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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Cape May IPA Makes Its Winning Soup Debut

Many Cape May couples spent the recent Valentine’s Day drinking wine, eating chocolate and making candlelit whoopee. Michael Keating and his better half shucked oysters until 3am.

Let’s back up.

Every February, Cape May’s Chamber of Commerce hosts a Chili and Chowder Challenge where commercial and home chefs enter recipes to be judged by the public. This year’s event took place at Congress Hall on February 15 and Mike, who happens to be executive chef of Cape May’s Blue Rose Inn and Restaurant, submitted an oyster chowder made with our Cape May IPA. The dish used about 32-ounces of beer and 100 Cape May Salts in a five-gallon batch… and beat out 20 other entries for first place in the chowder division.

And that’s not all. Last year, Mike’s Texas-style chili made with beef shoulder and CMB’s Scottish ale was also a blue-ribbon winner. Apparently, our beer is meant for soup.

This past Sunday, we caught up with Mike and his colleague/sister Courtney over chocolate porters at CMB and we have to say, we like these guys. Not just because they’re into beer (they brew their own at home and are regulars of our tasting room), but because they run an impressive operation. The Blue Rose is owned by their parents. Courtney is the office manager of many hats, including marketing and innkeeping. Mike’s wife Angela works by his side as pastry chef, and we’re surprised their four-year-old child isn’t yet answering phones. It’s very much a family affair, and yet no one has managed to kill anyone else.

“People are always going to clash,” explains Mike, “but family are more understanding when it happens.”

And it helps that everyone has the same philosophy when it comes to food.

“We’re very much a scratch kitchen,” Mike told us. “We do as much as we can by hand. We make our own bread and cheese and we smoke our own bacon, which we used in the winning chowder. It’s also important that we use local ingredients — like Cape May Roasters Coffee, the Cape May honey we use for glazing fingerling potatoes and, of course, Cape May Brewery Beer. It’s only going to make my product better.”

In the case of Mike’s chowder, the hoppiness of the CMB beer was an ideal match for the brininess of his Cape May Salt oysters — a marriage that might soon appear on the Blue Rose’s menu full-time.

Meantime, stop by the brewery and check out our soup-friendly brews. It’s a place where the world — or at least the tasting room — is your oyster.

Hungry taste-testers let their palettes decide. Photo courtesy of Cape May Chamber of Commerce.
Hungry taste-testers let their palettes decide at the 5th Annual Chili and Chowder Challenge. Photo courtesy of Cape May Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

Take Me To Sexy Town

Cape May has been ranked one of the top 16 sexiest beach towns in America by datingadvice.com, and our brewery tours got a shout-out. We’re in good company — Malibu Beach, California and Kailuna-Kona, Hawaii also made the list. It’s appropriate timing, as Bringing Sexy Bock is our next big release, but more on that in a bit. Boom-chicka-wow-wow.

CMB growler on the beach

What Went Down At The Monday Meeting: 2/23/15

9:30: Chatter about the weekend ensues. Fearless leader Ryan Krill was in DC for the 78th Annual Walk to Washington where legislators had opportunity to mingle with Jersey’s craft beer makers. “Those senator guys can drink,” says Ryan. “I felt like an old man.” Meanwhile, Brew Master Brian Hink discusses his trip to Colorado, where he visited Avery Brewery. “They collect and repurpose CO2 with what looks like a fucking nuclear reactor,” he says. “Very impressive.” Both men are wearing the same CMB hat, complete with puff ball on top.

9:31: Production meeting commences. Brian has not yet had time to update the white board on which the brew schedule is usually written. “What the fuck?” jokes Ryan, although its hard to take him seriously in said puffy hat.

9:33: About the tap room, Brian says: “Everything’s kicking on us!” So, on deck for brewing is Cape May IPA, followed by Cape May Saison, and the new Take Five Session IPA. Bottling of Coastal Evacuation will happen on Friday.

9:42: New brew house update: it ships next week!

Devil's Reach Gone Wild is this week's one-off Wednesday beer geek's delight
Devil’s Reach Gone Wild is this week’s one-off Wednesday beer geek’s delight

9:43: New brewer update: Jake Smith starts training tomorrow! “We’ll give him a raise to $.08 an hour,” says Ryan. But in all seriousness, Brian is pumped for the help; last Tuesday he had a 14-hour day that started at 4am — ah, the life of a brewer.

9:44: Time to talk about this week’s Wednesday one-off, Devil’s Reach Gone Wild, which is theDevil’s Reach IPA fermented with wild yeast from grapes that grew right outside of the brewery. “I’m really excited for this one; it’s a beer geek thing,” says Brian. As for taste, expect it to be very wine-like, super dry, and not at all oaky.

AC Beer Fest9:47: AC BeerFest is coming up! Discussion ensues over whether it’s best to transport CMB brews there via firkins or pins. (If you’re wondering what the firk a firkin is, or if you’re too pin-headed to know what a pin is, click here.)

9:51: Speaking of pins, one of ours “blew up” last Friday. “It was in an outside cooler, and it was so cold it froze,” explains Brian. “As things freeze, they swell. It made a hot mess.”

