28 December 2008

Blues & Brews at Wharf Rat Camden Yards Jan. 3

Reposted from an e-mail from SPBW VP Dominic Cantalupo:

"Many of you know that The Wharf Rat in Baltimore @ Camden Yards has new ownership and they have retained Brewer, Steve Jones. The new ownership group is looking to create a re-birth and new commitment to area Ale fans and the homebrew and beer industry groups. Coming next Saturday, January 3rd The Wharf Rat @ Camden Yards will host the 1st ever “Blues with Brews” night featuring Baltimore’s Rockin’ Blues Band, Black Falls. www.myspace.com/blackfallsband.

They will have multiple firkins at only $3/pint, plus $3 select Oliver’s Ales, $2 Rail drinks all night, discounted food specials and prize giveaways throughout the night. Showtime should be around 9pm or so. They are located at 206 W. Pratt Street, Baltimore, Md. 21201. Brewer Steve Jones will also be there to meet and greet fellow home brewers and beer enthusiasts."

Probably-needless disclaimer: Cantalupo is a member of Black Falls.

27 December 2008

Blob's Park To Open New Year's Eve!


Yep, the news is out. From http://www.blobspark.net/:

BLOB'S PARK CELEBRATES NEW YEARS EVE 2008!!

December 31, 2008-- 8024 Max Blobs Park Rd., Jessup, MD 20794

Your entertainment will be the fabulous Charm City Sound Band playing from 9 pm to 1 am.

Cost is $50 per person and includes admission, buffet, entertainment, and party favors. There will be a cash bar available.

Due to the late opening announcement, anyone who has a ticket to a New Years Eve event elsewhere and can present it at the door will be granted free admission after 10 pm if they would like to ‘Ring in the New Year at Blobs’. Call 410-799-7130 or e-mail Blob's Park (e-mail at their website) for reservations.

16 December 2008

Christmas Beer Notes

Kept brief so I don't waste too much time typing.......

White Marsh Winter Solstice on firkin: Yes, a spectacular chocolate-tinged porter. My seatmate detects a note of Anchor OSA-like cinnamon; I concur a bit. Delicious as it warms--think a muted Sam Adams Chocolate Bock.

Ridgeway Insanely Bad Elf 11.2% in bottle, imperial red: WONDERFULLY rich and decadent in flavor, but the 11.2% is well-disguised, seemingly more like an 8% IPA. Sweet red, almost notes of cherry/fruit cocktail.

Haand Bryggeriet Nissefar 7.0%, bottle says "Batch 169, brewed Aug 08, best before Aug 10", Norwegian holiday ale: a great high-gravity stout, blacker than Guinness, sweet and woody/tannic. Hints at spice, but seems more like the rare woods of Dogfish Head's wacky Palo Santo.

Mystery "pour me whatever's open" glass, so we know it's bottled: cloudy tan color, weird "skunk cabbage" nose--although nicely tasty with a lot of funky sweet-tart things going on, the overwhelming opinion around the proverbial "table" is that this bottle is "skunked". Casey assures me it's not--Theirez Noel from France. Yeah, I could order this again--with mussels, maybe.

Birra de Natale (Italia): bright red, a nice sweet slightly funky (ok, not so slight) Belgian-style Xmas, a bit lightweight but zesty and a natural for hopheads.

Struisee Tsjeeses (gesundheit) 330ml bottle 10%: brewed with spices, cloudy tan with little bits floating in it. I'm thinking in terms of spiced pears, sweet with a touch of funk.

Wintercoat Yule Ol: mahagony/dark red, cloudy, spiced nose. Tasty albeit dry and with some serious alcohol bite.

Mikkeller Not Just Another Wit: fuzzy golden, good head, classic spicy wit nose..... I play the "name this beer" game with three associates. The guesses I get are Sierra Nevada Celebration, Heavy Seas Winter Storm, and Struise Tsjeeses. It's hoppy as hell compared to the rest of tonight's selections, rich, golden, spicy, hoppy hoppy joy joy...........

Troegs Mad Elf 2007: zounds, whatta braggot. Almost syrupy, what with its blend of cherries, honey, and malt. That same outrageous meld of cherries, smoke, honey smoothness, and alcohol. Wine-like in its palate and assault.

Resurrection in Bottles Spotted.......

Wells on York Road got in their shipment--ten cases, 120 bottles--this morning.

They report Bond Distributing got 400 12-bottle cases, and they were sold in only two days to the various retail outlets.

Let the race begin!

15 December 2008

Cheap Beer Challenge!!!!

Okay, folks--on orders from the bosses.........

I want nominations for the CHEAPEST craft beer one can find!

It HAS to be beer I would voluntarily pay for. Lower-echelon is OK (light Kolsch or pilsner), just as long as it's cheap!

Opening salvo: Tuesday 99 cent drafts at Red Brick Station in White Marsh!

Anyone else able to top (or update) this?

Christmas Beer Social at Max's on the 16th

Okay, seriously, is there anyone reading this blog that is unaware that Max's Taphouse in Fells Point holds a weekly Tuesday Night Beer Social?

Well, tomorrow's promises to be a doozy:

ON CASK:
Weyerbacher Winter
Heavy Seas Winter Storm
Whitemarsh Winter Sotice
DRAFTS:
Whitemarsh Winter Soltice
Southern Tier Chockalt
Troegs Mad Elf 2007
Troegs Mad Elf 2008
Samichlaus Helles
Scaldis Noel
Barbar Winter Bok
Seirra Nevada Celebration
Birra Natale
Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux
la Rulles Cuvee
Corsendonk Christmas
St Bernardus Christmas
BOTTLES:
Haandbryggeriet Nissefar
Del Ducato Krampus
Wintercoat Yule Ol
Ridgeway Crimanlly Bad Elf
Ridgeway Insanely Bad Elf
Anchor Christmas Ale
Mikkeller Not just Another Wit
Struise Tseejes
Thrieiz Noel
Geants Noel De Geants
De Ranke Pere Noel

Of the ones I've had so far, I can't help but sing the praises of the White Marsh Winter Solstice--a rich, chocolate-laden beer weighing in at a relatively modest 5.5%. It was spectacular at the Brewers Art Xmas Beer Tasting, handily the best of the bunch there (although that could well be influenced in part by the "newness" of the beer as opposed to old standbys like Heavy Seas Winter Storm, Victory Hop Wallop, Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, Weyerbacher Winter, etc.). The Anchor Our Special Ale 2008 (and you must be a beer snob if you refer to it by its proper name, instead of the "Christmas Ale") is also in fine form, as is the Wild Goose Snow Goose.

Waitaminute: Where's the Snow Goose up there, dammit?

11 December 2008

Someone doesn't care for Beer Advocate..........

I normally try not to take sides in the wonderful "turf wars" of online beer reporting/rating/blogging. I have enough trouble keeping up with my own stuff to pay attention to the other stuff out there.

But on one of my online beer lists today, someone posted the following in reference to Beer Advocate and the related website:
With all due respect, the Alstroms are very bad for craft beer and, as
such, their website must be removed from any list of credible sources
of beery info.
Okay: HUH?

Discuss, if you care.

10 December 2008

December Events--well, Dec. 11th Events, at Least.....

Still recovering from a night cold (my days are tolerable, my nights hell), but I have to report on three events happening simultaneously Thursday the 11th:

At Metropolitan in Federal Hill: a firkin of Troegs Hopback Amber, loaded with Liberty hops.

At The Wharf Rat-Fells Point, the monthly meeting of the SPBW. Show up, fill out a membership form and pay $10, and you get a year's membership. And beer that night--two firkins promised. (There is some unconfirmed scuttlebutt that, due to events related to the recent sale of the Wharf Rat brewpub downtown, that this could be the last SPBW gathering at this location. See it while you can. There may be a fire in the fireplace, to boot.)

At Max's Taphouse, a Stone Brewing "blowout" featuring twelve Stone beers, priced per glass and no cover:
Pale Ale, IPA, Ruination, Arrogant Bastard, Oak Arrogant Bastard, Smoked Porter, Imperial Stout, Double Bastard, 10th Anniversary, 11th Anniversary, 12th Anniversary, Levitation.

Hey, you want faster reporting, pay me enough to quit the day job. <:-)

Resurrection in Bottles Update......

