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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company

Cape May Brewery Sponsors Escape The Cape

On this island, it’s hard to throw a Cape May Brew Co frisbee without hitting a person exercising. There are runners on the promenade. Surfers on the beach. Even a retro rollerblader or two weaving throughout the historic district.

And to cater to all of the athletes, there are races. Boy, are there races. We’ve got ETC - logo -01 turkey trots, glow runs, nun runs, a Run to the Taproom 5K, even the Ocean Drive Marathon which kicks off here every spring.

But there’s nothing quite like this Sunday’s award-winning Escape the Cape. Not in Cape May,
not anywhere. It’s why we’re so proud to be among the sponsors.

Now in its third year, the event — comprised of a sprint triathlon (.35-mile swim, 12.5-mile bike, 5k run) as well as an international triathlon (1-mile swim, 25-mile bike, 5-mile run) — requires participants to jump 12-feet from the deck of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into the Delaware Bay for the first leg of competition. At 8am on June 14, a record 1,700 athletes will take the plunge. Some of them will require the coaxing of a certified sports psychologist.

“Regular doctors talk you off of the ledge,” says event organizer Steve Del Monte of DelMo Sports. “He’ll have you leaping from it.”

Image courtesy of slowtwitch.com.
Image courtesy of slowtwitch.com.

Don’t worry – no one’s been injured in the race’s history. Save for our President Ryan Krill, who was set to participate in last year’s event until, just prior to the race, he nearly sliced off his thumb while installing a projector in the CMBC tasting room. You think jumping from a ferry is tough? Try balancing over a bar while cutting zip ties from a conduit.

Anywho, immediately following the competition will be an after-party at the ferry featuring barbeque, lawn games, and a special Pale Ale brew from yours truly called, appropriately, Escape the Cape.

“Cape May Brewery is a great partner,” Steve says. “The beer for this event – kind of like jumping from a ferry – is something you can’t get anywhere else.  CMBC aspires to expose its brand to as many people as possible without losing touch with what makes them special, and DelMo Sports has the same goal. We may be in very different fields, but that’s where we connect; that’s at the center of it all.”

As for the beer itself?

“The primary purpose was to make something refreshing for after a tough workout,” says Lead Brewer Brian. “At the same time, we made sure it has an edge because, I mean, these people are jumping off of a ferry. They’re pretty badass.”

So there you have it: a badass race and some badass beer… not a poor way to spend a Sunday. Of course, if you can’t get to the ferry for the big event, we’ll be tapping Escape the Cape in the tasting room on Friday, and pouring until we run out.

Best of luck to all participants!

Image courtesy of delmosports.com.
Image courtesy of delmosports.com.

Political Update

They say that political discussions have no place at the dinner table.

Welp, we hope you’re not eating dinner, because this week’s been a doozy.

Garden State Brewers Guild LogoOn Monday, there was a meeting of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, and on the agenda was a discussion of current beer-related legislation, including Bill S2910, which would allow breweries like to CMBC to sell beer at farmers markets and, ultimately, “grow the state’s agriculture and tourism economies,” according to Senator Tom Kean. Another current bill, S2911, would allow customers to bring their own food to tasting rooms.

“Only in New Jersey do you need a law permitting something that’s already allowed,” says CMBC/Guild President Ryan Krill, referring to the fact that bringing food into a tasting room isn’t technically prohibited under current legislation. “The laws are just murky.”

So, for several months, Ryan and other members of the Guild’s board have been meeting with legislators across the state in order to open a dialogue that will, hopefully, lead to some clarification.

“The lawmakers have been receptive,” he says. “They know bills like this will create jobs, and we have the stories and people to back that up. Beer is a bipartisan issue.”

Then, later in the week, Ryan met with New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi in order to talk economic sustainability and share some pretty swell statistics about how small brewers contribute. For instance: More than four million pounds of spent grain from Jersey breweries are recycled annually, and used by state farmers for high-quality animal feed.

