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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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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!

Your Wild Midweek Brew

Things are getting pretty wild at Cape May Brew Co this week. Not Reese-Witherspoon-alone-in-the-woods wild. And not spring-breakers-doing-body-shots-in-Cancun wild. But more like bird-nabs-seed-from-local-winery-and-drops-it-at-our-doorstep wild.

You see, that is likely how it came to be that a wild grape vine started growing outside of CMB a while back. And when life hands you lemons grapes, you’re supposed to make lemonade wine, right? Since we’re a brewery, we opted for a wine/beer hybrid that we’re dubbing Devil’s Reach Gone Wild.wine-and-beer-150x150

That’s the Wednesday one-off this week: our Devil’s Reach IPA fermented with a little help from our lone vine. “Yeast is everywhere,” explains Brew Master Brian, “so it was growing on the skin of this fruit. We waited about four months, until we had a useable amount.”

The end result is a very dry, not at all oaky brew that has us pretty geeked out.

We open at noon, so get it while it lasts — the beverage isn’t coming back. The DRBA (Delaware River and Bay Authority) tore down our vine when they cleaned up the area recently. And while the property looks great, we have lost our wild yeast source.

Only Reese can console us.

‘Drinking Dirty’ by the Numbers

On Friday night, our own Ryan Krill was featured on “Drinking Dirty in Jersey,” a show broadcasted by the “irreverent, entertaining, cool” LA Talk Radio. Program hosts Cassie and Chris Finley — self-described “beer drinking champions of the world” — peppered Ryan with questions about CMB’s

Drinking Dirty in Jersey are the shock jocks of the drinking world
Drinking Dirty in Jersey are the Shock Jocks of the drinking world

history, ongoing expansion, and industrial-chic locale. The action starts at 14:10 here. But if you don’t have time to listen in, here’s the interview in numbers:

1: Number of on-air f-bombs dropped by Ryan

4: Number of specific CMB brews discussed, including the Coastal Evacuation which recently won a silver medal in the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Oregon, aka “IPA country.”

1: Number of accounts CMB started with in 2011 (Cabanas).

300: Number of accounts CMB will have by the end of this summer

2: Number of states in which CMB is currently distributed. (PA and NJ)

47: The ranking of New Jersey in per capita craft breweries when CMB launched. (Today, we’re still only at 40, but we’re climbing!)

>100: Number of beers produced by CMB in its four-year history

21: Number of CMB employees (and counting!)

1,500: The original square footage of the first CMB building. (The square footage of our new addition? 15,000.)

12: The number of gallons produced by our original brew house. The capacity of our new brew house? 30 barrels.

1: The number of comparisons made between “south Jersey guys” and “mellow” Californians. (Unlike farther north where there is “too much expresso and too much cocaine,” says Cassie. All the more reason to head south?)

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

1. David has taken on Goliath. Founder of Dogfish Head brewery Sam Calagione was interviewed by Men’s Journal this week, and the craft beer ambassador had some harsh words for A-B InBev, parent company to Budweiser, and its practice of buying up craft breweries in an attempt to monopolize the market. “The more they spite us for trying beer outside of the light lager juggernaut,” he said, “the more we’re going to stand for something very separate from what they’re about.”

2. Honey can now be tapped from a hive like beer, thanks to a gadget set for reveal this month. Beekeepers agree: It’s the best thing to happen to the sweet stuff since the release of CMBC’s Jersey Fresh Honey Porter.

florida beer glass3. A “free the growler” campaign is making headway in Florida, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow patrons to purchase the 64-ounce jugs currently banned in the Sunshine State. Big beer is reeling… and doing everything in its power to stop the change. But Florida’s 90-plus craft breweries are fighting the good fight.

4. Remember when traditional, homemade beer in Mozambique was poisoned with crocodile bile during a funeral last month, leading to 72 deaths and 200 hospitalizations? Officials have finally made an arrest. Meanwhile, the tainted drink has been sent to the US for testing, and Mozambique villagers are saying “In a while, crocodile” to homemade brew.

5. Red Bull is crying “trademark infringement!” because the name of a tiny Virginia-based startup — Old Ox Brewery — channels a different bovine. Seriously. An excerpt from the letter brewery president Chris Burns sent to the energy drink company reads as follows: “We can only interpret your actions as one thing—bullying. You are a big health-benefitsRed Bully. Just like that mean kid from grade school pushing everyone down on the playground and giving us post-gym class wedgies. You are giving us one hell of a corporate wedgie.” We’ll agree – this is “bull”shit.

6. Beer increases life expectancy, decreases cancer risk, and generally saves the world, according to The Times of India.

