Each year, we do something a bit different for our anniversary ales. For Anniversary Ale 7.0, we used seven different hop varieties, and it was dry-hopped with seven pounds-per-barrel, featured an SRM of 7, and an ABV of 7.7%. Anniversary Ale 9 last year was 9.0% ABV, and was crafted at nine pounds-per-barrel of hops. Do you see the pattern here?
While Anniversary Ale 10 bucks the tradition a bit (can you even imagine trying to wrangle a 10% ABV brew with TEN different hops in it??), we decided to pay homage to our number system by reaching out to ten crew members to talk about this brew. From each of our main departments, admin/marketing, sales/distribution, the Tasting Room, and production, we spoke with five OG crew members and five of the newest crew members to get their thoughts on our new double IPA, and what Cape May Brewery’s 10th anniversary means to each of them!
Read on to learn a bit more about some of your favorite crew members, and a sneak peek at some of our new crew members ahead of their blog features!
We’ll start with one of our newest crew members, Austin Anderson, who chatted with us this week during this time off from the Tasting Room.
Austin has been with us since Memorial Day Weekend, so not only did he start during our peak summer opening, but also the first weekend that we were able to open to the public without restrictions since early 2020!
“I’ve been a fan. I’d like to say almost ten years. I’ve come out here, and always enjoyed the beer,” he says. “I always wanted to work here."
“It’s one of those places where, as a customer, you see it one way, and you wonder, is it really like that? In my short time so far as an employee, I’ve found out that it really is. So that’s good to see that from both angles. Everyone really is invested in Cape May’s success; it doesn’t matter who you are,” he shares.
Austin is happy to see everything open back to how it used to be as well. “The timing is perfect for the anniversary.”
“When I came here as a customer, I always looked for what was new or different, and that’s what I liked. Pre-COVID, I’d come by on a monthly basis, even during the winter. Then it was every other weekend if the weather was nice. It’s like how people go to Disney. They love the Disney experience. It’s that same feeling here, like this is where you’re supposed to be,” Austin says.
We met in the Brewtanical Garden, and it was his very first time visiting the space. He loves the atmosphere.
“On a day like this? Sign me up,” he says.
When we crack open a can of Anniversary Ale 10, Austin takes a contemplative sip.
“For a double IPA, it’s not crazy. Some of them can be over-the-top with hops, but this isn’t. It’s very smooth. I think it’s excellent,” he says.
“I feel like the beer from here is always consistent. You may differ in what ones you like better than others, but you don’t necessarily get that same consistency from other places,” he says.
For our senior Tasting Room crew member, we caught up with Tasting Room Supervisor and Beertender Rich Schmidt.
Rich was here when we first opened our doors.
“I was here that first year. I had a few beers, and I’ve been coming ever since.”
He joined us in 2015 after he retired and needed a job, and he’s been here ever since, giving him a great perspective on just how far we’ve come over the last few years.
“As we’ve gotten bigger, it’s been a great thing to see,” he says. “We’ve become a destination point for the county. This one little thing started out small, and it’s blown up big now. I don’t see it going away anytime soon.”
Rich shrugs, considering: “It’s been a great time.”
He sips on Anniversary Ale 10 from one of our plastic pint cups.
“I like it so far. It’s got a good, hoppy flavor,” he says.
He pauses for a moment. “It smells a bit like pickles. It’s got an interesting aroma.”
Although Rich was the only person we spoke with to mention pickles, it just goes to show you how different everyone’s senses and palettes are!
Now, we’re really craving some pickles to try with this brew…
Our senior-most sales team member, Richie Rallo, had some different ideas on the notes this brew offers.
When we ask Richie for his thoughts, he coyly says, “I’m not prepared, I don’t have enough information.”
We blink, waiting for him to take some of his first sips.
“If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to know what you’re talking about,” he says with a grin.
“I shouldn’t have had what I did for lunch if I knew that my palette was going to be put to the test like this,” he says. “I had a delicious salad from Josie Kelly’s. Kale, arugula, blue cheese, shaved fennel . . . which is your boy’s favorite. Honestly, it was so good they forgot to put the dressing on it, and I ate everything.”
“I got a piece of salmon on it, too,” he says. “I subconsciously guilted Doug into getting a salad. He was going to get a burger.”
(Ed. note: Let’s all pour one out for Doug . . .although, the salad does sound good.)
After his digression, Richie settles in to give his thoughts.
