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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company

Everything You Need To Know About The Great IPA Shortage Of 2015

An interview with CMBC leaders Ryan Krill and Chris “Hank” Henke, about running out of their flagship beer, Cape May IPA, just in time for Memorial Day…

1. What happened? Ryan: Yesterday, I was out on the road all day. I had a meeting with Senator Peter Barnes, I was in New York and I’d been in Philly the night before, so I was gone and trying to deal with different crises all day…  and then Chris called me when I was about 20 minutes out and said: “There’s a shitstorm brewing.” We were out of IPA, and we had orders for 26 halves and 11 sixtels.

No beer. How sad.
No beer. How sad.

2. How did it happen? Ryan: We have a lot of beer, we’re just selling it. It’s all flying out the door, and it just kind of caught us off guard. The white board where we write them down isn’t even big enough to handle all the orders coming in. Chris: If we could have started brewing in the new brewhouse a week earlier, we would have been fine, but installation got delayed. What are you going to do?

2. Who can we blame? Andrew? He always looks kind of guilty. Chris: Let’s blame our accounts for ordering too much beer!

3. Are you “hopping” mad that it happened? Ryan: At least it’s not our flagship beer… oh, wait.

4. What’s the silver lining here? Ryan: We know we’re reliable and we can deliver on our promises. I came in and worked with [sales reps] Justin and Richie, and we had a little triage unit to figure out which accounts have to get the beer now and which orders we can delay slightly. We’re kegging the IPA on Tuesday, so the beer will be available very soon. Some people can wait, and some are happy to take something else in the meantime. Chris: We have 90 barrels of it, almost ready to rock. And when it’s delivered, it’s going to be ridiculously fresh.

5. For those who can’t bear to be without the Cape May IPA this weekend, what do you recommend as a comparable beer? Chris: We still have the Coastal Evacuation, our double IPA, on tap.

6. Will you miss these kind of growing pains when you hit the big-time and Budweiser is trying to buy you out? Ryan: Chris says I keep telling myself that. It is part of the charm of operating a small business, putting out these fires, so long-term, I think that I’m going to miss it. Chris: Uh, no. I won’t miss it. There’s other things to stress out about! But it’s kind of a good problem to have, right? We’re selling all the beer we have. And the sales team did a good job of calling up the accounts and talking it out.

7. How many IPA accounts are we talking about, exactly? Chris: There was 28 on the board yesterday. Add however many would have been added today, and you’re probably talking close to 40.

8. Finish this sentence. “It’s could always be worse; I’d rather run out of IPA than _____?” Ryan: I’d rather run out of IPA than get randomly inspected by the ABC. Chris: I’d rather run out of IPA than have an overstock of IPA to sit on.

9. Anything else people should know about The Great IPA Shortage of 2015? Ryan: It’s the last one we’ll have. Chris: And it will be short. The shortage will be short.

9. How long do you think it will be before you’re laughing about this? Chris: Once the IPA is in the kegs next week. Ryan: Already laughing.

Shout-Out Roundup

It’s been a big few days, shout-out wise. Here’s all of the recent CMBC-related sound bites you need to read:

1. New Jersey Monthly has called us out on their list of “36 Can’t-Miss Summer Food Festivals” because we’ll be pouring at The Craft Beer and Crab Festival on August 8 at Cape May’s historic Emlen Physick Estate. Says writer Lauren Bowers: “There will be plenty of crabby creations and other summer sustenance including pulled pork, hot dogs and hamburgers.” Also on tap: a Victorian circus.

2. Thrillist.com has included our home-base on their list of “The 14 Best Small Beach Towns in America.” Says author Matt Meltzer: “Nowhere in the country did the plague that is reality television hit harder than on the Jersey Shore. What was once a collection of quaint beach towns is now thought of worldwide as a Mecca for GTL and fist pumping. Fortunately, those who’ve been there know about places like Cape May, where visitors enjoy calm ocean breezes, historic Victorian homes, and the comforting knowledge that they are as far away geographically from New York City as any point in New Jersey.”