7. Beer may be getting cheaper, thanks to continued support for the Small BREW Act currently before Congress; it now has 25 Senate sponsors from both parties, reports Reuters. The bill would provide some tax relief for small brewers — good news considering those taxes dictate more than forty percent of a beer’s cost.

8. President Barack Obama was in Chicago this week, where he designated a National Park… and ordered four cases of craft beer.

9. This Sunday is the Oscars! Stop by our tasting room any day between noon and 8pm, fill up your growler (that’s still legal here, unlike in Florida), and play this Oscars drinking game from the LA Times.

If You Mill It, They Will Come

New MillThe Hungarian Roppi 1100 has arrived! No, that’s not some weird piece of workout equipment for Richie and Justin to use between sales calls, it’s the mill that will grind 2,425 pounds of our grain per hour into a rough flour called grist. This is important because — for all of you newbies — that’s the first step in making beer.

“Think of it this way,” says CMBC Brew Master Brian Hink, “when you’re making coffee at home, you don’t just dump beans into a machine, because you’d get a little bit of flavor and a little bit of color to your coffee, but it would be weak. You have to use a grinder to crush them up first.”

Now, as for getting the Roppi set up… “Ryan buys the equipment and I read the manual,” says Chris.

Citra Pale Ale Coming Your Way

The 90s are so in right now. Think resurgence of neon high-tops. Flip phones becoming hip again. This Saved by the Bell Reunion on Jimmy Fallon. So, it’s only fitting that for our seasonal release, we’d be working hard on a style that, circa ’95, got every craft beer newbie in this area hooked. Back then, it was Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale that was the ticket, says Brew Master Brian. But now we’ve got a PA lineup all our own and — drum roll, please — Citra Pale Ale is coming at you today.

CMB Citra Pale Ale

“It’s a really dry, light-bodied beer with just a tiny bit of sweetness,” Brian says, adding that the 5.5% brew is dry-hopped with a pound per barrel of citra, the “buzziest” beer flower of the day, and one that’s“deserving of all its praise.”

So what, exactly, is the big deal?

“Picture walking through a California orange grove at harvest time,” Brian says of the beverage’s sensory impact.“Or the mist you get when you peel back an orange.”

Thirsty yet?

The ale will be on tap in our tasting room beginning at noon, as the first in a six-new-beers-in-six-weeks series.

Watch this space for updates on the others and, in the meantime, feel nostalgic with this list of 90s fashion trends.

 

Holla!

Atlantic City’s been having a rough go of it lately, but the addition of a new Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill at Caesar’s Casino can only help America’s playground. We mean, CMBC_blacktypeGR’s been awarded a Michelin star 15(!) times. We’re excited to be on tap here, and excited for this mention of it on app.com. Always stoked to get a shout out from the Beer Guy in the Press of Atlantic City and, earlier this week, CMBC received another shout-out from Philly.com. What, what.

Ramsay Pub menu
Mr. Ramsay himself will be in AC enjoying some of our finest Craft beers on March 7 & 8.

 

What You Need In Order To Bottle Like CMBC

Part of our ongoing expansion is the incorporation of a bottling line that we’ve been putting together for two years, thanks in great part to the mad engineering skills of our guy Chris. First, he designed the line’s layout in a circa 1999 AutoCAD program (hey, it’s vintage), and then we purchased the system in retro parts. “We were so excited when we got it, because we got it for scrap value,” Chris says. “But then we realized why it’s that way. I’ve spent a lot of time repairing pieces, and figuring out how to connect them all.”Bottling Devil's Reach

When it’s totally complete and set up in HQ, the action-filled process will look like this:

Bottles start on a depalletizer, or a machine that removes layers of containers from a pallet. (Ours is a circa-1960s “tank.”) From there, they’ll move onto a conveyor belt, then to a labeler, then to a twist rinser (another old-school piece) that sanitizes and removes any cardboard dust, and then to an actual bottler from a now-defunct brewery in Ohio. Here, they’ll be filled, capped, rinsed and moved to another feeder where they’ll be distributed into six packs. The system will be manned by two men.

In the meantime, getting bottles from one station to the next is a manual job. So, until we’re fully up and running (watch this space for updates), here’s what you need in order to bottle like Cape May Brewing Co:

