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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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It’s Time For Battleship

… 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.”

Fair enough.

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. duck

For more information, see here, or watch the recap below of years past, courtesy of battleshipnewjersey.org. Nothing pretend about it…

 

 

Hill Climb Recap

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.

Brewers on the Hill, with Ry-guy in the purple tie
Brewers on the Hill, with Ry-guy in the purple tie

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.

A tasting event at Rayburn, the third of three office buildings for members of the House.
A  Hill Climb tasting event at Rayburn, the third of three office buildings for members of the House.

“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.

 

We Won!

Our brews have taken home two more awards, this time from the World Beer Championships, bringing our 2015 total up to 13. Huzzah!

We’ll get to the winning beers in a minute, but first, a little about the WBC.

beveragetestinginstitutesilver“Ours is the oldest international beer competition in America, since 1994,” says Jerald O’Kennard, Director of The Beverage Testing Institute, which puts on the whole shebang. “And we were the first to use the consumer accepted 100-point scale for beer to succinctly and quantitatively communicate a beer’s level of quality to consumers.”

Other things that set WBC apart?

A dedicated tasting lab with a climate-controlled storage facility, no more than 35 products tasted by judges in a given day in order to limit palette fatigue, and morning-only tastings since that’s when tastebuds are most sensitive.

“We provide an environment for highly experienced and trained professionals in the beer trade to evaluate a brewer’s creative expression
and decide if they made good choices to arrive at a pleasurable product, and then measure that level of pleasure with our hedonically-based scale that holistically measures the total experience of a beer, not simply the sum of its components.”

We’re not totally sure what ‘hedonically-based scale’ means, but we do know we love the super flowery descriptions the WBC judges derive from it. We’ve included them below so you can get a kick out of them, too.

Flavors of buoyant orange marmalade, anyone?

Devil’s Reach (silver medal, 86 points): Aromas of lemon pepper muffin, quiche, and caramelized carrots with a supple, lively, effervescent, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, engaging, medium-length orange marmalade, pepper, and turnips finish. A zesty, peppery Belgian ale that will pair well.

Tripel Wreck (bronze medal, 84 points): Aromas of cheese popcorn, bean salad, fruit pastry, and bark and leaves with a supple, tangy, effervescent, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, buoyant orange marmalade, salt and pepper, honeyed spiced apple, and carrots finish. A earthy, fruity beer for the table.

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New Girl In Town

We’ve hired a new cellarman! Except she’s not a cellarman at all.

Thirty-six-year-old Dawn Bailey was born and raised in Lower Township, but left for a time to work in warehouses belonging to Colgate-Palmolive and Chelten House, makers of organic spaghetti sauce, in the north Jersey town of Parsippany. Here, she operated forklifts and supplied materials to production lines. But Cape May County tugged at her heart and, in 2010, she came back to dawnwork for the Lower Township Public Works Department.

We like to think the local beer had something to do with her decision to move home…

“Beer has something to do with a lot of things,” she says. “With Public Works, I rode on the back of a trash truck until the brewery job became available. I thought: I’d love to go to work liking what I do.’”

Now, Dawn’s position is still heavy on the manual labor. Today alone, she cleaned 36 sixtels and 62 half-kegs – the latter weigh 30 pounds each –before rolling them onto palettes. But the physical tax is worth being part of the CMBC crew, Dawn says.

“I still feel in awe,” she told us. “It’s like ‘holy cow’ when you see how much work goes into making good beer, but to see the final product… that’s so rewarding. And there’s a sense of community here. When I was working for the Public Works Department, for instance, one of my colleagues passed away in a car accident. Cape May Brewery raised money for the family.”

As for what to call her – cellarman, cellarwoman, cool-ass chick making a name for herself in a male-dominated world – Dawn says she doesn’t care.

“I don’t think the labels matter,” she says. “What matters is that we all like beer. We’re just a bunch of people who love making it, and everyone does their part.”

Coming Soon: Wooden Growler Carriers

Things are better when they are made with wood.

So we’re excited to announce: beginning this Friday, CMBC will offer handmade mahogany growler carriers that have been crafted by local woodworker and Lower Cape May Regional High School shop teacher of 15 years Mark Haibach. Thanks to the caddys, which fit two 64-ounce bottles each, no longer will your beer be rolling around in the backseat of your car… and it’ll stay put in style. We sat down with Mark to get the scoop:

How did you get hooked up with the brewery? I happen to live directly across the street. But actually, I’ve only been visiting since about November. I was uneducated about craft beer. Many of my friends enjoy it and they drink IPAs, so I thought craft beer meant IPAs, which I don’t love. Then I discovered how wrong I was.

w2What prompted you to make these custom carriers? I enjoy visiting different breweries and over spring break, I visited one in Lancaster. I had to park five or six blocks away, so I ended up walking quite a ways with my four kids and my two growlers clanking together. I realized this isn’t going to work for me, so I designed a caddy for my own personal use. Shortly after, [CMBC President] Ryan Krill spoke at the school where I teach as part of Cape May Forum, so I invited him to come see the caddy in my classroom. We set up a meeting and he immediately placed an order.

