28 February 2011

More Good Beer Trip-Saving

On the heels of the last post on going to Max's instead of a DuClaw outlet:

Max's has Olivers 18, the anniversary smoked porter, on draft, which may save you a trip downtown.....

Metropolitan will tap a firkin of White Marsh/Red Brick Station Octopus' Pajamas, their Scottish ale, on Thursday at 6 PM........

DuClaw's Euphoria is also listed on Mahaffey's draft list...........

DuClaw returns to Baltimore--sort of.......

Baltimore-dwelling enthusiasts of DuClaw Brewing's beers who have had to go to a beer store selling their bottled beers or travel to Bel Air, Arundel Mills, or BWI Airport to satisfy their cravings since the chain's Fells Point outlet closed at the end of 2009 will take some delight in the announcement for tomorrow's Tuesday Beer Social at Max's Taphouse:
This Tuesday we will be serving 5 great beers from the DuClaw Brewery. We will have some great stuff from them and the brewers Bo & Kurt will be here . These guys make some great beers that you do not want to miss.
Du Claw Naked Fish- Raspberry Chocolate Coffee Stout
Du Claw Serum- Imperial IPA
Du Claw Black Jack Stout-Imperial Stout
Du Claw Old Flame- Old Ale
Du Claw Exile 4- Macchiato Milk Stout
Also on hand: four new-to-this-market drafts from Washington State's Old Schoolhouse Brewery: Rendezvous Porter, Epiphany Pale Ale, Hooligan Stout, and Uncle Big's Brown.

25 February 2011

Santé returns April 2nd at B&O Railroad Museum

Following up on last year's June fundraiser at the American Visionary Arts Museum, the National Kidney Foundation of Md. is holding its second annual Santé fund-raising extravaganza, this time on April 2nd at the B&O Railroad Museum.  Quoting the press release:

The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland (NKF-MD) will hold its 2nd annual Santé: Spoil Your Palate celebration, sponsored by the Charles T. Bauer Foundation, Saturday, Apr. 2, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the B&O Railroad Museum (901 W. Pratt St.) in downtown Baltimore. 

Approximately 400 guests are expected to gather for what is being planned as one of the region’s premier food and beverage pairing events. The business/casual fête will feature food from Baltimore’s Best restaurants and caterers, complimented by American and European craft beer; wine and spirits. Adding to the excitement will be interactive presentations, a silent auction and live jazz.

Honorary Chairs are Brendan Dorr (head bartender at B&O American Brasserie), Sarah O'Herron (proprietor, Black Ankle Vineyards) Hugh Sisson (proprietor, Heavy Seas Beer) and David Wells (proprietor, The Wine Source).

In addition to their roles as honorary chairs, Sisson will present, “Successfully Pairing Craft Beer with Cheeses,” and Dorr will present, “Eggs Are Not Taboo in Cocktails.” Additionally, Monyka Berrocosa, food and wine educator, author, founder of The Women’s Wine & Dine® and CEO of MyCity4Her.com™ will present, “Demystifying Pairing Food and Wine,” and Chef Apple, a Disney-trained executive chef, restaurant consultant, cookbook author and creator of iamchefapple.com, will present, “Chef Apple: I Heart Sushi.”

Participating food and beverage providers secured to date include B&O American Brasserie, Bistro Rx, Black Ankle Vineyards, Boston Beer Company, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Charles Levine Caterers, Chesapeake Food Works, Ciao Bella Restaurant, Clementine, Cooking With Catherine Culinary Events, Dogfish Head Brewery, 5 Points Tavern, Flying Dog Brewery, Heavy Seas Brewery, Looney’s, Lucid Absinthe Supérieure, Olé Imports (Spanish wine), Pirate Cupcakes, RA Sushi, Ron Abuelo (rum), Rum Jumbie, Sambuca Molinari, Select Confections, Van Gogh Vodka and The Wine Source.

Santé proceeds will help NKF-MD to expand its patient services, education and research efforts. Tickets are $65 per person in advance; $75 at the door and $40 for designated drivers (no alcohol). Sponsorships are also available. For tickets, sponsorship or volunteer information, visit www.santebaltimore.com or call 410.494.8545.
I wonder if a couple other local breweries could get in on the fun--perhaps by donating some goods to the silent auction......

More on Max's Belgian Fest

Wanna read more of my writing on the occasion last weekend?

24 February 2011

Don't Know Tavern: Latest Craft Beer Bar

The latest entry to the craft-beer-bar scene in Baltimore is not that new a place; Don't Know Tavern has been in business for about three years now.  But owner Jason Zink, who also runs No Idea Tavern several blocks away in too-far-south-to-really-be-Federal-Hill-proper, has upgraded:

"As of March, we'll be at 30 taps,  100% American craft beers," he proclaimed at Don't Know.  As of tonight there are still two outliers on tap, Blue Moon and Miller Lite, but those should vanish within days.  The beer line-up, and even the feel, of both places may well remind one of Racers Cafe--both bars feature gridded chalkboards listing the beers and percentage of alcohol.

Don't Know also rosters a kitchen, with a menu putting itself between the old-fashioned corner taverns and the upscale restaurants, with burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and a few entrees (meatloaf, steak).  As can be seen in the photo of one of the two beer menu boards, the selection isn't that shabby--everything from Anchor Steam to Weyerbacher Verboten and from Lagunitas Pils to Lancaster Milk Stout, with both Heavy Seas and Flying Dog currently "duking it out" with three beers apiece on side-by-side tap towers.   Happy Hour, like most places, is 4 to 7 Monday-Friday.

No Idea is also going the craft-beer route with twelve mostly-craft taps at this point.

Keep an eye on these places.

23 February 2011

Victory 15th Anniv. Pale Ale release at Little Havana March 4th

Cribbed from Victory rep Joe Gold's e-mail:

Victory Brewing Company will be hosting a Victory Headwaters Pale Ale release happy hour on Friday March 4th starting at 4:30pm at Little Havana’s 1325 Key Highway Baltimore, MD 21230. This newest beer release from Victory was brewed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Victory Brewing Company; it is the first production pale ale that has been produced by Victory and it will be joining stalwarts such as Victory Hop Devil, Victory Prima Pils and Victory Golden Monkey in the Victory Brand portfolio as a year round product in all markets.
Headwaters Pale Ale – 5.0% abv.  This softly herbal and aromatically arousing pale ale beautifully integrates the natural ingredients of malted barley, whole flower hops and yeast, all orchestrated by pristine water.  Victory Brewing Company is blessed with exceptionally pure water that travels just over a dozen wooded miles to reach the brewery.

Limited logo pint glasses will be available on a first come first serve basis…

22 February 2011

Crunch Time on Proposed Md. Alcohol Tax Increases

Both Flying Dog and Heavy Seas, the two largest breweries in Maryland, sent e-mails out today to their fans urging a grass-roots lobbying effort against proposed increases in alcohol taxation in Maryland.

Part of the text of the Heavy Seas letter, signed by founder Hugh Sisson, is below:

This movement is gaining traction because it misrepresents a huge tax increase as if it were an inconsequential "dime a drink".  Many consumers have mistakenly interpreted this increase to mean the tax would only increase their costs in a bar/restaurant by 10 cents a drink. 