Finally, Ryan left for the annual “Hill Climb” happening now in Washington DC. Here, over 200 industry leaders will fight the good fight for the Small BREW Act, legislation that would lower the federal excise tax for America’s small brewers, allowing for greater job creation and “reinvigoration of local economies.”

We’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out. In the meantime, back to your regularly scheduled dinner conversation.

Ryan meets with some of Jersey's movers and shakers, including Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi.
Ryan meets with some of Jersey’s movers and shakers, including Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi.

Keg Party

We’ll keg 105 barrels of beer this week. For perspective, we only kegged 60 our entire first year in business. Suffice it to say, things are

A sea of kegs
A sea of kegs. Photo by Carl Hudson

moving fastly and furiously at CMBC.

So it makes sense that our keg orders are massive. Take the last one — at the end of May, we received 246 sixtels and 648 halves. That’s a ton of tuns.

It took six of our guys to unload these bad boys from the delivery truck — Ryan, Hank, Bill, Richie, Carl and Matt. It also took some thick skin, literally — some of the kegs hadn’t been deburred yet, meaning they were full of metal splinters.

But after three hours, we’d rolled the cargo into place, and now they’re primed for sanitation. Our keg washer — which was converted from our original, 12-gallon brewhouse — can handle two, 40-pound halves at once and runs approximately eight minutes per cycle. Since we need to get through 210 kegs this week, we’re looking at 105 cycles and enough time to watch 28 episodes of The Wonder Years.

So, what, exactly goes on in the keg washer? First, the containers are purged of their pressure, washed with an acid solution, rinsed, the-wonder-yearssanitized, purged of air, and refilled with pressure. For new kegs, this removes any metal dust that may have been leftover from the manufacturing process. For used kegs, this removes any aggressive yeast strains that might be hanging on from an old batch of beer, just waiting to chew away at any less aggressive yeast strain when a new beer is poured inside.

So no, it’s not *quite* the keg party of your college years that we’re having at CMBC, but we’re pretty geeked up about it.

Photo by Hot Carl Hudson.
Photo by Carl Hudson.


Book Signing At Our Place

Historian Dr Robert Heinly is conducting a book signing at Cape May Brew Co this weekend. But before we get into that, a history lesson:

Cape May has a reputation for quaint Victorian charm and that’s because, as America’s first seaside resort, this is where so many wealthy city-dwellers came to vacation in the early 1800s. Here, genteel ladies strolled the promenade in flannel bathing costumes while men challenged one another to civilized games of croquet.

Robert Heinly
Robert Heinly

But Exit 0 hasn’t always been a civilized place.

By the 1960s, town had fallen into complete disrepair. Time had taken a toll on the architecture, and affluent tourists abandoned the resort for more modern amenities in Wildwood. (This was before Wildwood sold tee-shirts emblazoned with poop emojis and tattooed Disney princesses.)

A less-than-genteel debate waged in Cape May. In one camp were preservationists who sought to restore the Victorian buildings that had once been a calling card. In the other camp was a wrecking ball-happy crowd. Picture name calling, incredulity, doily throwing!

Enter the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC), established by a small group of activists with the goal of saving one property in particular – the beautiful Emlen Physick Estate. Built in 1878, this was the home of Dr Emlem Physick, a medical student turned real estate investor and gentleman farmer. The group was successful in its campaign, and their victory marked a turning point: the beginning of Cape May’s Victorian renaissance.

Like beer (shameless self-plug alert), victoriana draws tourists to Cape Island.

Today, The Emlen Physick Estate operates as Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, and Dr Robert Heinly works for MAC as a living history interpreter, playing the estate’s namesake on tours of the space.

Now, Robert has written a book called Victorian Cape May, and he’ll be signing copies of it this Saturday between noon and 3pm in our tasting room.

What does any of this have to do with beer?

