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The Brewtanical Garden is CLOSED today; please join us in the Tasting Room, open until 8pm!
We made it to round two in the Most Loved Beer Label Contest sponsored by CNBC – so show us some love this afternoon when voting opens up again. In the meantime, here are some things you might not know about the beer label approval process, because it’s all fun and games until the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau knocks you down.
1. While both the state and federal governments must approve a beer’s label, neither care whether the name that appears on that label infringes on intellectual property. In other words, Uncle Sam won’t hassle you for calling a brew Bud Light. But Budweiser probably will.
2. In fact, there are countless legal spats happening as we speak, because breweries are constantly stepping on one another’s toes. It’s not
intentional; it’s just that “pretty much every beer name you come up with has been taken,” says CMB’s Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke. A January piece by NPR confirms it: “Virtually every large city, notable landscape feature, creature and weather pattern of North America – as well as myriad other words, concepts and images – has been snapped up and trademarked as the name of either a brewery or a beer.” We wanted to test the theory, so we typed the first obscure animal we thought of into our search engine, along with the word ‘beer,’ and let’s just say there’s a Platypus Brew Pub out there that prides itself on “walking the fine line between ducks and beavers.” Seriously.
3. But the TTB does care if a name — or any other writing on your label — suggests a false health claim. (One brewery got shot down for calling their beer a “heart-warming ale,” because someone, somewhere might take this to mean alcohol is good for the temperature of internal organs.) And collective panties get really twisted if a beer is made out to be more potent than it really is. Case in point: We weren’t allowed to call our Devil’s Reach the style that it is – a Belgian Golden Strong ale – because of the world ‘strong.’
4. Humor must be kept in check, too. We tried calling one of our recipes Pumpkin, Pumpkin Ale for the very reason that there isn’t any pumpkin in it, but the TTB called it misleading. In the words of spirit animal Allanis Morisette, CMB is ironic, just a little too ironic, for the TTB.
5. So far for 2015, 36,178 labels have successfully obtained COLA (Certificate of Label Approval). Legally, an answer has to be given to an application within 90 days of submission, which means brewers must be thinking spring in early fall. For CMB’s labels, says graphic design guru Courtney Rosenberg, it usually takes somewhere between one day and three weeks.
6. The reason for the inconsistency in timing is probably down to the fact that one man and one many only, Kent “Battle” Martin,” is in charge of the approval process. The Daily Beast calls him a tyrant, a legend and a pedantic pain in the ass. But that doesn’t mean his reasons for snubbing certain lables aren’t chuckle-worthy. “He rejected a beer called Bad Elf,” the story goes, “because it featured an ‘Elf Warning,’ suggesting that elves not operate machinery while drinking the ale… it did not get approved on the grounds that the warning was confusing to customers.”
So there you have it, beer fans. Don’t let it be said the TTB isn’t looking out for you.
Come mid-April, Brew Master Brian will, along with 10,000 other industry professionals, hop a plane to Portland for the annual Craft Brewers Conference, where he’s especially pumped for a master class on yeast management. And why shouldn’t he be? Yeast is the reason your mom’s homemade banana bread rises. It’s the main ingredient behind the sandwich spread of choice in the land down under, where women glow and men plunder. It also happens to be everywhere (yes, chilling all over you and everything you own right now.) And, most importantly for our purposes, it’s crucial to brewing. Bottom line: yeast is one fascinating, microscopic fungus.
Allow us to explain:
In beer making, step one is mixing malted barley with hot water — viva la oatmeal! Then, a sugary liquid called wort is extracted, and flowers called hops which lend aroma and flavor are added to that. Only then does the ingredient of the hour come in. The single-celled superstar we call yeast now chows down on sugar, turning it into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The former is the psychoactive drug part of beer that you can blame for those 2am texts to your ex; the latter makes bubbles. This conversion process is known as fermentation, and the temperature at which it happens determines whether your brew baby will be born a lager or an ale.
There are over 500 species of yeast, and Brewer’s Yeast is just one. But within that group, there are thousands of distinct strains that can each affect a beer’s flavor profile in a different way. Which one a brewer selects is often a tight-lipped decision — as top-secret as Elliott’s hiding place for ET in the midst of a federal task force investigation (sorry – there’s a Spielberg documentary playing as we type this).
So yea, it’s safe to say the significance of yeast is common knowledge within the modern brewing field, but this wasn’t always the case. In the 1700s, wild, airborne strands were doing work on batches of beer completely unbeknownst to early brewers. In fact, yeast wasn’t even considered an ingredient in beer-making until French chemist/original beer geek Louis Pastuer discovered its role in fermentation in 1857. Thus began a centuries-long struggle to harness its power. And bearded brew masters across the globe still bend to its magical, gaseous will! Many of them, including our Bri-guy, will be doing just that in Portland, and he promises to keep us updated on the conference happenings.
