CMBC co-owner Bob Krill – better known as Mopman — has made over 500 of our wooden tap handles. The originals were shaped like the state of New Jersey, and then came the square peg versions. But Bob’s done custom ones, too — for a watermelon wheat beer, for instance,
he once painted a Jersey-shaped handle to look like an actual watermelon, complete with seeds.
“Between my pharmaceutical consulting work, I do the odd jobs at the brewery,” says Bob. “I fill in the gaps, and I enjoy the more artsy stuff. Of course, these tap handles are a pain in the ass. We’re ordering professionally made ones, because otherwise doing this would be a full-time job!”
But Mopman is outdoing himself — PITA work or not. We’re talking about the special USCG handles he’s crafting for use at the US Coast Guard Harbor View All Hands Club. For the lay reader, that’s a really long name for the on-base bar at Training Center Cape May, where 4,000 military hopefuls come for boot camp each year. Here is where 83 percent of the Coast Guard’s entire workforce have endured eight workouts a day, every day, for eight weeks.
It’s fitting, then, that the process for making the Coast Guard tap handles would be no walk in the park. The tedious process includes cutting out wooden New Jerseys before sanding them, priming them and painting them the colors of the Coast Guard cutter racing stripe, red and white. Then Bob will put the hardware on, making sure it’s flush with the wood. In this case, that hardware is a blue Coast Guard medallion.
The finished product will be coming at a celebratory time for the base. The weekend of May 8 through 10 will be a festival commemorating Cape May’s official designation as a “Coast Guard community.” Reads a press release about the honor: “This reflects the deep and enduring nature of the relationships that the region’s residents share with Coast Guard personnel, families, and visitors.” Highlights will include a military parade and flyover, concerts, ship tours, and interactive marine exhibits.
At an on-base barbeque on Saturday, CMBC will be pouring, so we hope to see you there. In the meantime, check out Bob’s tap handles for sale in our tasting room… sir, yes, sir!
And we’re one step closer to a completed expansion!
You may have seen the oh-so-important glycol chiller which sits just outside of our headquarters. This is the piece of equipment that, despite its name, won’t actually chill anything. Instead, it will extract heat from the liquid chemical propylene glycol before pumping it to our fermenters via piping in the ceiling of the brewery. Once it’s arrived, this glycol will regulate the temperature of said fermenters. Then, after it’s exhausted, the glycol will make its way back to the chiller where it’ll be prepped for action once again… and on and on it will go, in one continuous loop.
This week, the ‘T’ fittings for the glycol system’s piping arrived, and our guys Hank and Hot Carl attached a handy-dandy valve to each one. These valves will allow certain tanks to be taken offline when necessary.
“It wouldn’t normally be tricky,” says Carl, “but in the brewery there are so many fermenters and a whole bunch that haven’t been moved into the new building yet, so we basically have to pipe them before they’ve arrived.”
Hypothetical piping: the CMBC challenge of the week. Also, a pretty good name for a band.
8. We all scream for ice cream… and some of us scream about it. Ben and Jerry’s has teamed up with Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing for the making of a Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. “It’s bad for children who will start looking at beer as the next step after ice cream,” says Bruce Lee Livingston, CEO of Alcohol Justice watchdog group.
9. Scotland’s BrewDog brewery – self-described “beacon of non-conformity in an increasingly monotone corporate desert” — is planning to launch a “Beer Hotel” in which the company’s own beers will be on tap… in the bedrooms.
11. A Wisconsin woman broke into a house to steal beer, cheese and perfume. “The pungent robber is being held on a tentative charge of burglary,” reports The Daily Mail.
12. Not one but THREE baseball fans used their beers to catch fly balls this week. “With the rough chances of catching a foul ball sitting at one in 1,189,” reports mlb.com, “the odds of catching one in a full beer is (carry the two, multiply by the remainder …) are much smaller than that.” In unrelated news, sports fans may soon be pouring their own drinks thanks to “beer robots.”