What do your students think of the carriers? Fortunately, most of them don’t know what a growler is! But a few tell me their parents are going to love it.

What sets yours apart from other wooden growler carriers people might see online? The craftsmanship. A lot of the others I’ve seen are more boxy. You’ll see with these, there’s a great attention to detail. All edges are rounded over and everything is completely sanded, and instead of using a nail gun, which leaves unsightly holes, we used glue and round head brass nails. Plus, these will be coming from a block and a half away… can’t get much more local than that.

How many wood pieces are you assembling to make one carrier? About 12.

How long does it take to make one? Hard to say because I don’t make one at a time, but the first one I designed start to finish was probably a couple of hours. I’ve been a woodworker for 30 years, so it kind of comes naturally to me. My goal is to get to a point where I can get 50 a week… that would be my ultimate goal.

What’s the process like? The biggest thing for us was getting the wood burner — Yesterday, my wife and I sat on the back deck with a blow torch for three hours, heating the branding iron andGetAttachment burning the logo.

I’m guessing there’s not a lot of room for error? I burned 110 sides yesterday and I think I messed up six of them.

What else should people know? These are going to be truly family made. My wife helps with sanding, finishing and making some of parts, and even some of the holes will be drilled by my kids — I’ve got four, ages six through 10 — who like to help in my shop.

What’s in YOUR growler? Well, my wife’s favorite is a mix of the Tower 23 and the Bog. I love the King Porter Stomp or Honey Porter.

You’ve taught many of the CMBC employees in woodshop. Who was the best and who was the worst? The best was Steve Wilson from the tasting room. He did an amazing cedar chest with zebrawood. Just beautiful.

The growler carriers are $40 and available in the CMBC tasting room beginning Friday, June 12.

Cape May Brewery Sponsors Escape The Cape

On this island, it’s hard to throw a Cape May Brew Co frisbee without hitting a person exercising. There are runners on the promenade. Surfers on the beach. Even a retro rollerblader or two weaving throughout the historic district.

And to cater to all of the athletes, there are races. Boy, are there races. We’ve got ETC - logo -01 turkey trots, glow runs, nun runs, a Run to the Taproom 5K, even the Ocean Drive Marathon which kicks off here every spring.

But there’s nothing quite like this Sunday’s award-winning Escape the Cape. Not in Cape May,
not anywhere. It’s why we’re so proud to be among the sponsors.

Now in its third year, the event — comprised of a sprint triathlon (.35-mile swim, 12.5-mile bike, 5k run) as well as an international triathlon (1-mile swim, 25-mile bike, 5-mile run) — requires participants to jump 12-feet from the deck of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into the Delaware Bay for the first leg of competition. At 8am on June 14, a record 1,700 athletes will take the plunge. Some of them will require the coaxing of a certified sports psychologist.

“Regular doctors talk you off of the ledge,” says event organizer Steve Del Monte of DelMo Sports. “He’ll have you leaping from it.”

Image courtesy of slowtwitch.com.
Image courtesy of slowtwitch.com.

Don’t worry – no one’s been injured in the race’s history. Save for our President Ryan Krill, who was set to participate in last year’s event until, just prior to the race, he nearly sliced off his thumb while installing a projector in the CMBC tasting room. You think jumping from a ferry is tough? Try balancing over a bar while cutting zip ties from a conduit.

Anywho, immediately following the competition will be an after-party at the ferry featuring barbeque, lawn games, and a special Pale Ale brew from yours truly called, appropriately, Escape the Cape.

“Cape May Brewery is a great partner,” Steve says. “The beer for this event – kind of like jumping from a ferry – is something you can’t get anywhere else.  CMBC aspires to expose its brand to as many people as possible without losing touch with what makes them special, and DelMo Sports has the same goal. We may be in very different fields, but that’s where we connect; that’s at the center of it all.”

As for the beer itself?

“The primary purpose was to make something refreshing for after a tough workout,” says Lead Brewer Brian. “At the same time, we made sure it has an edge because, I mean, these people are jumping off of a ferry. They’re pretty badass.”

So there you have it: a badass race and some badass beer… not a poor way to spend a Sunday. Of course, if you can’t get to the ferry for the big event, we’ll be tapping Escape the Cape in the tasting room on Friday, and pouring until we run out.

