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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Beer Run

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.

Steven Haggart, Danni Hegler
Steven Haggart, Danni Hegler

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

Kelli McGugan, Erinn Westerfer
Kelli McGugan, Erinn Westerfer

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.”

Carl and Peach
Carl and Peach

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

Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

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.”

Justin Vitti
Justin Vitti

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.

Until next time, CMB fans… happy running!

A New Home For Our Grain

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!

Silo spot... pre-concrete
Silo spot… pre-concrete

 

Gordon Ramsay Says Cape May Beer Makes Everything Alright

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 The Simpsons. (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.

Ramsay, raising a glass of CMB beer, next to our guy Brian and Caesars President Kevin Orooo
Ramsay, raising a glass of CMB beer, next to our guy Brian and Caesars President Kevin Ortzman.

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.

Sweet treats, UK style.
Sweet treats, UK style.

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?

Gordon Ramsay, flanked.
Gordon Ramsay, flanked.

“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.

#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

 

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