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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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“We figured it would be a one-and-done brew, maybe we'd make it again the next time we brewed Saison. Little did we know our regulars were going to go crazy over it!”

A Devilish Brew

Devil’s Reach.

It’s one of our most-dependable brews, delighting fans since the early days of CMBC. While most of our beers have evolved over the years, not so with Devil’s Reach.

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CMBC Brews and Easter Sweets

Easter is just around the corner, and that means one thing: stealing candy from your kids’ Easter baskets.

No! Our fans would never do something so despicable as literally taking candy from a baby!

Yeah, you would. Stop lying. The blog for a brewery is no place to put on airs.

So we caught up with our Head Chef, JP Thomas, to find out which of our brews pair best with your favorite Easter confections.

Cadbury Creme Eggs + Devil’s Reach

Nothing says Easter more than finding that ubiquitous basket of Cadbury Creme Eggs next to every cash register on the planet. That thick chocolate shell holding back that sweet and creamy fondant? Pure heaven.

JP suggests pairing those eggs with Devil’s Reach. The sweet fondant will cut the high alcohol content and astringency of our flagship Belgian brew, and the richness of the egg will reduce Devil’s Reach’s Belgian, funky, yeasty finish. The sweetness of our Belgian will commingle well with the sweetness of the Cadbury Creme Egg, leaving you thankful that the Easter Bunny didn’t miss your house.

Whopper Robin Eggs + Biscuits and Honey

These little eggs are like little balls of pure joy. Basically a Whopper candy masquerading as an Easter Egg, they’re crunchy, malty, and only slightly sweet — the perfect addition to any Easter basket.

“Malt, malt, malt,” JP says. This combination is basically a “malt bomb,” combining the maltiness of Biscuits and Honey with the maltiness of the Whoppers. The natural sweetness of the honey in Biscuits and Honey will play well with the maltiness of the candy. With only that slight sweetness coming from the chocolate surrounding the candy, this combination could just as easily substitute for your starch during Easter dinner.

Peeps + Avalon Coffee Stout

Everybody has some pretty strong feelings about Peeps: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. They end up in every basket, usually with copious amounts of Easter grass stuck to their marshmallowy goodness. Just try to keep them out of the microwave, unless you’re doing a science experiment or want to test out a new cleaner you just bought.

Peeps are basically sugar-covered balls of sugar, so you’re looking for something bitter to bring that down a peg. So JP suggests matching them with Avalon Coffee Stout. The bitterness of the coffee and the stout will beautifully counter the super-sweetness of the sugar-encrusted marshmallow. He says to dip the Peeps right into the beer because, “Who doesn’t like a little vanilla with their coffee?” Sounds tasty!

Jelly Beans + Misty Dawn Saison

Jelly Beans are perfect year round, but you’ll always love to find them rolling around your Easter basket. Usually because you’ve eaten everything else, cleaned out the grass, and get to find a little treat at the bottom that the kids have missed.

With all the variety out there with jelly beans, JP expects that our Misty Dawn Saison will pair well with most of them. “Black jelly beans… mmmm… probably not,” JP says, but all of the fruity ones go excellently with the fruitiness of the Saison. The sweet earthiness of the Saison will counterbalance nearly every flavor of jelly bean, including those crazy Jelly Belly flavors like popcorn, boogers, vomit, and cut grass. Yum…?

Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny + Honey Porter

The centerpiece of any well-curated Easter basket, the Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny says Easter more than just about anything. And spring for the solid one, for crying out loud. Those hollow things are the candy equivalent of oatmeal raisin cookies — you think you’re gonna get chocolate chip, but you end up with a mouthful of breakfast. With a hollow bunny, you just end up with a mouthful of air.

Chocolate and porters are like ying and yang. Like peanut butter and jelly. Like Easter and solid milk chocolate bunnies. “They’re just perfect together,” JP says. The natural sweetness of the honey married with the bitterness of the porter is exactly what happens in milk chocolate — the slight sweetness of the chocolate is balanced by its bitterness — which makes this a marriage made in Easter heaven.


If you want to try any of these delectable combinations, all of the brews are on tap in the Tasting Room and available for growler fills in the Brewtique — let us know what you think! Be sure to stop down before Easter Sunday — we’ll be closed that day, busy testing these pairings with our own kids’ candy.