3. On May 15, Joe Sixpack of Philly.com said about CMBC: “There’s just a very pleasant vibe at this out-of-the-way brewery plunked down in the middle of Cape May Airport. Bring a growler, take a tour, then suck down the Bog, a low-alcohol cranberry wheat shandy, or hunker down with a high-alcohol Coastal Evacuation Double IPA.” You heard the man.

4. This morning, Atlantic City Weekly ran a story called “5 Things to Know About Where to Party Memorial Day Weekend,” and our firkin event this Friday at the Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill in Caesar’s casino made the cut. In case you missed our story about Gordon Ramsay himself tapping some CMBC beer and showering it with praise, catch up here.

5. Also today, craftbeer.com featured our cranberry wheat beer, The Bog, in a list of cool summer seasonals from The Northeast. Boom.

6. Speaking of sexy writeups about summer beer, The Bog also made an appearance on Yahoo Food today. Says writer Jeff O’Heir: “Now is the time for crisp, quenching, light beers brewed specifically for the beach, ballgames, and barbecues.” Can we get an amen?



Brew In Review

Last week, we brewed for the first time in our new location — and in our new, 30-barrel brewhouse — and what a ride it was. We began on Tuesday… with a 13-hour day. Then came two 11-hour days on Wednesday and Thursday, and a 10-hour day on Friday. It’s a good thing lead brewer BrianHink likes coffee.

“Getting comfortable with the new equipment has been a lot like making the move from a PC to a MAC,” he says. “The job is the same, but not quite.”

Of course, there are kinks to be worked out, too, which is to be expected in a building that’s still receiving her finishing touches. Facility technician Carl Hudson spent some time last week balancing precariously over a 120-degree boil kettle in order to finish off work on the glycol piping above.

And then there’s COO Chris “Hank” Henke…

“I’ve been spending time fixing tiny leaks here and there,” he says, adding that he’ll taste whatever fluid he sees to get an idea of what, exactly, it is. “If it’s bitter, it’s the glycol… but don’t worry, it’s food-grade glycol.”

As the guys busy themselves, uh, licking various pieces of equipment, we’ll lay out the plan for brewing from here on out:

120 barrels per week at the new location (which is double what we produced last year)

15 barrels per week at the original building

6,000 barrels per year total, maybe a little over

“This schedule doesn’t mean we’re at capacity,” Brian says. “It means we have room to brew extra, one-off beers as they arise.”

One such recipe will be a special papal-themed beverage out for Pope Francis’ visit to Philly this September.

We’ll keep you posted on that and, in the meantime, check out this cool video of our fermenter tank being moved across the airport last week, from our original building to our new warehouse space.

“It took two forklifts, one to grab the eyehooks on top and lift, and one to grab from the bottom,” says Brian. “It came over like a hammock, hung between the two.”

Sales rep Richie Rallo shot the footage, and he was so thorough, he even got the roadkill en route.


CMBC Receives Award Of Excellence From TripAdvisor

Let’s talk about trolls.

That’s right, trolls.

But not the Norse mythology kind:


And not the neon 90s kind with the diamond bellybuttons:


We mean the — gasp! — internet kind:

internet troll

We know… scary, right?

But let’s face it: internet trolls are a reality of 21st century living.

We know you’re out there, Humperdink29. We know you’re holed up behind that laptop, Paddlewaggle33. And we’ve seen the vitriol you’ve spewed, MrSquiddlywinks3.

You spend your days trolling dating sites, comment sections, and virtual forums like TripAdvisor and Yelp not to offer constructive criticism or voice an informed opinion, but simply to vent. We get it. Your girlfriend left you/your mom never loved you/you ran out of macaroni and cheese, and you need an outlet.

But here’s the problem.

You give the good guys a bad name. You make the normal, pleasant, helpful TripAdvisor users look uncool, too. You drown out the constructive criticism, and you suffocate the positive reviews.

Well, not today, trolls.


The happy interweb users have spoken, and the word is good.

Cape May Brewing Company has received TripAdvisor’s 2015 Certificate of Excellence for “consistently great reviews,” and a rating of four-and-a-half out of five stars.