“It’s good,” he says. “Is there a little bit of Citra? Something from those New Zealand boys, maybe? A little bit of melon notes, too.”
He nods after trying another pour. “This is delicious.”
Richie came to us in 2014, and his first experience with Cape May Brewing Company was while he was working at Goodnight Irene’s, a craft beer bar in Wildwood.
“Honestly, the very first time I came here, it was in August. A Canadian couple had sat at the bar at Irene’s and tried a bunch of different Cape May beers. There was one that they didn’t like, and they were very vocal about it. I was thinking, they’ve barely been open, you can’t do that! So I came here to the source to try the one beer that they didn’t like, and I liked it, personally. It was some kind of Belgian or Abbey-style,” he says.
Our newest sales team member, Kendall Peterson, had a similar experience.
“In college, I had a good friend who grew up in North Wildwood, so every time I would visit him, we would come to the brewery,” she says. “The first time I visited was 2013, and I had a great time. I’ve visited a few times since then.”
After college, Kendall got a job at a liquor store, and even though it was up in Sussex county, one of the farthest corners of the state, people had one thing on their mind.
“From the moment I started there, people were constantly asking when we were going to bring Cape May beers in,” she says with a laugh.
“I left the store in 2019, and I actually set up Cape May beers in the store with Eric Wormann right before that. The week after I left, they got their first delivery of Cape May,” she says.
But it’s not just our beers that make people happy. Stores and accounts are often happy to see Kendall as well, now that she’s the one bringing Cape May beers.
“It’s nice to feel like people want to see me,” she says with a smile. “I said this on my first day. I still can’t believe the culture of this company. From the top to the bottom, everyone is such a fan of it.”
Kendall experienced the camaraderie of our team just the other week, when a rogue rock kicked up and shattered her driver’s side window as she was making the rounds in her territory.
“I called my boss, Tom, when it happened, and as I was driving down to get a new vehicle, I got a call from two of my team members just making sure I was ok,” she says. “That was really nice. I wasn’t expecting to actually feel like part of a team.”
As we chat with our collected group of crew members in the Brewtanical Garden, Production Planning & Specialty Brewing Manager Brian Hink swings by.
“The hops are Lotus, Wai-iti, Lemon Drop, and Huell Melon,” he says.
So Richie was right about the New Zealand hops and the hint of melon!
“Fun fact about those hops - they were picked by our sales team,” he says. “I wanted to make sure that our sales team was involved in some capacity.”
“There was a ton of chatter in the group chat about which hops everyone wanted,” Richie chimes in.
“It was a close match. Lotus and Lemon Drop were front runners,” Brian says. “The third and fourth hops were tied, so we did four different hops.”
“I do fucking love this beer,” he says. “I can’t wait to sit at home and drink some of these.”
“This is the most melon-y of the IPAs we’ve done,” he says. “Lotus is like orange creamsicle, tropical fruits, Wai-iti is tropical pineapple notes, Huell Melon is a lot like honeydew melon and cantaloupe, and Lemon Drop is herby and savory, with subtle lemon notes in the background. You definitely get a fruit salad flavor to this one, and that’s the menagerie of the hops blended into this one.”
Brian has an insane memory, recalling the hops in obscure beers from years ago to give examples of where we’ve seen some of these hops before.
He’s our most senior crew member, and remembers the very first anniversary ale we produced: #5.
“It was like Cape May IPA on steroids. It was a very classic IPA: piney, earthy bitterness,” he says. “That was in 2016, right before the haze phase.”
Before joining our crew, Brian worked for a corporate coffee company.
“I had a beard. It wasn’t as long as it is now, but it was there. I was there for five years, and out of nowhere, someone was like, you’ve gotta shave. Like, you have to shave or you’re done here. Out of principle, I left the position,” he says. “That was on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and I came down here on a Friday. It was the first bottle release. They released Sawyer’s Swap in 22 oz bottles for the first time. I drove down, picked up the bottles, and handed in my resume.”
He’d often visited, enjoying a few beers, and chatting with Ryan and the crew.
“At that point, I’d been homebrewing for a while, and I wanted to get into the production space, but I had absolutely no credentials or way to get into it. I applied to the Tasting Room. The law had just changed to allow tasting rooms, in December of 2012. A few months later, less than a week after I left my corporate job, I joined the crew,” he says.
He worked the bar, and at the time, we had a tiny production team that consisted of only two people. One week, one of those people went on vacation, and Brian jumped at the chance to fill in for him and learn more about the production side.
