Regulars to the Tasting Room probably know Assistant Tasting Room Manager Dan Petela. He’s our longest-serving Beertender, a fixture behind the bar and, for many, nearly synonymous with CMBC.
He’s also the biggest beer geek we have in the Tasting Room. By leaps and bounds. His knowledge of beer is almost supernatural. His first words probably were, “This isn’t bad, but they should have upped the Simcoe in the dry hop a bit.”
Now, we pride ourselves on hiring some of the brightest beer minds in the area to work behind the bar and help you select the next beer you’re going to love. Everyone behind the bar is top-notch.
But Dan definitely wins in the geekery department.
We’re proud to say that our team doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk. After a day on the job making and selling CMBC brews, members of our crew go home to make their own craft beers. Many even belong to the Cape May Brewers Guild, a collection of 15 or so homebrewers who gather at various locations once a month to talk technique and taste the fruits of their labors. Every three months, they hold an informal competition where the scratch-made brews are judged against each another.
Assistant Tasting Room Manager Dan Petela is one of these homebrew heroes. We caught up with him to ask all about his process and his passion…
How long have you been homebrewing? About three years.
How’d you get into it? I got intro craft beer first, and always threw the idea around. But it wasn’t until I visited Cape May Brewing Company for the first time that I bought all of the stuff. At that time, they had their original, super small, 12-gallon system, and I was inspired.
What kind of equipment do you use and where did it come from? When I first started, I used a Home Depot Gatorade cooler as mash tun, and I actually still use that. Right now, I have a 15-gallon brewpot with a propane burner, and two kegs on tap for my ghetto homebuilt kegorator. Most of it was Christmas gifts.
What’s your method and why? Right now I do All-Grain Brewing versus Extract Brewing. It would be a lot easier and less time consuming to do the latter, but you get less control that way.
What was your best homebrew batch? Probably a double IPA with mosaic and citra hops. It won first place at the Cape May Brewers Guild competition.
And your biggest disaster? When I first got into it, I made a pumpkin beer and then left for the weekend. It fermented too much, so the pressure built up and the rubber stopper blew off. There was beer and pumpkin juice all over the ceiling and walls.
Why do you brew your own beer, when you could easily buy craft? I mean, what draws you to it? Well, you can’t always get exactly what you want on the shelves. Mostly, it’s just cool to experiment. At first I thought this would save me money, but it doesn’t. It costs about $50 per batch of beer. But it’s fun to share the finished product with friends. I share about half of every batch.
How much can you brew at once? About 10 gallons, but I do five at once.
Best tip for homebrewing? Just because something has been cleaned does not mean it’s been sanitized.
What’s your homebrewing goal? To keep learning new stuff… read the blogs, do the research, look recipes up online and tweak from there, take really good notes, take better notes…