Unfortunately, this tax will be levied on all alcoholic beverages at the manufacturer level.  These amounts will be the absolute MINIMUM price increase you will see on the beverages you buy in Maryland!
 If passed this tax will undoubtedly lead to Maryland job losses!  Neighboring states will gladly cater to Maryland residents who will cross state lines to save considerable dollars since 20 of MD's 24 counties border another state.
We are looking at an economy that is just getting back on its feet, gas and food prices are rapidly increasing, and unemployment is just beginning to improve.  This is not the time to raise this tax!
We need you to help us fight back!
Both breweries are referring fans to a website, set up the the Md. Alliance for Hospitality Jobs, that offers, among other things, to automatically generate a letter of opposition to be forwarded to your legislator.

Ladder 15/Bond Street Social to take over former DuClaw Fells Point location

Midnight Sun reports on a new tenant for the former Fells Point Duclaw Brewing outlet closed for over a year--a business long rumored to be setting up shop in the neighborhood.  Local craft beers promised. 

21 February 2011

For the love of all that is holy, WHY?!?!?

Various times during the Belgian Fest @ Max's..........

Sing along, kids:
Three of these things belong together
Three of the things are kind of the same
But one of these things just doesn't belong here
Now it's time to play our game... it's time to play our game!

Now which of these things just doesn't belong here
Come on, can you tell which one
Can you guess which thing just doesn't belong here 
Guess before my song is done.......  and now my song is done!

20 February 2011

Sunday's Best

After an 8:30 departure last night and some emergency work below the city for this morning and early afternoon, I'm back to the scene of the crimes.  I walk up in line outside at 3:30 behind Volker Stewart of The Brewer's Art.  We have a half-hour wait before they let more folks in despite a few obvious departures; meanwhile the line expands from 4 to perhaps 50. It takes me 15 minutes to cop a seat--luckily, my "usual" upstairs seat at the window end of the bar.  The wi-fi is down, so I'm bogartting The Whistling Oyster's, which is coming in at dial-up speeds.......

De Glazen Toren Canaster winter Scotch ale 9.5% full serving: nice deep amber/mahagony, a delicious blend of sweet, spice, malt, and a white-wine/Belgian yeast finish.  Not classically "Scotch" per se, but would appeal to those who prefer the malty Scottish styles.

Oud Beersel Bersalis Tripel 330ml bottle 9.5% split with Mr. Stewart: blond and bright, but oddly packing an almost syrupy, heavy mouthfeel.  LOTS of body to this, but still not that sweet.  Sweet as you should expect for a tripel, but with a dry and yeasty finish.

Deca Westoek 330ml 6%, ordered strictly because I have no idea what it is, which makes it now unique in the upstairs bottle list:  hazy maerzen/amber color, rich head and retention.  Bottle notched Best before 11-2014.  Interesting--think a peppery, semi-sweet saison. easy-drinking but with lots of flavor.  A decided change-up at this stage of the weekend, like hitting a weizen amidst a week of IPAs. 

Struise Black Albert 330ml 13%(!) "Royal Stout":  Wow.  WOW. A rich mix of stout, fruit, and sherry/port character; 100 IBUs says the label.  Comparable to Brewdog Tokyo or DFH WWS, notes of figs, raisins, black cherries--fruitiness without being cloying.  A little smoke in the finish.  Someone order up the ski chalet and fireplace.  Bottom of the bottle is almost "chunky" with yeast.  A luxury, but what a treat.

De Dochter Embrasse Whisky Barrel 9%:  a nice nose, but this is subdued, too subdued for many hardcore beer-geek types, but a nicer beer than the thin body and more subtle barrel flavors indicate.  A rich Scotch whisky character floating at the bottom of a strong stout.  Sort of easy-drinking at first, but gets rougher as the glass and bottle empty.  Notes of burnt coffee and peat in finish at end of glass.  Card with bottle suggests "Try. . . hot, maybe with a dash of whipped cream."  The hot, maybe not, but the whipped cream, I'd definitely try--REAL whipped cream, not the spray stuff.

Chuck Cook comes up and shares out Embrasse, and lets us sip his hoppy beer.  "I went up and asked them to give me a hoppy beer.  Sometimes you just need that palate cleanser after all those sweet and sour beers."  He has a point.  He REALLY has a point.

19 February 2011

And now for bottles...

By now, folks are abandoning the draft quest and seeking the best of the bottles.  The following were shared with me by others:

Kerkom Bink Grand Cru 13% Dark Belgian Ale (750 ml $20):  This isn't the dessert, as the bottle's buyer asserted--this is the sauce you pour atop the dessert.  Rich caramel, decadent sweetness.  Think Thomas Hardy's.

But to draft samples for me:
Alvinne Podge 10.5% Imperial stout: Yep, that's what it is, all right.  (Tasting fatigue obviously setting in.)  What gets to me is somewhat flat and watery for 10.5%.  Re-sample.

Alvinne Gaspar 8% Bitter:  The hoppiness of a good UK bitter or IPA crossed with an extra dose of Belgian "horseblanket."

Contreras Valier Extra 6.5% IPA:  Straw/pale color, cloudy, ah, but this is both nicely hoppy and nicely balanced.

Alvinne Wild Morpheus 5.9%:, Alvinne Wild Undressed 5.2%: both intensely tart but neat and clean at the same time.  Not as vinegary as the classic Cantillon or basalmic vinegar notes in the wordt of the sour ales, yet still bracing in a "kimchee" sort of way.

Yet more Belgian notes

Schelde Hop Ruiter 8.0% hoppy blonde: Blonde, hazy, I'm sorry, I gots nothing but a strong blonde.  Maybe my nose is defective by now..

Brouwkot Kalle 8.5% tripel: bright pale golden/pils color.....  a better balanced presentation, but still, I'm calling my nose defective.......

Geants Noel de Geants 8.5% winter spiced ale: a good, decent spiced ale if you're thinking the English model with a hint of Belgian. Good, but understated by this stage of the game.

Alvinne Bolleville 10% strong ale aged in Calvados (apple brandy) barrels:  Dark red/porter colour, strong character, very alcoholic in body.  A caramel and apple nose, though not over-the-top.  The apple is much more brandy and alcoholic-burn than any cider or apple pie--and c'mon, it's Calvados, not cider or apple.   A good "hot" beer with lots of "burn," but don't get thos for apple flavor.

Department of Corrections?

Yesterday I noted a possible wrong tapping with Brouwkot Vlaskappelle not matching online descriptions.  Let's revisit with a new sample:  Deep amber, good head retention (atypical for actual ales from Scotland), now this one has a good malt backbone and profile.  Not the same beer by any stretch of the imagination.  Caramel notes, but not sweet, balanced by a dose of Belgian funk, crisp and biscuitty like a cracker or coolie (biscuit to the Anglophiles here).  Now, this I want a full serving of.

Van Eecke Leroy Christmas 7.5% Scotch Ale: darker and cloudy, like a raw dubbel, low head retention.  Rich but not over the top in malt character, a bit of raisin in the nose.  Long, lingering sweet finish, with spice (coriander? cardamom?) in finish.

