When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Beer
If soda isn’t your thing, or you missed out on our latest On the Way to Cape May brew, Root Beer Float, we have two new options for you to try this weekend. If you’re one of our intrepid fans who have collected each release so far, take note: #4 and #5 are out today, Friday July 2nd. Read on to find out more about why you won’t want to miss these!
On the Way to Cape May No. #004 is Boardwalk Lemonade. We anticipate this one to sell out very quickly, and our online pre-order allotment is sold out. The only way to nab this one is stopping by our Tasting Room, so make sure that’s one of your first stops this weekend!
For these two brews, we spoke with Brewery Operations Manager James Fox.
“One of the key aspects of the boardwalk experience is lemonade,” James says.
As you’ve read in previous entries so far, for our On the Way to Cape May series, our team has been tapping into the nostalgia of what it means to go to Cape May, or vacation by the shore, and what flavors and experiences are key to the shore and beach aesthetic.
Our lemonade variant is simple and delicious.
“It has pretty much the same ingredients as lemonade itself. Sugar and lemon juice. This one is just alcoholic. There’s nothing complicated about those ingredients,” James says. “It’s nothing fancy, and I think that’s why it’s so good. We wanted the taste and aroma to feel familiar, recreating some of that nostalgia for the shore.”
At 4.5% ABV, this is also one of our lighter offerings.
“It’s a summertime drink, so it’s strong enough, but still refreshing and light,” he says. “It’s something you can have multiple cans of without getting completely wiped out.”
Of course, the perfect lemonades require a balance of sweet and tart. Like our other brews, we worked to make this our own as well.
“A big part of any of the beers is to benchtop them to get what flavor profile you’re going for,” he says.
“That’s different ratios of lemon for different levels of acidities, and different levels of sugar, as well as where that product finishes out as far as sweetness, such as how much residual sugar is left. It’s a balance. We make a handful of different samples with different targets to figure out which ones we like better and why, and from there, we do it again until we end up with a product we’re happy with,” he says.
Ok, so who’s job is it to try all of these official samples? Who’s the resident lemonade taste tester?
“It’s usually a mix of people. We try to avoid any one person doing it,” James says.
“Brian and either Lauren or Matt will work together to get the initial trials together and narrow it down to two or three that have potential,” he shares. “From there, they bring it to the broader production team, and whoever is available at that time tries the product and gives feedback. We get a general consensus from everyone, whether that’s ‘it needs more tartness or more lemon aroma’ and then that feedback helps us get to the final tweak so we can sign off on it.”
As many long-time fans will notice once you crack open a can, this is a unique brew for us that had a special process to make it the refreshing treat it is today.
“I had a little bit of involvement with the taste panels to help figure out what direction we wanted to take with this one, but as far as the filtration process, I did most of that,” he says.
“We had to get creative with this one, since the process is different from our other brews, and brings its own challenges. But ultimately we were able to meet those challenges and make a product we were happy with,” he says.
The can is gorgeous, obviously. Look at that beauty! It’s light, easy to drink, and goes down smooth.
It’s the ideal brew to release after the sweltering week everyone has been having, and you can grab some cans to stock your fridge with to get you through the rest of summer.
Keep in mind that we’re limiting this one to one case per person (that’s six 4-packs!). The more friends and family you bring, the more each person can get, so make sure you have a plan when you stop by!
Also in the lineup this weekend is On the Way to Cape May No. #005: Cape May Salts.
Yep, we made an oyster beer! Using Cape May Salt shells no less!
“When people think of oysters in beer, oyster stouts are probably what comes to mind. There’s a lot of people in production who love oyster stouts. It’s a fun, experimental thing that makes a really awesome product as well,” James says.
“A stout isn’t as popular in the summer, and that’s why we went with gose. That style is light and crisp, but still benefits from the salinity and the mineral content you get from adding oysters to the beer, or in this case, the shells. Gose is known to be more naturally salt-forward, so we figured if we were going to have that salt character, we wanted to do it in a natural way and add shells.”
“In all honesty, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an oyster gose beer before,” he shares.
This one is a gose-esque sour ale because of its particular qualities.
“It’s not a gose by traditional standards because we’re using oysters. It’s a very unique beer that doesn’t fit directly in a lot of style categories,” he says.
“It has lemon juice in it, too. The idea is that, typically, when you eat oysters, you put lemon juice on them,” he says. “When you try this beer, you get the salinity, the lemon flavor, the aroma. It is very lemon-forward, and the lemon juice gives it a moderately tart flavor.”
“Early on in the process, the wort already had some of that salinity and mineral character, so it was very different from the start. Fermentation changes beer significantly, though, and the final product can be vastly different,” he shares.
“It had a distinct flavor. We knew it was going to make something interesting, so it was pleasant to try the final product and see how well it turned out,” he says.
“In standard unfermented beer, or wort, you typically have your sweet toffee notes or a standard set of flavors. So, while there is variety there, you know what to expect. This had different layers of flavor in the wort that you don’t normally see. There was even some lemon flavor in there from before fermentation. A lot of times flavors evolve through fermentation, so it was cool to see how that evolved into this product,” he says.
Both of these brews are lemon-forward, but they couldn’t be more different from one another. It’s a testament to the creativity of brewing: how you can have one defining flavor, but use it in two vastly different ways.
When we ask about pairings, starting with the lemonade, James balks a bit.
“I don’t think it needs a pairing. It’s hot outside, drink some lemonade,” he says with a laugh. “It’s excellent as is.”
“The gose, it would go well with fish tacos and lighter food fare,” he says.
Ok, but what about the obvious?
“Oysters could be a good combination,” he says, thinking for a moment.
“If you pair this with oysters, you could skip the lemon on them, so that would be an interesting mix. If you add cocktail sauce or something like that, you can eat that and take a sip of the beer to round out the flavor. It’s definitely something worth trying,” he says.
If any adventurous foodies try this brew with oysters, we want to hear from you, so shoot us your thoughts @capemaybrewco on Instagram or Facebook, or email [email protected]!
Don’t forget that both of these delectable brews will be available for a limited time, so if they’ve peaked your interest, make sure you stop by this weekend to try them out on draft in our Tasting Room or grab 4-packs to go from our Brewtique!