You know what’s awesome?
Cape May in the summertime: awesome.
Brian Hink’s beard: tremendously awesome.
The Topsail: COLOSSALLY AWESOME.
But don’t take our word for it, take the fact that it’s our highest-rated beer at BeerConnoisseur.com. Take the fact that it’s been flying off the shelves — we’ve already sold 2/3rds of our inventory.
Take the fact that it just won a Gold Medal in the US Open Beer Championships!
“This beer is f-ing awesome,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink. “I’ve been saying it since I pulled samples from the barrels and decided that it was the next one to be bottled that this is our best one yet. It takes the best of The Keel and The Scupper and mashed them together in a harmonious and delicious blend. Despite its complexity, it’s also extremely approachable. I’ve shared it with many ‘non-beer fans’ and they’ve loved it.”
Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm agrees.
“This is a very well-rounded beer that nails every parameter for a barrel-aged sour ale,” he says. “It’s got a great tart flavor that is perfectly balanced with a wonderful fruity aroma of apricots and sour cherries, all blended with a whiff of oak from the wood.”
The Topsail won in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category, which Jimmy called “a doozie.” It’s becoming a fiercely competitive category, with some of the world’s most-sought-after and highly regarded beers falling under that description.
“Five years ago or so these kinds of beers were so few and far between,” Brian says, “with only a handful of stand-out breweries even making them.”
Places like New Belgium, Russian River, Lost Abbey, Allagash — who Brian calls the “Godfathers of American Sour Beers” — were really charting new paths in sour brewing.
“When you think of sour beers there are a handful of breweries that really stand out,” Jimmy says. “Well, now you can add CMBC to that list!”
“These guys were producing world class sour beers ten years ago,” Brian says, “but as more breweries entered the fray, the quality level of the American Sour dipped down a hair. In the past three-to-five years, the category has absolutely exploded. The level of expertise is through the roof, and the level of experimentation and innovation is at an all-time high.”
While the category has become more competitive, the beers themselves have been relatively scarce. They’re relatively expensive to make, and the amount of knowledge above-and-beyond what you need to know to brew a typical ale is truly astounding — there’s a lot more going on inside of a barrel than inside a sterilized stainless steel fermenter.
“You really have to stand out to take home a gold medal,” Brian says.
“You really want them to shine,” Jimmy says. “This category is for some of the most difficult-to-brew and artistic beers that a brewer can do, so being awarded a gold medal there really shows the caliber of brewing that we’re doing here if I do say so myself!”
This is our first award for our Barrel Aged Series, but, considering how long they’ve been in the works, it’s particularly gratifying to know that our time and hard work has paid off.
“Hopefully, our sour program starts getting more national recognition,” Brian says. “I think we have an incredibly well-developed sour program, and in all of the East Coast I’d say we’re already one of the top ten providers of sours and wild ales, but it’s been such a grassroots movement to get interest and hype behind these releases ideally this opens up a few more eyes for us.”
“I think it really shows how great of a team we have here,” Jimmy says, “working hard to brew the best damn beers we can and how versatile we can really be.”
This is the first gold medal Jimmy’s received in his professional life, but, as much as he recognizes it’s a team effort, he gives Brian much of the credit.
And Brian really enjoys the recognition.
“I take this as some affirmation that I know what I’m doing in the sour beer world!” he says. “I’m really honored that this beer took home such high praise and regards, and it makes me even more excited to continue down this rabbit hole.”
South Jersey has been a bit behind the times when it comes to a lot of things, sour beers in particular.
“This award shows that there are great things happening down here and people will start looking this way more and more to see what’s being put out,” Jimmy says.
The guys certainly aren’t resting on their laurels. They realize that the eyes of the sour beer world are on us now, and they have no intention of letting up.
“We’ve really raised the bar on ourselves now, so we need to work even harder and get even more crazy with what we do here,” Jimmy says.
The guys have a bunch of barrel-aged sours in the works, and they think that some of them are even exceeding The Topsail in their potential.
“I’m just super excited to see more and more of these releasing for the public to enjoy,” Brian says.
With the amount of success they’ve seen with the past few Barrel Aged releases, we can’t wait to see what happens with the next few.
The Topsail is still available in the Brewtique. Swing down and grab a bottle — they won’t be around for long!