  1. Bathroom breaks, before the process begins. “It’s like road tripping,” says Chris. “You go before you start.”
  2. Six hours. That’s how long it takes to get through 4,400 bottles, which is usually around the target goal. (Although the most ever completed by us in one shot was 8,800.)
  3. Six men. Four with beards. Three with (visible) tattoos, all of them nautical.
  4. Meta clothing. Our guy Chris is sporting a tee-shirt with the image of a fallen bottle on the front. (It’s from Base Camp Brewing Company.) Brian is wearing a CMBC hat with a green and red puff on top, but that’s neither here nor there.
  5. Music. “The groovier and jammier the better,” says Brian. On Pandora today? Creedance Clearwater Revival. Fun fact: For their 1977 concert in Moscow before 80,000 fans, CCR sang all songs in Russian.
  6. Protective eyewear.
  7. A high tolerance for noise. The bottling machine’s actions (including pressing bottles with CO2 to keep air out) are loud, and the guys get to know them — and their order — very well. When something sounds off, “Duck!” says Bob.
  8. A high tolerance for aches and pains. “At the end of the day, your lower back is dead,” says Brian.
  9. A competitive spirit. Since bottles are currently being dried by hand, Andrew says: “I’m fastest. I keep track. I dry 11 bottles per case.” Brian counters with: “I only take 3.5 seconds per bottle!” Now, now, boys.
  10. Good conversation. “Doing this together all day is actually a good chance to catch up,” says Andrew.
  11. A sense of humor. “When the bottling line is complete, we’ll be able to lay off Jake,” says Chris. Twenty minutes later, Ryan enters and says. “When the bottling line is complete, we’ll be able to lay off Jake!” So we might need new material…

    Men Bottling
    It takes six hours, six men, and some serious stamina to bottle 4,400 bottles of Devil’s Reach

What Went Down At The Monday Meeting: 2/16/15

Every Monday is departmental meeting day at Cape May Brew Co, so each week, we’ll bring you the skinny on what went down, beginning with yesterday’s pre-snow powwow…

9:30: Production meeting begins! Co-owners Ryan Krill and Chris Henke are present, along with Brew Master Brian Hink and Marketing Guru Alicia Grasso. Chatter ensues about the weekend.

9:32: Brew schedule discussion commences. Up first is Honey Porter because we are “desperately low” in the tasting room, says Chris — news about the beer’s Jersey Fresh label must be getting out. After that, Coastal Evacuation is on deck. It all has to happen before Wednesday morning, because that’s when Brew Master Brian flies out for Colorado, where he’ll visit with his big brother tasting room exterior in icy conditions(who teaches “English, literature, new media studies or something way over my head” at the University of Colorado). He’ll also see rock band Dr Dog perform live in Boulder. Today, he is even sporting a Dr. Dog hat, complete with orange puff-ball on top.

9:34: If the snow is a-coming, as the forecasters predict, Brian says he is prepared to spend the night on the brewery couch. (But he wishes the blinds on the window overlooking said couch had not been removed. “They were bothering me,” says Chris.) Otherwise, he’ll shoot to arrive for work at 3am — a pretty typical clock-in time for a 14-hour day of double-batch brewing.

9:36: A UPS truck arrives to drop off a skid. “At a brewery, it’s like Christmas every day,” says Ryan.

9:39: Conversation jumps ahead to three weeks out, when we’ll be making Concrete Ship, a malt-forward” brew for the tasting room that will make a good “entry-level” beverage for craft beer scene newbies. Fun fact: Cape May’s own concrete ship — all 3,000 algae-covered, half-sunk tons of it — is the most famous World War I-era prototype of its kind. Although wind and swell have beaten down the barbs of its skeleton, a part of the stern is still visible from Sunset Beach at high tide.

9:40: New brew house update! Drum roll, please… it’s possible the whole system will be installed and up and running by April 1st – stay tuned.

9:42: It’s crunch time. Keg crunch time, that is. There’s a bit of a bottle-neck happening, explains Ryan, meaning we’ve got more beer than kegs to put it in. (Sometimes, people steal them to sell for scrap, since they’re made of stainless steal — tsk, tsk — or they keep them as a weird keepsake… it’s the reason leasing kegs is a hot new business; they cost $100 a piece.) Luckily, it’s been so busy at CMB, a lot of empty kegs came out of the tasting room last weekend alone. “But that was President’s Weekend, and it’s going to slow down now,” says Brian. “But we always joke about that and it never happens,” adds Chris, “It’s Going to Slow Down could be the title of our biography.” Case in point: the current production schedule is on par with summer-time numbers.

9:59: The beer for One-off Wednesday this week is Corrosion Lemondrop, says Brian, explaining that this is CMB’s Corrosion sour beer with lemonade shandy added to it. “It’s absolutely delicious.” And next week? Devil’s Gone Wild, a wine-like brew for which wild grapes are a main ingredient. Fair warning: the latter has an 8% ABV. “Any more than a couple of those, and you’re pretty sauced,” says Brian.

10:02: A discussion about the government-imposed rules for naming one-off beers ensues. “The system is not set up for fun,” says Chris.

