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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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What’s In A Name: Turtle Gut Edition

It’s been aging for a solid two months, but our Turtle Gut American sour is finally done with its secondary fermentation — thanks to the rogue yeast strain we wrote about here — and it’s ready for tapping. This earthy, funky, malty-sweet wild ale will be available beginning Thursday, September 24.

In the meantime — given the intellectually curious beer fan you are — you’re going to want to know how we came up with the name Turtle Gut. Truth is, we didn’t. We reappropriated it.

Turtle Gut is the name of a former inlet in present-day Wildwood Crest, where the county’s only Revolutionary War battle was fought. Theturtle year was 1776, and the Brits were blocking the Continental Army access to the Delaware Bay. This was a problem for colonial merchant ships trying to deliver much-needed supplies to the oh-so-important port of Philadelphia.

Many tried sneaking past the Red Coats, but to no avail. Often, thwarted captains were forced to retreat to the clandestine marshes of Cape May County, where they might regroup. Finally, a guy named Robert Morris decided he’d had enough. He chartered a brig called Nancy, intent on steering her straight to the City of Brotherly Love. He stocked her with ammunition (and rum because, well, war is hard), and on he went.

This was  a courageous move — Nancy was a relatively tiny ship with only six cannons on board — and it didn’t take long to see just how courageous. On June 28, Nancy was spotted by the HMS Kingfisher, one of the blockade’s leading ships. The captain, who carried 16 cannons on board, began chasing Nancy, and his sister ship HMS Orpheus (32 cannons!) followed for backup.

Nancy’s crew knew they were in trouble, so they called for help via flag signals from three other colonial ships: Lexington, Wasp and Reprisal. Each sent soldiers who, we’re sure, struck fear into the hearts of the British whey they showed up to battle in… rowboats.

In the wee hours of the next (very foggy) morning, Nancy slipped into Turtle Gut and purposefully ran aground. Because her British pursuers were manning much bigger ships, they couldn’t traverse the shallow water of the inlet, so they opened fire from afar. For most of the day, the Americans unloaded cargo, getting it safely to shore with the help of Cape May County locals, and they watched their ship take barrage after barrage.

Finally, the men left a beaten Nancy behind, intent on making it to shore alive themselves. John Barry, the captain of Lexington, ordered the remaining gunpowder be wrapped in Nancy‘s sail and exploded on deck with a long fuse. One especially dedicated man stayed behind to climb the mast and take down the American flag. When enemy ships saw what was happening, they assumed surrender was underway, so they began to climb on board. Unfortunately for them, that’s right about the time this long fuse ran out.

The blockade broke up shortly thereafter, and John Barry went on to be known as “father of the American Navy.” Today, a memorial in Wildwood Crest — and a tasty, sour beer — are what commemorates the battle.

 

 

High Time For Ebb Tide

Last year, we conducted a little brewing experiment.

The ingredients: Water, hops, yeast, malted barley… and a ton of grapefruit peel.

The hypothesis: This could taste great! (Or not great.)

The results: A beer with a whole lot of pithy bitterness.

The conclusion: This needs some tweaking.

But… how to fix it? There are two ways to cut down on the bitterness of a beer. One method is to shandyize, which is what we did when we added lemonade to our too-tart cranberry wheat, resulting in The Bog, a summer favorite. But for fall, we already have a shandy on the menu: our pumpkin pie-flavored brew I Know What You Did Last Shandy.

So we went with option number two: adding  ingredients which aren’t sweet, but which are perceived as sweet. In this case, orange and vanilla. The result was Ebb Tide, a 5% American Wheat Pale Ale that tastes, every so slightly, like a creamsicle.

People loved it.

Too popular not to bring back, this desserty beer is going on tap tomorrow, beginning at noon. Our 10th grade science teachers would be proud.

Overheard At The #YOPO Release

Yesterday was the big day — we tapped #YOPO. Doors opened at noon, and by 12:22, we’d kicked the first keg. By 12:53, we’d kicked the second. People on site — who were lined up and waiting for us to let them in — described the beer as “light and citrusy,” “delicious,” and “HOLY GUACAMOLE, THAT’S GOOD!” Here’s what else we overheard:

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous about the amount of people about to descend upon the brewery; we’ll bust through it! I  just hope they know they’re only allowed to have one each…” –Tasting room associate Courtney Gingrich, far right, Litiz, PA:

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“If you can’t get to Philly to actually see the Pope, having #YOPO is the next best thing.” — Ginny Murray with husband Hugh, North Cape May:

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“The brewery’s next topical release? Well, it’s fall, and Trump’s running for president. How about, instead of a Pumpkin beer, a Trumpkin beer?” –Phil Szczur (right), Cape May County:

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“I first heard about #YOPO by surfing the local internet.” — Renee McComas, Goshen:

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“This isn’t at all sacrilegious. #YOPO honors the Pope’s visit, and shows the diversity of his appeal.” –John Cooke, Cape May, with CMBC blogger Diane Stopyra:

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“If we could ask the Pope one question, it would be: ‘What kind of beer do YOU drink?'” – M., L., A., R., and M., Cape May County:

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“It feels fantastic!” — Donna Wicker, Philadelphia, on being the first in line for a #YOPO growler:

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“I had to wear a Dallas jersey today… they won last night!” — Troy Boone Jr with Amanda Angjelo, Atlantic City:

dallas

“Yep, this beer definitely lives up to its tagline, “unholy amount of hops”… and it’s great! — Jim and Lindsey Zolna, Kim Bare, Patty Cullen:

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Thanks for coming out, guys. Now go in peace.

(Big thanks to Aleksey Moryakov and Exit Zero magazine for snapping these photos.)

Keg Washer: Complete

Remember when we outgrew our original, 12-gallon brewhouse, and we turned it into a keg washer? Well, it didn’t take long for us to outgrow that keg washer. This was a problem, because our kegs aren’t going to clean themselves. Thanks to Chris “Hank” Henke, our Chief Operating Officer/resident engineer, they don’t have to.

He’s been working all summer, in his spare time, on building a new and improved machine, complete with scrap parts and clever eBay purchases.

The process – which Hank says is loosely similar to that of a washing machine — works like this:

  1. Four kegs are mounted on the washer at one time.
  2. Compressed air is pushed through each in order to purge the containers of any lingering beer or yeast.
  3. The kegs are rinsed with hot water.
  4. Compressed air is pushed through each in order to purge this hot water.
  5. A non-caustic, alkaline brewery cleaner is run through all kegs.
  6. Compressed air is pushed through in order to purge this cleaner.
  7. The kegs are rinsed with hot water.
  8. Compressed air is pushed through again in order to purge this hot water.
  9. Sanitizer is pushed through.
  10. The kegs are purged again, but with CO2 – not air – this time.
  11. The kegs are pressurized with CO2. This way, oxygen is kept out of the containers, so that it won’t spoil the next batch of beer.

The fully-automated cycle lasts seven minutes. And in case you’re lucky enough to catch it in action on your next tour of the brewery (or even if you’re not), here’s your key, which will get larger if you click on it:

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Cape May Brew Co Supports Wounded Vets

Erick Foster — who played football for the North Allegheny High School Tigers, enjoyed card games, and graduated with a degree in business from Duquesne University – was killed in 2007 by insurgent fire while serving the US Army as a company commander in Iraq. He was 29 years old.

Purple Heart recipient, Captain Erick Foster.
Purple Heart recipient, Captain Erick Foster.

“Erick was a fun-loving guy,” says Erick’s dear friend and Army buddy Nick Liermann. “No one worked as hard as he did, or was more passionate about being a soldier… But Erick wasn’t afraid to kick back, have a few drinks and a few laughs too. That’s one of the things about Erick that was so inspiring and contagious. He showed everyone around him that you could be intensely devoted to your career and country… and you could also have a good time doing it.”

Last year, Nick and five friends cycled from Philadelphia to Wildwood in honor of Erick. Via an informal campaign, they raised $5,000 for wounded combat veterans. The annual Captain Erick Foster Memorial Ride, or the Foster 100, was born.

Since then, the group has incorporated as a non-profit organization, and grown to be 26 riders strong. This Saturday, they’ll cover another 100 miles, this time from Philadelphia to our tasting room.

“Cape May Brewing Company is a phenomenal local organization, invested in giving back,” Nick says. “Plus, they have great beer, so it seemed appropriate.”

So far this year, the team has raised nearly $15,000 for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides financial support to wounded veterans, and to the families of injured or fallen military personnel. You can learn more — or make a contribution — by visiting fostermemorialride.com, or the official Captain Erick Foster Memorial Ride on Facebook.

Then, raise your next pint to the men and women who serve.

 

 

5 Things To Know About Oktoberfest Beer

1. Ours goes back on tap this Friday. Cape May Brew Co’s first lager, this 5.4% brew has a deep body, a dark copper color, a malty sweetness and some mild bitterness.

