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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Fill In The Blank With Lead Brewer Brian Hink

Head brewer Brian recently had his two-year anniversary at CMBC — so happy anni, Brian. Instead of giving him flowers and chocolate, we grilled him with questions. Presenting: the man behind the beer:

THE LAST TIME I LAUGHED UNTIL I CRIED WAS… I don’t remember! My fiance says my laugh is robotic, so she’d probably say never.

THE BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER GOTTEN WAS… My mom always said it’s easier to do something and deal with the consequences, rather then ask for permission and be denied. Which is interesting advice coming from a mother.

THE THING I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IT IS… Hmmm, in no particular order, my beard, beer, pizza, my fiance, and my cats.

Briguy.
Briguy.

THE BAND I’M EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT I LIKE IS…  I’m not really embarrassed by any of the bands I like. There’s definitely some guilty pleasures, like KP, or Bruno, or just about any good funk song with a strong groove to it that’ll make you boogie, and Supertramp is downright awesome but a little corny, but I’m pretty cool with em all.

THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT ME IS… I went to college intending to become a math teacher. And then I graduated with a degree in photography. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. Also, I like animals a whole lot more than people.

THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON I EVER MET WAS… Fame doesn’t really mean anything to me, so as I sit here and try to think about famous people I can only think of New Belgium’s Peter Bouckaert, or Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo, or any of the great sour beer producers of our time, and then I realize they’re not famous and that I’d rather meet them then any actual famous person, and then I realize I’m just avoiding the question and this has gone on far too long already.

THE NUMBER OF TIMES I’VE DRIVEN CROSS-COUNTRY IS… Two! And both couldn’t have been more more different yet equally enjoyable.

MY ASTROLOGICAL SIGN IS… Taurus.

THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT CMBC IS… Just how well-received we are by the community! A couple of years ago you’d be hard pressed to find one good craft beer on tap, let alone full on beer bars, in this area of South Jersey, but the evolution of the local’s pallet has been fascinating.

MY FAVORITE CMBC BEER IS… It changes weekly. Usually whatever is newest to come out.

THE THING I’M MOST AFRAID OF IS… becoming gluten intolerant. If I couldn’t eat pizza and drink beer, I would hardy see a reason to exist.

MY FAVORITE NON-CMBC BEER IS… New Belgium would be my favorite brewery, with La Folie being my favorite of their’s, but there are just so many great great breweries out there. I Kane and Carton are putting out some fantastic beers, really helping put NJ on the beer map, Victory and Yards are still going strong throwing around Philly’s weight, just too hard to answer really. My most checked in beers on Untappd would be Round Guys The Berliner, Kane’s Overhead, and Victory’s Swing Saison, which would be my favorite if I absolutely had to list one I guess.

MY GUILTY PLEASURE IS… Pizza. I’ve gone two straight weeks before, eating it everyday. Sometimes I’ll have it for lunch and dinner.

Briguy, in black and white.
Briguy, in black and white.

THE COOLEST THING ABOUT ME IS… I’m too uncomfortable talking about myself to answer that.

THE PERSON I MOST ADMIRE IS… Everyone is worthy of admiration, in my opinion, if you take the time to figure out why. But if I had to choose, I’d probably say President Barack Obama. He was dealt a really shitty hand, and he deals well with the adversity. It doesn’t hurt that he is the first president to home brew in the White House! Also, Jack Kerouak. On the Road is a life changing book, and one everyone should read at least once.

MY KARAOKE SONG IS… Never done it, but if I were to do it, it would be Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

IF I COULD PICK ANY SUPERPOWER, IT WOULD BE… If we’re talking Matrix style, where I could just download any program, I would probably download all of the biology and chemistry programs available so I could have infinite knowledge of all the sciences I deal with on a daily basis. If we’re talking real world superpower, Wolverine has been my favorite super hero since I started reading comic books in early grade school, so I would pick being him.

IF I COULD SPLURGE ON ONE ITEM, IT WOULD BE… I’d probably get a warehouse. Think of all the possibilities!