10:03: Chris, who splits time between Cape May and Philadelphia on the weekends, voices displeasure over the fact that he has not been in the City of Brotherly Love since two bars in his Philly neighborhood started carrying CMB brews. Ryan says he’d like to crash at Chris’ city pad the night of February 23rd for Beats, Brews and BBQ at World Café Life. Still need your own tickets? Grab them here.

case of mondays10:31: Full staff meeting begins in the HQ conference room. Chris is late… again.

10:32: Sales Rep extraordinaires Richie Rallo and Justin Vitti update everyone on new accounts, including PJ Whelihan’s in Cherry Hill, which is now selling the Corrosion, and the Alden Café in Maple Shade, which is now carrying Devil’s Reach.

10:35: Logistics guy Andrew Ewing asks when we’ll be updating CMBC’s tap handles. The answer is “around June.” Fun fact: they’re handmade by our Chief Mop Man, Bob Krill.

10:39: Chris asks that he be told when taps in the tasting room are flowing too quickly. (No, fast beer flow doesn’t sound like a problem, but trust us.) Chris then gives the run-down of inventory, and what happened during today’s production meeting.

10:44: Richie updates everyone on past events. Last Friday’s Tap Takeover at Rio Station was “a pretty huge success,” with a sixtel of our Blonde being kicked by 9pm. Now, The Ugly Mug, “wants a piece of that action,” so look for a Tap Takeover there on March 12. Justin adds that our keg at Philadelphia’s Grey Lodge Pub for their Friday the Firkenteenth event was kicked in under an hour, and the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill opening in Atlantic City went great, too. “There was a line for the bar by 8pm,” he says. Watch this space for info on upcoming events, including a collaborative Tap Takeover with Flying Fish at the “rustic-chic” alehouse called Bru in Center City on June 1st.

10:51: Bartender Jim Zolna updates everyone on the weekend at the tasting room, calling it a “pretty busy” couple of days, even on Valentine’s Day. “This is where the husbands who forgot to make reservations ended up,” jokes Chris. Taproom coordinator Ashley Sundstrom adds that CMBC mugs are selling quickly — buy ‘em up! — and that CMBC has made some new hires, including two event workers and a new tour guide.

10:54: Meeting dismissed. Cheers!

Fun Times at Tap Takeover

Friday night, we hit the Rio Station in Rio Grande for our own Tap Takeover, which coincided with the release of the restaurant’s new menu. The place was jamming. “I wouldn’t pour Cape May beer unless I loved it,” head chef Rich Rutherford told us. “That would be bullshit.”

L to R: Blonde Ale, King Porter Stomp, Steve's Biscuits & Honey ESB
L to R: Blonde Ale, King Porter Stomp, Steve’s ‘Biscuits & Honey’ ESB

At the CMBC table, over a plate of tempura veggies, topics of discussion included:

  1. How CMBC sales rep Richie Rallo and Social Media manager Courtney Rosenberg went to prom together in 2005. “I got my hair cut twice that day, because the first time was awful,” says Richie.
  2. How good the warm pretzel nugget appetizer is, and we’re not just saying that because the side sauces (Devil’s Reach Sriracha! Honey Porter Mustard!) are made from our own beer.
  3. Whether “exito” is the Spanish word for exit, or success. (Consensus: success!)

Around 9pm, we knew pop rock cover band Stellar Mojo would be taking the stage soon, so we broke away from the crowd to chat with lead singer John King. He told us that he came back home for this show, the first local venue he’s played in three months because he’s been so busy with gigs in Baltimore, Philly and Boston. And, turns out, CMBC beer being on tap was a big factor in that decision.

“All of my friends love it,” he said. “We’re hoping to team up with the brewery more in the future.”

Then John told us that, if he were one of our beers, he’d be the flagship Cape May IPA because “it’s got some balls to it.”

stellar mojoSo — after he took the stage, thanked everyone for coming to watch him instead of the Fifty Shades of Gray premiere, and began singing Bruno Mars while throwing glowsticks into the crowd — we did some reconnaissance, curious about how other people see themselves in terms of beer.

“I’m a Devil’s Reach, because I’m smooth and not overly complex,” said Wildwood Crest resident Jerry Mainardi.

“Mopwater, because there’s a lot going on with it,” said Eric Bronson from “just down the street.”

“Honey Porter, because it’s perfect in every way,” said Tom Sullivan from Rio Grande. (Okay, his wife answered for him, but she wouldn’t give us her name.)

“Coastal Evacuation, because it’s smooth but dangerous, baby,” said our server Olivia Steffa.

“The Wednesday One-Off, because it’s original, a little unique, and always a special edition,” said Erika Watson from Wildwood Crest.

Around this time, a table noticed us asking so many questions, assumed we worked for the restaurant, and tried to order six Fireball shots from us, so we figured we’d better sit down. But we did so knowing that this Tap Takeover had been a great success, er, exito.

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