Thank you to the 146 peeps who wrote about us, not just for the great praise, but for the helpful, respectful feedback.

CMBC fans, you show the internet trolls of the world how it’s done, and for that, we’re sending you a virtual high-five right now.

Hot Riffs And Cold Beer: CMBC Sponsors The Exit Zero International Jazz Festival

It’s arguably the greatest Jersey musical event of the year (and we’re not just saying that because we’re sponsoring it for the third year running). In case you aren’t familiar with the Exit Zero Jazz Festival, here’s the rundown:

In 2010 the Cape May Jazz Festival, which ran for 17 years, came to an end, and people were — to put it lightly — pissed. Especially Michael Kline.

Dr John of Dr John and the Nite Trippers, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will headline this year's festival.
Dr John of Dr John and the Nite Trippers, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will headline this year’s festival.

A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, Michael had fallen in love with Cape May on family vacations as a kid, so he moved here after college in ’92. But nine years later, his heart would lead him to the the Big Easy… he’d developed such a passion for jazz, New Orleans simply called his name. There, Micheal got involved with WWOZ radio, managing their underwriting and sponsorship departments, and eventually became a booking agent for the likes of Charlie Haden, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. In a short amount of time, Michael had won entry into an impressive inner circle. (He can tell you what it’s like to chat with Ray Charles, or about the bowling scores of Irma Thomas — the Aretha Franklin of New Orleans.)

And then: Hurricane Katrina.

Michael moved back to Cape May where, in 2006, he launched his own boutique international booking agency, Michael Kline Artists, and that job has taken him all over the world. Traveling throughout Europe, South America and Asia, he’s learned what makes for the world’s best jazz festivals. Four years ago, Cape May benefited from Michael’s expertise when he relaunched the now-defunct Cape May fest, this time as the Exit Zero International Jazz Festival.

We caught up with the musical guru to ask about this year’s event , happening May 28-30, which features such big name headliners as Dr John, six-time Grammy award winner, and Joey Alexander, 11-year-old piano prodigy.

Here’s what he had to say about the weekend, and about CMBC’s role:

The festival has many big name sponsors, including Xerox. Why are you excited to count CMBC among them?  How many reasons do you want? We pride ourselves on accentuating what Cape May and South Jersey do best, so this is an ideal collaboration. And the music happening on the Cape May Brewery stage [at Cabanas Beach Bar and Grill] is going to blow the roof off. It’s a really great fit for the brewery.

How so? Let’s see… there’s the Rebirth Brass Band straight out of New Orleans playing there on Saturday evening. To me, this is the greatest party band in the world, but I’m not the only one who thinks it. Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers tweets it all the time, saying these guys are the best band he’s ever seen live. They’ve got a funky, explosive sound… they’re going to blow the roof off. Then there’s The Lost Bayou Ramblers on Sunday. They’re also from New Orleans but with a whole different sound. We’re pairing that performance with a real Louisiana crawfish boil — between that and the music and the beer, it’s going to be one hell of a party. Joe Keys and the Late Bloomer Band are also on the CMBC stage — they’re another horn-predominating group, funkadelic, and they’ll have people on the dance floor all night long.

How many musicians are we talking about total, throughout the city? Over 100.

What makes this year’s festival cooler than  year’s past? Our goal was to have as much music outdoors as possible, and we’ve worked hard to fulfill that. There’s Jazz at the Estate, happening on the lawn of the Emlen Physick Estate. Then there’s the pier at the Lobster House restaurant, and there’s going to be a tent on Diamond Beach where we’ll host two Havana nights. I’m not really doing it justice, calling it a tent; this is a semi-permanent structure that fits 400 people, and I’m really excited about the incredible Cuban music that will be happening there. Basically, from Friday at 9pm until Sunday at 5pm, there’s going to be music all over the place.

Where can people get CMBC beer? At all of the venues. And Cape May’s is the exclusive beer available at Convention Hall for the headliner performances, and at Jazz at the Estate.

Why is it that craft beer and jazz go so well together? Neither are the kind of thing you can get just anywhere; you have to work a little bit harder to seek them out. Both are for people who want something just a little bit above the norm… they’re for people who want something better.