De Hoevbrouwwers Toria 6.5% Blonde:  Cloudy blonde (almost pathetic looking in appearance), crisp, almost cidery blonde character, too easy drinking for 6.5%.  A great summertime beer, competes with wits and pils.

De Hoevbrouwwers Toria Triple 8.6%:  Looks the same (equally pathetic), packs a walloping dry bite by comparison.   Seems more like a spicy 10%.  Order up the curry and stand back!  A citrusy, lemon peel note to the finish.  It's not your average or typical tripel, but it works if you know what you're getting into.

De Dolle Oerbier 9.0%:  There are apparently folks who go into conniptions ovr this beer.  The fact that Casey made this a Saturday beer says something.   A great crisp dubbel, but by this stage in the Max's universe, secondary.  Still a terrific beer, but.....

More Belgian tasting notes

I've found it's a hell of a lot easier to just write down my selections and hand the pad to the bartender.  No confusions there.

Scaldis Peche Mel 8.5% blended peach lambic:  golden, bright, a rich fermented peach character in there (peaches are largely about aroma; do a homemade peach wine, and you're lucky to get a good white wine that hints at best at peach flavor/character).  A rich stone fruit character, fuller body and mouthfeel than most lighter beers here, but not cloyingly sweet or sappy.

Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier 5.5% "Cherry Ale"--okay, that sounds too much like a Canada Dry creation (this from someone whose childhood memories of the seashore include Canada Dry Wild Cherry Soda).....Bright, a decent cherry-soda red.....  I apologize.  A decent, if not powerful, semi-dry cherry character, still retaining a fruity essence in the flavor.  If you want aggressive ale, this isn't it; if you want a fruit ale without it being so painfully a "chick beer," try this.

Seven Nine brewers spotted in the mob so far.......

Jandrenouille IV 6.5% saison--ordered because it has "IV" in its name.  Golden pils color, bright.   Meh.   very dry, tart/chalky finish.  Another checkmark for the geeks, but little else.

Rodenbach 2008 6.0%: This is pretty much a classic.  I need a current Rodenbach to compare, but this bright deep amber beer is pretty much a subtle classic--semi-dry but chock full of its own distinctive flavor......

....... and lo and behold, a friend walks past, dropping off half a sample glass of Rodenbach Red 5.2%, and deposits it for our comparison!  (Thanks, Ed!)  A touch lighter in color, a touch rougher and tarter.  A spectacular overall beer in the classic sense, but one gets the sense that "classic" means "no singular distinguishing characteristic."  According to the rep. this came from a single (albeit gigantic) wooden barrel at the brewery.

Steenbrugge Tripel 8.7%--thiis was a very late arrival, according to sales rep Devin Arlonski, who provided the sample--it arrived at the Port of Baltimore late Tuesday or early Wedneday, and was dragged out of the container to get to the festival.  Bright golden tripel color, a very spicy and dry mouthfeel, think the tannins of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.  It's a bit maltier than other examples, but by all means, not the sweet and heavy character impressions some tripels leave the drinker with.

Max's Belgian VII, v. 2.0

According to Casey Hard, Max's kicked an even 100 kegs in the first 16 hours of the Belgian fest.  Now, granted, a lot of those are sixtels and even smaller kegs, and many had second or more kegs of the same product switched in.  Nonetheless, here's a list of new beers put on draft Saturday:

Bockor Bellegems Bruin
Bosteels Pauwel Kwak
De Dolle Dulle Teve
De Dolle Oerbier
De Hoevbrouwers Toria

Hof Ten Dormaal Dark
Scaldis Peche Mel [mmmm, sounds tasty...]
Slaapmustke Triple Night Cap
Smisje BBBourgondier
Steenbrugge Triple
Stillwater/Max's 25 To 1 (draft, cask, and special cask with cocoa)
Strubbe Pils
Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier

My tasting notes start with the Stillwater/Max's 25 To 1 casks, an 8.5% Dark Abbey Ale:: a stout-black beer, full of bitterness from roast and hops with a bit of Belgian yeast character evident, VERY dry and sort of tart, a bit chalky and almost leaving a residue of hops on the tongue.  The cocoa-nib variation adds a bit more balance, if not any real chocolate flavor as in a "shot of Hershey's syrup" you get with many "chocolate beers"--more of a mild milk-like creaminess in the mix.

18 February 2011

Max's Belgian VII second round

Well, more like the third round, but too much chaos to keep the damn beers straight.  I resort to writing out orders, and even then it's something of a crap shoot,

De Dochtervan de Korenaar Bravoure 6.5% Smoked ale,:amber, bight, yeah, definitely a smoked beer albeit more restrained (ain't saying much) over Schlenkerla products.  A solid but not necessrily overwhelming smoke character & body.

De Struise Black Damantion Black Mes (imperial stout, whisky barrels) 13.0% (tied for strongest beer here today)--black as India ink or a black hole, seems to soak up light,  obscenely rich in whisky and wood, would do proud for a 17-18% stout like World Wide or Tokio.
De Struse Black Damantion [OK, is Casey spelling this right?] Cofee Club  (Imp stout rum barrels 13%--yes, the other tie for strongest)--wait a minute, are you sure this isn't the Mocha Bomb with coffee beans?  Or is the Coffee Club rum-laced coffee stout?  This works, much more akin to an "Irish coffee' with Belgian notes.

From a 750 bottle: Duvel Special Edition Tripel Hop 9.5%, three hops (lengthy discussion breaks out over just what they mean by "Tripel Hop").... I have the bottom of the bottle, provided by a guest, yeast-filled....  a good hoppy ale without being aggressively I2PA or Tripel.  If you seek either, you're disappointed.  But think a well-balanced Chouffe Houblon with a dry finish, and you're there.  Yes, I would drink more of this, easily.

Part Three of the Trilogy, de Struse Black Damantion Mocha Bomb 12%-- a straightforward coffee stout, compared to the others.  Imperial, to be sure, but still a coffee drink first and foremost.

De Struise Red Haired Jeanne 7.0% Special Ale--this is one of the beers ordered earlier that got lost in the shuffle.  Hazy red, think a Belgian interpretation of an Irish red.  Dry, biscuitty, a bit nutty.

Lefebvre Barbar Winter Bok 8.0%-- rich and bright light brown, has a definite stone fruit and raisin ting going on--very sweet, somewhat fruitcake-laden, prunes, rum, sweetness.  If you like rum drinks, get this.

Bosteels Triple Karmeliet 8.0% Tripel: unlike most tripels, amber-coloured......  Nose and palate loaded with caramelised malt and sugars, boiled to excess.....  Sweet but not offensively so, notes of toasted marshmallow...

Alvinne Extra  7.0% IPA....  pronounced hop nose to a straw-colourd mildly-hazed golden ale or tripel... A definite IPA, with a chalky and dry Belgian characyer.  This is in the "cross a tripel with lots of hops" model.