Today's City Paper carried ads for the new bottled Resurrection, with a release date of the 10th.......

Anyone seen the bottles for sale anywhere?

NOTE: Photo below uploaded strictly for "parking" purposes, not related.

09 December 2008

Second Chance for Last Chance?

[Sorry for the lag in reporting, folks--I've been under the weather with a touch of flu for the past week. More updates to follow tonight--I hope.]

From Columbia, Md., we get this report from central Maryland's intrepid Paul Milligan:

The Second Chance Saloon opened Friday in Columbia's Oakland Mills Village Center, where the Last Chance Saloon once was. I spoke to some friends who went there Saturday night.
They said that the menu and beer selection are currently limited, and that the service was slow; however, they thought that each of those things could be because they had just opened the day before.

They've got a limited web site at
http://www.2ndchancesaloon.com/

Thanks for the update, Paul!

28 November 2008

The Owl Bar

The Baltimore Sun's Sam Sessa ("Midnight Sun") has a post on the wonderful place all of us beer geeks keep passing up in order to go across the street to the Brewers' Art:

The Owl Bar. In the former Hotel Belvedere at Chase and Charles Streets.

Yes, the bar, as well as the lobby you pass through to get there, is a freakin' time capsule, although the beer selection now reflects modern drinking sensibilities, with a good selection of micros. If you haven't been there, you must go. Now. Before someone manages to turn it into a modern nightclub or a sushi bar. Dress properly; I feel out of place in sneakers there. Bonus points for a fedora and trenchcoat. And check out what may be one of the last phone booths in Baltimore while you're there, before the phone companies render the last of Superman's changing rooms to the history bins.

(For any phone historians keeping track, I believe Baltimore's last actual free-standing phone booth--a three-sided box with a door or one in a past life, not a phone stand or kiosk--sits on the south side of Wilkens Avenue just west of Hilton Avenue, outside St. Agnes Hospital. I'd welcome reports of any others in the region; the last one in the metropolitan DC region, in Clarendon, Va., was removed earlier this year.)

Resurrection in Bottles at last!

Volker Stewart of the Brewer's Art had asked me to keep the details on this quiet for a while to save potential embarrassment, because thay had production/distribution delays, but seeing as the Baltimore City Paper has started running ads for the stuff..........

The bar's trademark and flagship elixir, Resurrection Ale, will debut in 750-ml bottles on December 16th at the "usual" retail and bar locations around the area. It's being brewed and bottled, along with its siblings Le Canard and Ozzy, at Sly Fox in Phoenixville, Pa. I'll be surprised if there aren't "sneak previews" at some venues before the 16th, particularly the Brewers Art holiday beer tasting on Dec. 6th (though opening bottles of that stuff where the draft is made seems to be totally missing the point!).

So You Have To Drink Before Eating Turkey?

I heard several media reports (radio, Baltimore Sun, et al) reporting--for the first time that I've ever heard it--that the day before Thanksgiving is either THE busiest/biggest drinking day of the year or one of the top drinking days.

HUH?!?!?!?

Excuse me, but: wotthehell? How come nobody gave ME this memo?

You can't be serious. Bigger than Christmas? Bigger than New Year's Eve? Bigger than Stupor Bowl Sunday? Bigger than Amateur Drunken Irish Idiot Day, or the day of the parade for that occasion?

Sorry, folks, I need convincing. Methinks the news media was the victim of yet another scare-mongering press release from Mothers Against All Drinking--err, Against Drunk Driving.

Although, truth be told, in my driving on Turkey Day, I was positively stunned at the number of liquor stores I saw open late into the night in southern Maryland. And I did speak with a relative who is better in touch with a younger demographic than I am. She said, "Makes sense..... you have a whole bunch of young people,freshly 21, home from college or wherever else for the holiday, in town early on Wednesday night, nothing to do but go out with their high school buddies and catch up. And, you know, some people just may need a couple drinks to be able to deal with their parents or other relatives...."

Okay, maybe if we count drinking at home. But out at bars?

Any others out there that can come up with statistics--or the MADD press release? Tom? Lew? Greg? Anyone?

Online search uncovers a debate last year on the topic.

Thoughts?

22 November 2008

Blob's Park Update

I stopped by Blob's Park in Jessup en route to a memorial service today. Long story short: Renovations are continuing apace, and the only hold-up is how fast the county issues the various and sundry permits. The new owner puts the odds of being open for the planned New Year's Eve celebration at "50-50".

21 November 2008

Beer Joke of the Day

courtesy of Geekpress:

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar.
The first one orders a beer.
The second orders half a beer.
The third, a quarter of a beer.
The bartender says "You're all idiots", and pours two beers.

20 November 2008

Rare Beer Notes

JWLees Harvest Calvados cask (a wooden pin on the bar): the ambrosia you expect. Just shut up and order this, and dig for the apple cider character.

BFM Abbaye de Bon Chien and La Mandragore: Had AdBC a while back with the brewers when they were here--a funk-fest, interesting but too tart to be fun for me. The Mandragore is, according to the label pasted on the tap handle, a dark ale on lees, "smoked and roasted, sweet and full-bodied"..... I call false advertising. It's ridiculously light-bodied for 8.0%, a good hint of smoke but almost wiped out by the tart Belgian palate. Call it a tart Belgian rauchbier.

Southern Tier Creme Brulee: Thought I had this, obviously not. This is what I would expect if you made a vanilla/chocolate liqueur and watered it down. The flavor--caramel, vanilla bean, and lactose sugar in a milk stout--is terrific but smacks just a bit too much of artificial flavors, like a trashy schnapps watered down.

Smuttynose Brett & I 7.0%: quite nice and drinkable for a Belgian Strong Pale. VERY smooth and tasty, just enough Belgian to be interesting but a good bitter finish.

Birra de Borgo Genziana 5.5% Italian saison w/ coriander & gentian: a nice spicy summerweight, not sure anyone could I*D the spices but delightfully "green" (think cucumber/lettuce, not raw beer) and almost Thai in character. Bring me a hot Indian curry with this!

Dogfish Head Palo Santo: They say brown ale, I say porter, extra dark. VERY woody and creamy, sort of sweet with a tannic edge that leans vegetable or astringent. Stone fruit, cherry-laced expresso, leaqning towards barrel-aged stout that isn't bourbon...... maybe red wine or port? Would I have more? Hell, yes, but only in the right frame of mind and palate.

Dogfish Head Theobroma 10% brewed w/Aztec cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, honey, chiles and Annatto (fragrant tree seeds, it says--go ahead and internet-search it yourselves): pale amber, almost bright. This is yet another case where I think Dogfish went crazy for crazy's sake. It's a good beer, and were I drinking it in Mexico or even arid Arizona I might wax eloquent, but here and now it disappoints. Maybe it has something to do with the cold weather outside for the past week or so? This would work excellently in Frisco Grille in the summer, but not here and now.

18 November 2008

Rare Beer at Max's Thursday

The final list for Max's "Rare & Obscure Beers" Thursday beginning @ 5 PM:

ON CASK
George Gales Prize Old Ale
JW Lees Harvest Ale Aged in Calvados
De Regenboog Catherine The Great
ON DRAFT
BFM Abbaye De Bon Chien
BFM La Mandragore
JW Lees Harvest Ale
Southern Tier Choklat
Southern Tier Creme Brulee
Smuttynose Brett & I
Smuttynose Jack Daniels Porter
Smuttynose Oak Aged Barleywine 2005
Great Divide Espresso Yeti
Dogfish Head 120 Minute
Dogfish Head Theobroma
Dogfish Head Palo Santo
Dogfish Head Pangaea
Allagash Victoria
Allagash Black
Birra De Borgo TE
Birra De Borgo Genziana
E. Dupont Organic Bouche Brut 2007
Samichlaus Helles
Piccolo Birrificio Chiostro

16 November 2008

Baltimore Beer Week: What do YOU want to see?

Now comes the brainstorming.

We've announced the coming Baltimore Beer Week below--next October. About all we definitely have are the dates. We also know that the Brewers Assn. of Md. will hold its annual Oktoberfest on Saturday the 10th, and that the SPBW is slated to hold its annual Chesapeake Real Ale Festival on Oct. 17th. In theory, we can push the week to include Friday the 9th and Sunday the 18th.

What other events would you like to see?

