Ryan is one of those people who is easy to talk to. He’s laidback and easy going, and while he’s not one to talk much about himself, we’re really glad that he took some time to sit down with us this week.
“Ryan has hit the ground running,” Warehouse Manager Polly Pollock-Bell shares. “Starting in production during the build up to summer is a wild ride, but Ryan has a can-do attitude and is a total pro at driving our truck between our now multiple warehouses. I look forward to seeing him grow in his role and become a valuable member of the Brew Crew,” she says.
Without further ado, meet Warehouse Associate Ryan Loder!
Ryan grew up in Egg Harbor Township, where he’s lived his whole life, and graduated from Egg Harbor Township High School. He recalls a few teachers that you might still remember and think about, even years later.
Music was a big part of this experience, too, and he gravitated towards those who also played. “Those were the people I hung out with,” Ryan shares. “You’d see someone wearing a cool band t-shirt and be like, hey I like them too!”
(Ed. note: If only it were that easy to make friends now!)
Before joining us, Ryan was a tree worker. “Not like the loggers who cut down large amounts of forest – I go up in the tree and cut a limb off if it’s dying, or take down broken branches that might have fallen from storm damage,” he says.
Ryan made his way to Cape May Brewing Company through three of our current team members, Packaging Operators Sean Loder, Kevin Riley, and Chris Baruffi. “I’ve never been at a place where all my friends are working, too.” Ryan says. He’s dabbled in quite a few industries, and even worked with Chris while the two were at Tuckahoe Inn.
Music has continued to be a key element in Ryan’s life.
“I play music sometimes,” he says. “Chris and I play music together, and our band is Imbalance. It’s on the heavier side,” he says. While their style varies, Ryan mentions it could be compared to metal and hard rock.
“I play guitar, and I’ve played for about 10 years. I play the bass in this band now,” he says. Ryan admits that he may not know how to play it technically, but decided to pick one up and go for it.
“I became kind of a drafted bassist. We didn’t have a bassist, so we needed someone to attempt it,” he says.
“I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s all winging it, and it just ends up working,” he says with a grin. He watches how other people play to mimic the hand movements, which sounds pretty technical to us! In true fashion, Ryan shrugs this ability off.
While he might not admit his skills, those of us who play music, and even those who aren’t so musically inclined, understand the work that goes into mastering an instrument.
When we bring up fellow recent crew member Dan Moeri’s punk band, which played at The Stone Pony, Ryan shares that a former band he was with also played there. “That band was Rolling Thunder. I did not come up with the name,” he says with a smile.
(Ed. note: Hey, no judgment here!)
“There were like three people there,” he says, laughing. “I don’t know how we got into it, but it was our first show together, and we ended up playing The Stone Pony. They promised us this big gig. It was St. Patty’s Day, but then it rained and a whole bunch of stuff went wrong.” He shrugs this off, smiling. “It was nice, though, because at least we got to be there.”
Ryan has spent time in a few different fields, including construction, the service industry, and even a cemetery at one point.
(Ed: Wait, what was that last one?!)
It’s not every day you meet someone who spent time in such a complicated, delicate position, so we had to find out more. Ryan admits that this experience is often one people want to hear more about.
“There’s a crematory and a cemetery on the same grounds, and I helped operate both,” he says. To get a sense of his time there, he compares the experience to the Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson thriller The Lighthouse, complete with an eccentric manager and the dynamic of a new guy versus an established veteran.
“You could go stir crazy there,” Ryan admits. “It was two new guys and a guy who had been there forever, so it was quite the journey. We learned a lot about mourning and helping people grieve.”
While most of Ryan’s position involved preparing the gravesites and tending to the property, he was sometimes faced with people who were grieving: “We’ve had upset people come into the office before, because at the end of spring, you have to take the grave blankets away because there’s just a mass of them, and they can’t sit out,” he says.
For those who might not know, grave blankets aren’t actual blankets – they are arrangements typically used during the winter or holidays, made of evergreens that cover the plot, and often feature ribbons or flowers that can withstand cooler temperatures.
“People are going through a tough time, so when they come to you and they’re upset, you just sit and talk with them, and they understand,” Ryan says.
Despite what some might think about working at a cemetery, Ryan admits that his experience paints a completely different picture.
“I worked there during the summer, and it was really beautiful, actually. I was there for a year and a half. Every once in a while, I’ll stop back by and check on the guy who runs it now. The guy who was new with me when I worked there ended up taking over,” he says.
“You meet a lot of different people who work in the funeral industry, outside of the cemetery,” Ryan shares. “They’re characters. They’re actually some of the liveliest people I’ve ever met because they work in such a grim environment.”
Thinking back on the experience, Ryan laughs a bit. “Working at a cemetery fits the criteria of a metal-playing horror lover.”
