If Cape May Brewery were a fairytale, we’d have all the archetypal characters: the princess (a light and pretty shandy), the prince (a strong but oh-so-smooth Imperial IPA), and the token bad guy you hate to love (Devil’s Reach, perhaps?). You get the idea.
But now, with a new Stow Away reserve series, we’re shaking things up.
“Think of the beers in this line as more Dr Suess-ish,” says Chris. “They’re creative, unique, weird in a good way. These are the unexpected characters.”
When we moved into our new headquarters at Cape May Airport, we freed up our original space for experimental brewing. This means we’re better equipped than ever for tackling non-standard fermentations where funky yeast and mischievous bacteria strains become the protagonists.
And just like with any good story, these beers can take a while to develop. The first in the series, which we’ll tell you about momentarily, has been two years in the making, and we’ve got a few other long-term brews coming up right behind. In fact, the waiting period involved with this sort of undertaking is part of the incentive behind our series’ name. Sure, Stow Away connotes a nautical theme, but it also speaks to a literal stowing away – the beers are infused with exciting, wild-child microbes and left to age under the watchful eye of our brew team.
“Because we’re using hard-to-control ingredients, this is a precarious process,” Chris says. “But the payoff is huge. With a reserve series, the possibilities are endless.”
No, the record isn’t skipping. This is the third week in a row we’ve brought you three new things to sip.
First up is our One-Off Wednesday: Lemongrass Ginger Devil’s Reach, for which fresh lemongrass and fresh ginger have been infused into our flagship Belgian Strong Ale. The sweetness of these Asian flavors helps “balance out the intense finish of the beer,” says Manager of Culinary Special Ops JP Thomas.
On deck is Concrete Ship. It’s a BIG beer (ahem, 9.2%) named for a BIG ship, the 3,000-ton, half-sunk, World War I-era SS Atlantus that ran aground 150 feet from Cape May’s Sunset Beach. (The sinking part isn’t all that surprising when you consider it was made of concrete… we wrote more on that here.)
This Imperial Stout is rich and layered with flavors of coffee, dark chocolate and roasted malt. It’s so decadent, we like to think we wouldn’t mind going down with the ship, as long as this were on board.
“It’s a good sipping beer,” says Chris. “Think of it as your digestif, dessert in a glass.”
Concrete Ship is on tap starting February 4 at noon.
And for the dry dude or sober sister in your group, we’ve got a Habanero Mango soda, also on tap beginning February 4, in which the tropical notes of real habaneros complement the fresh fruit. No worries for the spice adverse; the soda has been strained over top of the peppers’ seeds – aka, the keepers of the kick — and not infused with them.
“The final product gives you just a little tingle on the lips,” JP says.
Cape May Brewing Company is about to embark on another exciting first: our first collaboration beer. Head Brewer Brian Hink is headed to Denver next Friday to partner with Ryan Kilpatrick of Fiction Brewing on an inventive, yet-to-be-named saison that will feature at Colorado’s third annual Collaboration Beer Fest this March.
CMBC’s will be one of 75 collaboration projects showcasing at the event, labeled “America’s most creative beer fest” by Food and Wine. Each is the work of at least two brewers – one must be a member of the Colorado Brewers Guild, the other must come from somewhere on planet Earth, which means participants are hailing from all over globe.
From the festival website: “Collaboration is all about sharing brewing experience and technique to join the perfect ingredients. Brewers come together to decide exactly what yeast to use with what fruit, what type of malt works best with what barrel, or what hops will contribute to the perfect aroma. When done right, the effort becomes truly legendary.”
Brian and Ryan have been going over their own legendary recipe for the last two weeks via email, and they’ve settled on a saison made with unlikely hat tips: the common meadow violet, better known as Jersey’s state flower, and clover leaf honey from Colorado. Rather than your standard grain bill, the guys will use Vienna and Munich for a richer mouthfeel. And perhaps most exciting, they’ll hop the beer with buzz-worthy Equinox, appropriate since the festival takes place the day before the spring Equinox.
“It’s the perfect hop for a saison,” Brian says. “It’s peppery with lemon and lime undertones, and very fragrant. It will bring out the fruitiness of a finicky Belgian yeast strain.”
That ‘finicky’ part is important. The festival is the perfect time to experiment with unpredictable ingredients, since the rigid production schedules of big-batch brewing often rule them out. At Collaboration Fest, you’ll try beers you can’t find anywhere else. Unfortunately, what happens in Colorado stays in Colorado.