MY QUIRKIEST HOBBY IS… I don’t have time for many hobbies! When I get done brewing at work, I’m often brewing or bottling beers at home, or visiting other local breweries. I’m a big fan of order though, sometimes chaos is overwhelming, so if order is a hobby I would say that’s pretty quirky. 

 

 

Geek Out 2.0!

If you haven’t yet tried the latest brain-child of Lead Brewer Brian, get thee to the tasting room. Geek Out 2.0 came out last Friday, and it’s reminiscent of the first beer Bri-guy ever concocted at CMBC on his own, the original Geek Out. That one was a Belgian Rye IPA made with white wine, the forbidden fruit yeast strain (think subdued fruitiness), and both citra and experimental hops.

“It was everything but the kitchen sink,” Brian says.

But this time around, expect a more concentrated effort, due partly to the elimination of white wine. The final product is a very dry summer beer brewed with both pale malt grain and rye grain for a slick mouthfeel. And the hops? Well, those are from a special delivery we wrote about here. The ABV is 5.4%.

“You know how a band will come out with a first album that has some hits but is a little bit all over the place?” Brian says. “Think of this as the sophomore album — the one that makes you say: ‘Damn, the band got their shit together.'”

bri guy

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 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.

It’s The Yeast You Can Do

Come mid-April, Brew Master Brian will, along with 10,000 other industry professionals, hop a plane to Portland for the annual Craft Brewers Conference, where he’s especially pumped for a master class on yeast management. And why shouldn’t he be? Yeast is the reason your mom’s homemade banana bread rises. It’s the main ingredient behind the sandwich spread of choice in the land down under, where women glow and men plunder.  It also happens to be everywhere (yes, chilling all over you and everything you own right now.) And, most importantly for our purposes, it’s crucial to brewing. Bottom line: yeast is one fascinating, microscopic fungus.

Allow us to explain:

In beer making, step one is mixing malted barley with hot water — viva la oatmeal! Then, a sugary liquid called wort is extracted, and flowers called hops which lend aroma and flavor are added to that. Only then does the ingredient of the hour come in. The single-celled superstar we call yeast now chows down on sugar, turning it into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The former is the psychoactive drug part of beer that you can blame for those 2am texts to your ex; the latter makes bubbles. This conversion process is known as fermentation, and the temperature at which it happens determines whether your brew baby will be born a lager or an ale.

Go yeast, young man.
Go yeast, young man.

There are over 500 species of yeast, and Brewer’s Yeast is just one. But within that group, there are thousands  of distinct strains that can each affect a beer’s flavor profile in a different way. Which one a brewer selects is  often a tight-lipped decision — as top-secret as Elliott’s hiding place for ET in the midst of a federal task force  investigation (sorry – there’s a Spielberg documentary playing as we type this).

So yea, it’s safe to say the significance of yeast is common knowledge within the modern brewing field, but  this wasn’t always the case. In the 1700s, wild, airborne strands were doing work on batches of beer  completely unbeknownst to early brewers. In fact, yeast wasn’t even considered an ingredient in beer-making until French chemist/original beer geek Louis Pastuer discovered its role in fermentation in 1857.  Thus began a centuries-long struggle to harness its power. And bearded brew masters across the globe still bend to its magical, gaseous will! Many of them, including our Bri-guy, will be doing just that in Portland, and he promises to keep us updated on the conference happenings.

It may be one of the simplest plant forms on the planet, but yeast – the little fungus that could — has done okay for itself.

What Went Down At The Monday Meeting: 2/23/15

9:30: Chatter about the weekend ensues. Fearless leader Ryan Krill was in DC for the 78th Annual Walk to Washington where legislators had opportunity to mingle with Jersey’s craft beer makers. “Those senator guys can drink,” says Ryan. “I felt like an old man.” Meanwhile, Brew Master Brian Hink discusses his trip to Colorado, where he visited Avery Brewery. “They collect and repurpose CO2 with what looks like a fucking nuclear reactor,” he says. “Very impressive.” Both men are wearing the same CMB hat, complete with puff ball on top.

