Absolute favorite sweet-tart shandy! Soda poppy cranberry-sugared lemonade licks sweeten above white breaded spine of pinkish amber summertime softie. Candied cranberry tartness gains voluptuous cherry lambic and raspberry framboise resonance. Could this be a national success a la Leinenkugel’s less interesting shandy’s?
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY
Inside a blue aluminum storehouse at Cape May Airport, expansive CAPE MAY BREWING COMPANY operates not only this high-ceilinged back-decked brewpub, but also another brewing facility just a few hundred feet away.
The main space at the pub includes a capacious large-barreled brew room with massive silver tanks centering cement-countered red stools. This leads into a hangar-like main serving station with more red-stooled furnishings, 20 draught handles, front-walled large screen TV and gargantuan man-eating shark mural.
But the most prominent spot may be the stamp concrete-sealed back deck. A closed-in outdoor space with red umbrellas and plenty of seating, its backyard beer garden charm was undeniable this sunny afternoon.
Opened in 2011 by two Villanova grads, Cape May Brewing continues to expand its brewing boundaries both functionally and creatively. A licensed pilot, Ryan Krill, founded Cape May along with fellow Wildcat, Chris Henke, becoming one of New Jersey’s largest craft breweries post-haste.
In its present 2019 configuration, sour ales are crafted at the central brew room while the separate cement-floored warehouse down the road houses a massive 30 BBL silver tank system, a canning line and storage center (with a backroom microbiologist keeping the yeast strain pure).
On my noon time voyage in early April ’19, I grabbed a seat at the barroom’s granite-topped L-shaped bar to consume ten rangy samples.
Worthy Cascade-hopped flagship offering, Cape May IPA, provided floral sugar-spiced grapefruit and orange peel tanginess for lightly pungent herbal grassed hop musk, leaving tertiary peach, pineapple and mango juicing on its sunny citrus parade.
Not as stylishly rich or resilient, yet totally accessible, R.A.D. 008 Hazy IPA brought easygoing grapefruit sunshine and zesty mandarin orange mist to mild grassy hop astringency above sugary pale malts.
Another IPA, Catch The Drift, lacked the expected haze of a New England version, but its floral citrus alacrity, lemony banana tartness and herbal spiced niceties spread goodness all around.
Creamily viscous beige yellow-hazed New England-styled IPA, Krusty’s Partially Gelatinized Gum-Based Beverage, gathered lactic yogurt milk souring for lemon-dropped orange juicing and grapefruit sugaring, combining zesty citric-pined Azacca, Idaho 7 and Cashmere hop varieties.
Upping the citric hop quotient for its molasses-sapped dried fruiting, Sawyer Swap Barleywine left black grape, dark cherry and green raisin illusions upon tobacco-roasted dewy peat.
Stylishly subtle Devils Reach Belgian Strong Ale merged lemon-soured pineapple tartness and delicate orange-bruised sweetness with mild fennel-spiced white peppering and herbal barnyard leathering.
Sour red wine-barreled brown ale, Lady In Red 10, used its musky black currant-spiced dry plum adjunct to advance mildly acidic purple grape esters, oaken vanilla tartness and vinous Flanders Red-like cherry respite.
Dark-roast coffee, black chocolate and charred walnut blackened Cape May Nitro Stout, a soft-tongued smoothie that compares favorably to Honey Porter Nitro, where raw-honeyed dark cocoa picked up blackstrap molasses bittering and herbal Hallertau hop snips.
Coffee-stained Last Hurrah Imperial Stout left dark chocolate malting upon recessive hazelnut, walnut and Brazil nut earthiness in solid fashion.
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY
Proud to be New Jersey’s first non-profit microbrewery, humble barn-housed COLD SPRING BREWERY brings an Old Wild West feel to Cape May. Part of the historic Cold Spring Village (museum, restaurant, creamery), this wood framed ranch featured antique horse harnesses, ancient pistols and large exposed pipes along its columned A-frame interior, providing quaint rusticity for the family-styled village.
Leather-cushioned wood stools and seats get serviced by the tree-barked L-shaped serving station. Six draught lines offer predictably easygoing fare from the rear nano system. Near the side door, there’s a bench-saddled hearth area with overhead TV and several cozy wall booths.
My wife and I grab a few seats at the large fenced-in outdoor area, springtime ’19, where we consume five commonplace brews that’ll definitely please softer blue collar palates.
For openers, grassy pine hops dabbled with lightly embittered grapefruit-peeled orange rind subtleties for dry-bodied moderation, Ishmael Pale Ale.
Tea-like Finley Forge IPA stayed dry as apple-skinned citrus tartness gained dewy pale malt sweetness to contrast its phenol hop tannins, recalling a more moderate Brit-styled IPA.
Mild Poor Sailors Sour Ale brought subtle lactic acidity to tart cider piquancy and vinegary green grape esters with efficient results.
Tart citric-quince-spiced Cold Spring Red Ale retained a crisp barley roast but little else.
Delicately creamed Dennisville Inn Porter underscored its delightful cocoa-chocolate influence and hazelnut-glazed pecan sweetness with ashen walnut bittering.
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY
A cozy café-styled firehouse in the heart of Cape May’s Court House district on Main Street, BUCKET BRIGADE BREWERY opened autumn, 2017. Brotherly firemen Karl and Kurt Hughes teamed up with long-time friend and brewmaster, Mark McPherson, to ‘extinguish your thirst’ with a bucket list of traditional styled beers.
The little engine red joint features a small L-shaped bar made from reclaimed wood with 12-plus fire-handled draught taps and TV’s on opposing sides. Metal chairs with flaming red cushions dot the walls and three small tables fill out the diminutive interior.
I grab a seat at one of the overhead garage door’s cement counters to sample five of the ten available brews this warm Saturday afternoon, April ’19.
As the first beer rushes down my gullet, a cavalcade of Harley bikers pass the Bucket Brigade in style.
Mild lemony grapefruit tang embellished the banana-clove-bubblegum expectancy of Halligan Hefeweizen, sitting softly on the tongue while developing slight vanilla sweetness.
Honey-licked apple and pear spicing contrasted rye-dried black tea pungency for crisply clean moderation, Axe Head Amber Ale.
Rustic English-styled(?) Chiefs IPA brought straw-dried buckwheat, alfalfa and raw wheat minerality to grassy-hopped lemon wedging in a moderate setting.
Dried fruited cocoa powdering and mild chocolate malting provoke Pump Primer Porter.
Peanut-buttered chocolate roast and dry cocoa tones gain oily hop resin at the finish of semi-rich Steam Engine Oatmeal Stout.