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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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CMBC In The News

A round-up of this week’s relevant headlines:

1. This morning, at Cape May County’s annual tourism conference, it was revealed that 2014 was a banner year. According to the Press of Atlantic City, CMC is clocking in at $5.8 billion in tourist spending, and leading the state with a 5% growth. This is due, in no small part, to what Press writer Michael Miller calls the conference “darlings:” wineries, distilleries, and one ever-expanding brewery (ahem, that’s us!).

Our president, Ryan Krill, was one of the featured speakers.

“The folks who visit [Cape May Brewery] are from all over the region,” he said. “It’s a really authentic experience, which makes it special. We don’t have regulars. We have all-unique visitors.”

Our guy Ryan (on right, beside State Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi) talks about the importance of agritourism in Cape May County.
Our guy Ryan (on right, beside State Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi) talks about the importance of agritourism in Cape May County.

2. Speaking of sexy news, it’s National Small Business Week, and in honor of the occasion, the US Chamber of Commerce held an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill honoring lawmakers for “strong voting records on critical business issues in 2014.” US Representative Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) was one of the recipients of the so called Spirit of Enterprise Award, and in his acceptance speech, he singled us out.

“As South Jersey continues to struggle with double-digit unemployment in the aftermath of the casino closures, I remain focused on pro-growth policies that will help bring new opportunities to our region and assist those residents looking for full-time work,” he said. “A critical part of our recovery will be the growth and success of small businesses, which serve as the engine of our economy like the Cape May Brewing Company. It is imperative we put forth policies that will give small businesses the confidence to hire and entrepreneurs the desire to invest. I remain committed to working with all of South Jersey’s chapters to grow our economy and am pleased to accept the Chamber’s ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ award.”

US Representative Frank LoBiondo accepts the Spirit of Enterprise Award from Bruce Josten, executive vice president for Government Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce.
US Representative Frank LoBiondo accepts the Spirit of Enterprise Award from Bruce Josten, executive vice president for Government Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce.

3. Finally, ABC ran a story on the country’s eight most adorable beach towns this week, and Cape May made the list… with a special nod to our brewery tours…

Reads the write-up: “Different from the ‘Jersey Shore’ image that MTV portrays, Cape May is an adorable beach town almost as far south as Washington, DC. It has loads of Victorian B&Bs and quaint shops selling saltwater taffy, frozen custard, and antiques. The family-friendly town is very walkable and activities range from parasailing and paddleboarding to brewery or lighthouse tours.”

We’re keeping good company – Carmel-by-the-Sea, California; Kennebunkport, Maine; and Hilton Head, South Carolina also made the cut.

Our neck of the woods. Image courtesy of blendspace.com.
Our neck of the woods. Image courtesy of blendspace.com.

 

 

Shark Alert!

There’s a great white named Mary Lee swimming 10(!) miles off of the Cape May coast right now, so area surfers should probably ditch plans to paddle out and hit our tasting room instead.

According to local meteorologist Dan Skeldon in The Press of Atlantic City this morning:  “The 3,456 pound female has traveled almost 20,000 miles since it was tagged off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in September of 2012. OCEARCH, a non-profit group that researches great whites, placed a tracker on Mary Lee that will emit a ping each time the shark’s dorsal fin surfaces above the ocean. Over the last month, Mary Lee has made steady progress northward up the East Coast of the United States. In early April, the 16-foot long shark was off of North and South Carolina. Earlier this week, she was lurking just off of Assateague Island off of the Delmarva Peninsula. In the last 24-hours, Mary Lee moved north, paralleling the Delaware coastline about 10 miles offshore. Then came five pings early Thursday morning, as Mary Lee zig-zagged about 10-15 miles east of Cape May and Wildwood. The current water temperature off of South Jersey is 55 degrees, just at the lower end of the shark’s preferred range.”

Follow Mary Lee on Twitter at @MaryLeeShark, or track her moves here.

 

Mopman And The Military

CMBC co-owner Bob Krill – better known as Mopman — has made over 500 of our wooden tap handles. The originals were shaped like the state of New Jersey, and then came the square peg versions. But Bob’s done custom ones, too — for a watermelon wheat beer, for instance,

Mopman!
Mopman!

he once painted a Jersey-shaped handle to look like an actual watermelon, complete with seeds.

