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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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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.

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

  1. CupidLogo-300x238Beer-lovers are “60 percent more likely to be okay sleeping with someone they’ve just met,” according to an article shared by Time magazine. Do with this information, um, what you will.
  1. Maine State Senator John Patrick is calling out bars in his state for cheating customers with pint glasses that are smaller than the US standard of 16 ounces. Many 05-fifty-shades-of-green-beer.w245.h368.2x“actually hold only 14 ounces – or who knows what amount, really,” reports Food and Wine. But Patrick is introducing a bill that would put an end to all of that. Hopefully, he’ll have better luck than Michigan did with the same campaign in 2013. No worries at CMBC… our pint glasses are always a full 16 ounces.
  1. Fifty Shades of Grey opened yesterday, and yes, a beer has been released to commemorate the occasion, thanks to Scotland’s Innis and Gunn. The brew, called 50 Shades of Green, blends — you guessed it — 50 different hops and a slew of “libido increasing” ingredients. Unfortunately, it’s only available in the UK, lovebirds.
  1. It’s President’s Day Weekend, so time to bone up on your history: George Washington wrote a beer recipe (think lots of molasses), and brewed it at the distillery he opened when his tobacco-growing businesses went bust.
  1. An ambitious man tried to sneak about 24 beers past a security guard at a Turkish soccer game this week. He failed, and that fail is going viral.

    photo credit: Michael Sears
    Activated Sludge Wheat Ale (yes, it’s a thing…) photo credit: Michael Sears
  1. Sewage beer” is now a thing, thanks to recycling advocacy group Clean Water Oregon, who says brews made with purified waste water are a-okay for drinking.
  1. It’s Mardi Gras! And in case you’re in the mood to get your Creole on, our Citra Pale Ale, being released this Thursday, pairs great with shrimp and grits, and our Tower 23 is a match for a Muffuletta. Fun fact: Canyon Allen, owner of A Place on Earth soap company and our newest neighbor at the Cape May Airport, recently marched along with Flying Fish Studio owner Sue Lotozo in Mardi Gras’ Krewe de Vieux parade and tribute to James Brown. Get on up!

Five Things We’re Excited About in 2015

Ah, the beginning of a new year. It’s a time to reflect — perhaps over a Honey Porter — on events past. At Cape May Brewing Company, a lot’s gone down.

We launched in July of 2011 with an airport hangar, a used Quizno fridge that smelled of deli meat, and a 12-gallon pilot brew system concocted from scrapyard keg shells, hot water heaters found on eBay, and stainless steel tanks dug out of Jersey recycling plants. To our, ahem, one client, we delivered beer in a hand-me-down Mazda MVP. (Yea, that’s a minivan alright.)

But since then, Ryan Krill and Chris “Hank” Henke, our intrepid owners/good booze

Ryan Krill & Chris "Hank" Henke (photo credit Frank Weiss, courtesy Exit Zero Magazine)
Co-founders Ryan Krill & Chris “Hank” Henke (photo credit Frank Weiss, courtesy Exit Zero Magazine)

ambassadors, have taken steps – like adding a tasting room, updating equipment, and landing a distributor — to prime this beachside brewery for world domination. Or, at least, putting south Jersey’s craft beer scene on the map.

Other brewers told us it couldn’t be done. They said everyone “down the shore” drinks bottled lite beer only. But we’ve forgiven them — after all, not everyone knows how good an IPA tastes in a place with salty ocean breezes.

Now, we’ve got upwards of 200 clients (not counting that random guy who drove a CMB keg to North Carolina before serving it illegally) and over 40 recipes on our docket. But we’re only getting bigger.

Here’s what’s on tap (womp, womp) for 2015:

  1. Expansion: Our current tasting room may be the largest of its kind in the state, and we may be able to brew 500 gallons of beer at one time with our current setup, but it’s not enough. So we took over another section of the Cape May Airport’s industrial complex – the 15,000 square-foot building formerly owned by the Tomwar wallpaper company. When we started our renovation a little more than a year ago, the space smelled of sewage gas, having sat vacant for over a decade. “You could have filmed a murder movie here,” Ryan says. But we did some sprucing, and are now in the process of moving 14 tanks into position for a three-vessel brew house capable of producing 15,000 barrels a year. Quite the far cry from our original pilot apparatus, eh? For 2016, we’re looking into a second tap room and an outdoor beer garden in the spirit of Brooklyn’s DeKalb market. We do have a thing for shipping containers…
  2. Bottling: We’re now home to the little bottling line that could — part handmade (thanks to Hank’s engineering skills), and part kickass, industrial mechanism that cost a bloody fortune. That’s right, expect to see our brews coming at you in six-pack form in the very near future.
  3. Homemade Soda: We’ve been inspired by Hotlips. (We know — isn’t everyone?) But we actually mean the Portland pizza company that makes pop from all-natural ingredients. Think pure cane sugar, organic lemon juice, sparkling water, and straight-from-the-ground fruit. We’ve been experimenting with a few flavors (watermelon mint, gingerale and rootbeer) but we’ve got more cool carbonations coming. So far, we’re the only ones in Jersey doing it, and it all feels very full-circle — back when we were more hobby-business than business-business, our first batches of beer were delivered in repurposed soda kegs. Says Ryan: “Unlike with beer, soda production is rarely a transparent process. Our goal is to change that.”
  4. Malt Vinegar: The word ‘artisanal’ is sure having a moment in the sun, isn’t it? We’re exjersey fresh logocited to compound the sustainability fad by introducing homemade malt vinegar. Did you know the condiment is actually just beer, with a bacteria introduced to eat off all the alcohol? Quick — grab some fish and chips!
  5. Jersey Fresh: Now for some very sweet news — the New Jersey Department of Agriculture offers a “Jersey Fresh” label to products made from local agricultural ingredients of the highest quality. After much paperwork and several USDA inspections, our honey porter passed the test, thanks to the 90 pounds of homegrown honey used in every 15 barrels of brew.

Shooting for Six in Six

In January of 2013, brew master Brian Hink entered our tasting room, and his first thought was: “Holy shit, how do you guys have 12 beers on tap?”

In Jersey, a double-digit offering at a craft brewery is considered “insane.”

You’re more likely to see three or so regulars on a tasting room menu, with a seasonal selection rotated in for good measure.

And yet, 12 ain’t nothing compared to now.

making beer
photo credit: Frank Weiss, Courtesy Exit Zero Magazine

Brian has helped expand our selection, so that there are at least 20 beers available at any given time. Excuse us while we brag about our baby — we’ve got the largest on-tap variety of any tasting room in the state, and we’re only looking to grow.

Enter our upcoming production schedule: Six new beers in six weeks (released every Thursday beginning 2/19). Add to this the tasty concoctions put out every hump day for “One Off Wednesdays,” and you’re looking at 12 new beers in half as many weeks.

“Variety is the spice of life,” says our guy Chris. But he’s not referring to the less-than-authentic type of variety some other breweries pass off as choice. In those cases, the same yeast strain might be used to create beers that are merely tweaked to be different from each other via extra hops, blended fruit, or aging. “Whereas, we’re not afraid to buy the right ingredients,” says Chris. “For our recent Biscuits and Honey ESB, for instance, we used four different yeast strains and four different grains to get the style just right.”

CMBC's Master Brewer Brian HInk
CMBC’s Master Brewer Brian Hink

And those upcoming six beers? They’ll be just as distinct, ranging from a light-bodied Citra Pale Ale (2/19) to the cidery Apple Bomb (2/26), to a clean and malty lager called Bringing Sexy Bock (3/5), to a Toasted Coconut IPA (3/12), to the beautifully bitter Take Five Session IPA which Brian’s been dreaming up for a over a year (3/19), to the dry and complex Cape May Saison (3/26).

All of this brewing isn’t merely about pleasing customers, although that’s a nice bonus. What can we say? We’ve got a passion. Hell, Brian spends his Saturdays making beer at home. “And I find myself spending my commute, which is 45 minutes each way, brainstorming new ideas,” he says.

Watch this space for his next lightbulb moment. And be extra careful if you see him on the road. He’s clearly a distracted driver.

Winning!

Cape May Brewing Company is kicking ass and taking names. (Isn’t that what the kids are saying these days?) But seriously – we’ve won, we’ve won!

BOCBA

On January 24, 608 brews from 108 breweries across the nation were tested in Bend, Oregon by industry professionals in a BJCP (or Beer Judge Certification Program)-sanctioned event. Meaning? The judges here were the real deal, having qualified for their positions via exams on this 66-page(!) study guide.