So if you want to taste this effervescent, super-carbonated, estery brew, you’re going to have to book a trip to the Centennial State. We hope to see you there.
In this week’s installment of CMBC On the Move, we’ve a pic from the Grand Palladium in Riviera Maya, Mexico. From left to right, you’re looking at: Ron Miller, Jamie Peters, George (in the CMBC tee!) and Kelly Bowman, and — also looking fly in CMBC swag — Ed and Cindy Gormon.
“Mexican beer has nothing on Cape May Brewery,” Ed says.
We’ve kicked off our charity drive for the Cape May County Animal Shelter, so every week, we’ll be introducing you to one of the wet-nosed cuties you’ll be helping when you donate in our tasting room. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be compelled to adopt… hint, hint.
Meet Buddha. He’s just about the kewlest pittbull terrier we’ve ever met. And he’s top of his class in the shelter’s obedience training program to boot. Get yourself a bottle of Devil’s Reach, pour this guy a big bowl of water, and you’ve got yourself a drinking buddy. When you’re ready to rub his Buddah belly, call the shelter at 609-465-8923.
We’re still on a three-release streak this week. (And it’s making us rhyme.)
A Charred Oak IPA, our Wednesday One-Off, is still on tap (but going quickly, so hurry over). We haven’t done a one-off with our flagship Cape May IPA in about three months, so it was time. Because it can be hard to find ingredients that stand up to the strong hop flavor of the beer, we opted for something with some oomph – oak chips. First, we smoked them (okay, charred them) with a blowtorch. Then, we soaked them in whisky for some extra smoky flavor. We conditioned the beer over the chips so they would absorb this flavor, but not so much that the beer’s hop flavor would be masked. So… hop to it, beer fans. (Womp, womp).
Release number two is our Pale Ale with Citra, which tastes like “walking through a California orange grove at harvest time,” according to Head Brewer Brian Hink. “Fewer and fewer breweries are making pale ales because they’re not in vogue,” he says. (Which, by the tenets of hipsterdom, sort of makes them in vogue.) “We hop ours as if it were an IPA, so it’s a little more hoppy and has some more body than a traditional session IPA.” Weighing in at 5.2%, it’s on tap beginning January 28 at noon.
And finally, for the tee-totaling set, we’ve got our specialty soda: blackberry lime, also on tap beginning January 28 at noon. “It’s literally just the fresh fruit, the fresh mint, and sugar,” says manager of culinary ops, JP Thomas. “It was like making a mojito – a nice, refreshing, sit-back-and-relax drink.” On deck for next week: expect something with basil…
This June, the Brewers Association will host their ninth-annual SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience. For the record 350 craft breweries across the country who wanted in, a lottery was held, and CMBC was one of 60 selected to attend the major event.
We’re stoked for five reasons:
One – Over the course of two nights, in the National Building Museum in Washington DC, we’ll taste from a menu designed to pair with the finest offerings of at least 70 independent breweries, including our own. Not only is this a mouth-watering good time, it underscores the beauty (and science!) behind beer at the dinner table. Move over, Pinot Noir.
Two— The event also reinforces the largely untapped affinity between brewers and cooks, which we’ve been drawing on over the course of the last year with sponsorship of beer pairing dinners (see here and here), and the hiring of our own CIA-trained chef.
Three – All products at SAVOR are sourced locally, and sustainability turns us on.
Four – It’s a great chance to mingle with luminaries in our industry.
Five – And finally, we’re excited for SAVOR because everything we glean about the food/beer continuum will benefit you, the CMBC fan.
Financial guru Nakeya Barreto came onboard the CMBC ship in August. Her name is mispronounced by 88% of people she meets. Other fun facts are below. (And it’s Na-key-ah Buh-ret-toe, by the way…)
I AM FROM…Here. Born and raised.
MY FAVORITE CMBC BEER IS… Honey Porter.
MY FAVORITE NON-CMBC BEER IS… Rubaeus Rasberry Ale from Founders.
MY FAVORITE HOBBY IS… trying new recipes. I’m especially intrigued by the ones that have the least amount of ingredients. I actually make a five-ingredient vegan and yeast-free bread that’s way too easy to eat.
THE LAST TIME I LAUGHED UNTIL I CRIED WAS… when someone bought me a fart book. It had 10 different fart noises and a story to go with each one…
THE SUPERPOWER I’D LIKE TO HAVE IS…flying.
SOMETHING PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT CMBC IS… that everyone gets along so well.
