In January of 2013, when Brian Hink first entered Cape May Brewing Company’s tasting room, his first thought was: “Holy shit, how do you guys have 12 beers on tap?” In Jersey, a double-digit offering at a craft brewery is considered “insane.” You’re more likely to see three or so regulars on a tasting room menu, with a seasonal selection rotated in for good measure.
And yet, 12 is nothing compared to what CMBC’s got going on now.
Brian, now head brewer, has helped expand the selection, so that there are at least 20 beers available at any given time. Meaning? Cape May Brewing Company boasts the largest on-tap variety of any tasting room in the state, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Enter the upcoming production schedule: Six new beers in six weeks (they’ll be released every Thursday, beginning February 19). Add to this the tasty concoctions put out every hump day for “One Off Wednesdays,” and customers are looking at 12 new beers in half as many weeks.
“Variety is the spice of life,” says CMBC co-owner Chris Henke. But he’s not referring to the less-than-authentic type of variety some other breweries pass off as choice. In those cases, the same yeast strain might be used to create beers that are merely tweaked to be different via extra hops, blended fruit, or aging. “Whereas, we’re not afraid to buy the right ingredients,” says Chris. “For our recent Biscuits and Honey ESB, for instance, we used four different yeast strains and four different grains to get the style just right.”
And those upcoming six beers? They’ll be just as distinct, ranging from a light-bodied Citra Pale Ale (2/19) to the cidery Apple Bomb (2/26), to a clean and malty lager called Bringing Sexy Bock (3/5), to a Toasted Coconut IPA (3/12), to the beautifully bitter Take Five Session IPA (3/19), to the dry and complex Cape May Saison (3/26).
All of this brewing isn’t merely about pleasing customers, although that’s certainly a nice bonus. Rather, it’s down to passion. “I think [CMBC co-owner] Bob Krill puts it best,” says Chris. “We make it like we have to drink it ourselves.”
Adds Brian: “You have to order six flights here before you repeat a beer, which is exactly what I want when I do a tasting: variety. This is what we’re all about. This is what defines us.”
To see CMBC’s impressive selection for yourself, stop by the tasting room (1288 Hornet Road, Rio Grande) any day between noon and 8pm… and don’t be afraid to drink outside your comfort zone. For more information on tours, taps, and tastings visit capemaybrewery.com or call (609) 849-9933.