You can take the surfer out of Cape May, but you can’t take the Cape May out of the surfer.
The newest member of the Tasting Room Brew Crew was raised here, then left for a few years, but is back and thrilled to be back at the beach.
“Coming back home to Cape May County, Ben was looking for a fun place and a great company to grow with,” says Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello. “He found that here. Ben has the ability to work multiple positions and has already stepped up, filling whatever needs we might have.
“We also just learned of some of his artistic skills so he is quickly becoming our resident chalkboard artist.”
Stop down, check out his art, and welcome Ben Stone!
Originally from “here” — in Cape May — his family moved to North Jersey in his childhood before the call of the ocean had them return in sixth grade. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, as a Political Science major as a compromise with his mother.
“I was all set and ready to go to the University of Hawaii,” he explains, “but my mom told me that I was just going to flunk out and surf every day. And she was probably right.”
Ben’s cousin was at Baylor, and she convinced him to apply, as well.
“So, I cut a deal with my mom,” he says. “If I didn’t get into Baylor, then I could go to Hawaii. I didn’t think I’d get in because Baylor’s a half-decent school and I was, like, last in my class, but, sure enough, I lost my bet. And I graduated because of it.”
Not a bad trade-off! However, his Political Science major didn’t quite pan out the way he’d hoped.
“I worked for a Congressman,” he tells us, “but I hated it. I hate politics. It’s one thing when you’re studying it because it’s fun to talk about it and debate, but you get into it and you realize that nothing’s going to change.”
While in college, he worked at a mini-golf course, where he learned to juggle, primarily because there were a lot of jugglable objects around. He also worked in IT sales in San Diego for about a year-and-a-half before moving home. Prior to that, he’d lived in Austin.
While there’s not a lot of surfing opportunities in Texas, there’s a surf ranch in Austin at which Ben worked for a bit.
“They didn’t let me surf for free,” he bemoans. “I was bummed! The whole reason I got a job there was because I couldn’t afford the $100/hour it cost, and I didn’t get to surf, anyway.”
Those are some lame company perks. Ben much prefers the ones here.
In the past, Ben had tried homebrewing, but was never very good at it.
“I prefer drinking beer,” he says. “I’ve tried my hand a couple of times at it, but it’s just really, really difficult. I think I would need to be mentored by someone who’s actually good at it.”
Luckily, he may be able to find someone at his new job that can help.
“I think I’m working in the right environment.”
He’s big into Philly sports.
Ben also likes a lot of live music, but he listens to “almost everything.” He went to see Adam Levy in Los Angeles, and Bahamas in Philly.
“I love music,” he says. “Music makes me happy.”
He’s been surfing since high school, but he’s his biggest critic.
“It’s tough to look good,” he says. “It’s tough to be good. You know good when you see a surfing video, and then you watch some normal person surf, and you’re like, ‘Oh, that person’s not good.’”
Growing up in Cape May, Ben has had plenty of time to practice.
“I loved growing up on the beach,” he says. “I think it’s the best thing ever. At the same time, it’s a blessing and a curse because Cape May’s such a small town. I see high school friends come into the brewery all the time.”
When it came time for Ben to find a job after moving home, his first choice was the Tasting Room. He’s had a few friends who’ve worked at the brewery, and he wanted to join their ranks.
“It’s a blast, man,” he says, “it’s so much fun. But I’ve probably gained ten pounds and I’ve only been here a month. It’s a really fun environment. I love working behind the bar. If it’s busy, it’s nonstop and your day goes by quickly, and if it’s slow, you’re talking to one or two customers, and they make the day go faster.
“I can see myself owning a bar at some point in the future.”
And he’s getting plenty of practice in while working in the Tasting Room.
“It’s great,” he says. “The people are great. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I like fruity beers,” he says, “so Krusty’s — that Milkshake IPA — is great, too. Bounding Main is totally drinkable, but still that juicy IPA.”
Beyond the beer, Ben has high hopes for the brewery.
“I think that the brewery is going to blow up,” he says. “I think it really is. I think it’s exciting to see something like this come out of my hometown. I really think that this is something that could be a huge success. I think that we could see Cape May Brewing Company everywhere in the future.
“It’s a roller coaster ride. We’ll see where it goes.”
Be sure to say hello to Ben the next time you see him in the Tasting Room!