High Tide

The CapeMay.com blog

A look inside the new Behr Brewing

The tasting bar at Behr Brewing. Photo: Michelle Giorla

The heavy snow from a weekend blizzard melted just in time for Behr Brewing’s opening day. It left them with a parking lot of black mud churned up by cars of people eager to get inside the navy blue building on Seashore Road. But the staff at Behr wasn’t bothered by some mud. They roped off the area and ordered more clam shells.

That easy going, life-happens vibe seems to define Behr Brewing. Before the pandemic, I traveled Seashore Road to and from Cape May every weekday. For a long time, the building at 513 was a country-themed gift store. Then in late 2020, the exterior went blue, and Behr announced plans on Instagram to open the following spring. Then summer. “We are so close to opening!” they posted last June. Merch hit the website. They shared a video of a lounge space in August and the next month they were brewing. “How soon?” followers asked. Delays pushed the opening date back almost a year, yet Behr maintained a humble gratitude across social media. Rather than celebrate, they used their opening-day announcement to thank their supporters.

We stopped in on their second day of business. The front door opened into a waiting area. Beneath a handpainted sign reading “Behr Necessities,” stout-scented soap and lemon shandy candles—some of Behr’s branded merchandise—peeked out from white cube shelves. Straight ahead, a flat-screen TV playing Seinfeld was mounted above a fireplace on a rustic log wall. Facing the fire was a tan leather couch. Brown velvet barrel chairs on either side of the fireplace played off of hunter green walls. Though the rooms weren’t large, tall ceilings kept them from feeling crowded.

We walked past the empty front desk and into the tasting room, which was mostly filled by a large U-shaped wood bar. (For people who would rather stand or have more elbow room, there are two free-standing tables and wall-mounted shelves.) There was a good crowd going considering it was only two o’clock on a Thursday. We found chairs at the bar and looked up at the digital taplist. Seven choices total, and one of them a stout. Sold. I was planning to order a glass, but Michelle, our photographer, suggested we do flights for the sake of the blog.

A friendly, flannel-clad woman behind the bar guided us to the brewery’s obligatory tour and guestbook down the adjacent hallway. The tour only takes a minute. A hand-painted infographic explains the brewing process, while large interior windows give you a peek into the brew room.

Once we’d toured and signed in, we designed our flights. A flight at Behr consists of four 4oz glasses. Here are the beers we tasted:

  • Winnie, an English-style beer (ESB)
  • Bruin, a festbier
  • When Life Gives You Lemons, a shandy
  • Dark Thirty, a dry stout

While we waited for our flights, we took in the main room. Behr sits on Seashore Road across from Church’s Nursery, visible through a front picture window that floods the tasting room with light. The style is minimalist industrial, warm and welcoming. The bar and tables are made from live edge wood. The tasting room’s focus wall is the same deep green as the lounge, with an oversized wood ring design. Exposed metal vents intersect overhead. The floor is polished concrete and bare bulbs suspend from wood fixtures. Decor is spare. But Behr doesn’t take itself too seriously. A sign above the hallway reads “Restrooms & Tour.” Their logo, stitched on the bartenders’ plaid shirts, is a bear’s head with a stemmed glass forming the nose and mouth. Their English-style beer is named Winnie (a nod, we assume, to the titular bear).

You know you’ve found a good place when you run into people you know. Minutes after we’d placed our order, we were joined at the bar by a friend who ordered a similar flight. Ours came in a wood plank numbered one through four, corresponding with the slots on the cards we’d filled out, so we’d know what we were drinking. (Not all breweries do this, and I’ve had to play the guessing game.)

Left to right: Winnie, Bruin, Dry Thirty, and When Life Gives You Lemons. Photo by the writer

I tried Winnie first, an English-style ESB that would be great with a burger or sharp cheese. Shandy aside, it had the lightest color of the flight and a strong flavor—the hoppiest of the beers we sampled. Michelle described it as “crisp with a bite.” If you prefer an ale, you might like this. Behr also has an IPA and a pale ale on the taplist.

Next was Bruin, a mild Oktoberfest-style beer that had me longing for fall. No bite or surprises here. Bruin is the deep amber color you’d expect and quite mellow compared with Winnie. If you want something that isn’t strong or bitter, give it a try. I’d order a glass to go with conversation.

The shandy, a beer I usually reserve for ninety-degree weather, was surprisingly great on a dreary February day—a sunny yellow color, not too much lemon, not too sour, and it went down easy. I’d recommend it if you’re hoping for something sweeter or trying to avoid bitterness. It would be delicious on a summer afternoon.

I finished with the stout, my favorite kind of beer: super smooth and slightly bitter, like good dark chocolate—though this stout itself is not flavored. Unlike a milk or cream stout, Dark Thirty (a dry stout, also called Irish stout—think Guinness) had no sweetness whatsoever. I’d love to try it paired with dessert (or incorporated into it). Stouts are a heavy beer. I enjoyed this one as my finale, but if darker beers are a little strong for you, drink this one earlier.

People around us came and went. Some discovered the lounge and settled in on the couch. We stayed at the bar for a while to relax and chat with the staff, who were attentive but not pushy. At no point were we rushed out of our seats; rather, Behr feels like a place to linger. I ordered 8oz of When Life Gives You Lemons and did just that. The tasting room will probably be loud with a full house, but that afternoon, I was easily able to hear conversations. Owner Catherine Wilson, who turned out to be one of the women behind the bar, happily took our photo, and as she told us the story of the muddy parking lot on opening day, never frowned.

The shandy’s name isn’t just lip service.

Behr Brewing, located at 513 Seashore Road in Erma, is open daily for tastings. They have on-site parking for cars and bicycles, indoor restrooms, and accept cash and credit cards. Come spring, they’ll also have dog-friendly outdoor seating. Check visiting hours and what’s on tap on their website.