When he moved up into production officially after that summer, our very own Courtney Rosenberg snagged his position behind the bar!
Now, our production team is pretty mighty. We have a dedicated brewing, cellar, packaging, warehouse, and management team. Mike Lauff is one of our newest crew members in the warehouse.
You might remember Mike from his earlier blog. He’s been coming to Cape May Brewing Company since we opened, and lives just a couple of blocks away, making it easy for him to walk to the brewery and back home.
He ended his shift early today, and walked over to the Brewtanical Garden early to meet with everyone.
At first, Mike wanted to make sure that everyone had a chance to try the beer first.
“I get to try some of these off the line,” he says.
For Mike, that’s not a flex. When we assure him that we have plenty to go around, he takes a can to try.
“It has a nice flavor,” he says. “It’s similar to Always Ready to me. It’s nice.”
“I like it,” he says, considering it for a moment.
When we ask if he’s tried any of our other anniversary ales, he admits that he hasn’t.
“It’s his first anniversary!” Rob Page says, grinning.
Everyone at the picnic table laughs.
We’re certainly lucky to have Mike with us this year!
We were lucky to get to chat with some of the Cape Bev team as well, including Justin Vitti, another one of our senior crew members, who has an incredible trajectory with us.
He first discovered Cape May Brewing Company when they moved into their first space, a tiny unit of our current location.
“Where Dawgtown Dogs is currently located used to be a graphic designer & printer. I was working with them as a side gig doing some freelance graphic design stuff. And I was also working at Goodnight Irene’s, and helped to get CMBC on tap there” he says.
He and Richie both worked there, although they just missed each other, with Justin leaving Irene’s right before Richie joined.
“So we were helping them with their growlers, posters, shirts, and stickers when they first started,” he says. “That’s how I met the guys. Ryan used to bring us over trial batches of beer and we’d try them out.”
Back when they were first allowed to have a Taproom, circa 2013 - 2014, Justin could be found sitting at the bar, a usual occurrence whenever the Tasting Room was open. “I’d come in and have lunch, and get to hang with all of the regulars and original team members. One day, they were like, hey, we need somebody, we’re going to hire you,” he says.
(Ed. note: Gavin Lewis experienced something quite similar when he would stop by before joining the team as well! It definitely helps to be able to get to know prospective crew members as fans first!)
“I was pouring beers and giving tours. I think I’m the only employee ever written up for taking too long on a tour,” he says with a laugh. “It was so busy, but I was giving this thorough, in-depth tour.”
That didn’t stop him. Within six months, he was doing sales with Richie.
“Richie was hired first to do sales, but it was too much for one person, so I took the other stuff. He did Cape May proper, and I did Wildwood, Atlantic City, Cumberland, Rio Grande. We did southern Burlington county, a little bit of LBI, Salem. I was doing PA, too. I was our first supplier rep with Origlio,” he says.
His goal as rep in PA at the time? Fifty 1/2 kegs a month in PA.
Now, as our General Manager for Cape Beverage, Justin’s responsible for getting a lot more than that out each month to eager beer drinkers.
“We all started behind the bar,” Justin says. “Courtney and I were behind the bar, and Brian moved into brewing first. Courtney became marketing, and I left and became sales.”
“I may have been like the eighteenth person hired ever, but we only had about eleven active employees working when I was hired,” he says.
Now, we have nearly 130 active employees.
Justin takes a few sips of Anniversary Ale 10. He swirls the liquid in the cup, takes a whiff, and tries it again.
“Hoppy,” Justin says. “It’s very soft on the palate for being as hoppy as it is.”
“Super soft, super pillowy,” he says. “I like it, I approve.”
Our newest team member at Cape Beverage isn’t quite old enough to drink just yet, but we caught up with him this week to find out what it’s like working in the beverage industry.
Chris Vicchiarelli is one of our newest warehouse associates. He found out about us through fellow OG crew member, Chris Martin.
“My older sister is friends with him. Chris was the one who reached out and told me about the position becoming available, and he’s been the one who’s taught me the most of what I know so far. The fact that I already knew someone in the company helped make it a lot easier to get comfortable here,” he says.
Chris has enjoyed getting to know the behind the scenes aspects of what it takes for beers to go from cans and kegs to shelves and taps all over the region.
“It’s crazy to see how much of our product we have to offer for our client accounts and it’s even crazier to see how much goes out on the road every day!”
