17 October 2016
Cape May Brewing Company sails again with the latest release in their Barrel Aged Series, The Scupper. Over two years in development, this third release will be available at noon on October 22nd, from their gift shop — The Brewtique — on 1288 Hornet Road in Cape May, NJ.
“The brews in the Barrel Aged Series keep getting better and better,” says co-owner and president Ryan Krill. “Two years ago, we put our faith in our Head Brewer Brian Hink to spearhead this program, and he’s surprised us time and time again.
“The Scupper is the best yet.”
The first two releases in the Barrel Aged Series have been enormously well received. For example, the first beer in the series — The Keel — received an astonishing score of 94 at Beer Connoisseur and has been well-reviewed by both fans of the brewery and well-respected beer experts nationwide — including from “Moscow” on the premier sour beer podcast, The Sour Hour.
“The Scupper is a beer with a very different flavor profile than our previous Barrel Reserve Series releases,” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm, “and also one that will mature and age to a much greater extent than the other releases.”
Each beer in the Barrel Aged series has been approached from a different vantage point. With The Keel, CMBC bombarded the original brew with a particularly robust blend of 20 microflora and bacteria while the beer aged for nearly two years. The Skeg was an experiment in the result of Brettanomyces working with a very hoppy base — their tremendously hoppy double IPA, Coastal Evacuation.
This time around, The Scupper began its journey as a complex and refreshing Saison with a predominantly yeasty flavor profile. The original brew’s fruity and peppery notes were complemented with a generous helping of Saaz hops to round out the brew. Then it was stowed away for four months in the French oak wine barrels that previously held The Keel, before it was bottle conditioned with four strains of Brettanomyces for three months.
“The Keel played with the whole gauntlet of microflora, the Skeg focused of Brettanomyces playing off of hops compounds, and for the Scupper we focused on how Brett played off a complex base beer,” says Hink. “For the Skeg, the beer going in was all about the hops, so the end result focused on the hop character being metabolized and evolved by the Brettanomyces. The base beer for the Scupper was an already-complex Saison, which the Brett just completely chewed up and spit out something otherworldly in flavor.”
The decision to bottle condition this beer gave the resultant brew an extraordinary amount of depth and character. The three months of bottle conditioning allowed the Brettanomyces to further metabolize the existing sugars and esters.
“The added CO2 and pressure puts a little bit of extra stress on the Brett yeast,” says Valm. “This extra stress is what forces the yeast to release funkier flavors.”
In a fermenter, the Brett’s flavors are more earthy and botanical, but under the added pressure in the bottle, the Brett’s flavors become “barnyard and horsey.”
“I am a big fan of the funky wild beers,” says Valm. “The terms ‘barnyard’ and ‘horsey’ may not seem too appealing, but when these flavors are used correctly they can be very tasty, especially when accompanied with the woodsy notes from barrel aging, a touch of sour from Lactobacillus, and the vinous flavors from the red wine barrels.”
Hink agrees. He loves “the complexity, the funk, the vinous notes and slight woodsy character thanks to the barrels. I love how it’s bone dry — it has a lower gravity than water, so there’s just nothing left — and yet it has a juiciness to it that leaves you longing for another sip.”
Valm agrees. Both are impressed with the approachability of this brew.
“The Scupper is definitely funky,” Valm says, “but right now it’s a just the right level of funk that any drinker new to the wild beer scene can latch onto it without being put off by the unique flavor profile.”
After cellaring The Scupper, “in a year or two it’ll be at that level of funk that makes me smile from ear to ear,” says Valm.
The Scupper will be released in limited quantities from CMBC’s gift shop, The Brewtique, at noon on October 22nd at 1288 Hornet Road in Cape May. $20 each, limit three to a customer. For more information, call (609) 849-9933or see capemaybrewery.com.