It may be one of the simplest plant forms on the planet, but yeast – the little fungus that could — has done okay for itself.
What went down in the last seven days — the good, the bad and the ugly:
1. Our new brewhouse, the fifth system we’ve had in our four-year history, was delivered. And it went a lot smoother than previous deliveries. What happened those times? “We won’t talk about that,” says CMB President Ryan Krill. Also, brewhouse driver David Cook, who transported our stainless steel girl for 2,800 cross-country miles, says his friends are still making fun of him for being a CMB blog celebrity. (Sorry, David. But no worries — we definitely won’t mention on here that you watched this season of the The Bachelor.)
2. We had a great time at Fitzpatrick’s Crest Tavern in Wildwood Crest, where a pin filled with our Cape May IPA plus sweet orange peel was tapped on Thursday. Photographic evidence below:
3. Our (quasi) trusty boxtruck broke down on the parkway. Womp, womp. But she’s back up and running now, reports logistics man Andrew Ewing.
4. CMB picked up some new accounts, including ACME in both North Cape May and Cape May Court House, and The Old Causeway restaurant outside of Long Beach Island. We hear their oysters are delightful.
5. We won awards. First, for being New Jersey’s Brewery of the Year and having a kickass sour-style German ale. Second, for being the People’s Choice at Atlantic City Beer Fest. Speaking of the famous (infamous?) AC event, all went smoothly. “There were only two fights, one of them right in front of our booth” says Sales Rep Richie Rallo. “But the guy ripped his shirt off, tried to take on five other men, and ended up falling on his face.” Congratulations to all those who enjoyed the booze and knew their limits. Here’s a list of the more creative tee-shirt slogans we saw you wearing:
– The liver is evil and it must be punished
– AC Beer Fest: this is my Disney vacation
– Beer snob: one who refuses to drink crap beer
– If your’e reading this, you’re not drunk enough
– Also available in SOBER
– Beer me
And just because, here’s a photo of the most patriotic bunch at the Convention Center to pose in front of our truck.
“Beer Fest is like America,” they told us. “Free!”
Actually, tickets cost $60, so we don’t know what that means, but here they are nonetheless:
Grown men in beer mug antennae riding a mechanical bull. Twentysomethings dabbling in extreme pogo-sticking. Friends in varying states of sobriety chatting over tater tots and naturally-cured bacon. People stepping out of their comfort zones to try yoga, amateur break dancing and something called “toilet bowl racing.” Zombie clowns.
There are plenty of reasons this weekend’s 10th Annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest – the second largest event of its kind in the nation, with 25,000 patrons and a square-footage of half a million — was one hell of a good time.
But, as is always the hope at a beer festival, the buzziest energy came not from the good food, games and people-watching (or even the fact that this event pumps $7 million into the local economy) but from the innovative booze, much of it being poured from the Garden State-designated section of the AC Convention Center.
“Jersey’s making some good fucking beer,” said festival producer Jon Henderson during yesterday’s first session, country-rock band Lucero performing in the background. “And I think Cape May Brewing Company is making the most creative brews. They’re coming out with consistently good styles.”
Because you, the patrons, awarded CMBC this year’s People’s Choice Award, we’re humbled to know you agree with Jon. And we were stoked to hear all of the good things said about us as we made our way through the 150 breweries and 116 exhibitors on site.
At the booth belonging to Wildwood-based company Zippy’s Bikes — where CMB bottles filled the
bicycle baskets on display — owner Scott Chambers told us it’s our Apple Bomb that’s super refreshing after a long, hot bike ride. And at the booth belonging to Peace Pie — manufacturer of kickass ice cream sandwiches coming soon to Cape Island — Joe Klaus said a Coastal Evacuation pairs great with his sweet desserts.
Even Soctt Clark, on-premise sales manager for Kramer Beverage, told us that although big name brands like Guinness fall under his wholesale umbrella, he’s a home-brewer with a great appreciation for CMBC. “The company really stretches the limits,” he said.
Aw, shucks, guys.
But our favorite line of the day? That has to go to festival-goer Nick Capone. “Cape May beer is sensual and erotic,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve had yet.”
And it’s our policy not to argue with men who speak softly and carry a big hat:
Until next time, nurse those hangovers, festival fans, and contemplate this:
1. For the first time in history, craft beer accounts for more than 10 percent of all beer sold in the US… and that number’s only climbing.
