For our premiere edition of our “Kegs & Corks” special feature, we headed over to Cape May Brewing Company of Rio Grande to discover how what began as a home brewery project has since taken the county by storm. Having celebrated its second anniversary on July 2nd, Cape May Brewing Co. beer is now served in forty locations throughout Cape May County, including the Cape May Lewes Ferry and the Cape May Whale Watcher. Two summers ago, the brew could be found exclusively at favorite local haunt Cabanas of Cape May. Today, the brewery serves up ten of its signature beers in the newly renovated and redesigned tap room and took away the “Best IPA” title at the 2012 Atlantic City Beer Festival. We took a quick behind-the-scenes tour with owner Ryan Krill as he explained how the Cape May Brewing Co. magic happens.
It all began with a hobby and a dream. Ryan and his father Bob had long been interested in home brewing and felt that South Jersey needed a brewery it could call its own. Ryan’s college friend Chris Henke agreed, and the three began their joint venture in a basic 12-gallon homemade setup. They have since expanded their reach and upgraded to a 15-barrel (500 gallon) system, but still struggle to keep up with the outstanding demand for their brews. In fact, the Cape May Brewing Co. currently has a long waiting list of local establishments interested in serving their beer on tap. Yet as recent recipients of an economic development loan from the state of New Jersey, Ryan, Bob, and Chris are hopeful that they will be able to meet this demand very soon.
In the meantime, not a pinch of the brewery’s resources is wasted. They import only the finest German grain which is in no way genetically modified. This grain is poured manually into the brew mill and is processed to become “wort”. “Brewers make wort, but yeast makes beer,” explains Ryan. From there, hops and finally yeast are added in designated quantities and the Cape May Brewing Co.’s craft beer creations are born. All “spent” grain is then scooped out and sent to Beach Plum Farm of West Cape May to feed local pigs and chickens.
On daily tours, the brewery’s resident “beer geeks” walk visitors through each careful step of the brewing process. For just $5, guests can enjoy both the informative tour and tastings of four of the brewery’s beers. On our visit, we caught up with staff member Brian Hink who fielded our questions on anything and everything from the brewing process to the taste of the individual beers themselves. He, Ryan, Chris, Bob, and this entire passionate staff make the Cape May Brewing Company experience one that guests will not soon forget. For those patrons who just can’t get enough, the brewery also now offers 32 and 64 oz. refillable growlers.