“Between my pharmaceutical consulting work, I do the odd jobs at the brewery,” says Bob. “I fill in the gaps, and I enjoy the more artsy stuff. Of course, these tap handles are a pain in the ass. We’re ordering professionally made ones, because otherwise doing this would be a full-time job!”

But Mopman is outdoing himself — PITA work or not. We’re talking about the special USCG handles he’s crafting for use at the US Coast Guard Harbor View All Hands Club. For the lay reader, that’s a really long name for the on-base bar at Training Center Cape May, where 4,000 military hopefuls come for boot camp each year. Here is where 83 percent of the Coast Guard’s entire workforce have endured eight workouts a day, every day, for eight weeks.

Almost finished!
Almost finished!

It’s fitting, then, that the process for making the Coast Guard tap handles would be no walk in the park. The tedious process includes cutting out wooden New Jerseys before sanding them, priming them and painting them the colors of the Coast Guard cutter racing stripe, red and white. Then Bob will put the hardware on, making sure it’s flush with the wood. In this case, that hardware is a blue Coast Guard medallion.

The finished product will be coming at a celebratory time for the base. The weekend of May 8 through 10 will be a festival commemorating Cape May’s official designation as a “Coast Guard community.” Reads a press release about the honor: “This reflects the deep and enduring nature of the relationships that the region’s residents share with Coast Guard personnel, families, and visitors.” Highlights will include a military parade and flyover, concerts, ship tours, and interactive marine exhibits.

At an on-base barbeque on Saturday, CMBC will be pouring, so we hope to see you there. In the meantime, check out Bob’s tap handles for sale in our tasting room… sir, yes, sir!

Mopman's workshop... including the scarecrow he made for a scarecrow contest at Cape May's Emlen Physick Estate last year. Back then, he had a pumpkin for a head.
Mopman’s workshop… including the scarecrow he made for a scarecrow contest at Cape May’s Emlen Physick Estate last year. Back then, he had a pumpkin for a head. (The scarecrow, not Bob.)

Gordon Ramsay Says Cape May Beer Makes Everything Alright

Let’s say you’ve never seen one of Gordon Ramsay’s television programs – Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and MasterChef, among others. And let’s say you’ve never heard of his 25 restaurants or their 15 – fifteen! – Michelin stars. And let’s say you’ve never caught his guest appearances on American Idol or The Simpsons. (What are you, living under a rock?) You’ve likely still heard of the Scottish chef’s legendary temper. A temper that’s kept in check, come to find out, by Cape May Brewery beer.

Ramsay, raising a glass of CMB beer, next to our guy Brian and Caesars President Kevin Orooo
Ramsay, raising a glass of CMB beer, next to our guy Brian and Caesars President Kevin Ortzman.

But before we get to that, some GR history:

This is the guy who says even his own mum is appalled at the extent of his cursing.  A guy who once kicked a food critic out of his restaurant and allegedly shoved a contestant on one of his shows, resulting in a sprained ankle. A guy who hired a private detective to tail his father-in-law when he suspected the man of bankrolling a mistress on his dime. A guy who’s feuded with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali. A guy who names the turkeys he raises after celebrity chef peers.

In line with reality TV dogma, that kind of behavior garners a hefty following. So, unsurprisingly, the excitement surrounding the grand opening of the new Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill in Atlantic City’s Caesars Casino yesterday was palpable. Ramsay himself was set to be there – tapping a CMB firkin — after all.

By 5pm, the cask sat in position at the top of the grand steps leading to the Roman Coliseum-motiffed restaurant. Beside it stood Ramsay’s guards – both real and Praetorian – as well as the 200 Casino big-wigs, reporters, and members of the public who’d been invited. When the man of the hour appeared, the crowd that had gathered in the lobby below took a collective breath and began tapping furiously at their cell phone cameras.

“Anyone who says Atlantic City is in decline is full of utter horseshit,” Ramsay said into his mic, likely glad his mother was not in attendance, before thanking the requisite people.

