A pale ale created by the founders of Cape May Brewing Company for their Alma Mater is the toast of the Main Line.
When it came time to plan a yearlong celebration for Villanova University’s 175th Anniversary – that’s what a Demisemiseptcentennial is – Christine Quisenberry and Chris Kovolski, both employees of the university, knew they wanted the faculty, students and alumni to come together and share something very special. And what could be better than sharing a one-of- a-kind, commemorative beer? They approached Ryan Krill and Chris Henke, the founders of Cape May Brewing Company (CMBC), who just happen to be Nova graduates – Class of 2005.
“It was a perfect fit,” says Kovolski.
“As Chris and Ryan built their company, they’ve done a great job exhibiting what we call Villanova ideas and values. The way they’re committed to their South Jersey region, the way they employ sustainable practices, the way they use local ingredients. It’s all reflective of what we think makes our community at Villanova special.”
For Krill and Henke, who met at Villanova in the fall of 2001 as freshman, brewing a beer for the Demisemi – a much easier way to say Demisemiseptcentennial – was an opportunity to pay homage to the university that had done so much for them. “Villanova gave us a great education and lifelong friendships,” says Krill. “It’s great to have a chance to give something back to the school that gave us both so much.”
The challenge for the Cape May brewers was to come up with a recipe distinctive enough to honor their Alma Mater, that was tasty, yet approachable. “The beer could have gone in a ton of different directions,” says Krill. “We wanted to do something that would appeal to all the alum. Something that [Villanova University President] Father Peter would enjoy.”
Krill and Henke created a pale ale brewed with a sampling of German pilsner malt, CMBC’s house ale yeast strain and of course, a hefty dose of Centennial hops. The beer’s name had to be Demisemiseptcentennial Ale. It pours a light copper, finishes crisp and is super crushable. Translation: with an alcohol content of 4.5%, Demisemi is not a high octane beer.
CMBC has brewed other celebratory beers. In 2015 the company released #YOPO, short for You Only Pope Once, to commemorate Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia. The pale ale was brewed with “an unholy amount of hops”. Krill explains, “Both beers are kind of a coincidence. We are small enough where we can do fun things.”
These light-hearted, one-off brews have garnered CMBC some much deserved attention. “We’ve been getting phone calls about Demisemi every day,” says Krill. “We’ve been getting so many phone calls, we now have a script to follow.”
The phone has been ringing in Quisenberry’s office as well. “We’ve really been impressed with the feedback, and the demand. In a year when we’ve had some huge achievements – #1 overall seed in the mens NCAA basketball tournament and a Top 50 University ranking from U. S. News & World Report – commissioning Demisemi has been one of the most popular things we’ve done.”
Demisemi has been difficult to get, even on Villanova’s campus – a testament to how much the beer scene has changed since Krill and Henke were students. “We used to go to Erin’s Pub and drink 32 ounce Coors Lights. There was no craft beer then. Today, people really appreciate a variety of good beer. So if you can’t get any Demisemi now, wait around and we’ll get to you. Nova’s anniversary celebration doesn’t end until December.”