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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company

CMBC Wins Big At US Open Beer Championship

Here’s a cool bit of news. On July 4, our fourth anniversary, we found out that our Sawyer’s Swap barleywine ale took home a silver medal from the US Open Beer Championship, based in Ohio, in the aged beer category. Professional brewers and award-winning homebrewers from around the world entered nearly 4,000 beers to be judged by experts from England, Canada and the US.

“It’s amazing what brewers will do to enter the US Open,” said Director Dow Scoggins in a press release. “In the past, they have personally delivered their craft beers from Columbia and Brazil. This year, Joshua Deitner from Shanghai Brewery in China traveled 7,263 miles to deliver his beers in person.” (He also earned a silver, which… thank God.)

Also this week, we got a cool shout-out in SJ magazine’s Best of the Shore food edition.

Reads the write-up: “For a sip of something truly local, hit Cape May Brewing Company’s tasting room for a Honey Porter, the first beer to get the designation ‘Jersey Fresh,’ thanks to its locally-sourced honey. This brew is the bee’s knees.”


Do Not Pour Beer On Your Portuguese Man-Of-War Sting

Yes, it’s shark week. And yes, the country’s been abuzz with the news of shark attacks in North Carolina. And yes, shark fever is holding strong. Exhibit A: these people watching Jaws in San Antonio on July 11… while in the water:

Courtesey cnn.com.
Courtesey cnn.com.

But step aside, great whites of the world. Recently, there’s been a new terrifying marine creature in town: The Portuguese Man-Of-War. This psychedelic-looking siphonophore — that’s science-speak for transparent, jellyfish-like animal made of many minute organisms that travel together and haunt your nightmares —  has been found up and down the Jersey coast this summer, from LBI to Seven Mile Island. Stone Harbor’s sightings even got a shout-out in Cosmopolitan magazine.

What makes this creature so intriguing that even Cosmo interrupted it’s regular, 50-new-ways-to-orgasm programming? It likely has something to do with the venomous tentacles that can stretch up to 160 feet(!) in length. They get you, and you can expect a world of pain. Sorry for ruining your vacation.

Aghaaa! Image courtesy echoexaminer.com.
Aghaaa! Image courtesy echoexaminer.com.

We know, we know – it’s the Man-Of-War’s ocean and we’re just swimming in it. And it’s not out of the ordinary for these guys to make their way here when the water temp and currents are right. And there’s no reason to get hysterical about a marine animal doing it’s thing in a marine environment.


Just kidding.

So… what does any of this have to do with beer?

We feel obliged to warn you — do not go pouring your growler of Cape May IPA on your sting, should you be maimed by a Man-Of-War the next time you hit the beach.

We’re not sure why you would do this, but it must happen because researchers are spreading the news: alcohol might actually make things worse. And so will urine, just in case you’ve heard that old jellyfish wives’ tale.

Plus, you don’t want to waste a tasty beverage — if you get zapped, you’ll likely be needing a drink.

The bottom line: a CMBC beer can do a lot of things, but it cannot save you from the terrors of the deep.

Happy swimming!

Why I Ride: Nicole 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.)

Name: Nicole Dianno

Age: 26

Nicole (on the right) with her sister Brandy Dianno before last year's ride.
Nicole (on the right) with her sister Brandy Dianno after last year’s ride.

Hometown:  Philadelphia

Occupation: I do health care market research.

Number of years on the Cape May Brew Co Team: This is my second.

Why I ride: I have a genetic, connective tissue disorder and, as a former athlete, it’s been frustrating not being able to participate in some of the sports I love. Biking is one of the few that I can do. It’s a good way to keep myself from falling apart completely, and to contribute to a good cause at the same time. MS has a genetic component also, and any research into Multiple Sclerosis is a win for all genetic disorders, the way I see it.

Why I ride on the CMBC team: Last year, I hardly knew anyone, but the team was so supportive and so welcoming. These are great people to ride with. Plus, everyone you meet along the way wants to get to know the brewery team, and whether or not you’ve got beer with you right now.

What my go-to brew after a long training ride is: Mopwater.

What my training looks like: I’m just trying to get as many miles in as  possible. I did 20 on Sunday, which was the first long one so far, and I’m trying to ride every weekend. But honestly, you don’t need to be an experienced rider to participate in this. Last year, I was still pretty wobbly on the bike. You see people of all athletic abilities at the starting line.

Fundraising Goal: $650.

What I’ll feel like at the finish: I mean, everyone feels great after putting that much effort and time in. For me, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it or that this was something I could do, because of the issues with my joint tissue. Crossing the finish line is pretty indescribable.