The idea is to push the envelope as far as we can get away with. The bare minimum would be just what you'd expect: hearty participation by the brewpubs and the prime local beer bars (Max's, Mahaffey's, Ale Mary's Baltimore Taphouse, Metropolitan, Muggsy's, Grand Cru, etc.). It's fair to expect a beer dinner or three, maybe many at many venues--maybe even beer dinners at places that don't normally do beer....... Sushi and beer? Indian food and beer? Vegan food and beer? Beer and steaks? Beer and the farmers' markets? But best of all, even the smallest corner dives in the city should be persuaded to get a local-beer tap on for the week.

One of my suggestions was to do a banquet-style dinner with as many of the "pioneers" of the craft-brew renaissance as we could gather: Hugh Sisson, the British/Oxford guys, Bill Oliver, Volker Stewart, Jim Lutz, and the like. There could also be other dinners for other themes: extreme beers, vintage beers, and the like. The only problem that I forsee is that none of the surviving beer halls, with the possible exception of the under-renovation Blob's Park in Jessup, are really that suitable for a beer dinner with speakers, much as the Brickskeller in Washington D.C. has perfected over the decades. (The former Baltimore Brewing Co. would have been perfect..... *sigh*...) Soneone who shall remain unnamed floated a perfect alternative: the Baltimore Museum of Industry. It fits the theme of the venue, they have the room, and they cater events. Hmmmmm......

Anyone want to do a breweriana show? Maybe the Sunday after the Oktoberfest?

Regional homebrew expo?

Special beer for the week? Sort of on the lines of the BAM Sticke Alt they had for this year's Oktoberfest, but more for more venues. What style should it be? (Personally? I'd prefer a bottle-conditioned or cask best bitter, akin to the old original Wild Goose Amber or Snow Goose, but I have obvious prejudices....)

Come on, folks. Comment away so I can pass on your ideas! (Well, the practical ones, anyway.)

"They're crazy and they're kooky......."



We all know it as the "Addams Family Mansion." Or maybe the "Munsters' Mansion." (Well, those of us old enough to remember the TV shows do, at least.)
The 1887 American Brewery (originally the Wiessner Brewery) and surrounding buildings on Gay Street in eastern Baltimore have been under renovation by developers and the city for several years now, a process prolonged by decades of severe neglect and deterioration. This afternoon, the city "celebrated" a milestone in the renovation with the completion of exterior renovations to the building. (Basically, it was a photo op for mayor Shiela Dixon and her political cronies--how else could they drop references to the recent presidential election and get a crowd chanting "Yes we can!" repeatedly?)
The iconic Brewhouse building will be occupied by Humanim, a non-profit human services agency, which expects to relocate 200 staffers to the building and hire an additional 50 locally. The renovation and restoration is incorporating a few token elements of the brewery's design and function, similar to the fashion in which the Power Plant on the Inner Harbor incorporates details such as the smokestack flues and boiler shells in the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the building. The total estimated cost of the renovation is slightly over $21 milion, being paid for with a dizzying array of tax credits, grants from foundations, city money, corporate donations, and the like. a separate bottling building, of utilitarian industrial design but somehow also on the National Register of Historic Places along with the Brewhouse, will be separately developed beginning in 2009.
There was a block party for the locals and interested folks (in the raw and cold wind today, this writer may well have been the only "outsider" present other than other media, politicians, and developer reps). Free hot dogs, popcorn (regular or caramel), and sodas (what, no beer?).

12 November 2008

The Parkside: Kids Welcome!!!


Finally, the other beer-friendly project in Northeast Baltimore is open. And it's good news for a LOT of beer fans.

A kid-friendly beer bar. Seriously.

Located at 4709 Harford Road, just north of Harford and Moravia in the Lauraville neighborhood, The Parkside is an odd project, the work of ex-Brewers Art employees Chris and Colleen Cashell and Vickie Johnson. Let's see, it's a bar, it's a restaurant, it's a bakery, it's a market, it's a carryout, it's a kid's playground, it's a deli....... have I left anything out? The closest I can come in character/feel to the place is a scaled-down version of Franklin's in Hyattsville, the combined brewpub/"general store"/liquor store.

The establishment sort of sneaked open earlier this month, and is still not quite up to speed--the bakery, deli, and market end is only semi-stocked so far. The bar is attractive, with the bar surface itself looking like a bowling alley lane ("It's not a bowling alley; it just looks like one," said Chris, proud of his handiwork). The bar has six draft lines so far, two reserved for Brewer's Art products and the other four to rotate according to availability and whim (Troegs Dopplebock and Victory Hop Devil on as of today), plus an impressive bottled beer line-up along with some limited (for now?) wine and good spirits.

The feature that sets this place off from all the others is a fenced-off play area for small children. This is not only for the benefit of the owners' children, but for all children of patrons. The venue is designed to be children-and-parent-friendly, a concept all too rare in the American alcohol-retail business where the mantra, thanks to Puritanical American attitudes about booze, is "No Children!" There's even a Sunday brunch. (Note: the play area closes at 8 PM, and you do have to mind your children--no dropping them off as child care.)

The website, including hours, menus, etc.: http://www.theparksideonline.com/ . As with the rest of the place, still a work in progress.

I don't have what we Scots call "wee bairns," but I know plenty of folks who do, including my sister and several beer aficionados. It's simply unrealistic to expect someone to bring his wife and small kid(s) to a place like Max's, The Brewers Art, or even the "family-oriented" brewpubs like Red Brick Station. I want this place to succeed, if only to offer the "family men" a night out.


Parkside Fine Food and Spirits on Urbanspoon

11 November 2008

BALTIMORE BEER WEEK!!!!!

The official announcement:

October 9-18, 2009!

Featuring the Brewers Assn. of Md. Oktoberfest beer festival, the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival, and many beer events in between!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! BE THERE OR..... well, I'll drink your beer, then. >;-D

[Drop me a line if you're interested in participation, sponsorship, etc.--I'll forward you to the right committee members.)

01 November 2008

Wild Goose Pumpkin Patch and Snow Goose--and a vintage Snow Goose!


It took considerable effort, but I finally located a sixer of Wild Goose Pumpkin Patch Ale at Shawan Liquors, and a day or two later the first of the 2008 Wild Goose Snow Goose.

Pumpkin Patch: I had a fellow beer writer insist that he just didn't care for pumpkin beers, any of them. I encouraged him to seek out this option and report back to me. I'm still awaiting comment from him, but as for us:

Lovely bright amber, decent head retention, malty and vaguely bakery-reminiscent nose (pie crust?) with delicate spice notes. This is really a spiced ale with those distinctive cinnamon, ginger, clove, allspice, and nutmeg notes (yes, that's the classic pumpkin pie spice combination). The label says it has pumpkin in it, but truth be told, if you don't tell someone they well may not figure it out. And that's what I like about this-it's still beer, not pumpkin with some beer thrown in like some of the pumpkin beers out there. (Although my wife found herself partial to Cape Ann Pumpkin Stout.....) 6.0% abv, 28 international bittering units. This could make a lovely winter warmer. And speaking of that...........

Snow Goose has long been a personal favorite of mine, dating back to its first batch in 1993. It was originally a richer, maltier version of Wild Goose; with some of the primitive equipment and lack of filters at the original Cambridge brewery, it inadvertently became a bottle-conditioned beer. Even when it first came out, I recognized the high malt content and bottle conditioning as a potential beer for aging, and laid down several bottles beside the Thomas Hardy's Ale bottles in hopes of coming up with something good.

Does it keep? I took my last 1993 bottle to the "reopening of Wild Goose" party (basically the fourth rebranding of the old Blue Ridge brewery) in Frederick two years ago, when old Goose partner Jim Lutz was brought back in by Flying Dog as VP-Sales for their newly-purchased eastern brewery (soon to become their only brewery). Jim proceeded to drag the brewers back into the brewery's lab along with me and my bottle, and opened it up to pass it around, proclaiming "That's what we need to be doing, that's what we need to aim for!" Yes, it was old, quite a bit stale and oxidized (well, come on, they used green Beck's bottles back then!), but the flavors were all there, nicely mutated into almost a lightweight Thomas Hardy's.