I Know What You Did Last Shandy and…?

img_1775If you missed I Know What You Did Last Shandy when it was out last year, no worries! It’s on tap again in the Tasting Room.

This killer shandy stands just fine on its own. It’s practically a liquid dessert: flavors of cinnamon, clove, and a ton of brown sugar swirl around your glass, enticing you with its aromas and flavors.

Nevertheless, this is the perfect beer to blend with some of our other brews. We’ve got some ideas for you for your next trip down to the brewery.

Mop Water — The spices in these two brews will complement each other nicely. Both have cinnamon, but the nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and vanilla in Mop Water will play beautifully with I Know What You Did Last Shandy. Furthermore, the dryness of the German malts in Mop Water’s brown ale are just begging to be sweetened a bit with a shandy. Give it a whirl!

Apple Bomb — There’s literally nothing more American than apple pie. Ask your grandmother for her apple pie recipe, and if she doesn’t mention cinnamon and brown sugar… ask your other grandmother. Combining I Know What You Did Last Shandy with Apple Bomb will leave you wondering who smuggled a slice of apple pie into your pint glass.

Avalon Coffee Stout — Who doesn’t love some spice in their coffee? If Starbucks’ next big coffee drink is some combination of coffee, cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar, we’d assume that they got the idea from a brewery in Cape May. The grain bill of pilsner, carafa, caramunich, roasted barley, and oats with the nutty and cocoa notes of Avalon’s house blend will pair beautifully with I Know What You Did Last Shandy’s spicy sweetness. Yum!

Honey Porter — The roasted and dark crystal malts and characteristic sweetness of our flagship Honey Porter practically implores you to add a bit of spice to the mix. Cinnamon, cloves, and honey play wonderfully together, while the brown sugar brings the malts to the fore. This is where tradition and innovation converge!

Devil’s Reach — The fruity simplicity of our flagship Strong Belgian fares well against the complex sweetness of I Know What You Did Last Shandy. The fruity esters and unbearable lightness of Devil’s Reach are spiced up considerably by the cinnamon and cloves in the shandy. And that brown sugar all over those fruits? It’s like an apricot jam or orange marmalade on a cinnamon raisin toast first thing on a cold winter morning.

Do you have other ideas? Come on down and try them out!

We Won!

Our brews have taken home two more awards, this time from the World Beer Championships, bringing our 2015 total up to 13. Huzzah!

We’ll get to the winning beers in a minute, but first, a little about the WBC.

beveragetestinginstitutesilver“Ours is the oldest international beer competition in America, since 1994,” says Jerald O’Kennard, Director of The Beverage Testing Institute, which puts on the whole shebang. “And we were the first to use the consumer accepted 100-point scale for beer to succinctly and quantitatively communicate a beer’s level of quality to consumers.”

Other things that set WBC apart?

A dedicated tasting lab with a climate-controlled storage facility, no more than 35 products tasted by judges in a given day in order to limit palette fatigue, and morning-only tastings since that’s when tastebuds are most sensitive.

“We provide an environment for highly experienced and trained professionals in the beer trade to evaluate a brewer’s creative expression
and decide if they made good choices to arrive at a pleasurable product, and then measure that level of pleasure with our hedonically-based scale that holistically measures the total experience of a beer, not simply the sum of its components.”

We’re not totally sure what ‘hedonically-based scale’ means, but we do know we love the super flowery descriptions the WBC judges derive from it. We’ve included them below so you can get a kick out of them, too.

Flavors of buoyant orange marmalade, anyone?

Devil’s Reach (silver medal, 86 points): Aromas of lemon pepper muffin, quiche, and caramelized carrots with a supple, lively, effervescent, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, engaging, medium-length orange marmalade, pepper, and turnips finish. A zesty, peppery Belgian ale that will pair well.

Tripel Wreck (bronze medal, 84 points): Aromas of cheese popcorn, bean salad, fruit pastry, and bark and leaves with a supple, tangy, effervescent, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, buoyant orange marmalade, salt and pepper, honeyed spiced apple, and carrots finish. A earthy, fruity beer for the table.