We talked to Robert to find out…

  1. First of all… what did the Victorians think of beer? It was very much a dilemma for them. Certainly the ability to savor fine food and drink was the mark of a genteel person of the ‘better sort,’ and therefore they would imbibe. But beer also had its downside because it tended to be the drink of German immigrants who were not people of the ‘better sort’ in the Victorian view and couldn’t be trusted to keep their baser emotions in check while drinking.
  2. What can we expect from your book? The first section goes over Victorian culture in general and as it relates to Cape May — what the Victorians believed in and why. The second part is selected highlights from Cape May history – major fires, automobile races on the beach, elephants…
  3. Elephants? In the 1800s, Cape May erected an enormous elephant on its beach, like Lucy the Elephant in Atlantic City. It was
    Get your copy this Saturday... noon-3pm in the tasting room.
    Get your copy this Saturday… noon-3pm in the tasting room.

    designed as a tourist attraction, which begs the question: why?

  4. So…. why? In England in 1876, one of Queen Victoria’s prime ministers thought: You know, those annoying colonials across the ocean are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their unfortunate idea to become independent. We’re going to show them how to really celebrate. They wanted to upstage America’s party, so they hosted a grand celebration, the keystone of which was making Queen Victoria Empress of India, for some reason. So, around the world, anything east Indian became very popular – furniture, servants from India, servants dressed to look like they were from India. Hence the elephant in Cape May.
  5. That’sbizarre. Yes, but we always tended to imitate the English. For example, no one started ocean bating until King George the III of England did. Up until that point, the only sane person swimming was someone whose ship had just sunk! But once George did it, all the beautiful people on both sides of the Atlantic started madly plunging in. In many ways, that’s how Cape May started as a resort.
  6. And the rest of the book? That deals with the architecture of Cape May, inside and out. Indoor plumbing, for instance. It had just come into vogue, but you couldn’t say the word ‘toilet’ in polite society. Rather, people would say, “I see you have the latest in waste disposal technology.” Then, my last chapter morphs into my relationship with Dr Physick’s family. I interview them, telepathically, to ask what they think of modern Cape May.
  7. Why is this signing happening at the brewery? I was sitting in the tasting room enjoying one of the brews one day when I noticed that roughly a third are named for local places I discuss in the book.
  8. Let’s discuss one. That’s easy, because it’s my favorite beer and my favorite place: Tower 23. That’s the fire control tower on Sunset Beach.  You know, it was part of the defense of the Delaware Bay during World War II. From here, men would spot enemy submarines or a submarine attack. Then they’d relay target information to gun batteries.
  9. So what would Dr Physick think of Cape May having a brewery? He was a huge booster of new and invigorating ideas for this area, and certainly the brewery is a new and invigorating landmark here, so I’m sure he would approve of it. In fact, the next time I’m in telepathic communication with him, which I call T-mail, I’ll ask. Of course, I’m saying that tongue-in-cheek.

 Victorian Cape May is available online at historypress.net or amazon.com, and locally at The Emlyn Physick Estate, Whales Tale, Cape Atlantic Books, Celebrate Cape May, Swain’s Hardware, Sunset Beach and, of course, CMBC this weekend.

On A TV Near You…

whats on tapOur President, Ryan Krill, made his television debut last week, appearing on What’s On Tap, the simulcast program hosted by beer expert Gary Monterosso.

Over a glass of our Tower 23, Ryan fielded questions about his role as President of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, why the advocacy group is so important, what’s exciting about craft beer right now, and what the pace of Cape May Brew Co is really like:

“It’s just been four constant years of seeming chaos,” he said. “We recently hired a marketing girl, Alicia, and someone asked her what it’s like to work at a brewery; they think it must be so chill, everyone sipping beer all day, and no, it’ not… it’s constant chaos. We write plans every year and look at budgets, but you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. We try to look in our crystal ball but we have no idea what’s going to happen next. When we started, we had no idea that we’d end up here.”

To watch the full show, click here… or skip to the 10-minute mark for Ryan’s segment.