MY FAVORITE CARTOON IS… Does Mary Poppins count? It has cartoon parts…
MY BIGGEST FEAR IS… You’re not supposed to tell people your biggest fear!
THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON I’VE EVER MET WAS… A few, but they’re just people right? However, I once introduced a date to a friend who is a close friend of Denzel Washington, and he got so wide-eyed that I blurted out “Are you star struck or something?” That didn’t go well.
MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… heavy nose breathers.
THE SPORTS TEAMS I FOLLOW ARE…I don’t follow sports.
IF I COULD, I’D SPLURGE ON… a stay at an off-the-grid cabin in the woods for two weeks!
SOMETHING NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT ME IS…that I’m in ministry training school.
THE BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED IS… to consider how difficult it is to change yourself before you try to change someone else.
IF I WERE AN ANIMAL, I WOULD BE…a bird.
MY HIDDEN TALENT IS… I’m capable of performing minor car maintenance like changing my oil, changing my brakes, and doing a tune-up. I also have a current cosmetology license and cut and highlight my own hair!
I WAS DRAWN TO CMBC BECAUSE… There’s a big difference between working for a company that is chasing money opposed to working for a company that is following a passion. The people here put in lot of hard work following a passion and everything else just sort of falls into place after that. And working with [marketing guru] Alicia Grasso again is like delicious multifaceted aromatic beer head atop an ice cold fresh-poured beer.
IF I HAD TO NAME A CMBC BEER TOMORROW, I WOULD CALL IT… Eve’s Rebellion, and it would be an Extra Pale Ale. In it, I’d like to package some coconut and citrus flavors to mimic a sunset’s brilliant colors, beautiful clouds and the ability to change the entire mood of a day.
MY FAVORITE BAND IS… NeedToBreathe.
MY KARAOKE SONG IS… “Love” by Keshia Cole but ONLY with my daughter.
In the summer of 2014, Bob (aka Mop Man) had an inspired idea.
“I noticed the designated drivers in our tasting room asking for diet Coke or Pepsi,” he says. “So I thought to myself: ‘Why not offer them craft soda?’”
On August 24 that year, after doing much research online and in books, he brewed his first batch of ginger ale – made with only all-natural ingredients like cane sugar, fresh lemon, and 30-pounds of hand-cut ginger.
“If you look at a can of commercial ginger ale, the first ingredient is water and the next four are preservatives, followed by corn syrup and ginger flavoring,” he says. “I wanted ours to be the opposite — only real ingredients.”
From there, Bob made about 15 more test batches, tweaking ingredient ratios each time in order to land on a perfectly balanced recipe. At the same time, Chris stepped in and helped concoct a rootbeer. Each style has been available in our tasting room ever since.
“I don’t care about cost,” Bob says. “The goal has always been to produce the highest quality.”
The demand for these sodas has been so great, we’ve decided to expand our offerings. Enter JP Thomas, a CIA-trained chef and CMBC’s new manager of culinary ops. He’s been working with Bob to conceive more recipes, which will be released one at a time every Thursday as specialty one-offs.
“They’re going to be unique,” JP says. “I can’t emulate a Sprite without using chemicals, but I can make a lemon and lime soda using real fruit that tastes like actual lemons and limes. This is very rare. Even sodas marketed as ‘natural’ usually contain color-number-five or something.”
So far, we’ve come out with batches of blueberry and raspberry, each requiring one pound of fresh fruit for every gallon of soda. The release for today, January 21, is raspberry lime. The process is the same each time. Boiled fruit is added to a house-made syrup before being mashed up in a 60-gallon rolling tank or, in the words of Head Brewer Brian Hink, a “mini-fermenter on wheels.” The liquid is then strained into sixtels and hooked up to CO2 tanks for forced carbonation, a process which can take anywhere from eight hours to a couple of days.
“More sugar holds more bubbles, so sweeter sodas take less time,” JP explains.
The guys have big plans for the future. JP is brainstorming a rhubarb-based soda, and anticipating the local Jersey Fresh ingredients he’ll incorporate this summer. Bob is hard at work tweaking a tonic water recipe.
“While most commercial varieties use a quinine extract, we make our own quinine from South American cinchona tree bark, which is used to treat malaria and restless leg syndrome,” says Bob, whose pre-brewery life was in pharmaceutical science. “This plays well into our philosophy: no artificial anything.”
In the not-so-distant future, we’re hoping to bottle our sodas for retail sale. Until that time, we’ll keep churning out pop alongside our pints.
“The goal is to give people a treat,” Bob says. “Even if they aren’t drinking alcohol.”