Just then, an Irish bagpiper named Alex McKee who says there is never anything under his kilt but lipstick (womp, womp) began leading a procession of tartan-clad, Scottish flag-waving staffers and CMB’s own Brew Master, Brian Hink, across the lobby, through security and to the foot of the stairs. When they arrived, Ramsay began tapping at the firkin with a wooden mallet in order to fill his glass with the delicious brew inside: South Jersey Seccession Session Scottish Ale conditioned with Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean. When the cask remained uptapped, Brian lept up the stairs to help in applying just the right amount of force.

“Man, that was nerve-wracking,” Bri-guy said later, over passed hors d’oeuvres. “There were so many cameras and so many people, and it’s hard to know until you do it if the beer has settled enough to avoid a blast of foam when tapped.” But no catastrophes this day.

“Very beautiful,” Ramsay said after his first sip.

Sweet treats, UK style.
Sweet treats, UK style.

Around this time, your blogger – who had earned entry to the event by tucking in behind the bagpipe procession – accidentally stepped out of bounds while looking for a bathroom, and was not immediately allowed back in to the event for lack of a proper wristband… doh! At least that’s what security said, but we’re suspicious it might, also, have had something to do with said blogger’s egregious farmer’s tan, which she’d regrettably acquired earlier in the day, but we digress.

After 35 minutes of sweet-talking her way through three layers of food-and-beverage management, your blogger finally managed to regain entry. Only problem? By now, all star-struck groupies who had not yet gotten a moment of face-time with Ramsay were going full-on 12-year-old-girl-at-Justin-Bieber-concert. As the star made his way through throngs of grown men throwing elbows and even one middle-aged southern woman who yelled between sobs that she’s been waiting her whole life for THIS MOMENT, we shouted one question at Ramsay that managed to catch his attention: Why, of all the craft breweries out there, is it important to have Cape May’s beer on tap?

Gordon Ramsay, flanked.
Gordon Ramsay, flanked.

“I started tasting that stuff a long time ago,” he said. “After a long day in the kitchen, it makes everything alright.”

And knowing what a day in the kitchen can look like for Ramsay – the man’s pastry chef once called the police on him, citing abusive behavior – we’re very flattered.

As for whether all that temper stuff is real, or merely a show put on for the cameras, we asked Casino President Kevin Ortzman.

“Gordon Ramsay is a wonderful partner,” he said. “But he has very high standards. Cape May Brewing Company fits in with that.”

So while GR may be the culinary villain America loves to hate, he’s a-ok by us. Even if we were nearly booted from his pub.

Cape May Gets Some Conde Love

Conde Nast Traveler readers have named Cape May one of the top 20 food cities in America. We’re in good company — Portland, Santa Barbara and Aspen also made the cut. The write-up, which says we’ve got “plenty to offer travelers seeking out high-quality food to go along with their summer beach vacation,” mentions the Mad Batter for its eclectic dining room and killer brunch, as well as the waterfront Lobster House. Guess whose on tap at both those places? [Insert winky emoji face here.]

 

 

Big News From The Guild!

Remember that scene in Game of Thrones where King Joffrey Baratheon gets married to Margaery Tyrell and everyone pretends to be a big, happy family while secretly scheming their respective takedowns and the whole thing ends with a murder and some dancing midgets?

joffreyThat’s what the recent meeting of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, held at Spellbound last Monday, could have turned into (minus the dancing dwarves).

Sure, HBO may have House Stark and House Lannister, but Jersey’s got House Craft Brewers Guild and House Restaurant Association and about 14 other special interest groups, all with a lot riding on access to the kingdom’s alcohol. No one blames any of them for being passionate about their respective agendas.

But there are those – let’s call them three-eyed ravens – constantly chirping that one house or another is usurping too much control. Gaining an unfair advantage. Operating outside of the law. Having incestuous affairs. (Wait – scratch that last one; that really is just GOT.)

The Guild agrees that no one industry should unnecessarily infringe on any other, or get more than its fair share of, uh, magical dinosaur eggs. And we’d never want to be accused of doing so.