The Boston Marathon is the biggest running-related story this week (have you seen the video of bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory crossing the finish line yet? What a tear jerker), but when you’ve finished bingeing on that coverage, check out Cape May’s own rad running moment of the week: A successful 5k at our place.
On Sunday morning, about 355 participants braved the wind – think 17-mile-an-hour gusts – for a race that began and ended at the brewery. Director Ken Culbertson of Good Day for a Run told us that he gets a high demand for events “just like this” (ie, events with access to alcohol), and so he simply gave the lushes athletes what they want.
People showed up from as far as Manhattan, Philadelphia and Maryland, and one guy came all the way from England just for the this! (Okay, Steven Haggart actually left the UK a year ago to live in LBI, so technically he
came all the way from central Jersey, but it’s our blog and we’ll say what we want.)
It’s a funny thing – both the running and craft beer worlds are experiencing a massive boom, and yet both remain close-knit, supportive communities. Communities with an overlapping demographic.
“Why would you do a 5k without beer?” said Brian Gilan of we-forgot-to-ask-where. “Running is the risk; beer is the reward.”
And then there was Erinn Westerfer of Philadelphia, who said: “My mom just texted me to say the only reason I run fast is because of beer at the finish line.”
Or Monica and Domenick Versaggi, also of Philadelphia, who said, “The beer is what we run for, and we miss Cape May’s when we’re not here.”
Of course, others are in it for the friendly competition – like our own Facility Technician, Carl Hudson, who placed second in his age group.
Carl’s SO Peach (no last name, like Madonna) told us that she’d been planning on making him a shirt to race in with “I’ll get up when I’m ready” printed on the back, in case he crashed and burned, but that Carl didn’t need it because he’s been faithfully training with his coach, an English Springer Spaniel named Beatrice. Also, he had a goal in mind: beating CMB sales rep Justin Vitti, which he was able to do.
Justin’s response: “Carl ran a good race and it shows that he has a lot of experience. Proof of his experience? I
saw the quote that Jesus wrote in their yearbook about some track meet they ran in their new Air Sandals circa 16 AD or something… I will let him have his moment as he probably doesn’t have many of them left.”
Yet another of CMB’s employees in the race this day? Taproom Associate Steve Wilson.
“Beer goes with running because beer goes with everything,” he said. “Except driving. And flying. And pregnancy.”
Which we think someone should print on a tee-shirt.
Those crafty ancient Greeks. They invented spiral staircases, lighthouses, even indoor plumbing. We assume CMB sales rep Justin Vitti pays silent homage for the latter every time he hits play on an Enya CD and sinks into his nightly bubble bath. But never mind all that.
Today, we’re especially thankful to the Greeks for their other invention — the grain silo.
That’s because – drum roll, please — we’re about to get one of our own. The sexy cylinder will be coming from Lancaster in approximately a month, and she’ll stand right outside of our headquarters. Thirty feet tall and 12 feet wide, she’ll need to be assembled onsite and, thanks to Cape Concrete Designs, we’ve already had her pad laid out.
Capacity is 120,000 pounds, so every silo fill will last us approximately one month, drastically cutting down on deliveries. Currently, we receive shipments of 55-pound grain bags, 40 to a skid. But now, 60 tons of the good stuff will come at once in a special truck complete with a mechanism for blowing said cargo into place.
From here, the grain will be sucked through an auger pipe via rotating coils into our mill for grinding. The resulting product, a rough flour called grist, will then makes its way into the grist case until the time comes for mashing in and making tasty beer.
When the silo arrives, we’ll keep you updated with photos, including one of the windsock our resident pilot/President Ryan Krill intends to pop on top. Opa!
Let’s say you’ve never seen one of Gordon Ramsay’s television programs – Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and MasterChef, among others. And let’s say you’ve never heard of his 25 restaurants or their 15 – fifteen! – Michelin stars. And let’s say you’ve never caught his guest appearances on American Idol or TheSimpsons. (What are you, living under a rock?) You’ve likely still heard of the Scottish chef’s legendary temper. A temper that’s kept in check, come to find out, by Cape May Brewery beer.