In the category of Imperial IPA, our Coastal Evacuation — a Centennial-hop heavy beer that will have you evacuating your home to hit our tasting room (badum-ching!) — scored a silver medal, besting 27 other entries. “It’s a pretty cutthroat category, so we’re thrilled,” says brew master Brian.

Another winner was our light and refreshing Tower 23, which earned silver in the Berline Weisse group. Little known fact? This is the beer that almost never was. “Brian wanted to do this for so long,” says Chris. “I told him ‘no’ for about six months before I finally said, ‘OK, this is how we’ll do it.’” There’s a lesson there, kids — if at first you don’t succeed… keep trying until you get a kickass beer.

Finally, our most popular pint, Devil’s Reach, took home a bronze in the Belgian Golden Strong Ale class.

“It’s something every brewer wants to do — win awards,” says Brian. But we know that his real motivation is more warm and fuzzy than that. “To make the best product, you have to really care about it. When you’re brewing beer, it’s important that your heart be in it.”

Cheers to your favorite liquid labor of love.

Beer Commercial Has Congress All Hopped Up

Sure, this past Super Bowl may have been one of the most exciting in history, but for many beer lovers, the game took a backseat to the $9 million dollar Budweiser ad that praised macro brews for their rugged drinkability, and poo-poo’d the micro world for appealing to fussy girly-boys (we’re paraphrasing).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siHU_9ec94c

While Bud is standing by its commercial, the backlash was swift and fierce. Some bars are now refusing to carry beverages made by parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev, while craft breweries are busy releasing parody ads of their own, complete with puppies. On social media, a Wall Street Journal piece published a few months ago is once again making the rounds, because it suggests the commercial’s genesis may have been insecurity – research shows 44 percent of drinkers between the ages of 21 and 27 have never so much as tasted a Bud. If nothing else, critics say, the ad is hypocritical, considering AB InBev is muscling its way into the craft market by buying up the nation’s most successful small breweries.

But a snarky reaction from the Twittersphere? That’s just par for the course. The medium is also where people go to criticize Uma Thurman’s face and Taco Bell burritos, so nothing is sacred here. A more fair gauge of just how many buttons the commercial has pushed? The reaction of Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum have been irked by the ad, meaning Budweiser has done the impossible – united Republicans and Democrats in mutual annoyance. The company “seems to have forgotten that the craft beer industry has a lot of allies in Congress,” reports Daily Beast writer Matt Laslo. Case in point: the existence of the House’s bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus, which makes experimental brews sound as American as apple pie. God bless the USA!small brewers caucus logo

The Bud commercial lit such a fire under these politicians that, less than 24 hours after its airing, they reintroduced legislation meant to protect the little guys, Laslo reports. The Small BREW (or Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce) Act would “drop the tax rate per barrel from $7 to $3.50 for the first 60,000 barrels a brewery churns out. It would then save small breweries an additional $2 on every barrel until they hit the magical two million number.”

Of course, politicians with vested interests in the macro world are pushing back with the Fair BEER (or Brewers Excise and Economic Relief) Act, which argues that the big guns are deserving of such protections as well.

While the House fights it out, we’ll make a suggestion to Budwesier: stick to Clydesdales.

Regional Paper Shows CMBC Some Love

ac interview in HQ

Last Monday, veteran Press of Atlantic City reporter Rich Degener stopped by for a story on our ongoing expansion. He showed up in his signature unassuming dress —complete with a duct-tape chic jacket — and spent over an hour checking out our new setup. He tasted the product, scrawled copious albeit totally illegible notes, and told us that his daughter Elizabeth (who sells the delicious homemade bread on Sunset Boulevard) loves our tasting room, which is awesome, because we love her bread! You can see Rich’s article here. Just a couple of small corrections: the money spent on gutting and renovating our new space (called HQ for ‘headquarters’, until someone around here comes up with a name more clever) was actually closer to $1,000,000 than half a million, and our fearless leaders attended Villanova University, not Temple. No offense against the Owls – we’re all Philly proud!

ac press-dale gerhard, ryan krill
photo credit: Dale Gerhard, Courtesy Press of Atlantic City

 

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