Congratulations on celebrating the third anniversary of Cape May Brewing Company earlier this summer! Has the brewing industry in New Jersey, and Cape May Brewing Company, changed much over the last three years?
The brewing industry in New Jersey has changed in a large way over the past three years. State legislators passed a bill that allowed new and progressive changes for production breweries and brewpubs, which allowed for things like taprooms, new businesses and a growing craft beer culture in New Jersey. There have been several new breweries open all over the state and the craft beer culture is growing at an exponential rate.
The Cape May Brewery is a different story altogether. In 2011 we started with humble yet ambitious beginnings. We had a homebuilt 12-gallon brew system with great aspirations. We had one account and managed everything as a three-man show. It was a hobby business but we aspired for more.
Three and a half years later, we have 18 employees, 120 wholesale accounts all over South Jersey, a 15 barrel brew house and recently installed a bottling line. This year we will produce about 3,000 barrels, most of which is sold through our self-distribution network. It’s a big jump to go from brewing 12 gallons to 15 barrels but it’s still very small, which has its benefits. We can brew a tremendous variety of beers (we have done over 60 different beers thus far). It keeps things still fun.
According to your Twitter feed, you’ve taken your advertising to the skies this summer with a Cape May Brewing banner pulled by a plane! What was behind this unique choice of promotion and where should we be craning our necks to see it?
Telling our story and sharing our love of craft beer is really important to us. We like to tell that story in a way that reflects our quirky and creative sides. There are many ways we make ourselves known and this summer we experimented with a new medium: banner planes.
Growing up watching the banner planes fly past while sitting on the beach have always captured my attention. It’s such a typical Jersey Shore icon that it was natural for us to give it a try. It’s a fun way to interact with our customers and those who don’t even know we exist. It’s also noteworthy that I’m a pilot, so I’m apt to vote for anything involving airplanes.
The lucky taproom and event employees at Cape May Brewing get hands-on brewing experience as part of their training. How does this enhance their ability to better serve your customers?
Every employee gets what we call a brew day no matter what you do at the brewery. Making fun and exciting beer is at the center of what we do and I want everyone to share in that experience. Additionally, every employee gets to design a beer that will be served in the taproom and offered to our accounts. You’ll see beers like Maggie’s Day Off or Brian’s Geek Out. Maggie and Brian are both employees who have their own different ideas on what type of beer to make. We allow everyone to participate in that excitement, which gives a sense of pride and ownership. And that’s just the beginning.
We spend a lot of time, money and energy on training our staff so that they know everything we know about beer and we make it fun. This allows our customers to be able to have the best experience possible with the brewery, whether that be in the taproom or at one of our accounts. Everyone who works with us is an ambassador of Cape May Brewery no matter where they go, and people who engage will know it.
What beers are you drinking lately, and what local breweries are getting your attention?
I’m drinking Troegs Troegenator while I write this. I really enjoy trying beers I haven’t tried. It’s exciting to see what brewers are doing all over the region. Flying Fish, Kane and Carton always put out a top-notch beer and they’ve been my go to brews.
I’ve always been inspired by Short’s Brewery in Michigan. I love the variety and quality of the beer they produce. That and they only distribute in Michigan. Way cool.
What events are on the horizon for Cape May Brewing Company?
From 12-4pm the event starts at the Cape May ferry lawn, which will showcase 12 New Jersey breweries, live music and food trucks. Included in the price is a round trip ferry pass so you jump on one of the ferries to Delaware where there will be 11 Delaware breweries more live music and awesome food. It’s effectively two beer festivals in two states with one ticket. Tickets can be found at http://brewsbythebay.ticketleap.com