And 2008's version? 6.3%, 30 IBUs, says the label. (Both labels have been recast to fit a new label image for Wild Goose that's been shipping for several months; thankfully, both seasonals feature at least a token appearance of a version of the original flying goose graphic, and the Snow Goose features some appropriate dustings of snow; they're nice, but I will miss the ever-changing art of the original versions, and most especially the goose-in-a-pumpkin-patch one.) Pours dark mahagony and bright (nope, dammit, no yeast lees in the bottle) with rich head retention. A dry malty nose with a solid bit of roast there. Flavor: Very malty, dry, and biscuity, properly English, and lurking behind all that roast is that fruity ale yeast character that in the past has almost resembled fruit cocktail juice flavor. The hops linger in the finish. I'm almost anticipating a snowstorm outside as I finish this--that's how much the flavor has been conditioned into my DNA by now. Overall impression: a quite drinkable winter warmer, light enough on body to not demand a blizzard and fireplace but still hearty and dynamic. It'll never get anywhere among the disciples of the "extreme beer" movements, and that's largely why I dismiss such rantings as testosterone-driven folderol.

And now, for a special treat for the readers here--okay, for me, definitely, for you it depends how much you like living vicariously through me--out comes a dust-covered green bottle of 1994 Snow Goose!

Upon pouring, the vicinity fills with a nose of malty butterscotch! Heavens, I keep forgetting! Huge head, takes several pours to fill the glass and decant it. A deeper, slightly more opaque red, rich head retention. Nose depends on who's sniffing; a Beer Judge Certification Proram panel could go miles with some of the "off" scents and flavors of damp cardboard and diacetyl (hey, nobody planned this beer to be aged this long!), but I get notes of sherry and raisins, maybe a hint of tawny port, amidst a complex fruit cocktail. Flavors of light butterscotch, crystal malt, and stone fruit. My wife suggests that it smells vaguely like Samichlaus. Upon further sipping, the buttery notes of Ringwood become more prominent. The overall flavor and mouthfeel is hideously complex--like a watered-down Thomas Hardy's, as if someone designed a 6%-ish beer to totally offend a Bud Light or Natty Boh drinker. The overall finish is sweet and almost cloying, but still good in retrospect--and a final hint reminiscent of peat smoke (and I have a homebrewer friend who tosses peat into the fireplace now and then, so I know the real thing).

I polish off the last sips of the 2008 Snow Goose, and it seems like a total waste, like chugging a Sam Adams shot following a J.W. Lees Harvest Ale.

Please, Jim and Wild Goose/Flying Dog, I beg and implore you: go back to bottle-conditioning this damned beer, or at least start throwing us lowly peons a few firkins of this ambrosia. And if possible, stop filtering the character out of this Snow Goose, please!

More on Blob's Park

The Annapolis Capital newspaper has more on the pending reopening of Blob's Park in this article from about a week ago.

30 October 2008

Federal Hill and "No-Tolerance" Parking?

The Baltimore Sun's Sam Sessa is covering in his Midnight Sun blog a proposed change to parking restrictions in Federal Hill--a change that certainly doesn't bode well for those hoping to visit the area's many fine beer bars:

a brief synopsis: In most Federal Hill parking zones, you can park on most non-metered streets in Federal Hill for two hours without a permit between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., give or take. Before or after those hours, parking is free.

But on baseball and football game days, if you don't have a permit and you park in one of these spots, you get ticketed and towed.

Got it? OK. Now, here's what they want to do ...

With the new proposal, they want to make it so you can park for two hours without a permit between the hours of 7 am. and 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and similar hours on Sundays. Before or after those hours, you're going to need a permit.

I'm not entirely sure of the time table, but if community organizers get enough signatures, we could see these changes go into effect next year.

More at the links, along with a boatload of comments from readers.

29 October 2008

Wharf Rat: Beer Geek Halloween!

I'm still awaiting more details from the whole crew at the Wharf Rat regarding the recent sale of the brewpub (and much of it will go to Mid-Atlantic Brewing News because they pay me for it), but I wanted to pass along an initial invitation by the new owner, Justin Dvorkin:

While the youngster are mobbing Fells Point we figured we would have a bit of a beer geek night at the Wharf Rat. We are going to have 2 Firkins on the bar, one Old Habit($3), and one TBA (we are taking requests) and we are trying to bring in a couple high end pumpkin beers (Weyerbacher, Dogfish, etc.)($3). Please help me get the word out, if I can get some support, I would love to do nights like this on a regular basis.
Consider it done; I'll be there. It's kind of hard for me to get my head around the concept of a brewpub having enough firkins on hand to be able to entertain requests.....

UPDATE from Justin: "Just wanted to give you an update on what we have planned for
tomorrow. Steve has decided to spice things up a bit. Our firkin of Old Habit is currently being aged with vanilla beans, and we will also be pouring a dry hopped firkin of our Irish Red. Please pass the word along to anyone who may be interested. Hope to see you there!"

Orkney Skullsplitter--Too Violent a Beer?

Oh, blimey.

First, we've had various beers get in trouble with the ATF (later the TTB) over claims that could be construed to be "healthful" (see Bert Grant of Grant's in Washington sticking a factual nutritional-content label--a label that is REQUIRED on other foodstuffs--on his Celtic Ale years ago) or that could be construed to be a claim of superior alcoholic strength (ever see the labels on the bottles of the first batch of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout with two black marker lines at the bottom of the text, crossing out the words "Vim and Vigor"?).....................

Now add violence to the mix.

Quoting the website for Scotland's Orkney Brewery:

SKULL SPLITTER ALE MAY FACE AXE AFTER PORTMAN REPORT

The Orkney Brewery has mounted a vigorous defence of its award winning Skull Splitter ale, which could be withdrawn from sale in the UK following a report claiming its Viking branded bottles had an “aggressive” theme.

The report, by management consultancy PIPC, was commissioned by controversial drinks marketing watchdog, the Portman Group, to investigate compliance with an industry code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcohol.

Skull Splitter, an 8.5% ale created over 20 years ago and sold internationally, was singled out in the PIPC report because “it’s name implies violence and also the impact the strength may have on the drinker”.

The report claimed that, potentially, Skull Splitter was in breach of the drinks industry’s code and the Portman Group will meet later in the year to consider what action, if any, it may take against the Orkney Brewery. That action could include an instruction to UK retailers not to stock the ale.

Fearing one of its longest established and most popular ales could be withdrawn from sale in the UK, the brewery has now launched a campaign to save Skull Splitter, a former Champion Winter Ale of Britain.

Already commended for leading the way with efforts to increase awareness of sensible drinking, the brewery – set to undergo a major redevelopment - has repeatedly stressed to the Portman Group that the ale is in fact named after Thorfinn Hausakluif, the Seventh Viking Earl of Orkney - nicknamed “Skull Splitter”.

Orkney Brewery’s parent company, Sinclair Breweries Ltd, is mustering support for its case ahead of the final decision by the Portman Group.

Norman Sinclair, managing director of Sinclair Breweries Ltd, said: “We’re completely stunned by the hard line the Portman Group has taken with Skullsplitter. When they first raised their concerns with us on the back of the PIPC report we fully explained the historical background to the name and, as responsible brewers, we were happy to try and work with them to find a solution. Indeed, we’ve cooperated with them every step of the way but it’s apparently got us nowhere.

“Again and again we have stressed to the Portman Group that Skull Splitter, like all our beers, is a high quality, hand crafted product designed to be savoured by adults who enjoy the real ale experience. We never target any of our beers at a young market, nor do we allow them to be sold cut price. In addition, Skull Splitter is not sold in supermarkets.”

Mr Sinclair said he had reminded the Portman Group that Sinclair Breweries Ltd, which also owns Kinlochleven’s Atlas Brewery, was the first small, independent brewer to incorporate new government alcohol consumption guidelines on all its labelling.

“We’ve always promoted a responsible attitude towards our products and, whilst we recognise that the Portman Group is trying to address a very real problem with under age drinking in this country, real ales are not the cause of these issues,” he said. “Sadly, the Portman Group does not appear to have grasped this fact. They have chosen to disregard everything we’ve said about the history of Orkney and the associated branding of what is a carefully crafted and well loved product, enjoyed the world over.”

He added: “We await their final decision with considerable concern. It’s almost inconceivable that a quality product such as Skull Splitter, one that has won numerous industry awards, could disappear from sale in the UK and I sincerely hope that common sense prevails.”