Best of luck to all participants!

Image courtesy of delmosports.com.
Image courtesy of delmosports.com.

Political Update

They say that political discussions have no place at the dinner table.

Welp, we hope you’re not eating dinner, because this week’s been a doozy.

Garden State Brewers Guild LogoOn Monday, there was a meeting of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, and on the agenda was a discussion of current beer-related legislation, including Bill S2910, which would allow breweries like to CMBC to sell beer at farmers markets and, ultimately, “grow the state’s agriculture and tourism economies,” according to Senator Tom Kean. Another current bill, S2911, would allow customers to bring their own food to tasting rooms.

“Only in New Jersey do you need a law permitting something that’s already allowed,” says CMBC/Guild President Ryan Krill, referring to the fact that bringing food into a tasting room isn’t technically prohibited under current legislation. “The laws are just murky.”

So, for several months, Ryan and other members of the Guild’s board have been meeting with legislators across the state in order to open a dialogue that will, hopefully, lead to some clarification.

“The lawmakers have been receptive,” he says. “They know bills like this will create jobs, and we have the stories and people to back that up. Beer is a bipartisan issue.”

Then, later in the week, Ryan met with New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi in order to talk economic sustainability and share some pretty swell statistics about how small brewers contribute. For instance: More than four million pounds of spent grain from Jersey breweries are recycled annually, and used by state farmers for high-quality animal feed.

Finally, Ryan left for the annual “Hill Climb” happening now in Washington DC. Here, over 200 industry leaders will fight the good fight for the Small BREW Act, legislation that would lower the federal excise tax for America’s small brewers, allowing for greater job creation and “reinvigoration of local economies.”

We’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out. In the meantime, back to your regularly scheduled dinner conversation.

Ryan meets with some of Jersey's movers and shakers, including Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi.
Ryan meets with some of Jersey’s movers and shakers, including Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi.

Keg Party

We’ll keg 105 barrels of beer this week. For perspective, we only kegged 60 our entire first year in business. Suffice it to say, things are

A sea of kegs
A sea of kegs. Photo by Carl Hudson

moving fastly and furiously at CMBC.

So it makes sense that our keg orders are massive. Take the last one — at the end of May, we received 246 sixtels and 648 halves. That’s a ton of tuns.

It took six of our guys to unload these bad boys from the delivery truck — Ryan, Hank, Bill, Richie, Carl and Matt. It also took some thick skin, literally — some of the kegs hadn’t been deburred yet, meaning they were full of metal splinters.

But after three hours, we’d rolled the cargo into place, and now they’re primed for sanitation. Our keg washer — which was converted from our original, 12-gallon brewhouse — can handle two, 40-pound halves at once and runs approximately eight minutes per cycle. Since we need to get through 210 kegs this week, we’re looking at 105 cycles and enough time to watch 28 episodes of The Wonder Years.

So, what, exactly goes on in the keg washer? First, the containers are purged of their pressure, washed with an acid solution, rinsed, the-wonder-yearssanitized, purged of air, and refilled with pressure. For new kegs, this removes any metal dust that may have been leftover from the manufacturing process. For used kegs, this removes any aggressive yeast strains that might be hanging on from an old batch of beer, just waiting to chew away at any less aggressive yeast strain when a new beer is poured inside.

So no, it’s not *quite* the keg party of your college years that we’re having at CMBC, but we’re pretty geeked up about it.

Photo by Hot Carl Hudson.
Photo by Carl Hudson.

 

Book Signing At Our Place

Historian Dr Robert Heinly is conducting a book signing at Cape May Brew Co this weekend. But before we get into that, a history lesson:

Cape May has a reputation for quaint Victorian charm and that’s because, as America’s first seaside resort, this is where so many wealthy city-dwellers came to vacation in the early 1800s. Here, genteel ladies strolled the promenade in flannel bathing costumes while men challenged one another to civilized games of croquet.

Robert Heinly
Robert Heinly

But Exit 0 hasn’t always been a civilized place.

By the 1960s, town had fallen into complete disrepair. Time had taken a toll on the architecture, and affluent tourists abandoned the resort for more modern amenities in Wildwood. (This was before Wildwood sold tee-shirts emblazoned with poop emojis and tattooed Disney princesses.)

A less-than-genteel debate waged in Cape May. In one camp were preservationists who sought to restore the Victorian buildings that had once been a calling card. In the other camp was a wrecking ball-happy crowd. Picture name calling, incredulity, doily throwing!

