St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and, in all likelihood, your celebrations will look a little different than they have in years past. You probably won’t be hitting a crowded bar and drinking green beer till the wee hours of the morning, so we’ve got a few other suggestions for you: food!
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at home means cooking up an Irish feast! And, while the Irish are better known for their whisky than for their cuisine, there are a few favorites that we’ve called upon Culinary Ops, Soda Guru, and Cellarman JP Thomas to enhance with the addition of your favorite Cape May Brewing Company beer.
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to visit our Tasting Room, you may have had the chance to sample one of our favorite brews. It’s been available for distribution for about as long as we’ve had distribution; however, it’s often an overlooked member of our lineup.
And if you haven’t had the chance to try our Honey Porter, you need to remedy that fact, posthaste.
Smooth and light-bodied, our beloved brown porter brewed with Jersey Fresh-certified honey won a bronze medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. This balanced and approachable porter has a firm malt presence, a hint of sweetness thanks to the honey, and a distinctive quaffability that will draw you in again and again.
And now, for the first time, it’s available in 16-ounce cans!
While some of those things deserve to die — screw you, yogurt! –, it appears that millennials are now being slapped with killing the flagship beer. And we don’t think that’s fair.
“A lot of beer drinkers have developed a sort of ADD with respect to the beers they drink, so going for a glass of beer at the bar or pub becomes less a pleasant distraction and more a relentless search for what’s new and exciting. In this mad rush towards the unusual and unknown, we tend to forget the great, familiar and still-wonderful beers that guided us all along the path to the craft beer renaissance,” says beer journalist Stephen Beaumont in an article at Forbes.
So, Beaumont decided to bring back the flagship. He’s launching a campaign called #FlagshipFebruary to remind everyone — millennials included — just how awesome our tried-and-true stalwarts are, and we’re definitely jumping on board.
You see it on tap in the Tasting Room every time you’re here. It’s one of our most dependable offerings: Honey Porter. Yet, if you’re here frequently, you may overlook it in your zeal to try something new.
There’s a better way. Take a moment and take a look at the menu. Really look at it. Because there’s probably one or two brews that you haven’t tried in quite awhile.
In fact, it’s uniformly agreed around the brewery that Honey Porter is our most underrated brew.
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.
If 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!
Today, Douglas Fisher — New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture and the guy whose job it is to ensure the Garden State remains an “agricultural powerhouse” — came to CMBC as part of his #JerseyFreshLove tour.
The two-day, live-tweeted trip includes 15 stops — farms, farmers’ markets, and businesses throughout the state who respect, nourish, promote and utilize Jersey’s agricultural bounty. We were honored to make the cut for several reasons, including our Jersey Fresh-designated Honey Porter, which needs 90-pounds of locally-grown honey for every 15-barrel batch.
“Holy mackerel, it’s great,” Fisher said when he saw our tasting room. Then he took a tour led by CMBC president Ryan, enjoyed a pint, and explained the goal of the day. “We’re looking to get responses from people on the ground. We’re using the #JerseyFreshLove hashtag to showcase central places, but we want others to use it as well. Show us what Jersey Fresh products and places are important to you. We’ll cross-pollinate, and we’ll get people to recognize all this state has to offer.”
Here’s a peek at some of the social media shots. Take a look and then — you heard the man — post your own…
Cape May has been known for its restaurant scene ever since TheNew York Times dubbed us the “culinary capital of New Jersey.” This summer, the island gets one more notch in its cutting board. The Exit Zero Cookhouse at 109 Sunset Boulevard opened three weeks ago — with our Honey Porter as a main ingredient — after much suspense!
Okay, that’s a lie. There was hardly any suspense surrounding the opening of this particular restaurant because owner Jack Wright — a journalist of 30 years and the publisher of Cape May’s peppy Exit Zero periodical — kept it under the radar in case the whole thing turned into a flaming disaster and he needed to go back to his day job with his tail tucked between his legs. (And that’s coming from your blogger who, full disclosure, is Jack’s wife.)
Since the opening, the response has been pretty great. People are loving the menu that Jack describes as “all over the map… in a good way,” and they’re especially loving the Indian lineup, which includes coconut shrimp curry and shrimp Tikka Masala, among others.