I presume these folks are the same brand of folks that insist that all "Tom and Jerry" and/or "Road Runner-Wiley Coyote" cartoons promote violence.......

(My thanks to fellow beer geek John Phelan for forwarding me the news, uncovered while searching for beers to drink during a planned trip...... and the "Baltimore" tie-in for this beer news? Well, it's imported by local beer distributor Legends Limited, run by Patrick Casey, a fine gentleman to whom we are much grateful.......)

23 October 2008

Metropolitan expanding

Metropolitan Coffee House in Federal Hill has reopened several months after being damaged by a fire. If you liked the old place, you'll like the new. One major improvement: during rebuilding, Bruce Dorsey took the opportunity to add more draft lines, including a two-tap Unibroue tower. The downstairs bar conversion is not yet finished ("Contractors!" said Bruce of the ever-popular source of renovation delays), but when it is it will sport a total of fourteen taps, plus the upstairs beer engine and six more taps upstairs. In addition, another bottle refrigerator has been added, giving them a few more "big-bottle" selections to offer.

On tap right now (well, as of a couple hours ago): Schneider Weisse, Ommegang Hennepin, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Troegs Rugged Trail Ale, Wolavers Oatmeal Stout, and North Coast Red Seal Ale downstairs, Brooklyn IPA, Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter, Allagash White, Weyerbacher Hops Infusion IPA, Ommegang Witte, and Troegs Pale Ale upstairs, as well as a firkin of Loose Cannon and an Olivers on the engine. Pending as soon as the cooler is finished: Unibroue Maudite and Chambly Noire, Bittberger Pils, Fullers ESB, Reading Premium, Uintas Anglers Pale Ale, and Lagunitas IPA.

Man, is this place looking good.

Pub grub tip: They offer two chilis on the menu, a vegetarian and a three-meat offering. If you ask, they'll blend the two in a bowl, which works out to be the best option for omnivores. They do also offer a full restaurant menu, up to steak and stuffed chops.

Wharf Rat-Camden Yards SOLD!

I wanted to save the news until I had a chance to actually sit down and talk with the principals in person, but as that seems to keep getting postponed by my busy work schedule and the fact that I occasionally like to eat and sleep:

Yes, it finally happened. The Wharf Rat Brewpub has been sold.

The new owners, who closed the sale Monday, are Justin Dvorkin, a brewer from Fordham Brewing, and Donald Kelly, who has operated bars in Connecticut. Bill Oliver will retain the original Wharf Rat in Fells Point. Stephen Jones comes with the brewery.

Changes? As of this moment, no changes are planned (although, lord almighty, they said that about Old Dominion, too), save for one: a possible expansion to TWO real-ale festivals a year! Jones and Dvorkin are slated to appear--along with a firkin of Oliver ale--at Metropolitan in Federal Hill next Thursday evening.

21 October 2008

"Rare Beer" Tappening at Max's Nov. 20th

[please to cue up Richard Thompson's "Now Be Thankful" for an event right before Thanksgiving......}

"Thursday, Nov 20, 2008 [Thursday before Thanksgiving]
Time:5pm-till ? Cost: cash Bar
No entrance fee location:main bar downstairs
I have pulled out some really rare and obscure kegs from my vault.These kegs are vintage, one- offs or very hard to find on draft.I have one kegs each of these and most are smaller kegs.So here is the line up.
ON DRAFT
BFM Abbaye de Bon Chien
BFM La Madragore
JW Lees Harvest Ale
Southern Tier Chocolate
Southern Tier Creme Brulee
Smuttynose Brett & I
Smuttynose Jack Daniels Porter
Smuttynose Oak Aged Barleywine 2005
Great Divide Espresso Yeti
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head Theobroma
Allagash Victoria
Allagash Black
Birra De Borgo TE
Birra De Borgo Genzina
E. Dupont Organic Cidre Bouche Brut 2007
Samichlaus Helles
PLUS A FEW MORE TBA.........
IN CASKS
George Gales Prize Old Ale
JW Lees Harvest Ale aged in Calvados
De Regenboog Catherine The Great"

[end quote]

See y'all there?

20 October 2008

Blob's Park Revival!

I said after the first year or so of writing for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News that I was getting sick of writing obituaries for closing bars/breweries. Well, it is now my pleasure to revoke a recent one.

Folowing up on several rumors that had been floating about, it appears that Blob's Park, down near Jessup, is being rebuilt for a reopening! To quote an e-mail from a leader in the German-American folk-dancing community:

John's brother Max Eggerl is renovating and will manage the new
Blob's Park. I talked with him at the Timonium Festival after
we performed. He's quite positive about doing things differently
and getting better results.

The other Max mentioned has moved here from Bavaria and into
[former owner] Katherine's home. He'll be the acting chef living
on site and that should mean an expansion of both menu and hours
open. Those are big investment on the two Max's parts. We've gotten
used to higher admissions with dinner included at our many forays
into Baltimore's ethnic dance halls this year so we'll be ready for
whatever program keeps the place alive.

Once his plan is in effect it's up to those who have wept and
moaned about the closing to stop talking about the great loss
and to do something to support the new place. We'll hold parties
there every month and will support special events every way we can,
performing at Oktoberfests, teaching at band breaks, and always
dressed ethnic to add to the atmosphere.
There are photos of the extensive renovations up at the old website
and the new one.



Chesapeake Real Ale Festival Report

The quick and dirty first:

As far as I can tell, everything shown on the earlier list for casks at the Real Ale Fest showed up save for The Raven. (Brewer Steve Demczuk practically admitted at the Md. Oktoberfest a week earlier--and yeah, I have to post on that, don't I?--that he was simply running out of firkins, and might have to pass it up.)

Best beer of the day? Oh, PLEASE don't make me pick. It was a ludicrous embarrassment of riches, not a bad or even non-excellent beer to be had in the line-up. Of course, no doubt there was something that someone may not care for--say, if you're not a fan of extra-hoppy beers, or cider, or black/roasty beers--but so what? There was a mild, or an ESB, something to please just about anyone that cared about real ale.

Better yet, unlike previous years where runs on particularly rare or popular beers depleted supply quite early, almost every beer, even those in small pins, lasted almost to the end of the festival, when growler fills were available for $5 each--a bargain for every beer there. (Though, admittedly, only one growlerful at best remained of some beers.)

There are rumors floating about, however, that the festival may have to find a new home for 2009. More on that if and when it all transpires.

Great Beer Cheap!!!!!!!

Note: This is only posted as a service to my readers. I gain no financial benefit from this.

Wells Liquors (and if you don't know where/what that is, why are you reading this?) currently has on sale three large-bottle specials, typical of distributors looking to make some shelf space by discounting the last of the inventory:

Brewers Art Le Canard, the first bottled batch (750ml corked)
Southampton Tripel, Imperial Porter, and Pumpkin Ale (22-oz. bottles)
Flying Dog Wild Dog Colorado Saison (corked 750ml)

Several cases of each on hand. All are excellent beers, and VERY cheap relative to original prices ("so low, we can't even say it here!"). Stock up, but leave me a couple more, please. And there are, as always, a couple other "last of the batch" beers on sale, such as Lancaster's Rooster Rye.

UPDATE 25 Oct.: Only some Wild Dog and Southampton Pumpkin left......

14 October 2008

Free Book Giveaway!

Courtesy of The Book Thing, I have two FREE copies of Charlie Papazian's "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" to give away to any readers here.

Tell you what: I'll give them to the first two respondents who make the best case--in my arrogant, biased judgement, of course--why I should give them a copy of the book.

Fine Print: Both books are stamped inside the cover "Not for resale; THIS IS A FREE BOOK" and one copy has the trait common to most copies of this book, evidence of spilled beer wort. Books must be picked up from me in person at any reasonable location to be named, OR winner can pay for media postage or buy me a beer or two for the trouble.

Allow me to take an aside to plug The Book Thing in Waverly: to the bibliophile, it's like free cocaine is to an addict. Tens of thousands of free books, available every Saturday and Sunday, absolutely FREE. They accept donations of books and financial support (the latter through their website only), and volunteers sort books by general category. Free books for growing children and schoolkids. Free books on art, music, science, sociology, food, drink, sci-fi, history, travel, romance novels, crafts, car repair, biographies, classics, etc. Heck, take obsolete computer books and travel guides and burn them for heat all winter for all they care (and a few books are only good for that, sadly). And on Saturday mornings year-round, the Waverly Farmer's Market is a short two blocks to the north--so you can get food for the body AND the mind in one easy Saturday morning junket!