Alvinne Caper Fumantis 6.7% Smoke Ale-not that I have a thing for Alvinne, but it;s just a good selection.  This beer:  Dark porter/stout colour, emi-sweet like harsh coffee, smoke is there but not painfully obvious, more like a tasty but harshly dry and smoky porter, astringent but not pleasant to these tastebuds.  Pass me a New Holland Dragon's Milk any day..........

Annnnnnnd...... WE'RE OFF!

Yeah, the Max's Belgian Beer Festival.  You was expectin' Humphrey Bogart?

9:15 AM: #6 in line.  By 9:40 it's about 40, 10:30 130-ish, by opening time at 11:01 the line is almost a block long.

The first 100 or so in line get a sample from a 6-liter Methuselah of St. Feuillien Tripel, poured in advance of opening.

First beer samples once set up, about a 15-minute wait to get served even at the bar, so you take as much as you can carry with you as a result.
Stillwater/Olivers Channel Crossing 3 in oak barrel (being pumped from the barrel): extremely dark brown, almost stout, intense oak character, very tannic and acidic, at 12% very rich and decadent. Fairly dry and wine-like, though with that we break out into a debate brokered by Steve Jones himself--two different glasses have distinctly different notes, with other glasses having more malt character.

On to the Scotch-Styles:  Gordon's Finest: Scotch Ale 8.6%:  Pronounced toffee notes in nose, almost slightly burnt.  A nice, intriguing burnt butterscotch character, sweet but balanced by the caramelisation.  Go back for more of this.
Brouwkot Vlaskappelle 5.0% Scotch Ale:  Are you sure?  This is tripel-coloured.  Has the character of a saison more than any "Scotch Ale," unless you're talking Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted.  No, looking at Ratebeer's description, I got the wrong beer........

In the chaos around me, two other samples get swapped around/grabbed in error/etc. to the point where I literally have no relation with what's now in front of me.  To hell with what was supposed to be Alvinne Bolleville (strong aged in Calvados) and Scotch de Silly.

The aoli mayo with the frites is EXTRA spicy.  Be forewarned.

There are too many folks taking pictures of beer around here.   Less shooting, more drinking.

12:38:  The UPS guy innocently walks in with two boxes to deliver and get sigs for.  Poor guy.

15 February 2011

Federal Hill Winter Chili Cook-Off at Metropolitan Feb. 27th

From the e-mail from Metropolitan's Bruce Dorsey, citing the competition organizer; I've been at this competition in past years, and it's a lot of fun and a nice way to explore the chili universe (like walking into Max's for a flight of 15 beer samples), and the money goes to a good cause:

Annual Federal Hill Winter Chili Cook-off!

This year's annual Federal Hill Chili Cook-off at Metropolitan will be at the upstairs bar on Sunday February 27th, at 6:30pm.  We once again will be raising money for the Christ Lutheran Center on Charles St - $5 at the door (additional donations welcome) for all you can eat chili and great beer specials, with all door proceeds going to Christ Lutheran's Shelter.  Last year's turn out was great and we hope to exceed the amount we are able to donate, but in an effort to make this event more fun for everyone we are going to limit the number of chili entries to 15 (last year we had 19, and the year before 20). 
I doubt they're seeking more entries--they'll probably get enough from their "usual suspects"--but if you want to come in "out of nowhere,"  email ncsugiantsfan@yahoo.com - with the name of your chili and what category it is in (meat or vegetarian).  Minimum entry six quarts or more.

Some Controversies

Have some time to kill?  Love reading about the occasional differences of opinions between craft beer brewers and beer snobs aficionados?

Start here.  (Response by a UK brewer to a xenophobic CAMRA member.)

Then this. (Someone sneaks draft-only Pliny the Younger out of what is effectively a "wake" for Don Younger at Russian River Brewing, and puts an apparently hand-bottled bottle on eBay.)  Which leads to this update.

I can't even bring myself to look at what these topics must look like at RateBeer and/or BeerAdvocate.........   I wonder if any of these folks will be at Max's camping out Thursday night to be in line first or something...........

14 February 2011

Frederick Beer Week: May 10th-14th

Though the organizers (including fellow Mid-Atlantic Brewing News columnist Kevin Smith) are behind where they want to be in their planning, their committee is proceeding with plans for a Frederick Beer Week on May 10th-14th, 2011.

"Right now it's a scaled back event from what you get in Baltimore, DC, and Philly," says Smith.  "We're looking at a beer week that will really be, officially, a four-day event in May - the 10th to the 14th. There will be a homebrew competition as part of the kick-off; check the Frederick Original Ale Makers web site for full details on that.  The competition is limited to guild members and categories will include Stouts, IPAs, and Wheats. Entries will be due on April 30, with judging on May 1.  However, Best of Show will be judged publicly as part of the kick-off - either in a small event, or part of a larger event yet to be determined.  The anchor [event] is expected to be a festival on the grounds at Stillpoint (hops) Farm in Mount Airy with food, music, and hayrides. There will be a concerted effort to keep that event family-friendly.

"The organizing committee is made up of Frederick's craft beer business leaders. All three of the breweries are represented, as well as the local homebrew shop and the county's leading hops grower," said Smith, the committe leader and Frederick Beer Week president.

Short and To the Point

Metropolitan Coffeehouse sends this dispatch about their weekly Firkin Thursday this week:

The cask for this Firkin Thursday will be Troegs Nugget Nectar.  'Nuf said.

New at DuClaw: X.4 Macchiato Milk Stout

From DuClaw's e-mail:

Another experiment from Professor Wagner's lab has broken free and broken out! X.4 Macchiato Milk Stout invades your local DuClaw Brewing Company Thursday February 17th, 2011. This classic sweet stout, is black in color and medium-full bodied, with a silky, velvety mouthfeel. X.4 boasts lush aromas and flavors of espresso, chocolate and roasted malt imparted by the addition of espresso verdi to the recipe. It is moderately strong in alcohol (6.3%) with just enough hops to balance the big roasted malt and coffee flavors.
Available Thursday February 17th, 2011, while supplies last, so get yours before it escapes!  (Excludes BWI Airport location)

13 February 2011

Max's Belgian Fest VII: Tasters, Start Your Cheat Sheets!

The last and final list as provided by Max's cellarmaster Casey Hard, still subject to last-second revision:

FEB 18-20, 2011

Achilles Serafijn Chrsitmas Angel    8.00%    Winter Strong Ale
Achouffe Houblon Chouffe    9.00%    Triple /IPA
Achouffe la Chouffe    8.00%    Golden Ale
Achouffe Mc Chouffe    8.00%    Bruin
Achouffe N' Ice    10.00%    Barleywine
Alvinne Bolleville    10.00%    Strong Ale Aged in Calvados
Alvinne Caper Fumatis    6.70%    Smoke Ale
Alvinne Extra    7.00%    IPA
Alvinne Gaspar    8.00%    Bitter
Alvinne Melchior    11.00%   
Alvinne Oak Kersaus 2008    6.00%    Sour Cherry Ale
Alvinne Oak Melchior    11.00%   
Alvinne Podge    10.50%    Imperial Stout
Alvinne Wild Morpheus    5.90%    Wild Ale
Alvinne Wild Undressed    5.20%    Wild Ale
Bavik Petrus Aged Pale    7.30%    Sour/Wild Ale
Bavik Petrus Winter    6.50%    Sour Winter Ale
Bavik Pilaarbijter Brune    7.00%    Abbey Dubbel
Blanche De Bruxelles    5.00%    Wit
Blaugies Darbyste    5.80%    Saison w/ Fig Juice
Blaugies Epeature    6.00%    Saison W/ Spelt
Blaugies La Moneuse    8.00%    Saison
Blaugies La Monuese Special Winter    8.50%    Winter Saison
Bockor Bellegems Bruin    5.50%    Flanders Brown Ale
Bockor Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge    5.50%    Unblended Old Lambic
Boelens Santa Bee    9.00%    Winter Ale
Bosteels Pauwel Kwak    8.00%    Amber
Bosteels Triple Karmeliet    8.00%    Triple
Brouwkot Kalle    8.50%    Triple
Brouwkot Netebuk    6.50%    Golden Ale
Brouwkot Vlaskappele    5.00%    Scotch Ale
Cantillon Kriek        Cherry Lambic
Cantilon Rose De Grambrinus       
Cazeau Saison    4.80%    Saison w/ Elderflowers
Cazeau Tournay De Noel        Dark Saison
Chimay Cinq Cents    8.00%    Trappist Triple
Contreras Valier Blonde    6.50%    Blonde
Contreras Valier Divers    8.50%    Triple
Contreras Valier Donker        Bruin
Contreras Valier Extra    6.50%    IPA
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Bravoure    6.50%    Smoke Ale
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Embrasse    9.00%    Dark Ale
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Finesse    8.50%    Specialty Grain Triple
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Noblesse    5.50%    Pale /Golden
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Noblesse Extra Ordinaire    7.00%    Dry Hopped Golden
De Dolle Dulle Teve    10.00%    Triple
De Dolle Oerbier    9.00%    Strong Ale
De Glazen Toren Angelique    8.00%    Historic Recipe
De Glazen Toren Canaster    9.50%    Winter Scotch
De Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte    7.50%    Imperial Wit
De Glazen Toren Ondineke    8.50%    Triple
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epre Mere    6.90%    Saison
De Glazen Toren Saison de Epre Mere Einejaar    9.50%    Saison
De Hoevbrouwers Toria    6.50%    Blonde Ale
De Hoevbrouwers Toria Triple    8.60%    Triple
De La Senne Equinox    8.00%    Winter Ale
De La Senne Taras Boulba    4.50%    Blonde/IPA
De La Senne Zinnebir    5.50%    Nlonde
De Landtsheer Malheur 10    10.00%    Strong Golden
De Poef /Terrapin Monstre Rouge        Flemish Red
De Proef Les Deux Brasseurs    8.50%    Wild Ale
De Ranke Guldenburg        Golden Ale
De Ranke Pere Noel       
De Ranke Saison De Dottignies    5.50%    Saison
De Struise Black Albert    13.00%    Stout
De Struise Black Damantion Black Mes    13.00%    Imp Stout aged in Whiskey Barrels
De Struise Black Damantion Coffee Club    13.00%    Imp Stout Aged in Rum barrels
De Struise Black Damnation Mocha Bomb    12.00%    Imp Stout w/ Coffee Beans in JD Barrels
De Struise Ignis & Flamma    7.00%    India Pale Ale
De Struise Pannepot Reserva 2008    10.00%    Strong Ale agd in Oak
De Struise Pannepot(Danish Version)    10.00%    Strong Ale
De Struise Red Haired Jeanne    7.00%    Special Ale
De Struise Rosse    6.00%    Amber
De Struise Tjseeses    10.00%    Triple Aged on Stonefruit
Deca Wetsoek Ale        Triple/ Blonde
Delirium Noel       
Delirium Tremens        Golden Ale
De Proef Draeckenbier       
Dubuisson Scaldis Cuvee Des Trolls    7.00%    Golden Ale
Dubuisson Scaldis Noel    12.00%    Strong Winter Ale
Dubuisson Scaldis Peche Mel    8.50%    Blended Peach Lambic
Dubuisson Scaldis Triple        Triple
Dupont Avec Les Bons Vouex    9.50%    Winter Saison
Dupont Biere De Miel        Saison w/ Honey
Dupont Saison        Saison
Duvel Green        Golden Ale
Ellezelloise Hercule    9.00%    Stout
Ellezelloise Quintine Blonde    8.00%    Blonde
Fantome Hiver        Winter Special Ale
Geants Goliath    9.00%    Triple
Geants Gouyasse        Blonde
Geants Noel de Geants    8.50%    Winter Spiced Ale
Geants Saison Voisin    5.00%    Saison
Geants Urchon    7.50%    Brown Ale
Gordon Finest Scotch Ale        Scotch Ale
Het Alternatief Ambetantik    11.00%    Stout
Het Alternatief Bitter Truth    11.00%    Triple IPA
Hof Ten Dormaal Amber    8.00%    Farmhouse Amber
Hof Ten Dormaal Blonde    8.00%    Farmhouse Blonde
Hof Ten Dormaal Dark    6.50%    Dark Farmhouse
Hof Ten Dormaal Winter    8.00%    Winter Farmhouse
Jandrian -Jandrenouille IV    6.50%    Saison
Jandrian -Jandrenouille V Cense    7.50%    Dark Saison
Kerkom Bink Triple    9.00%    Triple
La Rulles Cuvee Meillieurs        Dark Triple
La Rulles Triple        Triple
Lefebvre Barbar Winter Bok        Winter Bok
Leifmans Cuvee Brut    6.00%    Cherry Sour/Wild Ale
Musketeers Troubadour Magma    9.30%    Triple IPA
Oud Beersel Framboise        Raspberry Lambic
Palm        Ale
Rodenbach Red        Flemish Red
Rodenbach Vintage 2008        Flemish Red
Roman Sloeber Rossa    7.20%    Amber
Schelde Hop Ruiter    8.00%    Hoppy Blonde
Silenrieux Noel    9.00%    Strong Dark Ale
Silly Enghien Noel    9.00%    Winter Triple
Silly La Divine     9.00%    Triple Amber
Silly Saison    5.50%    Saison
Silly Scotch de Silly    8.00%    Scotch Ale
Sint Canarus Triple    7.50%    Triple
Slaapmutske Kerstmutske        Dark Ale
Slaapmutske Triple Night Cap        Triple
St Bernardus Christmas    10.00%    Winter Ale
St Feuillien Brune    7.50%    Brune
St Feuillien Cuvee De Noel    9.00%    Winter Ale
St Feuillien Saison        Saison
St Feuillien/Green Flash Biere De L Amitie       
St Fueillien Blanche    6.30%    Wit
Steenbrugge Triple    8.70%    Triple
Stillwater /Max's 25 to one    8.50%    Abbey Style Dark
Stillwater Saison Darkly    8.00%    Dark Saison
Strubbe Pils    5.00%    Pilsner
T'  Smisje Vuuve    5.00%    Wit
T' Smisje BBBourgondier    12.00%    Barleywine
T' Smisje Blonde    6.00%    Blonde w/ Lime Blossoms
T' Smisje Kerst    11.00%    Dark Ale w/ Coriander
T' Smisje Sleedorn    6.00%    Ale w/ Sloeberries
T' Smisje Wostyntje    7.00%    Ale w/ Mustard Seeds
T'Gaverhopke Extra    12.00%    Quadruple
Van Eecke Leroy Christmas    7.50%    Scotch Ale
Van Steenberge Biere Du Boucanier Dark    9.00%    Dark Triple
Van Steenberge Biere Du Boucanier Golden    11.00%    Golden Ale
Van Steenberge Gulden Draak Vintage    10.50%    Dark Triple
Van Steenberge Leute Bok    8.20%    Bock
Van Steenberge Oude Zupiers    11.00%    Triple
Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier        Cherry Ale

