, a new shipment of kegs is a-coming, and that will “effectively double our inventory.”

10:57: Logistics guy Andrew Ewing confirms that Nugget, the official minivan of CMB, got an oil change last week.

10:59: Because fearless leader Chris Henke is out of town, Brian updates everyone on what went down at the morning’s production meeting, including a statement on how “crushable” that upcoming Session IPA is going to be.

11:05: Richie reviews Beats, Brews, and BBQ, which took place at World Café Live in Philadelphia over the weekend: “It wasn’t a drunk fest at all,” he says. “Good music, good people. It was the first event our two new employees were working, and I was trying to stress to them how much they were being spoiled. They’ll get a rude awakening at AC Beer Fest.” [Insert maniacal laughter here.] For all upcoming events, click here.

11:07: Jim and tap room coordinator Ashley Sundstrom update everyone on the weekend at the tasting room (“Smooth, no issues”) as well as the movement of merchandise (sweatshirts are selling like hot cakes. Or maybe cold beer).

11:12: Ryan, President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, tells everyone to stay tuned for updates from the guild next week, because exciting things are… brewing. In the meantime, meeting is adjourned. Cheers!

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