Quick October Updates

Yes, it's been a while. There's a joke that "starting a blog = doubling your workload for no additional pay." Paying work comes first.

So without further ado:

*Metropolitan Coffee House in Federal Hill reopens Wednesday, Oct. 15th at 7 AM. Rebuilt after the fire a while back.

*The firkin list for Saturday's Chesapeake Real Ale Festival at the Wharf Rat-Camden Yards:

Barley & Hops Big Ben Nut Brown
Brewers Alley Oatmeal Stout
Brewers Art Beacon Ale & Seven Beauties Rye
BW Beer Works The Raven
Cape Ann Brewing Pumpkin Stout
Clipper City Loose Cannon & Winter Storm
Dogfish Palo Santo
DuClaw Alchemy
Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
Franklins Sierra Madre - American Pale
Growlers Nut Brown
Lancaster Celtic Rose
Old Dominion Unfiltered Dry Hopped Pale
Otter Creek World Tour "Otter Mon" Jamaican Stout
Red Brick Station Murphs Backdraft Porter
Reid's Orchard Hard Cider
Rock Bottom Bethesda ESB - Extra Scary Beer
Smuttynose Old Brown Dog
Troegs HopBack Amber
Victory Brewing ESB
Weyerbacher (Easton, Pa.) Old Heathen
Wharf Rat Dark Mild, Harvest Ale, Pin of 3 Lions
Wild Goose IPA
Yards (Phila.) General Washington Tavern Porter & Brawler, an English ruby mild

Ticket info: www.spbw.org/realale/ Ticket supplies ARE limited, and if they sell out you will be turned away. Bring growlers. Take mass transit or a taxi. Don't drink and drive.

*Latest Mid-Atlantic Brewing News (Oct-Nov) is on the streets. Go there for my column, as well as an article on Eastern Shore Brewing (to answer the one reader who commented by asking about that place).........

13 September 2008

Max's German Fest, Part Zwei

Walked in at 1:30 pm. Already gone: Weltenburg's Hefeweizen Hell and Barbock Hell, and before my eyes someone kills off the Uerige Dopple Sticke firkin, with the Reissdorf Kolsch firkin dying minutes later. (As always, because of varying keg sizes, the speed with which a keg is kicked isn't necessarily reflective of a beer's popularity. >:-) )

Next to fall: Bahnhof Berliner-Style Weise, an odd duck as the lightest beer by far here @ 3.1%. Dang, that was next on my "to-do" list.

I'm sipping my way through the Schlenkera Rauchbiers after a stupendous Weltenburg Wintertraum. The Wurst Platter is back up to full strength after an emergency resupply. Highly recommended.

12 September 2008

Max's German Fest, opening moments

Well, it's not the riot of the Belgian Fest, thankfully. I was #2 of three folks in "line" when the door opened at 11:05 am.

As advertised, 50 German drafts, 76 bottles on the menu. Notes on the blackboard: The following drafts did NOT make it in on time: Einbecker Schwarz, Weiheinstephaner Vitus and Korbian, making the presumptive draft list 47. Let's count:....................................................................... I'm counting 45 tap handles and one gravity-feed keg, and the spot where the Weiheinstephaner (I swear, that's a sobriety spelling test) duo is missing is conspicuous.

First beer for me to start: Grutbier in a bottle (see earlier post on why I love this one). I've noticed a price variation here; some retail outlets have this at $9 a bottle while it's here today at $6.

Bottle-sharing already with #3 In Line: Innstadt Dopplebock Extra 500ml flip-top, 7.2%: tasty interpretation, malty without being coyingly sweet like some.

Reissdorf Kolsch (gravity-feed/firkin, 4.8%)--bright as a polished bell, pale golden, nose of a heavier grain bill........ rich body..... this one's elusive. Great flavor compared to most pale lagers, and a rich mouthfeel without being too chewy or hoppy. Well-balanced, dry and almost woody finish.

First boot of beer ordered at noon, a litre boot of Spaten Oktoberfest......

Note: the sausages platter offers "Knockwurst, Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Bauernwurst, and Bierwurst", but they fell victim to the same fire at Binkert's, the sausage maker in Rosedale (the only German-style sausage maker in Maryland), as everyone else did, including the German Festival and Brewers' Art. The platter's still there, but not quite as impressive a line-up.

Weltenburg Hefeweizen Hell: 5.4%: hazy blond, weisse/wit nose, nice grassy and peppery dry hefe character.

Aktien Steingardener Dunkle Weisse (bottle): dark amber, bright, VERY sweet and rich, almost Bananas Foster with that underlying banana-clove atop a caramel malt palate.

Aktien Hefeweizen Anno 25 (bottle, 5.3%): pale golden, good head retention..... a rich, heavy, sweet body without being especially sweet in itself, a hint of citrus and wood tannin in finish.

Aktien Kaufbeurer Tänzelfestbier (bottle, 5.8%)--golden, terrific light malt nose....... a half-hour later, still trying to figure this one out. Zesty, citrus notes on the front of the sip, weizen flavor/body, powdery/yeasty, slightly spicy on the finish, but still too easy-drinking. This needs an ale yeast for complexity.

Okay, I didn't intend for this to become a one-brewery tasting, but with what's being shared amongst us, that's what it's turned into: Aktien Buronator Dopplebock (bottle, 7.5%): dark caramel color, bright, a hint of nut and fruit flavor amidst all the foamy sweet malt/bock character.

20 August 2008

Japanese sake brewer produces cellulosic ethanol

Tip o' the hat to Instapundit and AutoblogGreen:
One of Japan's largest sake manufacturers, Gekkeikan, has announced the development of a new "super yeast" able to produce cellulosic ethanol from non-edible parts of plants, such as paddy straw and chaff. The super yeast that produces alcohol was created with genetic engineering, by integrating koji mold genes that produce cellulolytic enzymes into sake yeast. These enzymes become densely displayed on the surfaces of the yeast cells. Since this super yeast has the functions of the standard koji mold, it achieves one-step production of ethanol from pretreated cellulose. The company claims the whole process is completed with a new easier pre-treatment at high temperature and pressure, which saves energy and uses insignificant chemical components.
see here.

Debate? Have at it!

Six college presidents in Maryland are among more than 100 college and university presidents nationwide who have signed a statement calling for a public debate on rethinking the drinking age.

Naturally, the subject has gotten a lot of media attention in the past two days, burning up talk radio and online forums.

I say that rational debate and discussion is welcome and long overdue.

Unfortunately, we're guaranteed not to get rational debate.

Discussions on this topic inevitably descend into the emotional: on one hand, the MADD crowd insisting any change would bring carnage and "if it saves just one life it's worth it," while opponents of the 21 age can trot out reams of examples of things an 18-year-old can legally do besides drink a beer--more rational than "won't someone think of the children?", but not by much. And both sides of the discussion can pull out untold numbers of studies supposedly reinforcing their talking points (as long as one doesn't attempt truly critical analysis of the data, natch), with the seemingly inevitable shouting match following shortly.

I had to shake my head at the MADD-type that accused a university representative (U of Md.-College Park?) on WBAL-AM yesterday as being driven by financial incentives--i.e. the university stood to gain financially from on-campus alcohol sales.

Looking at Lew Bryson's excellent blog, especially his posts on this very subject, reveal that this movement is hardly new, just gaining some publicity.

Thoughts?

13 August 2008

Max's German Beer Fest (Updated 8/15)

Okay, first off, MY bad. In my Mid-Atlantic Brewing News column, I inadvertently stated that the Max's German Beer Fest was Sept. 19-21. That was the weekend originally scheduled by beer manager Casey Hard and scribbled on my calendar, but somewhere along the line he changed it to Sept. 12-14th, as correctly noted in the MABN calendar.

So change your hotel reservations.