Stillwater 25 to One w/ Cocoa Nibs(cask)       
Stillwater 25 to One(Cask)       
Brewers Art Cerberus Triple /Hibuscus & Lemon Peel (Cask)       
Brewers Art Saison L Ombre /Cornflowers & Rose Hips (Cask)       
Stillwater/Mikkeller Our Side(cask)       
Stillwater/Olivers Channel Crossing #3(Cask)       

BOTTLES    (available through the weekend while supplies last)
3 Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek    750ml   
3 Fontenien Oude Gueuze    12.7oz    750ml
3 Fontenien Oude Kriek    12.7oz   
Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru    12oz   
Abbaye Des Rocs Triple Imperiale    12oz   
Achel Blonde    12oz   
Achel Bruin    12oz   
Achel Extra    750ml   
Alvinne Oak Podge    750ml   
Alvinne Bathazar    11.2oz   
Alvinne Cuvee Freddy    750ml   
Alvinne Oak balthazar    750ml   
Alvinne Oak Bolleville    750ml   
Alvinne Oak Melchior    750ml   
Bavik Pils    12oz   
Blaugies la Moneuse Special Winter 2009    750ml   
Boon Gueuze Mariage Parfait 2003    750ml   
Brouwkot Kalle    750ml   
Brouwkot Manten    750ml   
Brouwkot Netbuk    750ml   
Brunehaut Abbaye De Sint Amand    11.2oz   
Cantillon Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru    750ml   
Cantillon Cuvee Des Champions    750ml   
Cantillon Gueuze    750ml    12.7oz
Cantillon Kriek    750ml    12.7oz
Caracole Nostradamus    12oz   
Cazeau Saison    750ml   
Cazeau Tournay    12oz   
Cazeau Tournay Black    750ml   
Cazeau Tournay de Noel    12oz   
Chimay Blue    11.2oz   
Chimay Red    11.2oz   
Contreras Valier Divers    11.2oz   
Contreras Valier Donker    11.2oz   
Contreras Valier Extra    11.2oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Bravoure    12oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Courage    12oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Embrasse    22.4oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Embrasse Whiskey barrel    22.4oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Finesse    22.4oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar L'Enfant Terrible    750ml    12oz
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Noblesse Extra Ordinaire    22.4oz   
De Dochter Van De Korenaar Noblesse    12oz   
De Dolle Arabier    12oz   
De Dolle Oerbier Reserve 2009    12oz   
De Dolle Special Extra Export Stout    12oz   
De Dolle Stille Nacht 2010    12oz   
De Hoevebrouwers Koekelaring    11.2oz   
De Hoevebrouwers Toria    11.2oz   
De Hoevebrowuers Toria Triple    11.2oz   
De Le Senne Wasdesa #1    750ml   
De Proef Les Duex Brasseurs    750ml   
De Proef Lozen Bier    750ml   
De Proef Monstre Rouge    750ml   
De Proef Van Twee    750ml   
De Proef Witte Noire    750ml   
De Proef Zoetzuur    750ml   
De Ranke Cuvee de Ranke    750ml   
De Ranke Noir De Dottignies    750ml   
De Ryck Arend Triple    12oz   
De Ryck Special    12oz   
De Struise Black Albert    12oz   
De Struise Pannepot Reserva 2008    12oz 
De Struise Struiselensis    12oz   
De Struise Tsjeeses Reserva    12oz   
Deca Westoek    12oz   
De Proef Draeckenbier    11.2oz   
Dues    750ml    2
Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux    750ml   
Dupont Foret    12oz   
Duvel    11.2oz   
Duvel Triple Hop    750ml 
Ecaussines Ultra Blonde    11.2oz   
Ecaussines Ultra Brune    11.2oz   
Ellezelloise Sasion    11.2oz    3
Fantome Sur Lie    750ml    3
Fantome BBB Dark White    750ml       
Fantome Hiver 2009    750ml   
Fantome Noel 2009    750ml          
Fantome Saison    750ml   
Fruli Strawberry    11.0oz   
Girardin Gueuze    12.7oz   
Greens Dubbel Dark Ale    500ml   
Greens Triple Blonde Ale     500ml   
Guldenboot Lereken Bio    750ml   
Hannsens  Scarenbecca Kriek    12.7oz   
Hanssens Experimental Cassis 09 & 10    12.7oz   
Hanssens Experimental Raspberry    12.7oz   
Hanssens Oud Gueuze    12.7oz   
Hanssens Oud Kriek    12.7oz   
Hanssens Oudbeitje    12.7oz   
Het Alternatief Ambertantrik    11.2oz   
Het Alternatief Bitter Truth    11.2oz   
Het Alternatief Eerwaarde Pater    11.2oz   
Het Alternatief Piet Agoras    11.2oz   
Hof Ten Dormaal Amber    12.7oz   
Hof Ten Dormaal Blonde    12.7oz   
Hof Ten Dormaal Donker    12.7oz   
Hof Ten Dormaal Winter    12.7oz   
Schelde Hop Ruiter    750ml   
Jandrain Jandrenouille V Cense    750ml   
Jandrian Jandrenouille IV    750ml   
Jessenhofke Bio triple    750ml   
Kerkom Bink Bloesom    12oz   
Kerkom Bink Bruin    12oz   
Kerkom Bink Grand Cru    750ml   
Kerkom Bink Triple    750ml   
La Botteresse Amber    11.2oz   
La Botteresse Blonde    11.2oz   
La Botteresse Noire    11.2oz   
La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux    750ml   
La Rulles Grand 10    750ml   
Lambrucha    750ml   
Lefebvre Hopus Ale    11.2oz   
Leifmans Cuvee Brut    750ml   
Leifmans Fruitesse    750ml   
Leifmans Goudenband    750ml   
Lindemans Cuvee Renee    750ml   
Lindemans Faro    12.7oz   
Lindemans Framboise       
Lindemans Kriek       
Lindemans Pesche       
Lindemans Pomme       
Malhuer Dark Brut    750ml   
Monks Café Flemish Sour    12oz   
Oud Beersel Bersalis    12oz   
Oud Beersel Oud Kriek    12.7oz   
Oud Beersel Oude Gueuze    12.7oz   
Palm    120z   
Petrus Dubbel Bruin    12oz   
Petrus Oud Bruin       
Piraat    11.2oz   
Popering Hommel    12oz   
Rochefort 10    12oz   
Rochefort 6    12oz   
Rochefort 8    12oz   
Rodenbach    750ml   
Rodenbach Grand Cru    750ml   
Rodenbach Vintage 2008    750ml   
Scaldis Blonde    750ml   
Scaldis Noel    7.0oz   
Scaldis Prestige de Nuits 2009    750ml   
Scaldis Refermentee    750ml   
Silly Pink Killer    12oz   
Sint Canarus Pere Canard    12oz   
Sint Canarus Triple    11.2oz   
Slaapmutske Dry Hopped Lager    12oz   
Smisje Catherine The Great    11.2oz   
Smisje BBBourgondier    11.2oz   
Smisje Blonde    11.2oz   
Smisje Calva Reserve    11.2oz   
Smisje Grande Reserve    11.2oz   
Smisje Great Reserve    11.2oz   
Smisje Guido    11.2oz   
Smisje Kerst    11.2oz   
Smisje Plus    11.2oz   
St Bernardus Abt 12    12oz   
St Bernardus Prior 8    12oz   
St Fueillien Biere De 'Amitie    750ml   
St Martin Blonde    11.2oz   
St Martin Brune    11.2oz   
St Martin Triple    11.2oz   
Steenbrugge Blonde    750ml   
Steenbrugge Dubble    750ml   
Steenbrugge Triple    750ml   
Steenbrugge Dubble    750ml   
Steenbrugge Triple    12oz   
Steenbrugge Wit    12oz   
Stillwater Of Love & Regret    11.2oz   
Stillwater Saison Darkly    11.2oz   
T Gaverhopke Blonde    11.2oz   
T Gaverhopke Extra    11.2oz   
T' Gaverhopke Kerstbier    11.2oz   
T Gaverhopke Koerseklakse    12oz   
T' Smisje Catherine the Great w/ cherries    11.2oz   
Troubadour Magma    750ml   
Vapeur Cochonne    750ml   
Vapeur De Bises    750ml   
Vapeur En Folie    750ml   
Allagash Big Little Bear       
Allagash Confluence       
Allagash Little Big Bear       
Allagash Victor       
Allagash Victoria       
Brewers Art Proelartary       
Brewers Art Sublimation       
Brewers Art [TBA]       
Ommegang Abbey       
Ommegang Adoration       
Ommegang Cup O Kyndes       
Ommegang Gnomeagang       
Ommegang Hennepin       
Ommegang Rare Vos       
Ommegang Three Philosphers       
Ommegang Triple Perfection       
Ommegang Witte       
Ommegang Zuur       
Ommgang Belgian Pale       
Stillwater Cellar Door       
Stillwater Existent       
Stillwater Stateside Saison       
Stillwater/Mikkeller Our Side       
Stillwater/Olivers Channel Crossing #3       
Stillwater/Max's 25 to One 

