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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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Making Laws and Taking Names

Trying to get a bill signed into law is like trying to conceive a baby. There are many, ahem, swimmers in the running, but most do not stand a chance.

Take the 2012 law that allowed for tasting rooms at Jersey breweries. It was a huge deal for the industry, and a major factor in our expansion from one employee to 37. But according to Eric Orlando, VP of the Kaufman Zita Group which handles lobbying for the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, the original bill had only a 4.6 percent chance of surviving the legislative process and getting an a-okay from Governor Christie.

“There are so many ways a piece of legislation can short-circuit,” Eric says. “And because the alcohol industry is so highly regulated, there’s an added layer of complication when dealing with beer-related bills.”

For many of us, knowledge about the legislative process comes largely from watching House of Cards. And while “there are definitely elements of that show that are true,” Eric says, Netflix fails at providing us with a clear idea of logistics. We’re talking about the step-by-steps of the law-making process we first heard about via Schoolhouse Rock.

Given the three bills sponsored by Senators Kean and Barnes and Assemblymen Coughlin and O’Scanion —  the ones that would allow, respectively, for the sale of food at Jersey’s tasting rooms, the sale of beer at farmers’ markets, and the ability of brewpubs to self-distribute their product — we thought we’d put together a flowchart that explains the timeline. Keep in mind, the meat of the process detailed below can take anywhere from one week to several years.

Presenting: how a bill becomes a law in New Jersey, because it’s not as simple as you think…

(Our nifty chart will get bigger if you click on it.)

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News From The Guild

America’s best-known beer writer, Don Russell, will become first Executive Director of the Garden State Craft Brewers GuildGarden State Brewers Guild Logo this month.

Just in case you need a refresher: the not-for-profit association that advocates on behalf of Jersey’s artisanal beer makers started out in 1996 as a small collection of passionate volunteers. “There was a time,” says leader/CMBC President Ryan Krill, “when the entire group could fit around a single restaurant booth.” But as the industry has boomed – it now pumps $776.9 million into the local economy annually — the Guild has expanded, too.

“Our board has always done an excellent job of steering the ship,” Ryan says. “But they’re also busy running their own breweries. With a membership that’s more than tripled in the last couple of years, it’s become clear: we need a captain. Don will help bring Jersey craft beer to the next level through advocacy and education, and we’re thrilled to have him on board.”

sixpack-mugshotRussell brings with him 40 years of experience as an award-winning newspaper reporter, including 20 years as Joe Sixpack, beer columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. He’s the founder and creator of Philly Beer Week, America’s first city-wide beer festival, and the author of three books, including Joe Sixpack’s Philly Beer Guide: A Reporter’s Notes on the Best Beer-Drinking City in America; Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest Most Unusual Beers of Christmas; and What the Hell am I Drinking? He’s also worked as a traveling ambassador on behalf of the US Department of State, and as a brewery tour guide throughout Europe and America.

But, Don says, he couldn’t be happier about landing this position in Jersey.

“The state’s been the punchline of many jokes,” he says. “But Jersey Fresh is one of the great slogans. The concept has become institutionalized, and it applies to the beer. That reputation is a source of pride for the craft drinkers here. We’re at the beginning of an explosive growth, and I love being on the cusp of that surge.”

Don says his goals include bolstering the Guild’s presence not just amongst brewers but within the beer-drinking community, spreading the good word about the positive effects of craft beer on the state’s economy and tourism industry, and growing a brand that’s separate from the influence of Philadelphia and New York.

But first thing’s first.

“My initial order of business,” he says, “is to crack open a Jersey beer.”

 

Talking ‘Bout Brett

Brettanomyces. It’s the biggest and baddest of the wild yeast strains.

Way back when, all beers were a little bit sour, meaning they were fermented with whatever wild yeast strain happened to be floating by atbrettanomyces the time — totally unbeknownst to early brewers. But then, circa 1857, humans got a little more science savvy. We learned what yeast is (a microscopic fungus comprised of more than 500 species) and what role it plays in the brewing process (converting sugar to ethanol and CO2).

Let’s just say you can blame it on the yeast the next time you send your ex a string of texts at 3am.

Of course, once we learned what yeast is, we wanted to harness its power, and that’s exactly what we did. We domesticated certain strains, and reveled in the consistency of brews made with these mild-mannered types. We shunned the funkier, sometimes acidic flavors lent by hard-to-control strains like Brett – which can easily contaminate other batches in a production facility — and went on our merry way.

Fast forward to today and… hello, renaissance.

Sour beers and, ipso facto, wild yeast strains are having a bit of a moment, with experimental brewers drawing inspiration from the beers of yore. Brett, largely considered the most untamable of the wild yeast gang, has stolen the spotlight. When it mingles with acid-producing bacteria, it can yield a final product reminiscent of sour cherries and balsamic vinegar.