But before we get to that, some GR history:
This is the guy who says even his own mum is appalled at the extent of his cursing. A guy who once kicked a food critic out of his restaurant and allegedly shoved a contestant on one of his shows, resulting in a sprained ankle. A guy who hired a private detective to tail his father-in-law when he suspected the man of bankrolling a mistress on his dime. A guy who’s feuded with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali. A guy who names the turkeys he raises after celebrity chef peers.
In line with reality TV dogma, that kind of behavior garners a hefty following. So, unsurprisingly, the excitement surrounding the grand opening of the new Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill in Atlantic City’s Caesars Casino yesterday was palpable. Ramsay himself was set to be there – tapping a CMB firkin — after all.
By 5pm, the cask sat in position at the top of the grand steps leading to the Roman Coliseum-motiffed restaurant. Beside it stood Ramsay’s guards – both real and Praetorian – as well as the 200 Casino big-wigs, reporters, and members of the public who’d been invited. When the man of the hour appeared, the crowd that had gathered in the lobby below took a collective breath and began tapping furiously at their cell phone cameras.
“Anyone who says Atlantic City is in decline is full of utter horseshit,” Ramsay said into his mic, likely glad his mother was not in attendance, before thanking the requisite people.
Just then, an Irish bagpiper named Alex McKee who says there is never anything under his kilt but lipstick (womp, womp) began leading a procession of tartan-clad, Scottish flag-waving staffers and CMB’s own Brew Master, Brian Hink, across the lobby, through security and to the foot of the stairs. When they arrived, Ramsay began tapping at the firkin with a wooden mallet in order to fill his glass with the delicious brew inside: South Jersey Seccession Session Scottish Ale conditioned with Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean. When the cask remained uptapped, Brian lept up the stairs to help in applying just the right amount of force.
“Man, that was nerve-wracking,” Bri-guy said later, over passed hors d’oeuvres. “There were so many cameras and so many people, and it’s hard to know until you do it if the beer has settled enough to avoid a blast of foam when tapped.” But no catastrophes this day.
“Very beautiful,” Ramsay said after his first sip.
Around this time, your blogger – who had earned entry to the event by tucking in behind the bagpipe procession – accidentally stepped out of bounds while looking for a bathroom, and was not immediately allowed back in to the event for lack of a proper wristband… doh! At least that’s what security said, but we’re suspicious it might, also, have had something to do with said blogger’s egregious farmer’s tan, which she’d regrettably acquired earlier in the day, but we digress.
After 35 minutes of sweet-talking her way through three layers of food-and-beverage management, your blogger finally managed to regain entry. Only problem? By now, all star-struck groupies who had not yet gotten a moment of face-time with Ramsay were going full-on 12-year-old-girl-at-Justin-Bieber-concert. As the star made his way through throngs of grown men throwing elbows and even one middle-aged southern woman who yelled between sobs that she’s been waiting her whole life for THIS MOMENT, we shouted one question at Ramsay that managed to catch his attention: Why, of all the craft breweries out there, is it important to have Cape May’s beer on tap?
“I started tasting that stuff a long time ago,” he said. “After a long day in the kitchen, it makes everything alright.”
And knowing what a day in the kitchen can look like for Ramsay – the man’s pastry chef once called the police on him, citing abusive behavior – we’re very flattered.
As for whether all that temper stuff is real, or merely a show put on for the cameras, we asked Casino President Kevin Ortzman.
“Gordon Ramsay is a wonderful partner,” he said. “But he has very high standards. Cape May Brewing Company fits in with that.”
So while GR may be the culinary villain America loves to hate, he’s a-ok by us. Even if we were nearly booted from his pub.
The men say that the Atlantic City Beer Festival — you know, the second largest beer fest in the country — is comparable in terms of “beer, beards, barrels and brew house discussions,” so you know it was a good time.
The night had 500 attendees, a casino, a scotch and cigar lounge, a whole tuna, and a Big Top theme complete with some serious acrobatics.
