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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
“It's a beautiful beer to lay down for a nice long slumber.”

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Sawyer’s Swap

Sometimes, things don’t turn out quite as planned. Sometimes they turn out better.

Take, for example, this week’s release of Bourbon Barrel Aged Sawyer’s Swap: this isn’t quite what we were planning when we brewed this beer, but we don’t think anyone’s going to turn their noses up to a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine.

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Captain Badass Barleywine

Can you hear that? Off…. In the distance….

A trumpet calls: Triumphant. Exultant. Jubilant.

It heralds an arrival.

You see, our long, national nightmare is finally over.

Sawyer’s Swap, our American Barleywine, is back.

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10 Things You Need To Know About Sawyer’s Swap As It Makes Its Triumphant Comeback

There’s a lot to say about this American style barleywine, which is making a big, splashy return this week. Let’s get to it:

Henry Sawyer: war hero, beer muse.
Henry Sawyer: war hero, beer muse.
  1. Sawyer’s Swap is the first beer we ever bottled, back in April of 2013. And we did it by hand.
  2. The last release of this beer happened in March of 2014, and that was only a couple of hundred cases.
  3. We didn’t bottle Sawyer’s Swap in 2015 because our expansion impacted production. We’re sorry. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people.
  4. No, the brew is not called “barleywine” because it’s made with wine. Or because it’s made with fruit. It’s called barleywine because it’s alcohol content is on par with vino. Think 9.6%.
  5. It’s hoppy (thanks to a Zythos hop blend) and very malty at the same time. We know — mind blown.
  6. swap 2We’re bottling 400 cases(!) this week, and then kegging off the rest for tapping in our tasting room on February 25, and for distribution throughout south Jersey.
  7. The beer is named for a harrowing prisoner exchange that took place during the Civil War. Cape May resident and Union Captain Henry Sawyer was shot through the neck and captured by the Red Coats during Virginia’s Battle of Brandy, and he was slated for execution. Lucky for Sawyer, President Lincoln stepped in and orchestrated a sweet swap — the son of General Robert E Lee for the life of Sawyer. The war hero then returned to Cape May, where he built the storied Chalfonte Hotel. 
  8. This style has staying power. The first batch of it was brewed in 1870. You might find ours a little easier to drink than some other beers in the category, though. “While barleywines tend to be heavy and syrupy,” Chris says, “we’ve played with mash temps and the grain bill to get something a bit lighter, despite the high alcohol content.”
  9. Every time we’ve brewed Sawyer’s Swap, it’s happened on a different brewhouse — first the three-barrel, then the 15-barrel, and now the full monty: our 30-barrel. “Obviously, the more grain you use, the higher the alcohol content,” Chris says. “This is the most grain you’ll see in our mash tun.”
  10. We’ll bottle another 400 cases in April, for a total of 800 in 2016.


CMBC Wins Big At US Open Beer Championship

Here’s a cool bit of news. On July 4, our fourth anniversary, we found out that our Sawyer’s Swap barleywine ale took home a silver medal from the US Open Beer Championship, based in Ohio, in the aged beer category. Professional brewers and award-winning homebrewers from around the world entered nearly 4,000 beers to be judged by experts from England, Canada and the US.

“It’s amazing what brewers will do to enter the US Open,” said Director Dow Scoggins in a press release. “In the past, they have personally delivered their craft beers from Columbia and Brazil. This year, Joshua Deitner from Shanghai Brewery in China traveled 7,263 miles to deliver his beers in person.” (He also earned a silver, which… thank God.)

Also this week, we got a cool shout-out in SJ magazine’s Best of the Shore food edition.

Reads the write-up: “For a sip of something truly local, hit Cape May Brewing Company’s tasting room for a Honey Porter, the first beer to get the designation ‘Jersey Fresh,’ thanks to its locally-sourced honey. This brew is the bee’s knees.”


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