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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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#CBC2015

The 32nd Annual Craft Brewers Conference… in Tweets:

1. On making friends:

2. On the venue:

3. On options:

4. On getting schooled:

5. On venturing out of the comfort zone:

6. On that Scottish Darth Vader guy:

7. On the importance of craft beer:

8. On other essential trivia:

9. On the  party schedule:

10. On TRUTH:

11. On foregone conclusions:

12. On breaking the seal:

13. On things that resonate:

14. On going home:

CBC Update: The Mega-Party

Last night, after a long day of networking and seminar-taking at the 32nd Annual Craft Brewers Conference, Bri-guy and Ry-guy attended a CBC mega-party thrown by GEA Brewery Systems.

The boys and their beer
The boys and their beer

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!

The food! Of the oysters, Ryan says: "Cape May Salts are brinier."
The food! Of the oysters, Ryan says: “Cape May Salts are brinier.”

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.”

 

 

Cape May Gets Some Conde Love

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.]

 

 

CBC Update: Econ, Doughnuts, Mega-Parties

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:

expo1

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?

expo

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…

screen

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:

briguy

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:

portland

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…

doughnut

An Earth-Friendly Post For Earth Day

We’re not trying to say that either of our fearless leaders are the next Captain Planet. (Not that Ryan and Chris couldn’t pull off the blue body paint/red speedo combo.) Truth is — they’re just regular guys who run a brewery, doing what they can to take pollution DOWN TO ZERO! (Sorry – that Captain Planet theme song is just so catchy.)

CPLast year, in Conservation magazine writer James McWilliams called brewing a “quintessential artifact of rust-belt industrialism” and, therefore, hardly the field that should pop to mind when talking sustainability.

And yet…

McWilliams went on to describe craft brewers as leaders in environmental policy who live by an unspoken creed: there’s no use making good beer if the planet’s screwed. (We’re paraphrasing.)

At CMBC, we’re on board with that. And in the spirit of Earth Day, we figured we’d give you a rundown of our most earth-friendly trivia…

  1. We made the move to pint glasses in our tasting room last year, because we got so sick of seeing plastic cups piled high in our brewery. Remember: glassy is classy.
  2. We source local ingredients whenever we can. Most recently, we’ve commissioned a nearby farmer for two malting varieties of Jersey barley grown over 35 acres of a sixth generation, preserved farm that adheres to the environmentally-friendly guidelines of IPM, or Integrated Pest Management. “Of course the soil a crop is grown it affects its taste,” we were told recently by one of the farm’s partners. “It’s the reason people go nuts for Jersey tomatoes, and it will be the same for Jersey barley.” Meanwhile, some of our hops will be coming from another local farm in the very near future.
  3. Ryan’s high school science teacher claimed to be the son of the guy who launched Earth Day. So there’s that.
  4. Our Honey Porter is the only beer in the state to have achieved the Jersey Fresh designation from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. In every 15 barrel batch are 90 pounds of local, sustainable honey.
  5. Chris’ hometown of Merchantville has been named a ‘Tree City USA’ by the National Arbor Day Foundation over 35 times. So there’s also that.
  6. We turn trash into treasure. This is the case with much of our equipment over the past four years (our original brewhouse was put together with scrap metal and dented keg shells, and our bottling line has been fashioned out of used parts, too.) This is also true with some of our ingredients — the beach plum skins we’ll be using for our upcoming Beach Plum Ale are coming to us after they’ve been pressed for the making of locally-sold jams and wines.
  7. We give our spent grain to local farmers whenever we can and, in turn, they use it to feed their pigs and chickens. So… it’s possible you’ve been sitting at the bar of a Jersey restaurant “drinking a beer made with the grain used to feed the chicken that’s now on your plate,” explained Ryan at his 2013 TEDx Cape May talk. “It’s this sick and twisted circle of life.”
  8. In our brewing, we sometimes utilize wild yeast that’s been growing on the wild grapes right outside our brewery. No shipping involved!
  9. People love filling up their reusable CMB growlers in our tasting room – and reusing would make Captain Planet very happy.

Finally, thanks to our fans for being green, too. “People down here are pretty tuned in,” says Chris. “And that goes for Cape May Brewery’s clientele.”