For more information on times, tickets and musicians, visit exit0jazzfest.com.

What The Hell Is A Beach Plum, And Why Do You Want It In Your Beer?

Sales Rep Justin Vitti won’t be the only tasty-looking thing hanging on the beach this summer, catching some rays…

Because it grows wild on natural dunes from Maine to North Carolina, the Beach Plum tree withstands seriously depleted soil and harsh gusts of salty air… and it looks that way. Gnarled and windblown, this isn’t the cutest shrub you’ll ever see. But for those who’ve gotten a taste of the sweet, tart fruits that bloom on these cherry tree-like branches every April, the plant is a thing of beauty.

The nickel-sized fruit can be deep blue, purple, rosy or yellow. Image via spectacularlydelicious.com.
The nickel-sized fruit can be deep blue, purple, rosy or yellow. Image via spectacularlydelicious.com.

Fanatical hunters won’t give away their favorite spots; beach plum hunting is a practice nearly as secretive as truffle hunting, especially since development on Jersey’s barrier islands has depleted the species. But since 2010, when the beach plum was named the official fruit of Cape May County, keeping hot spots under wraps has been difficult.

David Van Vorst, president of the CMC Beach Plum Association (yes, there is such a thing), says that for this “treasure hunt,” it’s best to look on the coastal plain. Hunters will have the best luck on the secondary dune, or the side facing away from the water. While the fruit grows on the entire peninsula — including Cape May Point State Park and along the harbor — Higbee Beach is a goldmine. Every August, the Cape May Nature Center hosts a “What’s Yum About Beach Plums” workshop here. And Joe Alvarez, local BP guru, leads beach plum tours throughout the area sponsored by the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension.

Which is all just a long-winded way of saying: wild thing, you make our hearts sing.

The beach plum is used to make tasty cordials, cobbler, cheesecake, wine, vinaigrettes, jams, jellies, and now — ta-da! — beer.

That’s right — our Queen Street Beach Plum Ale came out last Friday, and it’s as exotic as it sounds. We made it with wild yeast found on grapes growing just outside the brewery, and infused it with pomace, the crushed skins and seeds of beach plums pressed by the Washington Inn restaurant for their own cocktails.

So, whatcha waiting for? The brew is on tap in the tasting room now. No hunting necessary.



CMBC In The News

A round-up of this week’s relevant headlines:

1. This morning, at Cape May County’s annual tourism conference, it was revealed that 2014 was a banner year. According to the Press of Atlantic City, CMC is clocking in at $5.8 billion in tourist spending, and leading the state with a 5% growth. This is due, in no small part, to what Press writer Michael Miller calls the conference “darlings:” wineries, distilleries, and one ever-expanding brewery (ahem, that’s us!).

Our president, Ryan Krill, was one of the featured speakers.

“The folks who visit [Cape May Brewery] are from all over the region,” he said. “It’s a really authentic experience, which makes it special. We don’t have regulars. We have all-unique visitors.”

Our guy Ryan (on right, beside State Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi) talks about the importance of agritourism in Cape May County.
Our guy Ryan (on right, beside State Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi) talks about the importance of agritourism in Cape May County.

2. Speaking of sexy news, it’s National Small Business Week, and in honor of the occasion, the US Chamber of Commerce held an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill honoring lawmakers for “strong voting records on critical business issues in 2014.” US Representative Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) was one of the recipients of the so called Spirit of Enterprise Award, and in his acceptance speech, he singled us out.

“As South Jersey continues to struggle with double-digit unemployment in the aftermath of the casino closures, I remain focused on pro-growth policies that will help bring new opportunities to our region and assist those residents looking for full-time work,” he said. “A critical part of our recovery will be the growth and success of small businesses, which serve as the engine of our economy like the Cape May Brewing Company. It is imperative we put forth policies that will give small businesses the confidence to hire and entrepreneurs the desire to invest. I remain committed to working with all of South Jersey’s chapters to grow our economy and am pleased to accept the Chamber’s ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ award.”