The stated goal is 50 draft beers and 75 or more bottled German beers available. An UPDATED list of drafts and bottles from Casey, about 90% confirmed with more possibly to come:

DRAFT:
Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Aecht Schlenkerla Maerzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen
Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock
Allgauer Bueble
Allaguer Teutsch Pils
Ayinger Celebrator
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Bahnof Berliner Weisse
Bitburger Pils
Einbecker Schwartzbier
Einbecker Ur Bock Dunkel
Erdinger Kristall Weizen
Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen
Erdinger Weiss dark
Franziskaner Hefeweizen
Franziskaner Dunkel Weisse
Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest
Klsoterbrauerie Ettal Curator
Klsoterbrauerie Dunkel
Konings Ludwig Hefeweizen
Kulmbacher EKU PIls
Kulmbacher Monschrof Kellerbrau
Paulaner Hefeweizen
Paulaner Oktoberfest
Reissdorf Kolsch(Gravity Feed)
Schnieder Brookylner Hopfen Weisse
Schnieder Weisse
Schnieder Aventinus
Schneider Aventinus Eisbock
Spaten Lager
Spaten Oktoberfest
Uerige Dopplesticke (Gravity Feed)
Warsteiner Dunkel
Warsteiner Pils
Warsteiner Oktoberfest
Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest
Weltenburg Barbock Dunkel
Weltenburg Barbock Hell
Weltenburg Hefeweizen Hell
Weltenburg Wintertraum
Wurzbuger Pils
Krostizer Schwarzbier
BOTTLED:
Aktien Buronator Dopplebock
Aktien Hefeweizen Anno 25
Aktien Jubilaums Pils
Aktien St Blasius Weizenbock
Aktien Steingadner Dunkel Weisse
Aktien Kaufbeuner Tanzelfestbier
Allgauer Buble
Allaguer Bayrisch Hell
Allaguer Cambonator Dopplebock
Allgauer Furstadt Hefewezen
Allaguer Tuetsch Pils
Augustinerbrau Dark
Augustinerbrau Light
Ayinger Altbairisch
Ayinger Jahrhundert
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Ayinger Ur Weisse
Ayinger Brauweiise
DAB
Einbecker brauherren Pils
Einbecker mai Ur Bock
Erdinger Weissebier
Grutbier
Hansa
Hacker Pschorr Munich Gold
Hacker Pschorr Weisse
Hacker Pschorr Weisse Dark
Innstadt Bock Weisse
Innstadt Dopplebock
Innstadt Edelsud
Innstadt Innsaade
Innstadt Neues Helles
Innstadt Passauer Weisse
Julius Echter Hefeweizen
Julius Echter Hefeweizen Dunkel
Klsoterbrauerie Etaller Kloster Edel Hell
Kulmbacher Eisbock
Kulmbacher Kapuziner Weisse
Kulmbacher Monchschof Schwartzbier
Mahrs Der Weisse Bock
Mahrs Leicht
Mahrs Pilsner
Mahrs Unquespundet lager
Moosbacher Kellerbier
Moosbacher Lager
Moosbacher Schwatz Weisse
Moosbacher Wheat Beer
Paulaner Salvator
Pinkus Hefeweizen
Pinkus Munster Alt
Pinkus Ur Pils
Schnieder Aventinus 2004
Schnieder Aventrius 2001
Schnieder Avenitnus 2002
Schnieder Aventinus 2003
Schnieder Weisen Edel Weisse
Spezial Rauchbier
Tucher Hefewezen Hell
Tucher Dopplebock
Uerige Classic Alt
Uerige Dopplesticke
Warsteiner Radler
Weltenburg Anno 1050
Weltenburg Asam Bock
Weltenburg Hefeweizen Dunkel
Weltenburg Urtyp Hell

The formula is the same as the outrageously successful Belgian and American Craft Brew fests also hosted by Max's: bar open 11 AM to 2 AM each day; no admission, cash bar with sample (small wine) glasses, regular servings, and liter steins and boots available, along with German food menu.

DuClaw Real Ale Festival in Bel Air Sept. 6th

From ads in today's Baltimore City Paper and posters at the Wharf Rat-Fells Point:

DuClaw Brewing Real Ale Festival 2008
at DuClaw Brewing, Bel Air, Md.

Sept. 6th, 12-4 PM rain or shine
$45, tickets on sale midnight August 20th (Aug. 18 for their Pint Club members)
Only 525 tickets available, expected to sell out far in advance
www.realalefest.com
Portion of proceeds to benefit FARM (Fallston (Md.) Animal Rescue Movement

Participating breweries (apparently the final list):
Barley & Hops, Frederick
Brewer's Art, Baltimore
Clipper City, Halethorpe
Clay Pipe, Westminster/Frederick
Dog Brewing, Westminster
DuClaw Brewing, Abingdon
Flying Dog, Frederick
Franklin's Brewery, Hyattsville
Growler's Brewpub, Gaithersburg
Oliver/Wharf Rat, Baltimore
The Raven, Baltimore
White Marsh/Red Brick Station, White Marsh

Free buffet included, live music from Smooth Kentucky, games & prizes
Bottles of DuClaw's Colossus (21%) will be available for sale.
(They're also advertising a Jim Wagner Kissing Booth. You decide whether or not to take them seriously.)

05 August 2008

Japanese Beers--Just in Time for Otakon!


Max's Taphouse, in their usual Tuesday night show, is unveiling four new bottled beers from the Baird Brewery in Numazu, Japan:

Rising Sun Pale Ale 5.0% ABV- American West Coast Style
Red Rose Amber 5.4% ABV- Inspired by the steam beer style
Angry Boy Brown 6.2% ABV- Bigger, bolder and Hoppier than most
Kurofune Porter 6 0% ABV- Classic dark English Style

http://www.bairdbeer.com/home.html

Casey Hard, Max's cellar-master, informs me that the company's brewer is either English or American. With a name like Bryan Baird, I would hope so.

The extra-special bonus is that Otakon, the Japanese anime convention, is in town this weekend (same time as the Virgin Music Festival, sadly for some), bringing perhaps 15,000-20,000 hard-core anime and Japanese culture fans to town for three days. It's possible one of them might even make it to Fells Point for a beer...... maybe....... I must admit that sometimes they have to remind a scant few of those fans to eat, sleep, and/or bathe..........

Okay, beer-tasting notes:

Red Rose Amber Ale 5.4%: deep amber, bright with a touch of sediment in the bottle, lovely head retention.... nose very mellow hops, but initial sip is almost an India Pale Ale in hoppiness. This is an ale beer (which uses yeast that ferments at higher temperatures) that was fermented at lager temperatures (i.e. 10 degrees F colder than ale), according to the label........... wait a minute........ Steam/California Common is lager yeast at ALE temps! (We just looked it up to be sure!) So what do we really have here? a nice, VERY malty amber, with the vaguest hint of either oak barrel aging tartness or a touch of Belgian tartness and cloudiness. A terrific woody/piney hop balance and finish. Dry, almost chalky finish, very thirst-inducing........ beware. Great flavors, but not easily categorized.

Rising Sun Pale Ale 5.0%: Classic pale ale deep yellow, rich head retention, richly bottle-conditioned with plenty of yeast sediment. Nose lightly hopped. A dry interpretation of the style, right at home for Asahi converts. Well-balanced for a dry pale ale, bitter hops coasting on what seems to be a sea-foam-laced malt surf. (Okay, kill me, I've become Joe Metaphor!) Possibly the driest pale ale I've encountered in years. Dangerously thirst-inducing.

Angry Boy Brown Ale 6.2%: classic English brown, with a bit richer head. malty nose, slightly sweet, with a hint of hops. QUITE a character-filled (translation: yeast and hop flavors) brown, this comes off the way I would expect Hitachino to do a brown: a touch chalky, nicely hopped, rich mineral and yeast flavors, the latter alluding to Belgian yeast without being funky. Dang, this is good.

Kurofune Porter 6.0%: a touch light for porter color, moderate head retention, nose smacks of yeast initially...... a rich, complex porter, initially reminding me of Alan Eames' Flag Porter from ages ago..... a good rich medium/light roast flavor balanced with a fruity ale yeast, hints of iodine/seaweed and smoke in the finish. A nice one; I want more of this.

Now, just to keep the theme of the night going, because the style I order next is so popular in Japan......... Ridgeway Bad King John English black ale 6.0%: yes, black beer is different from stout even if it doesn't look it. Most black beer in Japan is lager, but this is an ale. So? Bright (clear) but still porter brown, a lighter body than most porters, excellent roast flavors, mellow finish.