CBC Update: Darth Vader, Sour Beer, Killer Biscuits

Yesterday was day one of the 32nd Annual Craft Brewers Conference, and CMB President Ryan Krill and Brew Master Brian Hink have already gotten a taste for what makes Portland, Portland.

“There are breweries on every corner, food trucks everywhere — even in the parking lots of other restaurants — and I saw a guy on a custom-made bike with a barrel seat for his dog,” says Brian.

Meanwhile, Ry-guy is very excited to have connected with a cab driver who shares his passion for Armenian rugs. (What? A man can’t appreciate a good IPA and a good flatweave?)

The guys are also getting a taste for what makes Portland weird. At yesterday’s welcome reception, there was Darth Vader on a unicycle. Ours is not to question why…

darth

In fact, while brewery reps from all over the world mingled, there were several wild trapeze artists doing their thang…

arena

Following the reception, Bri-guy and Ry-guy headed out for dinner with CMB glassware vendor Grandstand at French restaurant La Pigeon (which doesn’t actually serve pigeon, we checked.) They also ended up at Cascade Brewing — an unsurprising choice since that place is pioneering the Northwest-style sour movement and CMB is leading the way in Jersey-style sours. (We’re the only one in the state making them.) Just like Cascade, we’ll be barrel-aging ours in the very near future.

cascade

The boys got to bed around midnight PST (or 3am, according to their internal clocks) and Brian, although afraid he’d crash and burn after his eight-hour yeast seminar, hung in there like a champ. “We’re not here to get shitfaced,” he says. “And besides,” adds Ryan, “we drink for a living. We’re professionals.”

Now, the guys are geared up for another action-packed day, especially after a heart-attack-on-a-plate-looking breakfast from Pine State Biscuits, a restaurant launched by three young guys who call themselves ‘the biscuit boys.’ How’d it taste? “Fucking incredible,” says Ryan.

brekkie

At the CBC expo, at which there are 600 exhibitors, the guys have already located the table belonging to apparel vendor Brewery Branding Co. Look whose logo they’ve got plastered on their booth…

brand

Next, it will be off to a series of seminars on topics ranging from marketing and finance (Ryan) to fermentation science  (Brian).

In the meantime, know this:

“The amount of facial hair here is disappointingly low,” says Ryan. “Only about 50%.”

 

The Homebrew Lowdown

Americans are having a love affair, and the mistress is homebrewing.

According to the most recent research, a survey spanning 48 states that was conducted by the American Brewers Association, collective revenue at homebrew supply shops increased by 10% last year, thanks to 1.2 million homebrewing homies. Many of these men and women are newbies – 2014 saw a 24% increase in sales of beginner kits.

Of course, there are inventors who will try capitalizing on this love affair. We’re thinking of the fully automated systems that reduce the whole process to the push of a button, taking the, uh, brewing out of brewing. (What’s the point of THAT?)

But for those sweating it out over stock pots and mini fermenters, risking the potential for “bottle bombs,” we salute you. Yes, we all love craft beer. But we think the homebrew surge goes beyond that. We think it reflects a growing desire for authenticity, tactile experience and – okay, sure — tasty beverages.

So we thought we’d pass along a helpful iconographic we found on nextdoorselfstorage.com regarding your trusty supplies. See below, homebrew heroes!

Oh, and just a piece of advice re those bottle bombs: let your beer ferment completely before packaging — at least two weeks, longer for brews with high-sugar content.  This way, you avoid fermentation finishing off in the bottle, where CO2 can build up to a dangerous level.

Ain’t no grenade like a stout grenade.

icon

 

CBC Update: Bri-Guy Goes To Yeast School

We’ve been talking about Yeast School and why it’s important for brewers for a while. After all, yeast is one of only four ingredients involved with making beer, and its arguably the most intriguing one. If this microscopic fungus were a Breakfast Club character, it would probably be John Bender — it’s got that rebellious side.

john bender

This is why we’re so excited to say that, as part of the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference happening now in Portland, CMB Brew Master Brianlogo Hink got his chance to become a yeast school alum. He, along with only 60 other brewers from across the country, spent the last eight hours in a seminar led by White Labs Inc, world leaders in yeast science.

signWe were skeptical Bri-guy would take anything away from the day, given how much research he’s already done on the subject. But he says the lecture was, for the most part, worth his while… and not just because of the free Voodoo Doughnuts provided to attendees.