Enter the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC), established by a small group of activists with the goal of saving one property in particular – the beautiful Emlen Physick Estate. Built in 1878, this was the home of Dr Emlem Physick, a medical student turned real estate investor and gentleman farmer. The group was successful in its campaign, and their victory marked a turning point: the beginning of Cape May’s Victorian renaissance.

Like beer (shameless self-plug alert), victoriana draws tourists to Cape Island.

Today, The Emlen Physick Estate operates as Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, and Dr Robert Heinly works for MAC as a living history interpreter, playing the estate’s namesake on tours of the space.

Now, Robert has written a book called Victorian Cape May, and he’ll be signing copies of it this Saturday between noon and 3pm in our tasting room.

What does any of this have to do with beer?

We talked to Robert to find out…

  1. First of all… what did the Victorians think of beer? It was very much a dilemma for them. Certainly the ability to savor fine food and drink was the mark of a genteel person of the ‘better sort,’ and therefore they would imbibe. But beer also had its downside because it tended to be the drink of German immigrants who were not people of the ‘better sort’ in the Victorian view and couldn’t be trusted to keep their baser emotions in check while drinking.
  2. What can we expect from your book? The first section goes over Victorian culture in general and as it relates to Cape May — what the Victorians believed in and why. The second part is selected highlights from Cape May history – major fires, automobile races on the beach, elephants…
  3. Elephants? In the 1800s, Cape May erected an enormous elephant on its beach, like Lucy the Elephant in Atlantic City. It was
    Get your copy this Saturday... noon-3pm in the tasting room.
    Get your copy this Saturday… noon-3pm in the tasting room.

    designed as a tourist attraction, which begs the question: why?

  4. So…. why? In England in 1876, one of Queen Victoria’s prime ministers thought: You know, those annoying colonials across the ocean are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their unfortunate idea to become independent. We’re going to show them how to really celebrate. They wanted to upstage America’s party, so they hosted a grand celebration, the keystone of which was making Queen Victoria Empress of India, for some reason. So, around the world, anything east Indian became very popular – furniture, servants from India, servants dressed to look like they were from India. Hence the elephant in Cape May.
  5. That’sbizarre. Yes, but we always tended to imitate the English. For example, no one started ocean bating until King George the III of England did. Up until that point, the only sane person swimming was someone whose ship had just sunk! But once George did it, all the beautiful people on both sides of the Atlantic started madly plunging in. In many ways, that’s how Cape May started as a resort.
  6. And the rest of the book? That deals with the architecture of Cape May, inside and out. Indoor plumbing, for instance. It had just come into vogue, but you couldn’t say the word ‘toilet’ in polite society. Rather, people would say, “I see you have the latest in waste disposal technology.” Then, my last chapter morphs into my relationship with Dr Physick’s family. I interview them, telepathically, to ask what they think of modern Cape May.
  7. Why is this signing happening at the brewery? I was sitting in the tasting room enjoying one of the brews one day when I noticed that roughly a third are named for local places I discuss in the book.
  8. Let’s discuss one. That’s easy, because it’s my favorite beer and my favorite place: Tower 23. That’s the fire control tower on Sunset Beach.  You know, it was part of the defense of the Delaware Bay during World War II. From here, men would spot enemy submarines or a submarine attack. Then they’d relay target information to gun batteries.
  9. So what would Dr Physick think of Cape May having a brewery? He was a huge booster of new and invigorating ideas for this area, and certainly the brewery is a new and invigorating landmark here, so I’m sure he would approve of it. In fact, the next time I’m in telepathic communication with him, which I call T-mail, I’ll ask. Of course, I’m saying that tongue-in-cheek.

 Victorian Cape May is available online at historypress.net or amazon.com, and locally at The Emlyn Physick Estate, Whales Tale, Cape Atlantic Books, Celebrate Cape May, Swain’s Hardware, Sunset Beach and, of course, CMBC this weekend.

On A TV Near You…

whats on tapOur President, Ryan Krill, made his television debut last week, appearing on What’s On Tap, the simulcast program hosted by beer expert Gary Monterosso.

Over a glass of our Tower 23, Ryan fielded questions about his role as President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, why the advocacy group is so important, what’s exciting about craft beer right now, and what the pace of Cape May Brew Co is really like:

“It’s just been four constant years of seeming chaos,” he said. “We recently hired a marketing girl, Alicia, and someone asked her what it’s like to work at a brewery; they think it must be so chill, everyone sipping beer all day, and no, it’ not… it’s constant chaos. We write plans every year and look at budgets, but you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. We try to look in our crystal ball but we have no idea what’s going to happen next. When we started, we had no idea that we’d end up here.”

To watch the full show, click here… or skip to the 10-minute mark for Ryan’s segment.

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