What I need people to know: Some don’t think that participating or donating a small amount to things like this helps a whole lot, but those donations build up quickly. With just a little bit of help, we can raise so much money for research into diseases like this, which might not otherwise get funding from pharmaceutical companies. Just a little bit goes such a long way.

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.

Hop Report

Attention hopheads.

We’ve got good news and bad news, and all of it has to do with the recently released Hop Acreage Report from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. (Yes, even the acronym for this department – USDA-NASS – is a mouthful.)

First, the good news: hop acreage is up. Sixteen percent, to be exact, when looking at the numbers from last year’s harvest and this year’s

The little guys that lend flavor, aroma and bitterness to your beer: hops. Image courtesy newplantbeer.com.
The little guys that lend flavor, aroma and bitterness to your beer: hops. Image courtesy newplantbeer.com.

planting. Even better, the hop flowers in the ground are the ones you’ve been lusting after.

“The aroma varieties where supply was not meeting demand have increased sharply,” reports Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association, in a recent article. “These acreage increases are a great sign that dealers and growers are highly tuned in to brewer needs (albeit with a few year lag on new hop varieties).”

So what are the hot new in-the-ground varieties? The BA calls them the “winners” of the acreage report: Simcoe, Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic. We call most of them frequent ingredients at CMBC!

And now for the bad news…

These are all Northwest hops, grown in the Northwest part of the country… you know, the same place that’s been dealing with a devastating drought. Many farmers are now facing state-mandated water restrictions, a big problem since hops require up to three gallons of water per plant per day.

“Although I would summarize the acreage numbers are exactly what brewers (collectively) wanted to see (though individual brewers may be various levels of pleased), the yield question is huge,” says Watson. “A low yielding crop could easily swing a five million pound projected increase (over 2014) to a five million – or in worst case scenarios – ten million pound decrease.”

In other words: just because these hops have been planted doesn’t mean they’ll grow. Mother Nature will have the final say in that.

Watson suggests a rain dance. We second it.

Brews By The Bay: The Lowdown

The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild is spreading the good word about Jersey’s craft beer scene. But it can’t fight the good fight without money.

“So we’re doing what we do best,” says Guild/Cape May Brew Co President Ryan Krill.


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Flying High

Woodbine-based aerial advertising company High Exposure has been in business for 22 years and, in that time, owner Dave Dempsey has seen some wild messages. We asked him for his favorite.

banner“This is going to sound corny,” he said, “but we once flew a big read heart and the message: True love waits for marriage.”

Another unlikely request? A “happy birthday” banner flown over the grave of a dead man.

Now, CMBC is getting in on the cool aerial action, with our own set of over-the-ocean advertisements.

We won’t tell you what they say (you’ll have to look up for that) but we will tell you that they’ll fly at an altitude of 500 feet, travel between Cape May and Sea Isle City, and move at a speed of 50 miles-per-hour. All letters will be five-feet-by-three-feet, so you should have no trouble spotting them from the beach.

Or, feel free to watch the pilots take off in Woodbine between 10 and 11am, Fridays through Mondays.banner2

“The planes get within five feet of the ground for pick-up,” says Dempsey.

It may sound like a nerve-wracking gig, but it’s not half bad.

“On the best days, flying a banner plane is like waterskiing on glass,” Dempsey says. “It’s the best office in the world, with the windows open on either side. You can take your hands off of the controls and just enjoy the ride.”

Be sure to post photos of our planes – flying July 3, 6, 15, 24, and 27 — to the CMBC Facebook page. You might even win a free Frisbee...


Farewell, Brew Dog

Last week, Max passed away of congestive heart failure. A 17-year-old Maltese, he belonged to Mop Man, aka Bob Krill, but he was a mascot for the entire brewery.

“We had him for four years,” Bob says. “He became like a little person to us, a part of the family… even though he could be a real pain.”bob

When Max used to come to CMBC, he’d growl at customers, or whoever entered the office. Hey, we never said he was a willing mascot.

But he had his irresistible charms, too.

“He loved bologna,” Bob says. “When you pulled it out, he’d do the Maltese two-step. And whenever I’d stop at a Wawa, Max expected a SlimJim. He’d jump up and down, and if you came back without one, he’d look at you like: Where’s my damn SlimJim?”

So raise your next glass to Max, forever a member of the Cape May Brewery fold.

Here’s hoping there’s a lot of beef jerky at that big dog park in the sky.

CMBC President Ryan Krill cuddles up with Max.
CMBC President Ryan Krill cuddles up with Max.
Max, in all his glory.
Max, with the wind in his hair.
Max, with Mopman, in all his glory.
Max, with Mopman, in all his glory.