The Nine Things Required To Move A CMBC Fermenter

Yesterday, the fifth and final tank was moved from Cape May Brew Co’s original location to our new space at Cape May Airport. Here’s what it took:

Photo credit: Carl Hudson
Photo credit: Carl Hudson

1. Ingenuity

Because there’s no guide book, you need some resourcefulness to rig a 13 foot, 3,000-pound tank so that it can be transported safely the quarter mile distance between our buildings.”We just figured it out,” says CMBC President Ryan Krill. “That’s sort of our motto here, whether we’re plumbing, doing electric work or, in this case, rigging. It’s trial and error.”

2. Forklifts

Two of them: Big Red and Big Yellow. Ryan uses one to pick up the tank from its eyehooks on top with the help of a boom borrowed from travelEckel’s Diesel Service, while co-owner Chris “Hank” Henke uses the other to lift from the bottom. The guys work together until the fermenter hangs suspended like a hammock between them, just a few inches from the ground, with the help of some ratchet straps. “It’s a little like dancing,” says Ryan. “One person has to take the lead and the other follows.”

3. Trust

“I still have all ten fingers,” reminds Facility Technician Carl Hudson, as he works under the suspended tank readying it for transport . “I’d like to keep it that way.”

4. Balls

And we mean brass ones, considering the fermenter costs $25,000. “Moving a tank is a lot like flying,” says Ryan. “Not a lot of room for error, and if something goes wrong, you don’t have a lot of notice.” Adds Chris: “Put a hole in this tank, and we’ve got ourselves a giant new lawn ornament.”

5. Excellent Driving Skills

Ryan may have to navigate backwards, but no worries here, he passed his driver’s test on the first go-round. “At the time, I had one of the
new VW Beetles that had just come out and I think the instructor was more interested in my car than my driving,” he says.

Photo credit: Carl Hudson
Photo credit: Carl Hudson

6. Breathable Clothing

“You’re always sweating bullets,” says Ryan. “But we haven’t dropped one yet.”

7. Precision

The forklifts are so powerful, the guys say, if you so much as “love tap” something en route, you’re going to crush it. This may or may not have happened once to the back of the CMBC minivan, which may or may not have a giant, forklift-shaped dent in the back door.

8. A Sense of Humor

“Is this fermenter street legal?” asks Chris.

9. Thick Skin

Moving the last tank is just a little bittersweet. “I am sad to be moving out,” Ryan says. “We really broke our backs building the original brewery. At the same time, it’s exciting to be expanding because it wasn’t that long ago I was working in finance, and I wanted to be here but I didn’t have the balls to make it happen. Finally, I said ‘fuck it’ and pulled the trigger. When I think about that… moving tanks is the highlight of my day.”


Glassware Half Full

Who cares about your glass, as long as the beer inside is tasty and cold, amiright?


Glassware plays a major role in the craft beer-drinking experience. And not just because you look more age appropriate sipping from something that can be run through a dishwasher versus something you’d buy in a pack of 20 for a keg party at the frat.

According to researchers at The University of Bristol, the shape of your glass affects the speed at which you sip. In fact, “Drinking time is slowed by almost 60% when an alcoholic beverage is presented in a straight glass compared with a curved glass,” the findings show.

Shape also affects how much you drink. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, short, fat containers lead to overpouring.

But, perhaps most importantly, the shape of a glass ultimately affects the enjoyment of a beer – even more so, scientists are now suggesting, than it affects the enjoyment of a wine.

In an interview with Gizmodo, representatives from the UK’s Institute of Physics said it all comes down to head. Certain glasses allow for more, some for less. And since it’s head that traps and/or accentuates certain volatiles (fruity esters and spices), this is a big deal…  not just when it comes to taste, but also smell. The scientists explain it thusly:

“Bubbles are important for releasing the beers’ aromas. When bubbles in the head burst, they spray a miniscule amount of liquid into the air, reaching your nose and tickling your sense of smell with delightful bouquets. To accentuate this, glasses with a tapered head concentrate the aroma and force the drinker’s nose closer to the beer.”