9:31: Production meeting commences. Brian has not yet had time to update the white board on which the brew schedule is usually written. “What the fuck?” jokes Ryan, although its hard to take him seriously in said puffy hat.

9:33: About the tap room, Brian says: “Everything’s kicking on us!” So, on deck for brewing is Cape May IPA, followed by Cape May Saison, and the new Take Five Session IPA. Bottling of Coastal Evacuation will happen on Friday.

9:42: New brew house update: it ships next week!

Devil's Reach Gone Wild is this week's one-off Wednesday beer geek's delight
Devil’s Reach Gone Wild is this week’s one-off Wednesday beer geek’s delight

9:43: New brewer update: Jake Smith starts training tomorrow! “We’ll give him a raise to $.08 an hour,” says Ryan. But in all seriousness, Brian is pumped for the help; last Tuesday he had a 14-hour day that started at 4am — ah, the life of a brewer.

9:44: Time to talk about this week’s Wednesday one-off, Devil’s Reach Gone Wild, which is theDevil’s Reach IPA fermented with wild yeast from grapes that grew right outside of the brewery. “I’m really excited for this one; it’s a beer geek thing,” says Brian. As for taste, expect it to be very wine-like, super dry, and not at all oaky.

AC Beer Fest9:47: AC BeerFest is coming up! Discussion ensues over whether it’s best to transport CMB brews there via firkins or pins. (If you’re wondering what the firk a firkin is, or if you’re too pin-headed to know what a pin is, click here.)

9:51: Speaking of pins, one of ours “blew up” last Friday. “It was in an outside cooler, and it was so cold it froze,” explains Brian. “As things freeze, they swell. It made a hot mess.”

10:30: Full staff meeting begins! Ryan shows everyone the plans for CMB’s next, next big expansion, coming at you spring of 2016. If all goes well, added on to our new 15,000 square foot-building will be another 5,000 square-foot tasting room, plus beer garden and 120-space parking lot. Bartender extraordinaire Jim Zolna wonders aloud which parking spot is his. “You’re over here,” says Ryan, pointing to the blueprint. “Can’t be too close to a school or it violates that law…” (We kid, we kid.)We're-Expanding-med

10:33: Richie Rallo, Justin Vitti, and Justin Vitti’s mustache update everyone on new clients, including farm-to-table friendly Red Hen restaurant in Swedesboro and Red Robin in Mays Landing. That brings the total number of accounts up to — drum roll, please — 149 in Jersey and 71 in Pennsylvania.

10:56: Ryan adds that Cape May’s own Congress Hall is installing a new draught system and putting CMB on tap. Also, a new shipment of kegs is a-coming, and that will “effectively double our inventory.”

10:57: Logistics guy Andrew Ewing confirms that Nugget, the official minivan of CMB, got an oil change last week.

10:59: Because fearless leader Chris Henke is out of town, Brian updates everyone on what went down at the morning’s production meeting, including a statement on how “crushable” that upcoming Session IPA is going to be.

11:05: Richie reviews Beats, Brews, and BBQ, which took place at World Café Live in Philadelphia over the weekend: “It wasn’t a drunk fest at all,” he says. “Good music, good people. It was the first event our two new employees were working, and I was trying to stress to them how much they were being spoiled. They’ll get a rude awakening at AC Beer Fest.” [Insert maniacal laughter here.] For all upcoming events, click here.

11:07: Jim and tap room coordinator Ashley Sundstrom update everyone on the weekend at the tasting room (“Smooth, no issues”) as well as the movement of merchandise (sweatshirts are selling like hot cakes. Or maybe cold beer).

11:12: Ryan, President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, tells everyone to stay tuned for updates from the guild next week, because exciting things are… brewing. In the meantime, meeting is adjourned. Cheers!