US Representative Frank LoBiondo accepts the Spirit of Enterprise Award from Bruce Josten, executive vice president for Government Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce.
US Representative Frank LoBiondo accepts the Spirit of Enterprise Award from Bruce Josten, executive vice president for Government Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce.

3. Finally, ABC ran a story on the country’s eight most adorable beach towns this week, and Cape May made the list… with a special nod to our brewery tours…

Reads the write-up: “Different from the ‘Jersey Shore’ image that MTV portrays, Cape May is an adorable beach town almost as far south as Washington, DC. It has loads of Victorian B&Bs and quaint shops selling saltwater taffy, frozen custard, and antiques. The family-friendly town is very walkable and activities range from parasailing and paddleboarding to brewery or lighthouse tours.”

We’re keeping good company – Carmel-by-the-Sea, California; Kennebunkport, Maine; and Hilton Head, South Carolina also made the cut.

Our neck of the woods. Image courtesy of blendspace.com.
Our neck of the woods. Image courtesy of blendspace.com.



Geek Out 2.0!

If you haven’t yet tried the latest brain-child of Lead Brewer Brian, get thee to the tasting room. Geek Out 2.0 came out last Friday, and it’s reminiscent of the first beer Bri-guy ever concocted at CMBC on his own, the original Geek Out. That one was a Belgian Rye IPA made with white wine, the forbidden fruit yeast strain (think subdued fruitiness), and both citra and experimental hops.

“It was everything but the kitchen sink,” Brian says.

But this time around, expect a more concentrated effort, due partly to the elimination of white wine. The final product is a very dry summer beer brewed with both pale malt grain and rye grain for a slick mouthfeel. And the hops? Well, those are from a special delivery we wrote about here. The ABV is 5.4%.

“You know how a band will come out with a first album that has some hits but is a little bit all over the place?” Brian says. “Think of this as the sophomore album — the one that makes you say: ‘Damn, the band got their shit together.'”

bri guy

American Craft Beer Week

Calling all beer nerds. American Craft Beer Week — a celebration of the country’s craft beer industry and the 110,000 jobs it creates nationwide — is happening now. Newbies will discover the reasons behind the renaissance — craft beer reached 11 percent market share for the first time last year — and connoisseurs will be reminded why they love the craft community. Throughout the nation, small breweries will host events that highlight their artisanal and tasty concoctions, and we’ll be among them!

beer“Beer is steeped in American tradition,” says our Marketing Guru Alicia Grasso. “Not only does participating in this nationwide event allow us to celebrate the artistry of what we create on a daily basis, but it also allows fans to learn more about the growing craft beer industry which we support right here in Cape May.”

Here’s what’s on tap this week:

Tomorrow, CMBC will host our first ‘Sour Hour’ from 5-7pm in the tasting room. It’s the perfect time to try a pint of our popular Tower 23 — named for a local World War II Lookout Tower — because members of our team will be on site to mingle and discuss the light and refreshing Berliner Weisse. We’ll be happy to talk with you about what makes the sour style so tricky – and so rewarding – to produce, and about the 60 recently-acquired oak barrels that are about to do wonders for our sour program. Come thirsty.

On Thursday, there will be Tap Takeover at Wildwood brew pub Goodnight Irene’s, where over 90 craft beers are available. On tap will be our Foreshore Cherry Limeaide Shandy, Turtle Gut American Sour, Tripel Wreck Belgian Tripel, Honey Porter, Coastal Evacuation Double IPA, and the last of our employee series beers for the summer – Richie’s Super Rad Pale Ale. But perhaps most exciting for the beer nerds out there? The dry-hopped Corrosion Sour IPA, which kicked in our tasting room way back in March, will also be on site. Oh, and bring your thinking caps — it’s Quizzo night.

Last but not least, on Friday it’s ‘Enjoy Your Tastings With The Brewers’ from 5-7pm in the tasting room. Talk with the men behind the beer about what makes them tick (er, ferment), and what we’re is doing to push the industry envelope. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even hear about that time our fermenter exploded. Newbies and connoisseurs welcome to sip and chat.

