Life A Local Brewing Company Gives Back to the Sea Text by Kelly Tjoumakaris Photos by Kelly Tjoumakaris and MMSC ocnjmagazine.com
TOP me if you’ve heard this George found himself a niche. He opened Chris Konicki and Jim McAfee, make up one. A brewing company, a up a surf shop that’s been in business Tuckahoe Brewing Company, a local, craftseal and a surf shop walk into a ever since. That surf shop is Ocean City’s beer savvy, community-attentive brewing bar… beloved Surfer Supplies (SS). company right here in Cape May County. It wasn’t just any bar. George, who passed away in January These fellows emulate the very same vibe It was Yesterday’s Restaurant Tavern or, 2011, is described by many as a nice, low- as Surfer’s Supplies. A group of guys, quite as us locals call it, “The Y.” And it was not key, gracious guy who endlessly exuded appropriately, you’d like to have a beer with just any brewing company; it was the local positive energy. And a soulful guy whose and, make no mistake, it is one of their Tuckahoe Brewing Company. And it wasn’t “contributions to the local surf community beers you will want to have with them. They just any surf shop; it was Surfer Supplies, were large, and not only provided the area offer high-quality, unique, artisanal brews on 31st and Asbury in Ocean City. And it with good surfing equipment and honest including the DC Pale, Marshalville Wit wasn’t just any seal. It was the mascot to the advice, but he also dedicated a lot of time and Steelmantown Porter, using ingredients Marine Mammal Stranding Center. to the amateur surfing scene up and down grown in our local community when Sometimes an event happens, however the east coast and was very functional possible. They are strong on community large or small, that illustrates how connected in developing the Ocean City Surfing making it their practice to give back. Case a community can be and how supportive Association,” says Greg Beck. in point is their recent decision to celebrate individuals, or groups, can be to each other Greg and Andrew Funk are the current Surfer Supplies 50th anniversary and honor and that community. The synergistic efforts owners of SS and are both mentees of George with a new stout. of the aforementioned parties culminated George’s. They continue to disseminate The coffee stout is brewed with coffee from on April 21, during three happy hours at the amity that has always been a part of Harry and Beans, a neighboring company “The Y,” where the collaborators came SS. It’s warm, soulful and inviting with to TBC who sells organic and fair-trade together to raise much needed money for its relaxing score, essence of surf wax and coffee, which coincidentally is also sold at, the Marine Mammal Stranding you guessed it, Surfer Supplies Center. Our beloved ocean provides food, livelihood, (are you seeing the connections In 1962, Silent Spring, written Owner Harry Gale tourist attraction, sport, entertainment and connect?). by Rachel Carson, was published isn’t just a supreme roaster, he is prompting an entirely new way relaxation, we need to be sure to maintain the another well-respected member of viewing the environment. In it health of the ecosystem as well as ourselves. of the local surfing community. Carson wrote, “The history of life The stout, with nine percent on Earth has been a history of potency, is called New Brighton, interaction between living things and their profoundly interesting conversation making a former name of Ocean City for a brief surroundings.” it difficult to spend a short time in the time following “Peck’s Beach.” The New This idea that everything in nature is shop. While there you’ll witness countless Brighton Coffee Stout is a rich, flavorful connected, including us humans, has since surfers, non-surfers, or wannabe surfers brew that has terrific body, taste and aroma, permeated all environmental thought and (like myself ) stopping in for the peace and similar to the SS experience and it is my action today and can be seen in this story non-judgmental climate that the shop and favorite of the four they offer. This coffee connecting marine mammals, the sea, and staff steadily offer along with George’s vibe stout brew, already outlasting the name us, the humans living in proximity to them. which still emanates today. assigned to the barrier island for a month’s The community I speak of includes the Surfer Supplies has always been time, has accomplished a great many things. marine mammals, their helpers, surfers, a philanthropic particularly with the Marine It’s an elixir of good will. surfer-supplier, a brewer, a distributor, the Mammal Stranding Center. For about eight Surfer Supplies chose the Marine brew-drinkers, a roaster, a restaurant and a years now, they’ve sold an organic “green Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) to girl who has an affinity for them all - that tee” with a portion of proceeds going to an receive all the proceeds from the sale of is me. environmental-friendly organization. The the New Brighton Coffee Stout Beer in The same year Carson’s book was first organization tee monies went to was continuation of a former favored charity published proving inter connectedness, the MMSC in addition to total profits from of George. And as if it was not enough to George Gerlach, in his 20s at the time, a CD by Tom Curren, a three-time world pledge all profits from the sale of this beer, and his friend Paul Ruger, built a surfboard champion surfer and musician, sold in the Tuckahoe Brewing Company organized a out of wood from a recipe in a Popular store. fund-raising event, in cooperation with SS, Mechanics Magazine and took it to a beach One of countless individuals who to raise awareness and funds for MMSC. in downtown Ocean City. In a decade appreciate and respect the shop and its Much needed funds. where surfing found its popularity, that milieu is Tim Hanna, a cofounder of Fortuitously, the plan for the event came daytrip to downtown Ocean City stirred up the Tuckahoe Brewing Company. Tim, before the announcement of the potential great interest in George and his board and along with partners Matt McDevitt, loss of federal funding for the MMSC. The
center is at risk for losing up to $100,000 of their $650,000 budget as soon as this September from federal budget cuts. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a non-profit organization in Brigantine that responds to strandings of various marine mammals, including seals, whales, dolphins, and various endangered species along the entire coast of New Jersey. They are the only licensed organization to do so and are made up of only four individuals who handle this range of active shore and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Says Founder and Director Robert Schoelkopf, “Animals can not be left on the beach, there are always people on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, and leaving the animals on the beach can pose a health hazard.” When nature speaks up and sends a marine mammal their way, it can sometimes be a message to us; marine mammals act as a reliable environmental indicator and the MMSC plays their part by investigating the cause of death of any marine mammals
that wash up on our Jersey shores. Cause of deaths can vary from collision with a ship, bacteria or virus. The center also offers education and outreach providing internships, group tours and summer camps as well as visiting schools. I’m no stranger to their unforgettable on-site museum; it’s very humbling to be in the presence of real whale bones! It’s a place where my “little” and I would visit. She was the little sister assigned to me from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ocean City about ten years ago. We were matched based on our common interests in the environment and animals. The MMSC is a spot we’d frequent because of what it symbolizes. Their mission statement: Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release, Preserve proves to go beyond the realm of marine mammals. In an area where our beloved ocean provides food, livelihood, tourist attraction, sport, entertainment and relaxation, we need to be sure to maintain the health of the ecosystem as well as ourselves. Events such
as the fundraiser on April 21 at Yesterday’s are key to raising money and awareness for the MMSC. Schoelkopf says the center encourages such homegrown fundraising events and is very fond of this event – for even in its wake, monies are still being donated with the sale of every bottle of New Brighton Coffee Stout Beer. Speaking of which… Thirsty? You can find the New Brighton Stout just outside of old New Brighton at Yesterday’s in Marmora, Passion Vines in Somers Point, and Canal’s Liquor Store in Mays Landing. Really Thirsty? Kegs are available at the Tuckahoe Brewing Company (contact them at tuckahoebrewing.com). Don’t want your donation to MMSC to stop there? Visit marinemammalstrandingcenter. com.
JUST BREW IT From Left Jim McAfee, Chris Konicki, Tim Hanna and Matt McDevitt of Tuckahoe Brewing Company created the New Brighton Coffee Stout Beer and give all proceeds from its sale to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center