“Some things reaffirmed what we’re already doing in Cape May, some things didn’t apply to what we’re doing, and I learned some new things of course, too,” he said. “For instance, lager yeast strains gained popularity when they were first discovered because at the colder temps that lagers are fermented, potentially spoiling bacteria couldn’t take hold, meaning beer was preserved better. Conversely, at warmer ale-fermenting temperatures, bad organisms were fair game. This makes so much sense, but it wasn’t something I had considered before.”

Now, Brian has his certificate of completion. (“Yeah pieces of paper of significance,” he says), and he’s gearing up for a night of hob-nobbing with CMB Prez Ryan Krill and representatives from CMB vendor Grandstand.

Then, tomorrow, it’s back to school, back to school…

 

 

A Chat With Ryan, En Route To CBC

Well, our guy Brian made it safely to Portland yesterday evening for the Craft Brewers Conference, which he says is “very welcoming.” But CMB Prez Ryan Krill has just finished making his way through the Philadelphia Airport, where he ran into some of the Origlio guys (Origlio is CMB’s distributor). Apparently, they were a mite bit upset the bar wasn’t open before 7am. Go hard or go home, right? Ryan also ran into 200 rambunctious high schoolers with plastic lays heading to Orlando at the next gate over. “Is it spring break already?” he says.

Now, he’s juuuuust about to take off. See? (And no, he’s not actually a nervous flyer… he’s a pilot!)

unnamed

We caught up with Ry-guy before the flight attendants scolded him for using a cell phone (or making that face!) and this is what he had to say about the week ahead…

What will you do on the plane? I am working on pictures for our marketing team — going through all of the photos of the brewery’s evolution up to today. And then I’ll geek out on my spreadsheets.

Is this your first time going to CBC? Yes, and I’m really excited. We’ve always been too busy or didn’t have the resources, so this is the first time where I can actually break away and do it.

Is there one seminar or one component of the next few days for which you’re especially excited? There’s a whole bunnch of them. The Conference even has an app that lays it all out, which is pretty cool. There’s a bunch of Guild-related stuff (Blogger’s note: Remember, Ryan is the President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild), so all of the guild leaders are getting together for a meeting of the families. I’m looking forward to that.

Ryan's 7am view...
Ryan’s 7am view…

What is your ultimate goal? Education? Networking? Mostly networking and then education. It’s great being out there and seeing all the different brewers and talking  about what’s happening in the industry. And then there’s all of the free dinners from our vendors…

Is there one brewery in particular you admire, that you’re looking forward to connecting with? Let’s see… Dogfish Head. I mean, they’re right across the bay but we never talk to them. We’ll be attending a Dogfish event with our distributor, Origlio, and maybe we’ll have opportunity to meet some of those guys. Would be cool to have a relationship with them.

There are 12,000 people expected at this year’s CBC. What do you think the ratio of beards to non-beards will be? For men or females?

Touche. We’ll go with men. I think there’s going to be a lot. Wait, is mine considered a beard?

We’ll count scruff. Is there an over-under? I would say 80% facial hair.

Okay, we’ll check up on that. Are you bringing anything with you? I am bringing my cell phone and multiple chargers, because I’m going to be constantly interfacing with everyone back here. And I’m bringing one little, tiny carry-on, so I’ll be living out of that for over a week, since I’ll be in Phoenix afterwards visiting my sister.

How many shirts are you bringing? As many will fit.

What’s your schedule like? Action-packed. There’s a reception tonight, and then we have dinner and drinks with Grandstand, who do all of our glassware and dry goods. We’re a really big account for them, so they’ll be wooing us! Wednesday night there’s the Lagunitas party, there’s the Dogfish Kicking it Old School Party, and dinner with one of our malt suppliers based out of Minnesota, and then the guild stuff…

I asked you about breweries, but is there one guild you’re especially excited to connect with? I would like to talk with the Michigan Brewers Guild, they’ve got it going on. Maybe the South Carolina guys; I really like their website and we’re in the midst of redoing ours. Definitely some of the ones who are a bit more established than us.