So where does our beer factor in?
Along with rich chocolate, the ‘Jersey Fresh’-designated Honey Porter, which is made with 90 pounds of fresh Jersey honey in every 15-barrel batch, contributes to an intensely smoky flavor in the Cookhouse’s super spicy vegetarian chili recipe.
It might just be the spiciest dish in town.
“So far, three people have sent the plate back because they couldn’t handle it,” Jack says. “Half a dozen others have demanded we never change it.”
See where you stand on the polarizing recipe at the Cookhouse, open from 5pm every night but Sunday.
“I’m excited to work with CMBC because I see our companies as brothers from another mother,” Jack says. “It’s important to both Exit Zero and the brewery to be innovative and energetic, and we prioritize community involvement. Plus, Honey Porter is my favorite beer of all time.”
Last night, members of our team joined 170 other people in the ballroom of Congress Hall for a tasty farm-to-table dinner – complete with pairings of donated CMB beer. It was the main fundraising event for Cape May Forum.
Fans of our brewery have likely heard of the Forum for two reasons:
First, this is who sponsored the TEDx talk given by our fearless leader, Ryan Krill, in 2013:
Second, ya’ll tend to like transformative ideas, and that’s pretty much the Cape May Forum shtick.
Each year, this Chautauqua-modeled program brings a series of events to Cape Island — lectures, meals, concerts – which provide residents and visitors an outlet for “grappling with the social, moral and political issues of our times.”
Sure, you could use the internet for that, but… ooh, look, a cat video.
In the past, the programming has tackled themes such as: “Humor – Can it Save the World?” and “The Future of Energy.” This year, the topic is: “Wine and Oysters – Growing on the Garden State.”
While the current subject might appear more micro in scope, it’s thinking locally – like, for instance, about the importance of sustaining the aforementioned industries in Cape May County – that sets the stage for big things to happen globally, at least according to Forum President Barry Cohen.
“The challenge in a beach town is that people come here for an escape,” he told us. “So how do we get people to think about important issues when the object is retreat?”
One way, the Forum team has discovered, is through good food and booze.
Enter Derek Thomas, the farmer with surfer-boy good looks who tilled the land at Fincas del Mar and Windy Acres to cultivate the ingredients for this evening’s five-course meal. He told us a few things: 1. He has seven children. 2. One of them does ballet, so he got a big kick out of CMB’s ballet-related April Fool’s prank. 3. The evening’s chef, Jeremy Einhorn, started scoping out his produce — and planning the beer pairings — way back in December.
“This is a very exciting event for me,” Jeremy said. “There’s a certain affinity between brewers and chefs. And most people don’t think this way, but it’s actually easier to pair food with beer than with wine. Dinners like this have been happening for a decade, but they’re getting more attention as beer gains respect.”
Event-goer Gary Padussis is a convert.
“Before tonight, I’d never heard of pairing beer with fine food, only pub food,” he told us, “but it works.”
And it doesn’t just work because it tastes good, but because it’s one way to get younger generations excited about employment opportunities on the Cape. That’s one of the goals of this year’s Forum, and the reason that a group of students from Lower Cape May Regional High School were invited to last night’s dinner. No, they aren’t old enough to drink, but via the evening’s speakers they still got a window into the importance of the oyster harvesting, food growing, wine making, and beer brewing businesses that thrive in this region.
“I definitely plan on coming back to Cape May after college to open a business, or maybe even more than one,” said LCMR Senior George Swoyer, adding that he’s got family in Buck’s County who make trips to Cape May specifically to visit the brewery.
“The company is a testament to the fact that small businesses really can can flourish here,” said George’s classmate Victoria Jacoby.
Aw shucks, kids.
For more information on this year’s Forum line-up, or their partnerships with Jersey universities, visit capemayforum.org.
And just for fun, here are photos of what we ate. The savory courses were paired — alongside vino from Hawk Haven and Cape May Wineries — with our Cape May Saison. And the sweet dessert went great with our Honey Porter. Big brews and big ideas really do go hand in hand…