11 February 2011

Racers Cafe: An Update

Further to my earlier post on the expanding Racers Cafe, I had a chance to stop by yesterday, where the owners graciously showed me the newly-renovated interior, complete with a handsome bar, bar-back, and 30 drafts.  I was asked not to post photographs yet, but passers-by can easily see for themselves through the front window that the bar interior will be a handsome one, and a far throw from the "dive" interior the current Racers Cafe has.  In addition, the back yard, like the one at the current Racers, will feature a large, landscaped "beer garden" courtyard, which also adjoins the courtyard of the original Racers.  With food available from the kitchen, the al fresco dining should be superb.

Richard Osenberg, the owner, speculated that the additional room would allow him to resume the Racers Real Ale Challenge, a pioneering real-ale festival that outgrew the bar and was effectively supplanted by the SPBW/Wharf Rat Real Ale Festival several years ago.  He refused to target an opening date, but opening appears to be mere weeks to a few months away, as opposed to the long-stalled projects elsewhere in the city (well, Racers is in the county, after all).

Firkin Alert: Alonso's tonight, Flying Dog K9 Winter Ale....

Firkin Alert: Alonso's tonight, Flying Dog K9 Winter Ale....

That is all............ 

10 February 2011

SPBW/casks at Red Brick Station tonight UPDATED TWICE

The cask-ale-appreciation club is gathering at Red Brick Station in White Marsh tonight.  The public is invited to help polish off a couple firkins of house beer and other possible surprises.

UPDATE:  Avenue Ale and Something Red on handpumps, Something Red Okay, so I was misinformed by a bartender who read the wrong scribbles on the firkin end--it was an utterly stupendous Winter Solstice on the bar in a firkin, chock full of chocolate, plum, blackcurrant, and raisin flavors but only 5.4%. 

In other news, the Scottish ale Octopus' Pajamas will be taped tomorrow (Friday the 11th), with a pin of same being tapped at Bluegrass Tavern in Federal Hill on Tuesday the 15th........

09 February 2011

Bistro Rx: New Website, and Big Beer Lunch Feb. 19th and Unibroue Dinner Feb. 17th

Bistro Rx, the Patterson Park wine bar that also serves great beer and food, has a brand-new website.

Buried in that website is the announcement of a "Big Beer Tasting," on the afternoon of Feb. 19th, described as "a 4 course lunch paired with several BIG beers designed to get you through those chilly winter days; $35/ reservations required 410-276-0820."

UPDATE:  Add a Unibroue-inspired Belgian dinner on the evening of Feb. 17th, just in case the next three days of Belgian beer at Max's just isn't enough..........;...

08 February 2011

Fortunately. most brewpub websites aren't anywhere near this bad.....

A hilarious critique of restaurant websites from the typically side-splittingly hilarious The Oatmeal humor website.

Been there, survived that.  (There's still at least one major offender locally.)

07 February 2011

Federal Hill magic bar retains entertainment license

The Illusions Magic Bar & Lounge in Federal Hill, an upscale magic/entertainment lounge run by a father-son magician duo, retained its entertainment license today after a challenge by the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association.

More on the story here (from the Sun's free "b" paper).

The Alcohol Tax Battle Continues.

Read about it hereAnd here (Washington Post)And here (Baltimore Sun)

New Beer Outlet in Anne Arundel Co.: Hellas

A reader tipped me off to this possibility.  It's not exactly a "new" place per se, having been in business for over a decade, but Hellas Restaurant & Lounge on Veterans Highway at Benfield Boulevard in Millersville has recently joined the craft-beer movement, installing a 20-line draft system, a larger bottled beer selection, and a "Resident Beer Expert," Joey Marchiano.  Recent sightings have included Brooklyn Winter Ale, Olivers Winter Warmer, Victory St. Victorius Doppelbock, Aventinus, and Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot; a Flying Dog Pint Night is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 13th.

Anyone been?  I have contacts in the northwest suburbs (wasteland, largely), Howard County, northeast, and Columbia/Laurel way, but Anne Arundel outside of Annapolis proper has largely been a wasteland, the presence of The Ram's Head chain and Lures notwithstanding.

More Pub Expansion: Racers Cafe

And we thought the other pub projects in town have been delayed........