And just to add to the fun, there are three MORE "Japanese" beers worthy of your attention: Three beers made by Rogue Brewery of Newport, Oregon in partnership with a Japanese brewery--Red Fox Amber, White Crane Bitter, and Buckwheat Ale. The label artwork is silk-screened onto the bottles and are largely in Japanese, as these bottles were actually intended for the Japanese market. These 12-ounce bottles are no longer made, and these are some of THE last bottles available for retail sale anywhere. If you like the thought of a Japanese beer collectible (better than a "Beer-Chan" t-shirt by far!), here's your chance! (Fewer than a dozen bottles total as of Wednesday night!)

04 August 2008

Mallard Fillmore on InBud









Okay, maybe a tad unfair..... but no more so than any of the stuff on McCain, so..........

03 August 2008

Is this "dry-hopped" to you?


I'm hiding the identity of the subject of this discussion for now--I delayed publishing it in part to protect the possibly innocent, and perhaps in hopes of a more neutral assessment.

I was poured two cask-conditioned beer recently at a venue. One was advertised as dry-hopped.

The one on the right in the picture.

Yep. Those are fragments of pelletized hops in the glass.

Now, I hear a lot about sediment in beer now and then--people swearing by and at it. But what are we supposed to think about three-dimensional hop character of this nature? Have any of you ever seen it before? My personal guess is that a hop bag in the cask didn't do its job, or tore open, and/or the cask wasn't properly prepared or settled before the pouring.

Thoughts?

01 August 2008

Beer and BBQ in Federal Hill


I was tipped off to a relatively new BBQ joint in South Baltimore, so far south on Light Street that it's practically underneath I-95. Importantly to us, Rub BBQ has three house beers sharing a mostly-Coors-based draft line-up: a bock-ish Red, an IPA, and a seasonal (a wheat as I type). In addition, the place features its own root beer and cream soda on draft, and also stocks a couple decent bourbons, as well as a loooong list of frozen drinks and cocktails.

The source of the house beers? Surprise: no other than the Dog Pub Brewery of Westminster, which seems to be finding a curious niche contracting house ales for more than just this place.

But how's the BBQ? I'm well-versed in Carolina and Virginia BBQ traditions, and am somewhat well-versed in Memphis and Texas versions as well. This place aims for the Texas style; my sandwiches were straight-up meats (chicken, turkey, beef brisket, or sausage) to which the patron can add mild, hot, or honey mustard sauces. I have a client who usually takes me to Red Hot & Blue for lunch if I'm working with him (it's an excuse for me to enjoy hearty meats when I'm married to a vegetarian that would starve at such places); Rub would easily satisfy a RH&B fan as long as he doesn't need to see music ephemera on the walls. It's a project of Michael Marx, the former owner of the Blue Agave Restaurant elsewhere in the area.

NOTE/EDIT: URL problems have temporarily (we hope) disrupted by what appears to be a trademark/URL/website problem between Rub Baltimore and a similarly named place in New York City. Stay tuned, or use your favorite Internet search engines.

Tough Luck, SAB/Miller!

From the Associated Press via Google:

MillerCoors LLC is ending testing of its trio of craft styles of top-seller Miller Lite so it can rethink the brand, the company told distributors this week.

The so-called Miller Lite Brewing Collection didn't perform as well as expected in test markets including Baltimore, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C., spokesman Julian Green said Thursday.

The company had high hopes for the brand, which tweaks Miller Lite into various styles of craft beers such as wheat, amber and blonde ale.

In April, it said testing was so strong it would release the collection of beers nationwide by September. But by mid-June it said the release would be delayed for more testing.

The collection aimed to latch onto the fast-paced growth of craft beers, which are rising faster than overall beer sales and also command higher prices.


More at the link.

Gee, who could have seen this coming?

23 July 2008

Tom Cizauskas Leaving Clipper City


If you've been around the Baltimore beer scene for any length of time, you've run into Thomas "Tom" Cizauskas. He's a great and knowledgeable beer guy, whom I first ran into during a visit to the original Oxford Brewing Co. down in Linthicum (now I'm dating myself).

For the past four years he's been working for Clipper City Brewing Co. Well, he just announced in his blog that he's leaving as of August 1. No word on where he's going yet. And his blog will tell you why you've seen so little of him lately around here.

Stay tuned, and wish him luck.

Metropolitan Firkins at Max's next week

Folks, posting has been light here for a while and will be for a while further, thanks to a contract job, but I needed to dash this out, from an e-mail from Metropolitan's Bruce Dorsey:

"I am pleased to announce that a very special beer event will take place in support of Metropolitan staff next week courtesy of Max's On Broadway in Fells Point and Otter Creek Brewing, makers of excellent Otter Creek and Wolaver's ales.

Wednesday, July 30
Max's On Broadway, Fell's Point
Tapping of Wolaver's All-American 2 firkin to benefit Metropolitan Staff
5:00 pm till the firkin is kicked

As many of our regular customers know, last winter we invested in several of our own firkin kegs to enable us to keep Firkin Thursdays supplied with real, cask-conditioned ales during those times when brewery-owned firkins are not available in the market. As it happens, one of our firkins was recently filled and shipped back to Maryland, but, things being what they are for now, had no place to go before the beer inside would inevitably become stale due to its being completely natural and unpastuerized. And it really seemed like a horrible shame, since the beer inside was Wolaver's All-American 2 from Otter Creek, which has received rave reviews everywhere it's been tasted.

Then an amazing thing happened. Ken Hadley from Otter Creek Brewing was able to place our homeless firkin at Max's next Wednesday, and both Otter Creek and Max's have teamed up to generously donate a portion of the cask sales to our staff. In addition, Max's is also going to take a collection at the door for our staff on Saturday.

In recognition of this incredibly generous offer, I encourage everybody, but especially our Firkin Thursday regulars, to go to Max's next Wednesday and drain a few pints from the firkin. Let's show them that Federal Hill knows how to appreciate a wonderful firkin. In addition, if anyone is out in Fell's Point this Saturday, please stop by Max's for a drink or two. This has the potential to make a real difference for our staff. Thanks so much to the gang at Max's, Ken and Otter Creek."

See y'all there.

10 July 2008

Great Beer of the Week


I love historic beer recipes. Ever since I first ran into Alan Eames' Flag Porter back in its original incarnation (brewed with yeast harvested from an 1845 shipwreck, as I recall), I've had a hankering for reproductions (well, with some modern liberties taken, usually) of vintage drink styles. Which, of course, in part explains my love for Fraoch Heather Ale and the other historical recipes of Bruce Williams and Williams Bros. Brewery.

This Gruit showed up at Max's for the Tuesday Night Beer Social. Comes from "Dr. Fritz Briem, Historic Signature Series"........

Quoting the label and the website for the beer's importers, B. United:


Before the German Reinheitsgebot, in 1516, beer was not explicitly brewed with water, malt, hops & yeast through In fact the Reinheitsgebot was as much a ban against certain substances & adjuncts as it was a government instruction to brewing beer. Until then it was common practice to use a variety of different spices & plants instead of hops to flavor and prolong the shelf life of the beer. Some of the adjuncts that were used even had anesthetic & toxic effects.

Grut beer has roots in many cultures and each culture had its own "special ingredients": Egyptians (Mandrake based), Native Americans (Corn based), Arabian Tribes, Gaulles, Germanic Tribes and the Vikings.

Grut beer became especially popular during the middle ages in Germany in the regions of Westphalia & Lower Saxony close to the borders of Belgium & Holland. During this time the ingredients for beer were very expensive, in particular hops.

This interpretation of a traditional Grut Bier is spiced with Lorbeer (Bay Leaves), Ingwer (Ginger), Kummel (Caraway), Anis (Anise), Rosemarin (Rosemarie) & Enzian (Gentian). It is brewed with water, wheat & barley malt, "pollinated wild hops" and fermented using top fermenting yeast bacteria (isolated from malt) at 18 °C (64°F).


The information on the style and ingredients at the B. United website goes on for NINE pages. The brewer/brewery/importer is also responsible for an "1809" Berliner Weisse.

My review? One of THE most refreshing and flavorful beers I've had in ages, perfect for summer at 4.6% abv. Beers like this are the reason that anytime anyone feels like quoting the "Reinheitsgebot" like the Gospel According to St. Gambrinus, I just want to kick his posterior out the door and to the curb.