Although not all of our crew members drink beer (just like some of our visitors, who may partake in our seltzers or non-alcoholic homemade options), Chris is looking forward to trying the product when he turns 21 this fall.
“I honestly feel like I joined Cape Beverage at the perfect time,” he says. “I’m only a few months away from being able to try our product, and in the meantime, I’m learning all there is to know about different types of brews and what makes them unique. Learning the science behind how they are created is going to make it so much more interesting when I can finally try all the different varieties!”
Chris certainly has some of us beat, there. How many of us tried our first beers before really knowing what it takes to make them?
He’s most excited to try Oktoberfest and our other fall seasonals: “Fall is my favorite time of year, and all the fall flavors sound really good!”
Although he’s one of our newest crew members, the history of Cape May Brewing Company isn’t lost on him.
“After hearing the stories everyone has about CMBC and learning the history, it amazes me how far we’ve come in such a short time. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and how much we will continue to grow. I’m super happy to be a part of the process and team,” he says.
We’re glad to have you as well, Chris!
Last, but certainly not least, we checked in with our admin and marketing departments. As you’ve seen earlier, or, as many fans already know, Social Media & Design Alchemist Courtney Rosenberg joined the team along with some of the other senior crew members when we were first starting out.
“It’s interesting to watch the amount of growth, and really see it happen from the inside,” she says. “It’s a lot, it’s intense.”
“As someone who’s grown up, my entire life, just five minutes from here, so much has changed,” she says.
The airport used to be used for a hockey rink, for example.
“It was still here when I started, and then they knocked it down because they built the one by the high school,” she says.
“It’s interesting, too, seeing the growth not just of our company, but what our company has created for the airport and for the area,” she says.
Like many of our other original team members, Courtney has quickly worked her way up in different positions.
“It was cool because when I started, a friend of mine was working here, who ended up getting me an interview,” she shares. “I interviewed with Hank, one of our former owners. I had no knowledge of craft beer at the time.”
Courtney shares that before joining us, she’d typically only drank Coors Light and Corona Light.
“They gave me a chance because they could see that I had great hospitality skills and customer service skills and was our friendly face,” she says.
Like many of our team members who have moved up internally, if there’s something you’re passionate about or want to help more with, we often find a way to make that happen.
“I started bartending, then I was doing events, then ads and sales. I added more and more until it became a full-time position,” she says. “Now I do a little bit of everything.”
If you’ve interacted with our social media at all, you’ve likely connected with Courtney!
Because we’ve expanded so much in recent years, this year we brought on a new HR team member to help Director of People Operations Christine Bry. Cody Danks is bright, attentive, and seamlessly fits in with our team here.
“My first experience with Cape May Brewing Company was when I was looking for jobs in the area and I came across it,” he says. “That’s a very lame reason.”
We’d definitely disagree! Many of our other staff members have been fans since we first opened, but for some of the newer and younger staff, discovering Cape May comes through in different ways, whether it’s hearing about it from a friend, trying a beer at a party or family gathering, or looking for work in the area.
“I had been in the area for about a year, but I really hadn’t ventured out because of the pandemic,” Cody shares.
“I was looking for jobs in the area because I loved it so much here, and I stumbled across this,” he says.
Before he came in for an interview, Cody stopped by the Tasting Room to check things out and have some beers.
“I loved it here,” he says. “My first beer was Orange Crushin’ It, and I was sold after that.”
Picking up on what Brian mentioned about the fruit aspects of Anniversary Ale 10, Cody takes a few sips before sharing some of his thoughts.
“You can smell the fruit in the aroma,” he says. “Definitely citrusy. It’s very smooth.”
We don’t know about you, but hearing people talk about beer definitely isn’t the same as drinking some yourself!
Anniversary Ale 10 debuts in our Tasting Room this weekend, one of the stars for our anniversary party! If you’re planning on stopping by, this weekend is the perfect time. We have this new release, along with two others, in the Tasting Room, as well as a special anniversary flight featuring the three new brews and our first beer, Cape May IPA.
You can pick up some new anniversary swag for the occasion, or check out our Brewtanical Garden for live music and special one-off brews you’ll only find this weekend in that space!
Come join us, and you might even spot some brew crew members while you’re there!
Make sure to share your pictures with @capemaybrewco so we can keep the celebration going all weekend long, and grab a 4-pack of Anniversary Ale 10, our 10th anniversary gift to all of you, to enjoy in the weeks to come.
We hope to see you there!