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.