2. But it’s not *technically* an Oktoberfestbier. Kind of like true Champagne — which only comes from the Champagne region of France — true Oktoberfestbier is only brewed within the city of Munich. All anyone else can do is mimic the traditional style: toasty, rich, dark, medium to high alcohol content, clean finish.

3. The style can also be referred to as Marzan, meaning “March,” or the month in which this type of beer was originally brewed 500 years ago in Bavaria. Because beers made in late winter tasted better to Bavarians than beers made in the summer (cold weather killed off beer-spoiling microbes), the Oktoberfest was made in March and meant to last through summer. It was kept on ice in mountain caves and by October, ironically, medieval peeps were usually finishing off the last of it. Nineteenth-century advancements in brewing (hello, refrigeration) meant that March beers could now be made any time of year (hello, fall).

4. Annually, more than 6 million people attend the 16-day Oktoberfest beer festival held in Munich, a tradition since 1810, making this the largest beer festival in the world. Event goers drank 7.7 million liters of Oktoberfest beer at last year’s event alone (although only 6.5 million liters were reported, creating quite the scandal). Fun fact: it takes the festival’s most skilled bartenders only 1.5 seconds to fill up a stein.

5. The city of Cape May will hold its own Oktoberfest beer festival from 10am to 5pm on October 3, and we’ll be pouring. In the meantime, you may want to bone up on your German:

 

Pumpkin Opinions

As of yesterday, our I Know What You Did Last Shandy beer is on tap in the tasting room. The 5% brew is last year’s Pumpkin, Pumpkin Shandy reincarnated. And while it doesn’t have any actual pumpkin in it — because the gourd itself is pretty flavorless — it has the taste of pumpkin pie thanks to cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar.

Ah, pumpkin. The most divisive flavoring of the craft beer world.

In one corner, we’ve got liquid pumpkin haters, who see the style as silly and superficial. We’re talking about folks like Orr Stuhul, who wrote in an article for the Washington City Paper:

“This is the one time of year when ordinary, appreciative beer drinkers devolve into squealing Starbucks fanatics, leaping at the opportunity to try the latest approximation of some misguided confectionery fantasy. How did cinnamon and nutmeg become such an invasive species of flavor? You’ve already taken our cakes, our lattes, our sweet potatoes. For God’s sake! Spare us our beer!”

In the other corner, we’ve got the pro-pumpkin peeps. They see nothing wrong with tapping into the spices of the season, as long as it’s done right. We’re talking about folks like Don Russell, who wrote in a recent Philly.com article:

“People who say they hate pumpkin beer remind me of people who say they never watch TV, as if they’re too good for something so unsophisticated. They stick up their noses and piss all over the spicy brew because it’s a gimmick, because it’s crass, because they’re oh-so-busy rereading War and Peace.”

Regardless of which you are  —  vehement derider of all things liquid pumpkin, or fanatical pumpkin brew groupie — you cannot deny the numbers. According to  Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, the release of pumpkin beers in 2013 meant that seasonal beer sales overtook IPA sales — always the front-runner — by 300,000 cases. We have no reason to believe the same won’t be true for 2015.

Until next time, happy fall.

Credit: rozis.com.
Credit: rozis.com.

 

 

Million-Dollar Mustache

Congrats to CMBC sales rep Justin Vitti — a graduate of the Coney Island Sideshow School — for his win last weekend at the 8th Annual Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition. Approximately 300 people attended the event, and about half of those competed. Justin did Cape May Brew Co proud by besting them all — in a mustache-patterned suit, no less — for the honor of mustache “most magical.”

As for what makes it so?

“Just me… the whole persona that is Justin,” Justin says.

But don’t be fooled – this facial hair is just as much about business as it is fun.

“It gives me an advantage when selling beer… the clients don’t forget who I am.”

justin

Beer Art

We love crabs and we love beer, which is why we really love the photos taken by local photographer/optician Christine Peck . She used a couple of brews from our tasting room and live crabs from Bud’s Bait and Tackle in the Villas (located just 3.3 miles from CMBC) to capture the images.

“I had a blast,” the artist told us. “Especially because, after I shot the photos, we ate the crabs and drank the beer!”

Christine first showed the pieces last month at Cape May’s Craft Beer and Crab Festival, where we were pouring. She’ll also be showing them at the Harbor Brew Fest happening this coming Saturday at the Emlen Physick Estate, where we’ll also be pouring. Or you can check out these and other great pieces by Christine at the Cape May Artists’ Cooperative Gallery on Sunset Boulevard, where  they’ll be exhibited until at least the end of the year, as well as on the photog’s website, urphotoshots.com.

Better hurry, we hear they’re selling like hotcakes. Or really good beer…

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