What To Drink On The Fourth Of July

Around these parts — and most parts, really — “Happy Fourth of July” is synonymous with “happy cookout.” So we nailed down CMBC’s Chief Operating Officer Chris “Hank” Henke on which of our brews you should be drinking with your favorite barbeque foods this holiday.

“Some people believe sweetness complements sweetness and bitterness complements bitterness,” Hank says. “But for the most part, I think flavors can get overpowering this way. I prefer to think of beer as a palette cleanser between bites — something that’s not building on top of, but washing away.”

To that end, we present your firecrackin’ good Independence Day Menu…


Hamburgers/hotdogs: If you’re going to wreck your diet, Fourth of July is the time to do it, and the Blonde is the beverage to wash it all down with. “It’s a  crispy, hoppy beer that cuts through the fat,” Hank says.

Pasta salad/potato salad: These can be heavy on the vinegar, so it’s best to stick with something malty, like the ‘Jersey Fresh’-designated Honey Porter.

Watermelon: It’s the iconic summer fruit – pair it with the Tower 23 Berlier Weisse and you get some sour with your sweet.

Apple Pie: Arguably the most American of all desserts, this staple goes best with the Apple Bomb. “The apple flavor in the pie will bring out the apple flavor in the beer and vice versa,” says Hank.

Ribs with barbeque sauce: Honey Porter. ‘Nuff said.

Clam bakes/Lobster bakes: Because seafood has such a delicate flavor, stick with something that won’t overpower, like The Bog cranberry shandy. “Unless you’re the type of person who dumps a ton of Old Bay on your crabs,” Hank says. “In this case, your meal won’t be overwhelmed by a heavier beer, like Coastal Evacuation.”

Ice cream: Do as Mopman does and mix your Honey Porter or Stout with vanilla ice cream to make a beer float. “A fruity ice cream like strawberry will mix well with the Berliner,” Hank says. “That beer was originally served with syrup to add sweetness.”

The wild card: If you’re at kooky Great Aunt Bertha’s for the Fourth, and she’s serving less-than-traditional holiday fare that stumps you (Spam sushi, anyone?), fear not. “Cape May IPA goes well with anything,” Hank says.

Happy Independence Day, y’all.


Why I Ride: Kyle Konopka

Last week, we told you all about City to Shore, the mammoth biking fundraiser sponsored by the National MS Society. Until the October event, we’re profiling members of the Cape May Brew Co cycling team, to find out what inspires them. Hopefully it will encourage others to join their ranks. (Hint, hint.) First up:

Name: Kyle Konopka

Kyle (left) with team captain Stephan Briggs
Kyle (left) with team captain Stephan Briggs

Age: 26

Hometown: Philadelphia

Occupation: I work at a market research and consulting firm.

Number of years on the Cape May Brew Co Team: This will be my fourth.

How I got involved: I volunteered at the starting line in high school, but it was my friend and current team captain Stephan Briggs who encouraged me to participate.

Why I ride: There are two people who inspire me. The first is my aunt, who has MS. She is the most jovial and positive person, and it feels so unfair that she struggles because of this. And the other is my lovely girlfriend who suffers with another genetic disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The way I see it, any cure or progress with MS is progress for other genetic diseases.

Why I ride on the CMBC team: First off, I love beer, and I love drinking it. I mean, of all the teams I could support, why not a local company who sponsors us and gives us great kickbacks and delicious beer? I can’t imagine riding with any other group.

What my training looks like: I’m fortunate to live in a bikeable city so I ride to work every day, but I’m going to start logging more miles.

Fundraising Goal: $500

What I’ll feel like at the finish: I know it sounds corny, but I always tear up.

What I need people to know: Even a $5 or $10 donation makes a difference. Those add up.

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.

If You Build It, They Will Clean

Remember when fearless leader Hank used the engineering skills he’d honed in his previous life in order to build our original 12-gallon brewhouse out of scrap material? And remember how, when we outgrew it, he turned that brewhouse into a keg washer?

Well, now we’ve outgrown the keg washer.

The system could only sanitize two containers at a time, and it took about eight minutes to go through one cycle. So Hank is busy fashioning us a new one out of stainless steel that will handle four kegs at once and take only four to five minutes per shot. Perhaps most exciting for our cellarmen? It’s about a foot lower to the ground, meaning they’ll expend less effort when lifting the 40-pound casks into place.

The project should take a couple of months to complete, since Hank is working on it when he’s not busy, you know, co-running a brewery. In the meantime, onwards and upwards…

Mopman sitting at our original brewhouse turned keg washer turned parts for new keg washer.
Mopman sitting at our original brewhouse turned keg washer turned parts for new keg washer.

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