2. Oregon-based brewing company Nikasi has released a beer made with hazelnuts, cocoa nibs and, oh yea, yeast that’s traveled into outer space…
3. Everything’s bigger in Texas… almost. Houston lawmaker Senfronia Thompson wants to reduce the number of barrels produced by craft breweries with a self-distribution license from 40,000 to a measly 5,000.
4. It’s the 10th year for the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, the second largest drunk fest beer festival in the country. CMB will be on site this weekend, pouring four different brews.
5. California’s FiftyFifty Brewing Co is known for creatively naming their beers (we’re looking at you, Donner Party Porter), so who would have thought that their innocuous-sounding Barrel Aged Really Tasty (or BART for short) would be the one that causes trouble. But the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (also BART for short) says the brewery is stepping on its toes. FiftyFifty owner Andy Barr points out that “beers and trains are very different things,” and that the brew is actually named for a late dog.
6. Munich officials have failed to report 1.2 million liters of the 7.7 million liters of beer sold at last year’s Oktoberfest.
— Food & Wine (@foodandwine) March 18, 2015
8. We don’t drink as much as our ancestors, according to a booze-related exhibit currently on display at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. “Turns out, American booze consumption peaked in 1830 at 7.1 gallons of pure alcohol per person a year,” reports an article in FWx. “Compare that to the mere 2.3 gallons guzzled today and it’ll finally make sense why we’re so much more technically advanced than our sloppy forefathers.”
9. There are NCAA tournament brackets. There are The Bachelor brackets. And now, there are craft beer brackets. G’luck!
10. Spring has arrived. It may be snowing, but you can console yourself with this kickass spring release.
Big news – Cape May Brewing Company is New Jersey’s Brewery of the Year for 2015, a title awarded by the New York International Beer Competition. Our Tower 23 brew also won for German Style Sour Ale of the Year. We’re stoked, especially considering the NYIBC is NOT one of those “third grade soccer competitions” (their phrase) where nearly everyone who enters wins a medal. In fact, they only honor less than 50 percent of liquid submissions. Huge thanks to the retail store buyers, restaurant owners, beverage directors, distributors and importers who voted for us. And thanks to New Jersey Monthly for this great shout-out about it.
And as jazzed as the guys in this stock photo, too:
We’ll see you there.
Around 11:42am, our brewhouse came rolling into Cape May Brewery, her tanks a-gleaming, after completing her 2,800-mile journey from California.
“People asked me some strange questions along the way,” said driver David Cook of the trip. “The weirdest was: ‘What’s a brewery?’ I just walked away from those folks. It ain’t for making popcorn!”
That, it ain’t.
Our three-vessel system is comprised of a mash tun (where malted barley is mixed with hot water), a boil kettle (where hops are added for aroma and flavor), and a whirlpool (to help clarify the resulting brew). The latter is not a necessary piece for making beer… just an exciting one. It will allow us to begin work on a new batch before the previous one has finished brewing, which means we’ll keep churning out one tasty recipe after another.
Here is the morning, in pictoral review:
Cellarman Paul Nease and sales rep Justin Vitti anxiously await the arrival of the BH:
The brewhouse backs up into position:
Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke, Justin, and Brew Master Brian Hink watch the BH backing in:
The brewhouse in position!
Brewhouse driver David Cook and CMB President Ryan Krill, checking out the cargo:
Ryan, peeking through the tanks:
A back-end view:
Brian checks out the bottom. “It won’t be my first time under here,” he says.
Ryan removes the equipment, piece by piece, with the trusty forklift:
Trusty forklift stalls and the CMB team looks under the hood:
Chris helps guide the mash tun into the brewery, tight fit!
Ryan’s happy — we’re in!
Chris transports the control panel after removing it from the truck:
Paul gives the heat exchanger a thumbs up. “It’s a marvel of modern engineering,” he says.
A job well done!
The brewhouse has left Carlile, Pennsylvania and is less than 100 miles from arrival.
In 2012, we won Best IPA at the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, and we’re excited to defend that title this weekend in booth 221 for the 10th annual event.
The map below, which details the festival’s layout at the AC Convention Center, is a little hard to read, but trust us when we say this is going to be a full couple of days. On tap — besides 1,000 different brews from 100 breweries across the nation — are: a March Madness viewing area, food vendors from around the AC area, culinary demonstrations, beer seminars hosted by beer celebrities, a stunt team performing on pogo sticks, a bagpipe drum band, live beer-inspired sand sculpting, beer/yoga fusion classes, toilet bowl races, mechanical bull riding and a bear and mustache competition. And, of course, epically good people-watching… especially if you attend one of the rowdier night sessions.
CMB President Ryan Krill, who also happens to be President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, will be on site to chat about all things craft beer, and the future of craft beer in Jersey. Spoiler: it’s looking bright.
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