A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Cape May Brewery’s Ribbon Cutting

In case you drove by CMBC last Friday and saw parked at our entrance a fully-extended scissor lift complete with a Cape May Brewery banner alerting dignitaries and members of the press where to turn, and in case you wondered what the heck was going on, we’ll break it down for you. May 8 marked the official opening of CMBC’s second brewery at Cape May Airport. With a buzzy ribbon cutting ceremony, we launched 409 Breakwater, the 15,000 square-foot warehouse that we’ve been renovating for over a year and a half, and we dedicated the 30-barrel brewhouse inside. The day, in a nutshell, was great. The day not-in-a-nutshell is below.

Presenting: the ribbon cutting in review:

The oh-shit scenario: Mere moments before go-time, we realized our ribbon was for too short, only about eight feet long, for an event like this. Thanks to Courtney for an 11th-hour run to the party store for a spare. Crisis averted!

The welcome: President Ryan Krill gave the opening remarks, explaining the condition of the building when he first took it over (spiders, animal urine, and a front door lock that needed to be picked with a knife), and how humbled he feels to be where he is now, with 30 employees and counting. The new space “allows us to give back to the community that supported us in the beginning, and what better way to do that than over a beer,” he said.

The jokes: When it was their respective turns to make a speech, both Freeholder Will Morey and the Mayor of Lower Township, Michael Beck, cracked wise about CMBC’s original brewhouse being an old washing machine. (No, it wasn’t actually a converted Maytag, but it was a homemade system.) For coming so far in such a short amount of time, “a tip of the mug to you,” Beck said.

The food: Flight Deck Diner catered the afternoon’s reception. Said owner Sean McMullen: “It was easy to do; beer drinkers tend to be innovative and up for anything.” Among the tasty menu items were roasted summer vegetable sliders complete with Devil’s Reach Belgian Strong Ale-infused mustard.

The DRBA: The Executive Director of the Delaware River and Bay Authority Scott A Green said he met recently with a major local institution who also wants to move to the airport, and this institution’s president asked him: “So what do you think is leading to the rebirth of airport, if you could sum it up in one word?” Scott’s answer? Beer. “The brewery has gotten people to look behind the fence,” he said.

The presidential shout-out: Said Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi: “President Reagan always said that small businesses and entrepreneurs are responsible for almost all economic growth in this country, and that’s true, and that’s what you see here today, a company with vision, dedication and hard work…. Cheers!”

The confession: Congressman Frank LoBiondo called Cape May Brewery a great example of the American dream. Later, during the reception, he confided: “The Bog is my new favorite beer of all time. It’s got a unique taste, very refreshing. And it goes down very easy, which can be… dangerous.”

The big picture: Senator Jeff Van Drew told the crowd that this country and this state were built by people who believed they could succeed despite overwhelming odds, and that in this spirit, CMBC has taken something that was nothing, and turned it into something extraordinary. “I really believe the best is still ahead of you,” he said.

The young entrepreneurs: Among the afternoon’s honored guests were Cape May’s up-and-coming crop of culturally and business-savvy entrepreneurs. Said Jonathan Hirsch of the Montreal Inn: “People come into our restaurant and even into our liquor store requesting fresh and local. It’s wonderful to have the brewery for them here… and it helps that the beer is phenomenal.” Also in attendance? Chris Cooke from the eclectic Washington Street Mall shop called Across the Way. “The brewery draws the very demographic Cape May needs,” he said. “These are the people who will keep the town moving forward, and keep us from fading out as a Victorian resort.”

The moms: We spoke with the mothers of CMBC’s fearless leaders Ryan and Chris, who told us: “Words cannot describe how proud we are.” Although they also said that, at the beginning, they were a little shell-shocked when the guys told them they’d be going from “making beer on someone’s patio” to opening an actual, fully-fledged brewery. “The first few times we saw the hop plants they were growing, we assumed they were marijuana!”

The cut! Photo by Sandy Maloney, courtesy of Exit Zero magazine.
The cut! Photo by Sandy Maloney, courtesy of Exit Zero magazine.


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