10:30: Full staff meeting begins! Ryan shows everyone the plans for CMB’s next, next big expansion, coming at you spring of 2016. If all goes well, added on to our new 15,000 square foot-building will be another 5,000 square-foot tasting room, plus beer garden and 120-space parking lot. Bartender extraordinaire Jim Zolna wonders aloud which parking spot is his. “You’re over here,” says Ryan, pointing to the blueprint. “Can’t be too close to a school or it violates that law…” (We kid, we kid.)We're-Expanding-med

10:33: Richie Rallo, Justin Vitti, and Justin Vitti’s mustache update everyone on new clients, including farm-to-table friendly Red Hen restaurant in Swedesboro and Red Robin in Mays Landing. That brings the total number of accounts up to — drum roll, please — 149 in Jersey and 71 in Pennsylvania.

10:56: Ryan adds that Cape May’s own Congress Hall is installing a new draught system and putting CMB on tap. Also, a new shipment of kegs is a-coming, and that will “effectively double our inventory.”

10:57: Logistics guy Andrew Ewing confirms that Nugget, the official minivan of CMB, got an oil change last week.

10:59: Because fearless leader Chris Henke is out of town, Brian updates everyone on what went down at the morning’s production meeting, including a statement on how “crushable” that upcoming Session IPA is going to be.

11:05: Richie reviews Beats, Brews, and BBQ, which took place at World Café Live in Philadelphia over the weekend: “It wasn’t a drunk fest at all,” he says. “Good music, good people. It was the first event our two new employees were working, and I was trying to stress to them how much they were being spoiled. They’ll get a rude awakening at AC Beer Fest.” [Insert maniacal laughter here.] For all upcoming events, click here.

11:07: Jim and tap room coordinator Ashley Sundstrom update everyone on the weekend at the tasting room (“Smooth, no issues”) as well as the movement of merchandise (sweatshirts are selling like hot cakes. Or maybe cold beer).

11:12: Ryan, President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, tells everyone to stay tuned for updates from the guild next week, because exciting things are… brewing. In the meantime, meeting is adjourned. Cheers!

Fun Times at Tap Takeover

Friday night, we hit the Rio Station in Rio Grande for our own Tap Takeover, which coincided with the release of the restaurant’s new menu. The place was jamming. “I wouldn’t pour Cape May beer unless I loved it,” head chef Rich Rutherford told us. “That would be bullshit.”

L to R: Blonde Ale, King Porter Stomp, Steve's Biscuits & Honey ESB
L to R: Blonde Ale, King Porter Stomp, Steve’s ‘Biscuits & Honey’ ESB

At the CMBC table, over a plate of tempura veggies, topics of discussion included:

  1. How CMBC sales rep Richie Rallo and Social Media manager Courtney Rosenberg went to prom together in 2005. “I got my hair cut twice that day, because the first time was awful,” says Richie.
  2. How good the warm pretzel nugget appetizer is, and we’re not just saying that because the side sauces (Devil’s Reach Sriracha! Honey Porter Mustard!) are made from our own beer.
  3. Whether “exito” is the Spanish word for exit, or success. (Consensus: success!)

Around 9pm, we knew pop rock cover band Stellar Mojo would be taking the stage soon, so we broke away from the crowd to chat with lead singer John King. He told us that he came back home for this show, the first local venue he’s played in three months because he’s been so busy with gigs in Baltimore, Philly and Boston. And, turns out, CMBC beer being on tap was a big factor in that decision.

“All of my friends love it,” he said. “We’re hoping to team up with the brewery more in the future.”

Then John told us that, if he were one of our beers, he’d be the flagship Cape May IPA because “it’s got some balls to it.”

stellar mojoSo — after he took the stage, thanked everyone for coming to watch him instead of the Fifty Shades of Gray premiere, and began singing Bruno Mars while throwing glowsticks into the crowd — we did some reconnaissance, curious about how other people see themselves in terms of beer.

“I’m a Devil’s Reach, because I’m smooth and not overly complex,” said Wildwood Crest resident Jerry Mainardi.

“Mopwater, because there’s a lot going on with it,” said Eric Bronson from “just down the street.”

“Honey Porter, because it’s perfect in every way,” said Tom Sullivan from Rio Grande. (Okay, his wife answered for him, but she wouldn’t give us her name.)

“Coastal Evacuation, because it’s smooth but dangerous, baby,” said our server Olivia Steffa.

“The Wednesday One-Off, because it’s original, a little unique, and always a special edition,” said Erika Watson from Wildwood Crest.

Around this time, a table noticed us asking so many questions, assumed we worked for the restaurant, and tried to order six Fireball shots from us, so we figured we’d better sit down. But we did so knowing that this Tap Takeover had been a great success, er, exito.

Regional Paper Shows CMBC Some Love

ac interview in HQ

Last Monday, veteran Press of Atlantic City reporter Rich Degener stopped by for a story on our ongoing expansion. He showed up in his signature unassuming dress —complete with a duct-tape chic jacket — and spent over an hour checking out our new setup. He tasted the product, scrawled copious albeit totally illegible notes, and told us that his daughter Elizabeth (who sells the delicious homemade bread on Sunset Boulevard) loves our tasting room, which is awesome, because we love her bread! You can see Rich’s article here. Just a couple of small corrections: the money spent on gutting and renovating our new space (called HQ for ‘headquarters’, until someone around here comes up with a name more clever) was actually closer to $1,000,000 than half a million, and our fearless leaders attended Villanova University, not Temple. No offense against the Owls – we’re all Philly proud!

ac press-dale gerhard, ryan krill
photo credit: Dale Gerhard, Courtesy Press of Atlantic City

 

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