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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

Fun Times at Tap Takeover

Friday night, we hit the Rio Station in Rio Grande for our own Tap Takeover, which coincided with the release of the restaurant’s new menu. The place was jamming. “I wouldn’t pour Cape May beer unless I loved it,” head chef Rich Rutherford told us. “That would be bullshit.”

L to R: Blonde Ale, King Porter Stomp, Steve's Biscuits & Honey ESB
L to R: Blonde Ale, King Porter Stomp, Steve’s ‘Biscuits & Honey’ ESB

At the CMBC table, over a plate of tempura veggies, topics of discussion included:

  1. How CMBC sales rep Richie Rallo and Social Media manager Courtney Rosenberg went to prom together in 2005. “I got my hair cut twice that day, because the first time was awful,” says Richie.
  2. How good the warm pretzel nugget appetizer is, and we’re not just saying that because the side sauces (Devil’s Reach Sriracha! Honey Porter Mustard!) are made from our own beer.
  3. Whether “exito” is the Spanish word for exit, or success. (Consensus: success!)

Around 9pm, we knew pop rock cover band Stellar Mojo would be taking the stage soon, so we broke away from the crowd to chat with lead singer John King. He told us that he came back home for this show, the first local venue he’s played in three months because he’s been so busy with gigs in Baltimore, Philly and Boston. And, turns out, CMBC beer being on tap was a big factor in that decision.

“All of my friends love it,” he said. “We’re hoping to team up with the brewery more in the future.”

Then John told us that, if he were one of our beers, he’d be the flagship Cape May IPA because “it’s got some balls to it.”

stellar mojoSo — after he took the stage, thanked everyone for coming to watch him instead of the Fifty Shades of Gray premiere, and began singing Bruno Mars while throwing glowsticks into the crowd — we did some reconnaissance, curious about how other people see themselves in terms of beer.

“I’m a Devil’s Reach, because I’m smooth and not overly complex,” said Wildwood Crest resident Jerry Mainardi.

“Mopwater, because there’s a lot going on with it,” said Eric Bronson from “just down the street.”

“Honey Porter, because it’s perfect in every way,” said Tom Sullivan from Rio Grande. (Okay, his wife answered for him, but she wouldn’t give us her name.)

“Coastal Evacuation, because it’s smooth but dangerous, baby,” said our server Olivia Steffa.

“The Wednesday One-Off, because it’s original, a little unique, and always a special edition,” said Erika Watson from Wildwood Crest.

Around this time, a table noticed us asking so many questions, assumed we worked for the restaurant, and tried to order six Fireball shots from us, so we figured we’d better sit down. But we did so knowing that this Tap Takeover had been a great success, er, exito.

Winning!

Cape May Brewing Company is kicking ass and taking names. (Isn’t that what the kids are saying these days?) But seriously – we’ve won, we’ve won!

BOCBA

On January 24, 608 brews from 108 breweries across the nation were tested in Bend, Oregon by industry professionals in a BJCP (or Beer Judge Certification Program)-sanctioned event. Meaning? The judges here were the real deal, having qualified for their positions via exams on this 66-page(!) study guide.

In the category of Imperial IPA, our Coastal Evacuation — a Centennial-hop heavy beer that will have you evacuating your home to hit our tasting room (badum-ching!) — scored a silver medal, besting 27 other entries. “It’s a pretty cutthroat category, so we’re thrilled,” says brew master Brian.

Another winner was our light and refreshing Tower 23, which earned silver in the Berline Weisse group. Little known fact? This is the beer that almost never was. “Brian wanted to do this for so long,” says Chris. “I told him ‘no’ for about six months before I finally said, ‘OK, this is how we’ll do it.’” There’s a lesson there, kids — if at first you don’t succeed… keep trying until you get a kickass beer.

Finally, our most popular pint, Devil’s Reach, took home a bronze in the Belgian Golden Strong Ale class.

“It’s something every brewer wants to do — win awards,” says Brian. But we know that his real motivation is more warm and fuzzy than that. “To make the best product, you have to really care about it. When you’re brewing beer, it’s important that your heart be in it.”

Cheers to your favorite liquid labor of love.

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