“The upper body strength of these petite women was really really impressive,” Brian said of the performers. “They could probably out lift [cellarman] Paul on a pound-per-pound basis.”
Of course, one of the main attractions was the beer — over 100 different kinds from all over the country were available… including two cases of our own Honey Porter, a big hit!
It was the perfect scene for forging new collaborative relationships, and rekindling old ones. Ryan says they “broed out over self-distribution” with the guys from Rhinegeist in Cincinnati (check out their story here… they brew in a circa 1895 building!), and hung with the cool leaders of South Florida’s largest craft microbrewery, Funky Buddha.
“We sold them some tanks a couple years ago so it was good to put faces with names, which is why these events are important,” said Ryan.
But all of this fun-having isn’t just about, well, having fun… it’s about sharing the excitement over an industry worth celebrating.
“The night stayed true to the craft beer style,” said Brian. “We’re all pretty crazy and make crazy beers, so it was a fitting event. I can’t see a tax association conference having a party like this.”
Conde Nast Traveler readers have named Cape May one of the top 20 food cities in America. We’re in good company — Portland, Santa Barbara and Aspen also made the cut. The write-up, which says we’ve got “plenty to offer travelers seeking out high-quality food to go along with their summer beach vacation,” mentions the Mad Batter for its eclectic dining room and killer brunch, as well as the waterfront Lobster House. Guess whose on tap at both those places? [Insert winky emoji face here.]
Since we last checked in with Ry-guy and Bri-guy in Portland, they’ve walked approximately 3.42 miles each around the 600 vendors at the Craft Brewers Conference Expo, which looks like this:
Here, they’ve been coming across all of the booths displaying CMB merchandise. “It’s cool to see our stuff being used as samples,” says Ryan. Can you spot the Cape May hat?
Ryan’s been attending riveting meetings, too, like the one this morning where he volunteered to assist with Brewers Association event planning. This means our president will be helping to steer next year’s CBC ship. Look out, Philadelphia.
As president of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, Ryan’s also been making a point of connecting with other guilds while in Portland, including Georgia’s. Fun fact: those guys have recently hired an executive director which, under Ryan’s direction, the Jersey association will be doing shortly.
And, of, course, there have been plenty of seminars to attend. Ryan just got out of “Brewing and Economic Data,” which should be helpful to him as he spearheads the Guild’s first Economic Impact Report, out soon!
On the projector pictured below, he saw all sorts of fun statistics, including those that set Cape May Brewery apart. While most of our peers package 90% of their beer and serve the remaining 10% on draft, CMB’s ratio is 95% draft and 5% package. It’s good to be different…
Brian’s been busy at beer school, too, taking in lectures ranging from “Sour Beer: It’s More Than Just PH” to “The Littlest QC Lab,” all about quality control. If you’re curious how he’s enjoying it… see this face:
Not to worry – it’s not all work and no play. First of all, the guys are meeting celebs — like Sam Adams founder Jim Koch — and they’re connecting with tons of other Jerseyites, including Gene Muller of Flying Fish and Mark Edelson of Iron Hill. AND they’re doing it in beautiful weather; it’s currently 67 degrees and sunny in Portland. Notice the blue sky behind the famous White Stag sign (a designated Historic Landmark installed in 1940) below:
Plus, there are some great dinners happening. Last night, the boys went to landmark restaurant Veritable Quandary with BSG, Brewer Supply Group Handcraft. And they would have gone to a Dogfish Head party, but apparently in Portland you have to phone for a cab, and no one was answering. Still, they managed to have a good time. “It took us a while to recover this morning,” Ryan confirmed.
Tonight, the agenda includes a “mega-party” hosted by GEA Brewery Systems, from which the boys promise to take photos.
In the meantime, we’ll make you all jealous by showing you this, Ryan’s breakfast from Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut shop. It’s not quite the ‘Gay Bar’ pastry, which includes rainbow-colored Fruit Loops, but still delish…