As for horror, Ryan is a big fan of horror movies. “I always try to find all the B horror movies, and movies from the ‘60s,” he says. “There was this one called Tourist Trap. It’s one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen. Really unsettling.”
He’s also a fan of all the classics, like the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises. A recent favorite is Sinister. “Sinister stuck with me. I think my friend got sick in the theater when he saw it,” he says, cringing at the memory. “I don’t blame him!”
While he loves a good scare, the stories are what hooks him: “As long as the story goes well and I’m intrigued, that’s enough for me.”
When he’s not tucked away watching movies, he loves to keep things simple and go out to enjoy, or spend time making music.
“I try to go on as many adventures as I can in the woods, and go on hikes,” he says. Some favorite spots include the nature reserves, Cape May Lighthouse, and Lake Lenape in Mays Landing. “My brother and I often go kayaking, or tubing,” he says.
When talking about the spots he’s visited, Ryan mentions the raisin sculpture visible from Zion Road in Egg Harbor Township.
Anyone familiar with Little’s Dairy Bar in EHT has seen the sculpture, towering over the yard it calls home.
“Someone told me a story where someone had a beef with the people who run the ice cream shop, and they put it there as a prank, but it never left. I don’t know if that’s true or not,” Ryan says.
We did some digging, and it turns out that’s a common story! Over the years, people unfamiliar with the Raisin’s origin have been puzzled by its presence, so much so that it has been covered in numerous online articles and radio station interviews. While beef and a display of defiance make for a great story, the real story is a bit more quirky. The Raisin was rescued from a Wildwood boardwalk miniature golf course in the early 1990s, and has stood proudly in the yard of Little’s owners, who later updated it to include an ice cream cone in one hand. This bizarre relic is actually a wholesome nod to the shore!
Of course, our discussion soon turned to food. “I love everything spicy,” he shares. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I don’t know why humans do that to themselves. I have hot sauces lined up in a corner of my fridge.”
When asked about his favorite of the bunch, he reveals that it’s a ghost pepper sauce that he likes to drop in and mix into food. Ryan highly recommends putting hot sauce in your soup, particularly cream soups, where the flavors can balance each other out.
(Ed. note: We’re definitely going to have to give this a try the next time waves of pollen assault the senses!)
As we sit in the HQ break room chatting, Packaging Operator Brock Harton walks in. He says hello, and just before he leaves, he stops and stares down Ryan.
B: “Why are you looking at me like that?”
R: “I don’t know.”
B: “Alright, fair enough.”
R: “I can’t? . . . Ok, I won’t do it again, sorry!”
B: “…You changed!”
R: “You know what? For the better!”
They both laugh as Brock exits. “I haven’t known him for very long, but we get along really well, for no reason” Ryan says, laughing.
When Ryan first joined the team, he and his brother Sean didn’t tell anyone else that they were related.
“There’s a picture Brock took of us trying to figure it out,” Ryan says. “It’s both of us turned around and we have the masks on. We never went through with it, but we were going to plan a day where we dressed exactly the same. It might happen one day, as long as neither of us cut our hair.”
On some of his first days here, he recalls having odd interactions with people. “When I was walking in on my first day, everyone greeted me like they knew me already. I think they thought I was Sean. Someone came back an hour later and was like, ‘I had no idea you were Sean’s brother, I’m sorry!’”
A similar experience happened in the Tasting Room, as well. “I thought a few people were confused. I kept getting weird glances,” Ryan says with a laugh.
While at first glance the two share many features, if you spend enough time with Ryan and Sean, you’ll immediately know the difference.
“Brock was ecstatic about it,” he shares. “He was so excited, it was really funny.”
He and his brother Sean are two or three years apart in age, which likely contributes to some of the confusion. “When I was a teenager and he was in his early 20s, the difference felt really significant, but now I feel like we’re in the same hell of our late 20s,” Ryan says, laughing.
His favorite part about working with Cape May Brewery so far is the culture, noting that the lack of negative, condescending behavior is “the biggest fresh breath of air I’ve had out of any job.”
Ryan also has a lot of respect for how Polly handled the warehouse prior to him and fellow Warehouse Associate Mike Lauff joining the team, and he enjoys finding ways to work with everyone to get into a good rhythm.
As for Cape May brews, Ryan can’t quite pin down his first, but he loved discovering Coastal Evacuation.
“I’d mostly have Coastal, or the IPAs, like Follow the Gull. Now I’m trying different ones,” he says. Some of those new ones include Down to Fiesta, a brew he normally wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.
You can find Ryan masterfully operating a forklift carrying beer back and forth from our warehouse and the Brewtique, or driving one of our trucks to carry over packaged beer to the brewhouse. He’s part of the crew that helps make sure things go smoothly between our different sections, and we couldn’t be more grateful!
The next time you see Ryan, make sure to stop and say hi!