Your Wild Midweek Brew

Things are getting pretty wild at Cape May Brew Co this week. Not Reese-Witherspoon-alone-in-the-woods wild. And not spring-breakers-doing-body-shots-in-Cancun wild. But more like bird-nabs-seed-from-local-winery-and-drops-it-at-our-doorstep wild.

You see, that is likely how it came to be that a wild grape vine started growing outside of CMB a while back. And when life hands you lemons grapes, you’re supposed to make lemonade wine, right? Since we’re a brewery, we opted for a wine/beer hybrid that we’re dubbing Devil’s Reach Gone Wild.wine-and-beer-150x150

That’s the Wednesday one-off this week: our Devil’s Reach IPA fermented with a little help from our lone vine. “Yeast is everywhere,” explains Brew Master Brian, “so it was growing on the skin of this fruit. We waited about four months, until we had a useable amount.”

The end result is a very dry, not at all oaky brew that has us pretty geeked out.

We open at noon, so get it while it lasts — the beverage isn’t coming back. The DRBA (Delaware River and Bay Authority) tore down our vine when they cleaned up the area recently. And while the property looks great, we have lost our wild yeast source.

Only Reese can console us.

What You Need In Order To Bottle Like CMBC

Part of our ongoing expansion is the incorporation of a bottling line that we’ve been putting together for two years, thanks in great part to the mad engineering skills of our guy Chris. First, he designed the line’s layout in a circa 1999 AutoCAD program (hey, it’s vintage), and then we purchased the system in retro parts. “We were so excited when we got it, because we got it for scrap value,” Chris says. “But then we realized why it’s that way. I’ve spent a lot of time repairing pieces, and figuring out how to connect them all.”Bottling Devil's Reach

When it’s totally complete and set up in HQ, the action-filled process will look like this:

Bottles start on a depalletizer, or a machine that removes layers of containers from a pallet. (Ours is a circa-1960s “tank.”) From there, they’ll move onto a conveyor belt, then to a labeler, then to a twist rinser (another old-school piece) that sanitizes and removes any cardboard dust, and then to an actual bottler from a now-defunct brewery in Ohio. Here, they’ll be filled, capped, rinsed and moved to another feeder where they’ll be distributed into six packs. The system will be manned by two men.

In the meantime, getting bottles from one station to the next is a manual job. So, until we’re fully up and running (watch this space for updates), here’s what you need in order to bottle like Cape May Brewing Co:

  1. Bathroom breaks, before the process begins. “It’s like road tripping,” says Chris. “You go before you start.”
  2. Six hours. That’s how long it takes to get through 4,400 bottles, which is usually around the target goal. (Although the most ever completed by us in one shot was 8,800.)
  3. Six men. Four with beards. Three with (visible) tattoos, all of them nautical.
  4. Meta clothing. Our guy Chris is sporting a tee-shirt with the image of a fallen bottle on the front. (It’s from Base Camp Brewing Company.) Brian is wearing a CMBC hat with a green and red puff on top, but that’s neither here nor there.
  5. Music. “The groovier and jammier the better,” says Brian. On Pandora today? Creedance Clearwater Revival. Fun fact: For their 1977 concert in Moscow before 80,000 fans, CCR sang all songs in Russian.
  6. Protective eyewear.
  7. A high tolerance for noise. The bottling machine’s actions (including pressing bottles with CO2 to keep air out) are loud, and the guys get to know them — and their order — very well. When something sounds off, “Duck!” says Bob.
  8. A high tolerance for aches and pains. “At the end of the day, your lower back is dead,” says Brian.
  9. A competitive spirit. Since bottles are currently being dried by hand, Andrew says: “I’m fastest. I keep track. I dry 11 bottles per case.” Brian counters with: “I only take 3.5 seconds per bottle!” Now, now, boys.
  10. Good conversation. “Doing this together all day is actually a good chance to catch up,” says Andrew.
  11. A sense of humor. “When the bottling line is complete, we’ll be able to lay off Jake,” says Chris. Twenty minutes later, Ryan enters and says. “When the bottling line is complete, we’ll be able to lay off Jake!” So we might need new material…

    Men Bottling
    It takes six hours, six men, and some serious stamina to bottle 4,400 bottles of Devil’s Reach

What Went Down At The Monday Meeting: 2/16/15

Every Monday is departmental meeting day at Cape May Brew Co, so each week, we’ll bring you the skinny on what went down, beginning with yesterday’s pre-snow powwow…

9:30: Production meeting begins! Co-owners Ryan Krill and Chris Henke are present, along with Brew Master Brian Hink and Marketing Guru Alicia Grasso. Chatter ensues about the weekend.