According to late beer author Michael Jackson, Brett is similar to a cat. “It’s going to do its own thing; it’s not going to come when you call it and sit when you say ‘sit.’ If you can respect its individuality and suggest rather than dictate what it does in your fermentation, it can reward the brewer and the drinker.”

This week, we’ve been brewing up a batch of our Turtle Gut, made with Bretannomyces. We’ll keep you posted on when it’s ready for sipping.

Keeping Up With The #YOPO Craze

Our #YOPO (You Only Pope Once) release, meant to commemorate Pope Francis’ visit to Philly this month, is still garnering attention from major media outlets. The latest to shoot at the brewery in recent weeks? Fox and Friends morning show.

Anchor Anna Kooiman and her crew arrived to the tasting room at 8:03am, before sampling the beer of the hour and calling it “delicious.” Then, Ryan led them to our main production facility, where Anna was a good enough sport to wear safety goggles before adding some hops to our kettle. 

“It was fast and furious and we had a lot of fun,” says CMBC’s Marketing Guru Alicia Grasso. “Anna was so enthusiastic and her crew were a pleasure to work with.”

The segment should air — tentatively — on September 14 between 6 and 9am, or on the weekend before (we’ll keep you posted as we learn more).

In the meantime, here are some #TBT pics for you…

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ryan and anna

 

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Brews By The Bay… In Review!

What a picture-perfect day for a beer fest last Saturday was. And so many of you got the memo. The food vendors said they went through three times as much product as they did at last year’s event, and the volunteers said everyone left in an awesome mood. Toward the end, on the Delaware side of this bi-state fete, a fellow brewery owner mentioned to CMBC President Ryan Krill that some of the guys from Jersey seemed “pretty tuned up” due to their impromptu dancing. Hey, nothing wrong with letting loose after working hard to put on a great event. Thanks to Exit Zero magazine’s Aleksey Moryakov for capturing the day in photos.

Here’s the CMBC staff, along with a trusty team of BBB volunteers…

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And a happy group of craft beer fans…

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That’s a game of cornhole in the background, alright…

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No beer fest is complete without pretzel necklaces, of course…

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Brews by the Bay is BYOF (Bring your own football)…

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And BYOD (Bring your own dog) too…

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But Brews by the Bay is definitely NOT Bring Your Own Beer…

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Gotta love that blue sky…

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And all those candid photo ops…

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Of course, good music from Southern Cut doesn’t hurt, either…

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We’re already looking forward to next year.

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Safety First

Remember Breaking Bad? Specifically how Walter White and Jesse Pinkman always looked while working in Gus Fring’s “industrial bblaundry facility,” AKA the methamphetamine distribution warehouse? Let’s just say our team can rock the Hazmat chic look, too.

It’s all part of CMBC’s new safety program, spearheaded by Brewer Jake Smith, who spent four years on the safety committee of a high-volume bottling plant contracted by Starbucks.

“Now that we’ve moved into our larger facility, it kind of puts us in a different realm,” he says. “We’re using bigger tanks and heavier-duty chemicals, and we need everyone to be on the same page in order to create the safest environment possible.”

Part of Jake’s task is to compile the MSDS, or material data safety sheets, to explain all of the chemicals inside the production facility – like the acids, alkalines and sanitizers used for tank cleaning — and the proper protocol for handling them. Enter shoulder-length rubber gloves ȧ la Heisenberg.

Jake!
Jake!

We know what you’re thinking. Craft brewers are the, ahem, mavericks of the beer world. And mavericks are far too busy being badass and unconventional to think about safety. Only problem? It’s pretty hard to be badass when you’ve been run over by a forklift, which brings us to another chapter of the program: forklift safety.

“When the brewery started out, it was mainly just Ryan and Chris operating these machines,” Jake says. “But now, we’ve got 10 to 15 people hopping on forklifts. We need to make sure they’re all driving the same way and looking out for the same things.”

These considerations are only the tip of the iceberg, Jake adds. The program will be years in development – covering everything from the proper way to lift heavy barrels, to correct walking patterns for office personnel. The first safety-specific staff meeting was held last Friday, and follow-up meetings will happen at least once a month moving forward.

So far, the biggest injury we’ve had to cope with is a paper cut, but we won’t rest until we’re scoring off the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) charts. We may be Brewing Bad (badum ching!), but we’re always brewing safe.

CMBC On The Move

For this week’s installment of brewery swag in cool places, we’ve got Peter Donohue, who took to the top of the Grand Canyon’s southern rim in one of our hoodies.  The takeaway: ‘Tis better to sport a brewery’s merchandise than to drink its product when standing on a ledge overlooking a hole in the ground ONE MILE deep. Just sayin’.

