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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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I like to saturate my palate with the flavors....

How to Taste Beer

We all know how to drink beer. It’s pretty simple: you open the can and pour it into your waiting gullet. We all do it on a regular basis, and it brings us a certain amount of joy.

Okay. It brings us a lot of joy.

But there’s a little more to tasting beer than simply downing a can of Coastal Evacuation. How do the pros do it?

We sat down with two mega-pros — Brewers Mark Graves and Andrew Ewing — and a couple of freshly-canned tall boys of Snag & Drop — to find out what they do differently than the rest of us.

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“I plan on shaving every single piece of hair off my body before the ride to make myself as aerodynamic as possible.” -- Eddie

Our Hundred-Milers

We really couldn’t be more proud of the guys in the brewhouse. Across the board, we’ve got some great people back there: not only are they dedicated to producing the best beer possible, but truly, hand-to-God good people.

When they all signed up to ride BikeMS: City to Shore, we weren’t terribly surprised. Grateful and delighted, certainly, but not surprised.

A few weeks ago, we got together with four of our guys — Eddie Siciliano, Mike McGrath, Kevin Kately, and our BikeMS: City to Shore ringleader, Andrew Ewing — to check in on their progress.

And, again: these are great guys. We love them. They’ve got hearts as big as the great outdoors. But. Well… when you get these guys together, crassness transpires.

As a brewery, we sponsor a team to raise money, but a lot of the riders do it to have a good time. And these guys know how to have a good time.

And this interview was definitely a good time.

Consider yourself warned.

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“We’re gonna break the record for most fun.”

Andrew Ewing, Superhero

Count the number of people you know who taught themselves how to do a thing. The number is usually pretty small and probably has to do with music or languages or brewing. There aren’t many people who taught themselves how to ride a bike. In a basement. At seven.

“My parents had no idea I even did it,” says Brewer Andrew Ewing. “It was the middle of the winter, and I’d be like, ‘Hey, guys! I’m going down into the basement!’ Then one day, after I’d learned, I was like, ‘Yo, guys! Come check this out!’”

And a love affair was born.

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Andrew Ewing on Snag and Drop

There are few holdovers from our old Staff Series: Courtney Rosenberg’s Foreshore Shandy is a summer favorite, Steve’s Biscuits & Honey will be back later this month, Jim’s Tripel Wreck we’ve made with cherries and is on tap now along with Courtney Gingrich’s Concrete Ship, and Brian’s Geek Out (2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc.) will be back soon.

But everyone looks forward to Andrew’s Snag and Drop. Now in its third year, “it’s a big-time fan favorite,” Brewer Andrew Ewing tells us. “People have been chomping at the bit, waiting for it to come back out this year.”

Andrew started at CMBC three years ago as a delivery driver, and worked his way off the road and into the brewhouse.

“I was kinda just lucky,” he says of his rise through the company. “Kinda in the right spot at the right time. I had experience and wanted to become a brewer. The opportunity arose and I was the logical choice,” he jokes.

He’d always had an interest in beer, with some homebrewing experience under his belt. “Not as intense as [Head Brewer Brian Hink] — I don’t think anyone is.” But he got his feet wet with “easy stuff to brew”: Brown Ales, Lagers and the like.

Andrew loves his job at the brewery. “I like the people I work with. It’s a really fun environment, and it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I’m doing some badass shit all day, then they pay me for it.”

Andrew’s Snag and Drop came out of a collaboration with Brian. “The very first time we brewed it, there were about seven recipes that materialized,” he tells us. “Then I came in on a Brew Day to brew with Brian, and it’s seven o’clock in the morning and he says, ‘Alright, well… none of those recipes are gonna happen, and we’re gonna have to do this now.’”

So, the two were going to do some “Frankenstein stuff” on the old 15-barrel system, but they soon wised up.

“We didn’t want to destroy the entire brewhouse.”

Good call, guys.

They had the brilliant idea of using the mash tun as a dry hopper: an idea that could work in theory, but 300 pounds of whole-leaf centennial hops could also collapse the false bottom of the mash tun. (“It was likely going to happen.”) So… maybe… testing out that theory on someone else’s equipment isn’t the hottest idea. After some judicious thought, Hank put the kibosh on that plan.

“So we just did it the regular way,” he tells us. “Back then we dry-hopped by just dumping the hops into the top of the fermenter. Very sophisticated system.”

Regardless of the potential destruction of company property, Snag and Drop was born.

“I really wanted to test the limits of our yeast,” he tells us. “I wanted to see what we could throw at it in terms of sugar-wise and wort and what we would get out of it before it just totally died on us.”

We use some bittering hops in the dry-hopping process, which we don’t do for any of our other brews. “I just like how Snag and Drop showcases a bunch of hops, and the balance is just insane on it,” he says. “You get super-hoppiness, a little bit of the maltiness, it’s not overpowering of an alcohol burn.

“It’s just an explosion of hops, basically.”

Andrew thinks it’s a great brew to start off the year. “On those long, cold winter nights? Get a couple of glasses of this in you, and you’ll be fine.”

We were sipping a sample of Snag and Drop during our conversation with Andrew, and he’s not exaggerating. It’s usually pretty chilly in our Interrogation Room (yes, that’s a thing here), and Snag and Drop chased the winter chill away.

“I made up the name ‘Snag and Drop,’” he says. “It’s a striper fishing term. So, there is a bunker fish — a bait fish — found in the Delaware Bay in large schools, and the whole concept behind the ‘snag and drop’ is you have a snag hook, which is a weighted treble hook. You toss that out and then yank it through the school of bunker, hoping to stab one in the side and attach it to your hook. Once it gets stabbed in the head and has a weight on it and a hook through it, it’ll slowly start to fall to the bottom of the school, where the striper are feeding. So you snag it in the head, let it drop to the bottom of the school. Then a striper comes up, eats the whole live bunker, with your weighted treble hook and everything, and then you’ve got yourself a giant striper.”

Trust us, the beer is tastier than that description. But both the process and the beer “are really f’in cool.”

“It’s definitely my favorite beer,” Andrew says. “It’s my namesake, I love the name — it’s just awesome. Not many people know what ‘snag and drop’ is, but it sounds like something they want to know about.”

True, Andrew. And they all want to know about the beer, too.

If you want to know about the beer, head down to the Tasting Room. Snag and Drop is on tap now.

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