So, under the direction of CMB leader and association president Ryan Krill, the group’s board began working last December on a Best Practices document. By clearing up some of the murky legalese regarding limited brewery tasting rooms, it should go a long way toward appeasing those who aren’t keen on Jersey’s current tasting room boom.

At the meeting, this finely-finessed document was unveiled to the membership.

What, exactly, does it say?

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children…

Just kidding.

It says that tasting rooms will not offer bar games or sports on TV, that they will close by 10pm unless the local municipality dictates earlier,Garden State Brewers Guild Logo
and that no food vendors will be allowed inside for on-premise consumption. But tasting rooms will be allowed to offer free bar snacks to patrons and, perhaps most importantly, customers will have the option of bringing in their own outside food. Finally, none of the aforementioned restrictions apply to private events.

Some braced themselves for a Red Wedding-style fight. After all, the document is effectively self-regulation – and rules are about as popular a topic as imps in Castlery Rock.

But the reaction was largely positive, with many vocalizing their agreement on the need for reiteration: tasting rooms are not traditional bars, and should not operate as such.

“I wish we had this when I was starting out,” Ryan told the group of 50, the largest turnout in Guild meeting history. “It’s going to clean up some gray areas, allowing us to better promote craft beer tourism, while maintaining a positive rapport with other alcohol-related businesses.”

Added Mark Edelson of Iron Hill: “We’ve taken the initiative, rather than leaving it up to someone else to regulate for us.”

And Jeremy Lees of Flounder Brewery agreed. “This will guide new start-ups,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone understands the nuances of the law.”

As always, we’ll keep you updated on those nuances. In the meantime, remember – summer’s coming.

 

Beer At The Forum

Last night, members of our team joined 170 other people in the ballroom of Congress Hall for a tasty farm-to-table dinner – complete with pairings of donated CMB beer. It was the main fundraising event for Cape May Forum.

Fans of our brewery have likely heard of the Forum for two reasons:

First, this is who sponsored the TEDx talk given by our fearless leader, Ryan Krill, in 2013:

Second, ya’ll tend to like transformative ideas, and that’s pretty much the Cape May Forum shtick.

"Because of our belief in this community, it behooves us to partner with Cape May Brewing Company, who also have great faith in this place." - Chase Jackson, Managing Director of Cape May Forum
“Because of our belief in this community, it behooves us to partner with Cape May Brewing Company, who also have great faith in this place.” – Chase Jackson, Managing Director of Cape May Forum

Each year, this Chautauqua-modeled program brings a series of events to Cape Island — lectures, meals, concerts – which provide residents and visitors an outlet for “grappling with the social, moral and political issues of our times.”

Sure, you could use the internet for that, but… ooh, look, a cat video.

In the past, the programming has tackled themes such as: “Humor – Can it Save the World?” and “The Future of Energy.” This year, the topic is: “Wine and Oysters – Growing on the Garden State.”

While the current subject might appear more micro in scope, it’s thinking locally – like, for instance, about the importance of sustaining the aforementioned industries in Cape May County – that sets the stage for big things to happen globally, at least according to Forum President Barry Cohen.

“The challenge in a beach town is that people come here for an escape,” he told us. “So how do we get people to think about important issues when the object is retreat?”

One way, the Forum team has discovered, is through good food and booze.

Enter Derek Thomas, the farmer with surfer-boy good looks who tilled the land at Fincas del Mar and Windy Acres to cultivate the ingredients for this evening’s five-course meal. He told us a few things: 1. He has seven children. 2. One of them does ballet, so he got a big kick out of CMB’s ballet-related April Fool’s prank. 3. The evening’s chef, Jeremy Einhorn, started scoping out his produce — and planning the beer pairings — way back in December.

“This is a very exciting event for me,” Jeremy said. “There’s a certain affinity between brewers and chefs. And most people don’t think this way, but it’s actually easier to pair food with beer than with wine. Dinners like this have been happening for a decade, but they’re getting more attention as beer gains respect.”

Ryan Krill explains how CMB has come to employ 24 year-round people.
Our guy Ryan explains how CMB has come to employ 24 year-round people.