9:32: Brew schedule discussion commences. Up first is Honey Porter because we are “desperately low” in the tasting room, says Chris — news about the beer’s Jersey Fresh label must be getting out. After that, Coastal Evacuation is on deck. It all has to happen before Wednesday morning, because that’s when Brew Master Brian flies out for Colorado, where he’ll visit with his big brother tasting room exterior in icy conditions(who teaches “English, literature, new media studies or something way over my head” at the University of Colorado). He’ll also see rock band Dr Dog perform live in Boulder. Today, he is even sporting a Dr. Dog hat, complete with orange puff-ball on top.

9:34: If the snow is a-coming, as the forecasters predict, Brian says he is prepared to spend the night on the brewery couch. (But he wishes the blinds on the window overlooking said couch had not been removed. “They were bothering me,” says Chris.) Otherwise, he’ll shoot to arrive for work at 3am — a pretty typical clock-in time for a 14-hour day of double-batch brewing.

9:36: A UPS truck arrives to drop off a skid. “At a brewery, it’s like Christmas every day,” says Ryan.

9:39: Conversation jumps ahead to three weeks out, when we’ll be making Concrete Ship, a malt-forward” brew for the tasting room that will make a good “entry-level” beverage for craft beer scene newbies. Fun fact: Cape May’s own concrete ship — all 3,000 algae-covered, half-sunk tons of it — is the most famous World War I-era prototype of its kind. Although wind and swell have beaten down the barbs of its skeleton, a part of the stern is still visible from Sunset Beach at high tide.

9:40: New brew house update! Drum roll, please… it’s possible the whole system will be installed and up and running by April 1st – stay tuned.

9:42: It’s crunch time. Keg crunch time, that is. There’s a bit of a bottle-neck happening, explains Ryan, meaning we’ve got more beer than kegs to put it in. (Sometimes, people steal them to sell for scrap, since they’re made of stainless steal — tsk, tsk — or they keep them as a weird keepsake… it’s the reason leasing kegs is a hot new business; they cost $100 a piece.) Luckily, it’s been so busy at CMB, a lot of empty kegs came out of the tasting room last weekend alone. “But that was President’s Weekend, and it’s going to slow down now,” says Brian. “But we always joke about that and it never happens,” adds Chris, “It’s Going to Slow Down could be the title of our biography.” Case in point: the current production schedule is on par with summer-time numbers.

9:59: The beer for One-off Wednesday this week is Corrosion Lemondrop, says Brian, explaining that this is CMB’s Corrosion sour beer with lemonade shandy added to it. “It’s absolutely delicious.” And next week? Devil’s Gone Wild, a wine-like brew for which wild grapes are a main ingredient. Fair warning: the latter has an 8% ABV. “Any more than a couple of those, and you’re pretty sauced,” says Brian.

10:02: A discussion about the government-imposed rules for naming one-off beers ensues. “The system is not set up for fun,” says Chris.

10:03: Chris, who splits time between Cape May and Philadelphia on the weekends, voices displeasure over the fact that he has not been in the City of Brotherly Love since two bars in his Philly neighborhood started carrying CMB brews. Ryan says he’d like to crash at Chris’ city pad the night of February 23rd for Beats, Brews and BBQ at World Café Life. Still need your own tickets? Grab them here.

case of mondays10:31: Full staff meeting begins in the HQ conference room. Chris is late… again.