Have you been to Portland before? I went with my girlfriend Kaycee. Did I tell you this story? So Christmas a year and a half ago, I wanted to get her a trip to Portland, so I had [CMB graphic designer] Courtney Rosenberg put together this really cool graphic with a picture of Oregon that says in the middle of it ‘We’re going to Portland,’ and then I framed it. So we have Christmas and Kaycee says to me, ‘Okay, you open your presents first,’ and it was all this Oregon-related stuff, so as I’m looking at it she says, ‘I got you a trip; we’re going to Portland!’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ I gotta marry this girl; we’re like totally on the same page.

What stereotype about Portland is most accurate? Tons of flannel. And definitely a lot of breweries. There are more breweries in the city of Portland than in the entire state of New Jersey.

 

 

A Chat With Brian, En Route To CBC

We caught up with Brew Master Brian Hink this afternoon, while he was en route to Portland for the 32nd Annual Craft Brewers Conference. Here’s what he had to say about the upcoming week:

What are you looking at right now? I’m at the terminal in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor for a three-hour layover. It’s kind of lackluster as far as airports go.

How was part one of the flight? Very cool. I got to fly first class for the first time; I’m usually a pretty cheap traveler, but Ryan booked this. They offered me breakfast and I had three beers, Sam Adams Boston Lager.

Have you heard about the CBC’s welcome ceremony? Sounds like fun! If that’s tomorrow, I’ll already be in class, for an eight-hour crash course on handling yeast.

Eight hours doesn’t sound like much of a “crash” course. When it comes to understanding yeast, you’re looking at an education of many years. This particular class is being put on by one of the world’s two main yeast labs, White Labs Inc. Without these guys, we’d still be in the Stone Age when it comes to brewing. Think of them as the Bic lighter of yeast. Without this, we’d still rubbing two sticks together, hoping for fire.

What, exactly, will you do in yeast class? I don’t know. I think it will be more textbooks than lab coats and safety goggles.

Brian, doing his thang...
Brian, doing his thang…

What’s your goal? Mostly, I’m looking to reaffirm that we’re doing it right. I think we’re doing a great job now with, you know, harvesting and propagating yeast and everything. We’ve read the books and done the research. At the same time, we don’t have microbiology degrees. Honestly, I hope this class is a total waste of my time. That would be the best case scenario. If tomorrow I’m walking out of there saying, ‘Holy shit,’ well, that’s a different story.

What do you think the ratio of facial hair to non-facial hair will be among male attendees? I’m going to say probably about 60 percent with beards. Portland is the hippest of hipster cities.

Have you been there before? Just once for lunch while driving cross country, but my fiancé lived there for five years before we met and loved it.

What about CBC are you most looking forward to? You know what I’m most scared about? All of the extracurricular activities. Every night there are three or four different parties. A few years ago, I could drink all night long, but this is going to be rough on my 28-year-old self.

You’re getting old. I think the conference is going to be mentally exhausting. It’s not just tomorrow; I’ll take three different seminars on Wednesday, four on Thursday and four on Friday as well. Each is about an hour long.

Some people probably think this conference is probably just a big drinking party… Yea, just a beer fest. But we’re in school!

How do you feel about that? Oh I’m really excited about it. I’m always craving new opportunities, new learning experiences.

Are you nervous about Cape May Brewery brewing in your absence? [New brewer] Jake’s in charge. He’s learned a lot and very capable. But there’s no safety net. He’s up there on the highwire doing tricks, and if he misses a rung he falls to his death.

Um… But he’s very capable.

Why do you think craft beer is such a collaborative industry? I think it goes back to the early 80s, before you or I were even alive. Back then, the great grandfathers of craft brewing, Sam Adams and Stone and Sierra Nevada – they didn’t have any books like we do now. They didn’t have a conference like this. It was them, doing it themselves. So they made a little network. Obviously when someone else is doing a thing a better way and they pass that info along, you appreciate the hint and pay it forward. So I think the collaboration of craft beer goes back to the industry’s roots. It’s not us versus us, but all of us versus the big boys. The giants still hold 90 percent of beer sales in this country. It’s a tough challenge going after them, and individually we don’t have the resources. But collectively, we do.

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