The Return of White Caps
One of the most closely-held secrets at Cape May Brew Co. is our Quarterly Double IPA series. Well, it’s not really a secret, we just haven’t really talked about it very much. But, it’s an awesome idea! Who doesn’t love a changeup in the schedule every now and again?
The guys in the brewhouse certainly do. As we’ve mentioned before, if they wanted to brew the same swill over and over, there are places they could do that — and they’re all owned by Big Brew.
However, they work here. They get the distinct honor of brewing for Cape May Brew Co. And that brings some privileges.
“As brewers, designing new beers is what we want to do most of all,” says Director of Brewing Operations, Jimmy Valm, “starting with an idea and working the creative juices to formulate a recipe, then seeing it all come to fruition — it’s what gets us up in the morning.
“That’s what makes this program so much fun, we’ve got some great ideas that we want to play with and our Quarterly DIPAs is one of the programs we have at CMBC to give us that chance.”
Head Brewer Brian Hink sees the craft beer drinker as falling into two segments: the drinker who has his go-tos but is willing to try something new every now and again, and the drinker who wants the newest thing on the tap list. This program appeals to both of them. It’s consistent enough to entice the less-adventurous drinker, but has enough variety that it keeps the uber-adventurous drinker on his toes.
And we have some pretty killer beers in the program, by all accounts. A huge fan favorite, Snag and Drop comes out in the beginning of January. Our Anniversary Ale comes out in July — which makes sense as our anniversary is July 4th. We change up this one each year, with last year’s being a Red DIPA with Zythos, Cascade, Chinook, and Simcoe hops. For this year’s Anniversary Ale 6.0, Jimmy tells us that we’ve got something completely different in mind — “something that will really blow people’s socks off.”
City to Shore hits the Tasting Room when the cyclists of the race do, usually the end of September. CMBC sponsors a team in the race each year, and it gives us a great chance to brew a killer beer in honor of them.
Which leaves a hole in the schedule come spring — the perfect time for a smooth, drinkable DIPA like White Caps — which we’re bringing back for round two.
While designing last year’s recipe, Head Brewer Brian Hink thought he knew how to achieve the “newfangled New England IPA” — or NEIPA. Typically hazy, citrusy, tropical, and juicy, NEIPAs are known for their citrus and tropical fruit aroma and flavor, as well as a significant level of haze and turbidity.
“I came close, but there was definitely room for improvement,” he tells us.
An avid homebrewer — as you might imagine — Brian played around at home last year, attempting to lock down the perfect NEIPA. We were sourcing some of his favorite hops this year — including Mosaic, and the “de facto” hops for NEIPAs and one of Brian’s faves.
“With these hops being available for me this year,” he says, “I completely revamped the recipe to showcase those hops and get the overall beer more inline with all of the other NEIPAs out there, of which are few and far between in the state.”
There are only a handful of New Jersey breweries making NEIPAs with any regularity, but none of them are available within two hours of Cape May.
“So what’s a brewer to do when you can’t get the kind of beer you’re looking to drink? You brew it!” he says.
It’s a rough life.
Nonetheless, you may notice a bit of a difference in White Caps this time around.
“We played with the malt bill and the mash temperature to ensure we get that nice soft body we’re looking for,” Jimmy says. “We focused on Mosaic in the dry-hopping this year, which are a great hops variety with a complex aroma of tropical fruits, wild flowers, blueberries, and a touch of earthiness. Coupled with some Amarillo and Citra for an added lemon and orange citrus kick have made a great springtime beer.”
Brian told us that when he mentioned the tweak to the recipe around the brewery, “I kept hearing, ‘Oh man, White Caps was my favorite last year — it better be just as good!’ to which I always replied, ‘It’s going to blow it out of the water.’”
(Haha. White Caps. Water. Funny, Brian.)
Nonetheless, the production and sales team, who all get to try the brews before they’re unleashed onto the public, have all agreed. Brian and Jimmy’s tweaking has certainly paid off.
“I think people will absolutely notice, but notice in a great way!” Brian says. “Last year’s was awesome, but this one takes it to another plane of awesomeness.”
These changes have certainly improved the beer’s drinkability, which, oddly enough, wasn’t even necessary. White Caps ‘16 was sessionable, but White Caps ‘17 is on another level. Last time around, beer lovers raved about its sessionability — which is rare to find in a 7.5% ABV double IPA — but the soft body of White Caps ensured that you’ll start drinking them and be on your third before you realize you finished your first.
“Sessionability is more than just the alcohol content,” Jimmy says. “It also concerns the body and the bitterness level.”
High IBUs and a dry body do not necessarily result in drinkability. It can bring a sharpness that we didn’t quite want in White Caps.
“There’s a pretty low bitterness level in White Caps that, when put in conjunction with the soft body, make a smooth beer that is very sessionable, despite its 7.5% ABV,” Jimmy says.
Brian agrees. “It’s just insanely drinkable. Don’t think that this is a Session IPA or a pale ale, this is a NEDIPA through and through, but this style of beer is just so incredibly drinkable that your glass is empty before you know it.”
White Caps releases in the Tasting Room today. Stop down, empty a few glasses, and let us know what you think.