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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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‘Drinking Dirty’ by the Numbers

On Friday night, our own Ryan Krill was featured on “Drinking Dirty in Jersey,” a show broadcasted by the “irreverent, entertaining, cool” LA Talk Radio. Program hosts Cassie and Chris Finley — self-described “beer drinking champions of the world” — peppered Ryan with questions about CMB’s

Drinking Dirty in Jersey are the shock jocks of the drinking world
Drinking Dirty in Jersey are the Shock Jocks of the drinking world

history, ongoing expansion, and industrial-chic locale. The action starts at 14:10 here. But if you don’t have time to listen in, here’s the interview in numbers:

1: Number of on-air f-bombs dropped by Ryan

4: Number of specific CMB brews discussed, including the Coastal Evacuation which recently won a silver medal in the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Oregon, aka “IPA country.”

1: Number of accounts CMB started with in 2011 (Cabanas).

300: Number of accounts CMB will have by the end of this summer

2: Number of states in which CMB is currently distributed. (PA and NJ)

47: The ranking of New Jersey in per capita craft breweries when CMB launched. (Today, we’re still only at 40, but we’re climbing!)

>100: Number of beers produced by CMB in its four-year history

21: Number of CMB employees (and counting!)

1,500: The original square footage of the first CMB building. (The square footage of our new addition? 15,000.)

12: The number of gallons produced by our original brew house. The capacity of our new brew house? 30 barrels.

1: The number of comparisons made between “south Jersey guys” and “mellow” Californians. (Unlike farther north where there is “too much expresso and too much cocaine,” says Cassie. All the more reason to head south?)

If You Mill It, They Will Come

New MillThe Hungarian Roppi 1100 has arrived! No, that’s not some weird piece of workout equipment for Richie and Justin to use between sales calls, it’s the mill that will grind 2,425 pounds of our grain per hour into a rough flour called grist. This is important because — for all of you newbies — that’s the first step in making beer.

“Think of it this way,” says CMBC Brew Master Brian Hink, “when you’re making coffee at home, you don’t just dump beans into a machine, because you’d get a little bit of flavor and a little bit of color to your coffee, but it would be weak. You have to use a grinder to crush them up first.”

Now, as for getting the Roppi set up… “Ryan buys the equipment and I read the manual,” says Chris.

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!

Regional Paper Shows CMBC Some Love

ac interview in HQ

Last Monday, veteran Press of Atlantic City reporter Rich Degener stopped by for a story on our ongoing expansion. He showed up in his signature unassuming dress —complete with a duct-tape chic jacket — and spent over an hour checking out our new setup. He tasted the product, scrawled copious albeit totally illegible notes, and told us that his daughter Elizabeth (who sells the delicious homemade bread on Sunset Boulevard) loves our tasting room, which is awesome, because we love her bread! You can see Rich’s article here. Just a couple of small corrections: the money spent on gutting and renovating our new space (called HQ for ‘headquarters’, until someone around here comes up with a name more clever) was actually closer to $1,000,000 than half a million, and our fearless leaders attended Villanova University, not Temple. No offense against the Owls – we’re all Philly proud!

ac press-dale gerhard, ryan krill
photo credit: Dale Gerhard, Courtesy Press of Atlantic City

 

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