In outer space, one side of a satellite is exposed to a temperature of absolute zero, or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. The other side, facing the sun, is burning up with no atmosphere to protect it. Thermal satellite engineers are tasked with finding and maintaining a satellite’s temperature equilibrium so that it doesn’t feeze/combust, all the while dealing with a host of challenges… orbit can be a pesky thing. Why is this relevant? CMBC’s Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke worked as one such engineer in a past life, and we’ve been relying on his knowledge of thermodynamics around the brewhouse this week.
Adjacent to our tasting room is our new sour brewery, which is VIR (very important real estate) at CMBC, since this is where our experimental beers, like the Stow Away Reserve Series, will come to fruition. Hank has been working alongside Facility Technician Carl Hudson this week to install a glycol chilling network. First, the guys ripped out the old system, which was a three-day process. Then, they spent a full day hooking up the new system (well, the new old system, since what they’re firing up is actually CMBC’s original chiller from 2011. It’s smaller and, therefore, better-suited for an experimental brewery. Plus, it frees up some space outside for a new beer garden one day…)
The final setup includes a black chiller (see picture) that lives behind our fermenting tank and keeps a 30-gallon reservoir of propylene glycol chilled at 32 degrees. It then pumps this cool glycol — essentially food-grade antifreeze — into the fermenting jacket that surrounds our tank. Once here, the glycol extracts heat from the beer inside the tank before making its way back to the start where it can be chilled and used again, in one continuous loop.
“I prefer maintaining the temperature of beer over maintaining the temperature of satellites,” Chris says. “There are too many variables in deep space.”
How to know if it’s working? On your next tour, if you see condensation on the door of our fermenter, you’ll know the beer chilling process is underway.
Meanwhile, over at HQ, we’re in the midst of a cooler renovation. If you remember, up until the beginning of 2015, our cooling system consisted of a used Quizno fridge that still smelled like Italian hoagie, and a 4-by-20-foot box made from hand-me-down insulated panels that were bolted to palette racking. Both units were operational only because we tricked them out with home air conditioners. The third CMBC fridge was ripped out from a Weiss Supermarket (yes, with permission) by our President Ryan Krill. Altogether, this amounted to 200 square feet of storage space – and not nearly enough room for beer.
So, before taking over our headquarters at Cape May Airport, a section of the new warehouse building was earmarked for a walk-in refrigeration unit that was purchased secondhand, this time from a MidWest supplier. Local builder John Thomas installed the 1,000-square-foot box, complete with an opening large enough for a forklift and a door that weighs close to 1,000 pounds. It took four people just to lift. The finished fridge held about 300 kegs at once. In the first three months the cooler was operational, we added 60 new accounts.
But now we’ve outgrown this fridge.
The solution? We’re selling that walk-in to a good home, and turning about one-fifth of our warehouse into a megacooler. The new, very cold space will be 2,500 square feet, and will hold double the amount of beer, thanks in large part to the increased ceiling height. (We’ve gone from 12 to 15 feet.) The flavor-stabilizing, 38-degree room will eliminate a bottleneck — you can’t brew beer if you have nowhere to store it). Up next: insulating the walls. In the meantime, remember why we’re so fanatical about keeping our beer cold.
As for Unit 8, the recently acquired space next to our tasting room that we’ve been turning into a merchandise store, we’ve got exciting news. The automated growler fill station that will be stationed here – you know, the one that fills to capacity without spillage while reducing the amount of oxygen in your beer – shipped from Austria, where it was built, today. In addition to increasing shelf-life, the system will free up our beertenders for pouring, which means your CMBC experience is about to get an upgrade.
“It’s going to make the beer in your growler taste that much better,” Ryan says. “And it’s going to provide more space for everybody in the tasting room. Folks aren’t crazy about frequenting busy places in the summertime, but this will make it a lot easier to come in, get your beer, and get out as quickly as you need.”
We can’t wait for you to see all of our makeovers, all complete by mid-April.