Event-goer Gary Padussis is a convert.

“Before tonight, I’d never heard of pairing beer with fine food, only pub food,” he told us, “but it works.”

And it doesn’t just work because it tastes good, but because it’s one way to get younger generations excited about employment opportunities on the Cape. That’s one of the goals of this year’s Forum, and the reason that a group of students from Lower Cape May Regional High School were invited to last night’s dinner. No, they aren’t old enough to drink, but via the evening’s speakers they still got a window into the importance of the oyster harvesting, food growing, wine making, and beer brewing businesses that thrive in this region.

“I definitely plan on coming back to Cape May after college to open a business, or maybe even more than one,” said LCMR Senior George Swoyer, adding that he’s got family in Buck’s County who make trips to Cape May specifically to visit the brewery.

“The company is a testament to the fact that small businesses really can can flourish here,” said George’s classmate Victoria Jacoby.

Aw shucks, kids.

For more information on this year’s Forum line-up, or their partnerships with Jersey universities, visit capemayforum.org.

And just for fun, here are photos of what we ate. The savory courses were paired — alongside vino from Hawk Haven and Cape May Wineries — with our Cape May Saison. And the sweet dessert went great with our Honey Porter. Big brews and big ideas really do go hand in hand…

Salad of red and dwarf romaine lettuce, baby kale and roasted sweet peppers with aged goat cheese, pickled radish and a terragon-honey vinaigrette.
Salad of red and dwarf romaine lettuce, baby kale and roasted sweet peppers with aged goat cheese, pickled radish and a terragon-honey vinaigrette.
Carrot-ginger bisque garnished with crispy kale and lemongrass espuma
Carrot-ginger bisque garnished with crispy kale and lemongrass espuma
Half cornish game hen with braised spring greens, turnip and carrot stoemp and rosemary jus
Half cornish game hen with braised spring greens, turnip and carrot stoemp and rosemary jus
Banana creme tart with caramelized bananas and chocolate chantilly in a flaky cream cheese pastry
Banana creme tart with caramelized bananas and chocolate chantilly in a flaky cream cheese pastry

Hit The (Best) Beach

Our home base was named by Family Vacation Critic among the Top 10 Best Beaches for Families in the Country, along with Oregon’s Lincoln City, Maine’s Ogunquit  Beach, and Lake Tahoe’s King Beach. We won out over other Jersey shore options because of our  “mix of historic charm and modern fun.” We like to think Cape May Brew Co is part of that modern fun; it’s okay to hire a babysitter on a family vacay, after all…

Blue skies for days. Image courtesy of Family Vacation Critic.
Blue skies for days. Image courtesy of Family Vacation Critic.

 

CMBC In The Funnies

Just for fun, after illustrator Jim Kohl graduated from college, he began drawing a comic called Happy Hour in which one of the main characters works at a brewery. Jim soon found that he had so much to say about beer and its culture, he needed to launch a sister strip called The Brewery, which doesn’t follow a strict storyline. Rather, each iteration is it’s own self-contained piece that highlights a topical news story or brewery. The former will hit it 2,000th strip this August. The latter, which has been picked up by nightlife rag Steppin’ Out as well as Beer magazine, just hit the big 275.

And CMBC is the plot.

“I am from New Jersey and I could not be more excited about the beer in our state,” Jim told us. “I have been following Cape May’s  newsletter and Twitter account. Every email and tweet has this energy of fun, and I really wanted to meet the people behind that, so I sent an email and was lucky enough to speak with [Marketing Guru] Alicia Grasso and President Ryan Krill.”

See Jim’s comic below — we love us some Jersey shore humor — and check out his cool interview with Ryan here.

bird

Run, CMBC Fans, Run

At 9am today, the 17th Annual Ocean Drive Marathon and 10-mile race kicks off off on Beach Avenue in Cape  May:

The course, courtesy of oceandrivemarathon.org.
The course, courtesy of oceandrivemarathon.org.

Best of luck, runners, especially those of you who chose to carb-load with CMB beer. May the wind be at your back…

 

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