We’ve been adding quite a few packaged varieties to our lineup, and, as such, we’ve needed a few more hands in the Packaging Department. With Dominick Morgenstern, we found an outdoorsman with a background in fermentation.
“The need for our packaging department, even in the wintertime, was increasing,” says Packaging Manager Mark Graves, “and we saw a need to add a talented individual to our roster of packaging all-stars. Dom has been a great addition to the team so far. He shows passion to learn and do the right thing, and has been able to pick up new things quickly.”
Originally from Linwood, Dom attended Mainland Regional High School before heading to Atlantic Cape Community College for Criminal Justice. He was pursuing a career as a police officer before his life at Cape May Brewing Company.
“I was putting my degree to use until I decided not to anymore,” he says.
It’s a common story, particularly in the brewing circles. A lot of us around here started down the career path we thought we wanted in high school or college, only to eventually become disillusioned by whatever path that was and decide to throw in our lot with brewing.
“At the end of the day,” he tells us, “I wasn’t satisfied with that being the career I wanted to do for thirty years of my life, so I looked into brewing.”
Switching careers is never an easy thing to do, especially when you’re moving from something with a union and a pension and the admiration of your community.
“It’s something I strived for and did for ten years,” he explains. “It wasn’t an overnight decision of, ‘nope!’ It wasn’t easy to do.”
Ultimately, though, it came down to a quality-of-life decision.
“I know the kind of hours that are involved,” he said. “I enjoy a separation of work and personal time, and that’s not a career that you can easily separate the two. As much as I love my time here, at the end of the day, I can go home and be done with it. Simple as that.”
While Dom doesn’t brew beer at home, he brews kombucha. Gaining in popularity in recent years, essentially, kombucha is a fermented sweet tea with very low levels of alcohol — less than a percent of ABV — and is said to have a multitude of health benefits.
“The timeline is pretty similar to beer,” he explains. “You brew a batch of sweet tea, then add some kombucha to it, so you need a starter tea. You let that go — I go by taste, but it’s about two weeks. Then you flavor it and bottle it, and let it do a secondary ferment to carbonate. Then you chill it, so it’s about a three-week turnaround.”
It sounds like kombucha is a bit of an acquired taste.
“If you know what it is going into it, it’s a little bit easier,” Dom explains. “I’ve had people who haven’t had it and I spring it on them and they think it’s disgusting. It’s like vinegar, but that’s the point. It’s very close to an apple cider vinegar.”
Once kombucha is finished brewing, many people add “intricate” flavors to them.
“You get a lot of things like strawberry/basil, you get ginger/blueberry,” he says, somewhat disdainfully. “Things like that. I’m pretty plain. I’ll usually do some sort of berry medley or a pineapple. I experiment all the time with different flavorings.”
Yet, Dom points to his history with kombucha as being his advantage over the other applicants. Little known fact: Hank’s interest in brewing beer began with his fascination with zymurgy — the study of fermentation — and he wasn’t terribly familiar with the process behind kombucha.
“Hank was like, ‘I don’t know that much about it! Tell me this, tell me that, you gotta tell so-and-so!’” Dom says, and we have no trouble believing it.
When he’s not brewing kombucha, Dom is a big fan of Philly sports.
“I’m a lifelong Flyers fan,” he says — a claim that’s becoming more difficult to make with each passing loss this season. “I love all Philly sports, but Flyers are my go-to.”
As for music, Dom is on either end of the spectrum with love for heavy metal and old-school country.
“I’m constantly flipping between the two,” he admits. “I’ll go from a little Metallica and Black Sabbath to Hank Williams, Jr.”
He’s also quite the outdoorsman.
“I fish, I shoot, I play ice hockey,” he says. “Anything that keeps me active or outside. My nightmare is to be stuck inside.”
Regardless, he decided to come inside and start packaging our brews.
“I’d heard really good things about CMBC,” he says, “and that was before I’d even seen a job posting. I happened to see the posting and thought it was ironic because I’d just been talking about it. So, I thought, ‘I’d like to try that.’”
Having grown up in the area, he’d been to Cape May a few times, but this is the most amount of time he’s spent down here.
“My only exposure to Cape May County was Ocean City or Upper Township,” he says, “but I like it. It’s nice. It’s quaint.”
Dom is definitely looking forward to learning a lot while he’s here.
“Learning the commercial aspects of a lot of things,” he says. “Really, it’s the scale. What fascinates me is the business side and the production. They went from being in a garage to this in under a decade. That blows my mind.”
And he’s definitely enjoying it here thus far.
“I love it,” he says. “I love how everyone’s on a name basis. It’s something I can really get behind. It’s never a, ‘Hey, man,’ or a, ‘Yo!’ It’s, ‘Hey, Dom. Hi, Dom.’ Everything’s by name here. There are a lot of people here, and there wasn’t a single person in my first week who didn’t know my name.”
Nevertheless, Dom is enjoying the access to his two favorite CMBC brews: Aiding & A’Bretting and Honey Porter.
“It’s got a really great taste to it,” he says of Aiding & A’Bretting. “I could drink it all day. And Honey Porter is like dessert. I’ve got a sweet tooth, so I could drink that all day. I love it.”
Be sure to say hello to Dom the next time you see him in the Tasting Room having a shiftie!