Raise a glass to small business

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Bob Krill at Cape May Brewing Company open house,  noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The new business is at the Cape May Airport in Lower Township.   Bob Krill at Cape May Brewing Company open house, noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The new business is at the Cape May Airport in Lower Township.

Cape May Brewery is up and running

LOWER TOWNSHIP -- Cape May Brewing Company is drawing customers with its commitment to craft beer and the local economy.

“We're trying to keep in the bigger picture in view. We want people to 'think globally, but drink locally,’” quipped the brewery's president Ryan Krill.

With contracts in place with three Cape May restaurants and the ink still drying on an agreement to supply Wildwood's Good Night Irene's by the end of the month, the small enterprise is building a reputation, while cementing its commitment to Cape May County.

"I've been coming to Cape May County my whole life," according to Krill, who lives in West Chester, Pa., where he hangs onto his day job in banking. "My family had a summer home in Cape May, then Avalon."

"It was the right place to kick this off. We started very small, with local and re-purposed equipment," said Krill, who bought the brewery's walk-in freezers from a closed Quiznos in Philadelphia and the drums for brewing from an orange juice importer. "We bought the serving bar in Dennisville and get our honey for our honey porter ale from Green Creek hives."

Krill, the company's president, says the company's other two principals are the lucky ones. Chris Henke and Bob Krill work at the brewing company full time, while Ryan Krill has hung onto his day job in banking.

None of the three claim any professional brewing experience, although Bob Krill's biography on the company website boasts that he “…has been drinking beer for 65 years and finally decided to make some.”

Bob Krill, Ryan's father, holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania; Ryan has degrees in philosophy and real estate development from Villanova and New York Universities, respectively. Henke earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, also from Villanova; he formerly worked for Lockheed Martin.

Henke and Ryan Krill experimented with home brewing for several years before deciding to go into business.

“Chris got into it first. We use to home brew at my parents’ house in Avalon,” said Krill.

The brewery's headquarters on Hornet Road at the Cape May Airport buzzed with activity last Saturday, as locals lined up at the weekly open house to taste the local ales.

"For $11, you can sample four beers and take the glass home with you," said Patty Krill, who worked behind the serving bar with his husband, Bob. The custom printed Cape May Brewing Co. glasses were being emptied and refilled with the four different samples available at a steady clip. House of Print, also a new business next door to the brewery at the airport, will take on the printing of the brewery's next shipment of glasses.

“We want to keep local, as much as possible,” emphasized Ryan Krill.

Many lined up to purchase “growlers” of ale -- a 64 ounce container stamped with the company's logo.

“Many craft beer fans have their own growlers that we can fill, but we sell out own as well,” said Ryan Krill, who noted that the company's website at capemaybrewingco.org is up and running with merchandise information.

“We have a Facebook page as well,” said Krill, who noted that the company's popularity among locals has been spreading with the help of social media and old-fashioned word-of-mouth. “I guess people have good things to say so far.”

The Thanksgiving special -- Cranberry Wheat Ale, featuring cranberries from Pine Barrens bogs -- sold out quickly and the craft brewery has planned a "Christmas Dark Ale" for its holiday offering. Their wares also include a sweet stout, Krill's favorite; Cape May IPA, "a heavy beer with an emphasis on hops"; the German-style Cape May Wheat; and a Honey Porter, which Krill described as “dark in color, but light in body.”

Lower Township Council members spread the word at Monday night's council meeting, commenting on the brewery's ribbon-cutting ceremony that council members attended Thursday, December 1.

“These are young entrepreneurs, who have started very frugally. It's nicely done and we wish them nothing but success,” said Mike Voll, the township manager.

Officials with the DRBA have also welcomed the signs of new life at the Cape May County Airport, where the authority, and before that Cape May County, have tried to entice new business for many years.

DRBA spokesman Jim Salmon said both the brewery and the House of Print were welcome signs of new life at the airport.

“That’s what we’re focused on at all of our airports, but particularly at Cape May, is developing some small businesses,” Salmon said. He said small businesses are a major driver of the American economy and of jobs.

Cape May Brewing Co. beers are available at Cabana's, Lucky Bones and Sea Salt, all in Cape May.


photos by Ellen Pfeifle

Patty and Bob Krill at the serving bar, as customers line up for beer and ale samples at Saturday's open house. Patty and Bob Krill at the serving bar, as customers line up for beer and ale samples at Saturday's open house.


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