10:32: Sales Rep extraordinaires Richie Rallo and Justin Vitti update everyone on new accounts, including PJ Whelihan’s in Cherry Hill, which is now selling the Corrosion, and the Alden Café in Maple Shade, which is now carrying Devil’s Reach.

10:35: Logistics guy Andrew Ewing asks when we’ll be updating CMBC’s tap handles. The answer is “around June.” Fun fact: they’re handmade by our Chief Mop Man, Bob Krill.

10:39: Chris asks that he be told when taps in the tasting room are flowing too quickly. (No, fast beer flow doesn’t sound like a problem, but trust us.) Chris then gives the run-down of inventory, and what happened during today’s production meeting.

10:44: Richie updates everyone on past events. Last Friday’s Tap Takeover at Rio Station was “a pretty huge success,” with a sixtel of our Blonde being kicked by 9pm. Now, The Ugly Mug, “wants a piece of that action,” so look for a Tap Takeover there on March 12. Justin adds that our keg at Philadelphia’s Grey Lodge Pub for their Friday the Firkenteenth event was kicked in under an hour, and the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill opening in Atlantic City went great, too. “There was a line for the bar by 8pm,” he says. Watch this space for info on upcoming events, including a collaborative Tap Takeover with Flying Fish at the “rustic-chic” alehouse called Bru in Center City on June 1st.

10:51: Bartender Jim Zolna updates everyone on the weekend at the tasting room, calling it a “pretty busy” couple of days, even on Valentine’s Day. “This is where the husbands who forgot to make reservations ended up,” jokes Chris. Taproom coordinator Ashley Sundstrom adds that CMBC mugs are selling quickly — buy ‘em up! — and that CMBC has made some new hires, including two event workers and a new tour guide.

10:54: Meeting dismissed. Cheers!

Shooting for Six in Six

In January of 2013, brew master Brian Hink entered our tasting room, and his first thought was: “Holy shit, how do you guys have 12 beers on tap?”

In Jersey, a double-digit offering at a craft brewery is considered “insane.”

You’re more likely to see three or so regulars on a tasting room menu, with a seasonal selection rotated in for good measure.

And yet, 12 ain’t nothing compared to now.

making beer
photo credit: Frank Weiss, Courtesy Exit Zero Magazine

Brian has helped expand our selection, so that there are at least 20 beers available at any given time. Excuse us while we brag about our baby — we’ve got the largest on-tap variety of any tasting room in the state, and we’re only looking to grow.

Enter our upcoming production schedule: Six new beers in six weeks (released every Thursday beginning 2/19). Add to this the tasty concoctions put out every hump day for “One Off Wednesdays,” and you’re looking at 12 new beers in half as many weeks.

“Variety is the spice of life,” says our guy Chris. But he’s not referring to the less-than-authentic type of variety some other breweries pass off as choice. In those cases, the same yeast strain might be used to create beers that are merely tweaked to be different from each other via extra hops, blended fruit, or aging. “Whereas, we’re not afraid to buy the right ingredients,” says Chris. “For our recent Biscuits and Honey ESB, for instance, we used four different yeast strains and four different grains to get the style just right.”

CMBC's Master Brewer Brian HInk
CMBC’s Master Brewer Brian Hink

And those upcoming six beers? They’ll be just as distinct, ranging from a light-bodied Citra Pale Ale (2/19) to the cidery Apple Bomb (2/26), to a clean and malty lager called Bringing Sexy Bock (3/5), to a Toasted Coconut IPA (3/12), to the beautifully bitter Take Five Session IPA which Brian’s been dreaming up for a over a year (3/19), to the dry and complex Cape May Saison (3/26).

All of this brewing isn’t merely about pleasing customers, although that’s a nice bonus. What can we say? We’ve got a passion. Hell, Brian spends his Saturdays making beer at home. “And I find myself spending my commute, which is 45 minutes each way, brainstorming new ideas,” he says.

Watch this space for his next lightbulb moment. And be extra careful if you see him on the road. He’s clearly a distracted driver.

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