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Sour Up

Corrosion — the American Wild Ale that launched our sour program — is back on tap this week. It’s got some bitterness (thanks to Citra and Centennial hops), an orange and grapefruit nose, a creamy mouthfeel, and a level of carbonation that tingles the tongue. Not to mention the session-like drinkability that led Untapped user ‘Ant C’ to dub the 5% brew a “pretty sexual sour.”

Sure, sour beers — made with hard-to-control bacterial strains — freak some people out at first. Serious Eats writer David Flaherty said last sour
year that, after his initial sip, he  “half expected Ashton Kutcher to jump out, tackle me like a rag doll, and shout, ‘You’ve been Punk’d, punk!'” The signature tartness can catch the uninitiated off guard.

But it’s also this unexpected, zingy flavor that can keep a craft drinker coming back for more. Even Flaherty says he caught the sour bug. (See what we did there?)

Consider this: An article this month from Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association, attempts to answer the question: What’s the next IPA? As in, What’s the next style that will take the beer world by storm? While it’s unlikely any style will have such an impact ever again, Watson argues, a category with potential to drive volume growth in a similar fashion is, you guessed it, sours.

“The market is clearly growing as… American beer lovers become more adventurous,” Watson says.

Good on you for trying something new (and tasty) in the tasting room, open every day from noon to 8pm.

 

Why I Ride: Brandy Dianno

We’re getting stoked for City to Shore, the mammoth biking fundraiser sponsored by the National MS Society. Until the October event, we’ll be profiling members of the Cape May Brew Co cycling team to find out what inspires them. Hopefully, this will encourage others to join their ranks. (Hint, hint.)

Brandy (on the left) with her sister Nicle Dianno before last year's ride.
Brandy (on the left) with her sister Nicle Dianno before last year’s ride.

Name: Brandy Dianno

Age: 23

Hometown:  Northeast Philadelphia

Occupation: Full-time student

Number of years on the Cape May Brew Co team: This will be my 2nd.

Why I ride: I was turned on to the MS Bike Race through my sister and her boyfriend who are also on the team. I enjoy participating in athletic events, especially if it supports a good cause, so I gave it a try last year and loved it. My sister and I did the race side by side and it was awesome! I also loved the atmosphere and the enormous support surrounding those with MS and the cyclists. Last year I rode to see if I could do it. This year, I ride to support those who can’t. I ride as a member of a great team. I ride to not only challenge myself, but to challenge others to care more about contributing to a cause wholeheartedly, even if that disease does not directly affect them.

Why I ride on the CMBC team: I was invited to join this team through my sister’s boyfriend, Kyle, who has been a member for years. The CMBC team was amazing… they were all extremely welcoming, supportive and dedicated to the ride and to the cause. Although my sister and I were new last year, they made us feel like we’d been a part of the team forever. CMBC is very devoted to raising as much as they can to support the MS Society. We get emails from team leaders to help motivate us to keep raising money and to stay in shape for the race! CMBC really cares about what they are doing here and I couldn’t ask to be on a better team.

What my go-to CMBC brew after a long training ride is: Mop water, but I’m excited to try #YOPO!

What my training looks like: I train for Spartan Races as well as the MS City to Shore so I do a bit of cross training. I try to get in as many bike rides as I can, especially because I got a new bike I need to get used to it (I rode a mountain bike last year, ouch). But mostly I lift three times a week and try to fill the rest of the week in with cardio/ bike rides. My sister and I also try to organize a bike ride every Sunday morning but we have not had success due to our busy, opposite schedules. Ugh.

Fundraising Goal: I would like to say it would be more then $300 to help support the cause but being a poor college student with fellow poor college students as a majority of my friends it makes it difficult to even reach $300. In years to come I hope to try and raise $1000 each year.

What I’ll feel like at the finish: Well…last year I made the mistake of riding my dad’s 20 year old mountain bike because I didn’t have one of my own. I could barely move after the race. This year I hope to feel exhausted yet feel my legs after the race. However, mentally I hope to feel the same as last year which was grateful that I could do it and grateful to be supporting those with MS, and ready to sign right back up for next year!

What I need people to know: You don’t need to have a direct connection to somebody with MS to contribute and ride for the cause. Every little bit helps and it is definitely worth your time and effort. Also, NEVER DO THIS RACE ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE.

City to Shore will take place on October 3 and 4. To join the team or make a contribution, visit the Cape May Brewing Co page at nationalmssociety.org.

Top 40 In The House

Holla! Our president and co-founder, Ryan Krill, has been named a winner in the 2015 NJBIZ Forty Under 40 awards program.

Produced by New Jersey’s premier business news publication, the program honors men and women under the age of 40 who have been making headlines in their field and who “share a commitment to business growth, professional excellence and the community.”

An independent panel of judges scored each nominee on a specific set of criteria, including accomplishments in the field, leadership, vision, and community service.

See the the cool company Ryan is keeping here.

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