Number of Employees - 26-40
Founding Date - November 1st, 2002
Distribution - Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire
Guided Tours - Mon.-Fri.: 11am-5pm on request
Weekends: 11am, 1pm, 3pm
Brew Pub Hours - Sun.-Wed: 11am-11pm, Thur.-Sat: 11am-12am
We're on simply killing it on New England breweries. We made it to Cape Ann Brewing Company in Gloucester, MA to chat with owner and founder Jeremy Goldberg on his brewery and the growth of craft in his local community. Not one to mince words, Jeremy knows what he wants and is working hard to make sure folks know about his brewery's offerings and the craft scene in general.
This is Jeremy.
Hey Jeremy. What’s your background?
Hey. Well, during the late 90's I lived in Brooklyn, NY and worked on Wall St. as a Bond Broker about 3 blocks from the World Trade Center. I was 26 when 9/11 went down, and I had an early on-set mid-life crisis. I quit my job, moved to Miami and jumped at the opportunity to work with a good friend doing a documentary (American Beer) on the US craft beer industry. We visited 38 breweries in 40 days from Maine to California, Seattle to New Orleans. It was during this trip that I fell in love with the industry. Long story only slightly shorter, it wasn't long before my father, brother in law and I started Cape Ann Brewing in Gloucester, MA. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary last year.
That was quite start to this interview. Why did you choose Gloucester?
My brother-in-law owned the warehouse where we put the first brewery in. Gloucester has a big mix of folks around here, from artists to fisherman, white collar to blue collar and everything in between. We felt it was the kind of place that embodied what we were hoping to do; the kinda place that would appreciate and inspire a great local beer.
And the local crowd has done you proud? Big craft supporters like you hoped?
They've been great and are a big reason for our success. But if I'm honest, I think we were always trying to push “drink local”. We never focused on selling our beer as “craft” beer, it was just good beer and we worked hard to build a sense of community in Gloucester. We don’t like to think of our beers in terms of labels.
You don’t seem like a guy who likes labels.
Not particularly. For instance, I have a real problem with the terms beer geek, beer nerd, or beer snob. I think in 2015, using these terms so endearingly are what allows supposedly respected people like David Chang of Momofuku to write the article he wrote for GQ, or the silly videos that pop up mocking not just the consumers of craft beer but the industry itself. Ordering a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale instead of a domestic shouldn't make me any more snobby then someone drinking a California red wine over a bottle of Thunderbird, or someone preferring Momofuku Ramen over Cup-a-Noodle. The sooner we stop using these terms, in my opinion, the better. It keeps “craft beer” as a niche, seemingly aimed exclusively at hipsters. Beer geeks are the folks who turn their nose up at styles of beer because they're not extreme enough or brewed by the right person. The rest of just like good beer.
Some folks aren’t familiar with your branding. Where do your names and recipes come from?
Gloucester is the oldest fishing port in America. We originally wanted to create a brand that was all lagers called "Fisherman's", and alternate brand for our ales that would have gone under the "Cape Ann" moniker. We ended up just making everything under the Fishermans’ line for a number of boring reasons, although it can be attributed to the growing popularity of the IPA. With the shift from bottles to cans however, we're really excited to be bringing the Cape Ann name back to the forefront with our seasonal and specialty releases.
What can you tell the nascent brewers out there? Any advice?
When we started, we were horribly under qualified for what we were doing. We started off bottling our own beer, and then we had to contract brew some of it. It soon became evident that the packaged beer coming out of our contracting partners just wasn't the same as the draft beer we were producing. In many ways it was also limiting our ability to be in the “what's new” conversation taking hold in the craft industry. Our brand began to get left out of the conversation. Bringing package and production back in house this past summer has helped us address these issues and it's been really exciting to see the reception we've gotten in response.
What have we learned? It's just so important to make sure that the public understands your vision. We certainly have nothing against contract brewing, having done it for so long ourselves, but there's a certain amount of love in the brewing process that can only be imparted if you're doing it yourself. This love translates directly to our vision for the brewery.
What does quality mean to you?
At the end of the day, I think all the matters is “is it a good beer"? Quality is not determined solely by ingredients, or even your specific palate. Beer is malt, water, hops, and yeast. Quality beers are certainly made with quality ingredients, but quality beer is about a beer that tastes good.
We never ask this but…what’s your particular favorite style of beer?
I particularly like darker beers. Being the contrarian I am, I've move into celebrating malt over hops over the past 10 years or so. I’m certainly not the hop guy I used to be anyway. Rauschbiers, Schwarzbiers, a nice stout...these are the beers I want these days.
Any other big news?
We’ve got a Belgian-style imperial stout coming, aged in red wine barrels with black currants. It’s amazing. That will be released in hand bottled 750mL corked bottles. Less the 1000 bottles will be produced, with a very limited number of kegs coming as well. Other than that, we will continue to be releasing small batch 16oz cans of our specialty beers previously only available on draft.
What are you drinking right now that is not a Cape Ann Beer
The Battle Road Midnight Porter. I’ve been delving into some Spanish Ciders as well.
Article published January 2015.