And this doesn’t begin to touch on the thickness of a glass – if too dense, a beer’s temperature can be affected, causing a brew to go prematurely flat.

All of this helps explain why we’ve invested in some sexy new glassware, and why we don’t mind that it’s currently taking up a massive space in our new brewery. See here:


But in case you aren’t familiar with the four headliners of the CMBC glassware department, a breakdown is below. Read it and then, no matter what you’re drinking from, cheers!

American Pint Glass, aka Shaker Pint: Easy to clean, store and drink from, it’s the most common beer glass in the US. Good for stouts, IPAs, lagers and ales.


IPA Glass: Ours is made by premier manufacturer Rastal, and its tulip shape is designed to up your froth a notch.


Belgian Glass: They’re bulbous, and great for complex beers with a heavy head. The wide opening helps in analyzing a flavor profile.


Barrel Glass: This post-Prohibition style includes grooves made for easy holding.



Lights, Camera, Action!

Our president Ryan Krill is set to appear on “What’s on Tap,” a simulcast program featuring national and local beer industry peeps that’s hosted by Gary Monterosso —  author of the acclaimed book Artisan Beers, featured History Channel and BBC radio guest, and one of the nation’s top 100 beverage personalities, according to Chilled magazine.

Have your day planner ready? The segment will air:

*On the radio! (WSNJ 1240; May 30, 1pm)

*Online! (snjtoday.com via iTunes and Android, with all shows archived at snjtoday.com/whats-on-tap; May 30, 1pm)

*On TV! (Comcast channel 20 in Cumberland County; May 30, 1pm/May 31, 8pm/June 2, 8pm)

“We were honored to have Ryan appear on our show,” Monterosso told us. “We sampled some of the fine offerings originating from a brewery I consider to be a remarkable success story. Although much of our time was spent in discussing the growth of the brewery, we also posed questions relating to Ryan’s role as president of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild. We fully expect to do a future episode of ‘What’s On Tap’ from the brewery, probably this summer.”

The set! "I wore all green," Ryan says.
The set! “I wore all green,” Ryan says.


Fill In The Blank With Lead Brewer Brian Hink

Head brewer Brian recently had his two-year anniversary at CMBC — so happy anni, Brian. Instead of giving him flowers and chocolate, we grilled him with questions. Presenting: the man behind the beer:

THE LAST TIME I LAUGHED UNTIL I CRIED WAS… I don’t remember! My fiance says my laugh is robotic, so she’d probably say never.

THE BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER GOTTEN WAS… My mom always said it’s easier to do something and deal with the consequences, rather then ask for permission and be denied. Which is interesting advice coming from a mother.

THE THING I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IT IS… Hmmm, in no particular order, my beard, beer, pizza, my fiance, and my cats.


THE BAND I’M EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT I LIKE IS…  I’m not really embarrassed by any of the bands I like. There’s definitely some guilty pleasures, like KP, or Bruno, or just about any good funk song with a strong groove to it that’ll make you boogie, and Supertramp is downright awesome but a little corny, but I’m pretty cool with em all.

THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT ME IS… I went to college intending to become a math teacher. And then I graduated with a degree in photography. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. Also, I like animals a whole lot more than people.

THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON I EVER MET WAS… Fame doesn’t really mean anything to me, so as I sit here and try to think about famous people I can only think of New Belgium’s Peter Bouckaert, or Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo, or any of the great sour beer producers of our time, and then I realize they’re not famous and that I’d rather meet them then any actual famous person, and then I realize I’m just avoiding the question and this has gone on far too long already.

THE NUMBER OF TIMES I’VE DRIVEN CROSS-COUNTRY IS… Two! And both couldn’t have been more more different yet equally enjoyable.


THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT CMBC IS… Just how well-received we are by the community! A couple of years ago you’d be hard pressed to find one good craft beer on tap, let alone full on beer bars, in this area of South Jersey, but the evolution of the local’s pallet has been fascinating.

MY FAVORITE CMBC BEER IS… It changes weekly. Usually whatever is newest to come out.

THE THING I’M MOST AFRAID OF IS… becoming gluten intolerant. If I couldn’t eat pizza and drink beer, I would hardy see a reason to exist.

MY FAVORITE NON-CMBC BEER IS… New Belgium would be my favorite brewery, with La Folie being my favorite of their’s, but there are just so many great great breweries out there. I Kane and Carton are putting out some fantastic beers, really helping put NJ on the beer map, Victory and Yards are still going strong throwing around Philly’s weight, just too hard to answer really. My most checked in beers on Untappd would be Round Guys The Berliner, Kane’s Overhead, and Victory’s Swing Saison, which would be my favorite if I absolutely had to list one I guess.

MY GUILTY PLEASURE IS… Pizza. I’ve gone two straight weeks before, eating it everyday. Sometimes I’ll have it for lunch and dinner.

Briguy, in black and white.
Briguy, in black and white.

THE COOLEST THING ABOUT ME IS… I’m too uncomfortable talking about myself to answer that.

THE PERSON I MOST ADMIRE IS… Everyone is worthy of admiration, in my opinion, if you take the time to figure out why. But if I had to choose, I’d probably say President Barack Obama. He was dealt a really shitty hand, and he deals well with the adversity. It doesn’t hurt that he is the first president to home brew in the White House! Also, Jack Kerouak. On the Road is a life changing book, and one everyone should read at least once.

MY KARAOKE SONG IS… Never done it, but if I were to do it, it would be Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

IF I COULD PICK ANY SUPERPOWER, IT WOULD BE… If we’re talking Matrix style, where I could just download any program, I would probably download all of the biology and chemistry programs available so I could have infinite knowledge of all the sciences I deal with on a daily basis. If we’re talking real world superpower, Wolverine has been my favorite super hero since I started reading comic books in early grade school, so I would pick being him.

IF I COULD SPLURGE ON ONE ITEM, IT WOULD BE… I’d probably get a warehouse. Think of all the possibilities!

MY QUIRKIEST HOBBY IS… I don’t have time for many hobbies! When I get done brewing at work, I’m often brewing or bottling beers at home, or visiting other local breweries. I’m a big fan of order though, sometimes chaos is overwhelming, so if order is a hobby I would say that’s pretty quirky. 



What You Need To Know About Sophisticated Lady: Official Beer Of Jazz Fest

We’ve been talking a lot about the Exit Zero International Jazz Festival, happening this weekend. Over 100 world-class musicians will play venues throughout Cape May (see exit0jazzfest.com for the lineup), and we are exclusive beer sponsor. What, exactly, will be on tap? Sophisticated Lady Summer Ale. Here’s some of the FAQs:

What’s in a name? 

Ask Lead Brewer Brian Hink why this brew is called Sophisticated Lady as opposed to, you know, Trampy Lady, and he’ll tell you: “There aren’t any trampy women here… this isn’t Atlantic City!” (No offense to our northern neighbor.) But there’s more to it than that. Sophisticated Lady is an instrumental piece that was composed by jazz legend Duke Ellington in 1932. The song was inspired by three of Duke’s grade school teachers, all of whom he considered classy because they spent their summers traveling Europe.

What’s it taste like?

Sophisticated Lady, made with lemon peel in the boil kettle, is citrusy, snappy and bright. “There’s going to be many outdoor venues at this year’s jazz festival and it’s going to be hot, so we wanted something that would be light and refreshing,” says Brian. “At the same time, we wanted complexity and tons and of flavor.”

Okay, but what if I want a Miller Lite instead?

What? A Miller Lite fan at jazz fest? It’s not called the Exit Zero International Top Forty Festival. Go find a moshpit, you heathen.


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