Racers Cafe on Harford Road in Parkville is, by now, one of the "grandaddy" craft-beer places in the central Maryland region, having effectively predated many of the region's microbreweries with its early 1990's emergence into the craft beer scene.  It has long had a consistent presence in the microbrew scene in Baltimore, regularly hosting a dozen or so good-to-rare drafts in a homey, "neighborhood bar" kind of place, with a long-standing "three-mugs-for-$X" beer-tasting special copied by other places.  In years past, the bar even hosted its own Real Ale Challenge before the Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood managed to steal a lot of their patronage with a bigger festival.

That "neighborhood saloon" atmosphere has long been a point of contention for serious aficionados.  The place never offered food, but one could pop through the door to the adjacent Harford Beverage Co. liquor store for take-home packages.  The blue-collar "dive" atmosphere, with peanut shells scattered on the floor and TV sets blaring sports, probably turned off as many potential regulars as it attracted.

But change is under way.  Kate Schmelyun of Patch.com (the AOL-backed online media project) reports on a planned--and long-delayed--expansion under way at Racers:
Richard Osenburg, the owner of Racers and Harford Beverage Company, purchased the building next to Racers in 2000 with the intention of expanding the bar and putting in a kitchen to sell food. That dream is finally going to become reality within the next few months – mostly likely sometime this spring.
“[Richard] has always wanted to do this,” [bar manager Donna] Presinger said. “He’s owned the building [next door] for some time now and he’s always wanted to do food.”
But Osenburg said he’s not yet ready to talk about the kind of food that’s going to be served. “As soon as the kitchen gets rolling, we’re going to release a pre-menu and let everyone start looking at it,” he said. “I can tell you this, we’re going to put out a good product. I’m very picky and won’t put something out unless it’s good.”
The building in question is apparently 7728 Harford Road, a 2-story storefront to the bar's southwest. 

White House Super Bowl Party features Homebrew

As reported on an Obama food blog (!?!):

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have joined the home brewing beer trend that's swept the US, and will be serving a very special White House brew tonight when they welcome guests for the annual Super Bowl party, to watch as the Packers take on the Steelers.

In a special turn of events in the history of White House food creations, one of the White House chefs has brewed White House Honey Ale, a White House aide exclusively tipped ObFo. It uses one pound of honey from this year's 160-pound harvest of honey from the White House Bee Hive, which sits beside Mrs. Obama's South Lawn Kitchen Garden.

The President, First Lady, and their guests will be sampling the special suds for the first time this evening. And the Obamas paid for the micro-brewing equipment, the aide noted, so there's no impact on the national debt.
No mention of malt, hops, etc., although commercial beers from Green Bay's Hinterland Brewery and Pennsylvania's Yuengling were reported as having been sent to/ordered by the White House.  (Much to the chagrin, no doubt, of Hinterland's neighbor, the excellent Titletown Brewing a mere block and a half away in Green Bay, and Pittsburgh's own East End Brewing, which launched an intensive lobbying/PR effort to get their beers into said party.)

The Good, Bad, and Indifferent: SAVOR 2011

The Good:  To answer to the crazed, rock-concert-like demand for tickets, this year's SAVOR, the big Brewers Association beer-and-food extravaganza held in June at the National Building Museum in D.C., will hold two sessions rather than one: Friday, June 3rd and Saturday, June 4th, 7:30-11 PM both days.

More good news for local fans: Local winners in the which-72-brewers-get-to-attend lottery: The Brewers Art (again), Dog Brewing, Devil's Backbone of Virginia (with former Wharf Rat brewer Jason Oliver), and Mad Fox of Virginia; as well as co-sponsor Flying Dog.

The Bad:  Tickets this year will cost $110 per session, plus $30 additional for seminar-like "salons".  Sales to the public start March 3rd at 9 a.m., with any of 1,700 tickets per session not snapped up early by BA and trade members.

The Indifferent: If you're not one of those folks who can take the day off of work to try and order tickets at $110 each and either get overnight lodging or live within a Metro or taxi ride of downtown D.C., all of this is pretty much irrelevant, anyway.

More from the Washington Post's Greg Kitsock here.  (Photo above from SAVOR 2009.)

04 February 2011

The Perils of Being a Small Business Owner

Those of you familiar with the local beer scene are no doubt aware that Brian Strumke, the president/brewer/marketing guy/keg washer of the Stillwater Artisanal Belgian-American "gypsy" beer brand, does not yet have/own an actual brewery, but instead uses brewing equipment at Dog Brewing in Westminster (the former Clay Pipe Brewing system/location), and also collaborates with brewers in Europe.

This did not prevent two enthusiasts from Indiana from trying to visit his "brewery."  And catching him at his Baltimore-area home in his underwear instead.

As recounted in a series of e-mails and Facebook posts yesterday, "so two 'beer tourists' just showed up at my front door thinking my house was the brewery. . . . funny part is I was chillin' in my 'office' (aka dining room) in my undies! . . .  I threw dirty jeans and a shirt on quickly . . .  I invited them in for beer, and also gave them some glassware. . . but don't start showing up at my door asking for beer & glassware! I already have enough people that do that.. hehe ;) "  He reports that he was doing some accounting/office work around noon (the pleasures of working at home)..........

It's still somewhat unclear exactly how the enterprising duo actually located his place.  According to Strumke, they arrived clutching a copy of the latest Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, which led him to assume the address had been printed in the brewery listings in the paper.  That proved not to be the case, however, leading Strumke to start searching for publications or websites where his home address might have been listed as his business address.  As of this typing, he still hasn't located it yet.........

(No, we're not telling you where he lives.)

03 February 2011

Balto. Sun: Boh is Good for Bawlamer

The Baltimore Sun has an editorial today extolling the virtues of the soon-to-return-on-draft National Bohemian, or "Natty Boh" as it's universally called in these parts. 

Coming up this weekend:  editorials similarly extolling the pleasures of Night Train Express, Popov Vodka, and Boone's Farm............

Stella introduces a "cider"

Stella Artois, the marketing brand that attempted to convince the world's industrial-lager drinkers that "Belgian" beer is just as bland and fizzy as North American industrial lager (but with a touch of sweetness!), has announced plans to introduce a cider brand in the UK, Stella Cidre, to be brewed in Belgium solely for the UK market and using Jonagold apples.

Pete Brown reviews this product engages in "cheap shots and infantile musings" on the concept in this blog post.

The latest Mid-Atlantic Brewing News is out....

.....  as is the Celebrator Beer News and Ale Street News.

Pick them up at the usual places (as far as I know, only one place around here offers one-stop pick-up).

01 February 2011

Beer Events This Week UPDATED AGAIN

  • Tonight at Pratt Street Ale House:  The kick-off of "Clone Wars," where homebrewers get to try and brew a "clone" of Olivers 3 LionsMore details here.  Entry deadline March 11th.
  • Heavy Seas firkin of Black Cannon at Kloby's Smokehouse along Rt. 29 in "northwest Laurel" today; another one at Judge's Bench in Ellicott City Friday evening.
  • Over at Max's, three "new" beers from Baird Brewery, an English-styled microbrewery in Japan: Dark Sky Imperial Stout, Numazu Lager, and Suruga Bay Imperial IPA.
  • Up north at The Falls in Mt. Washington, they're planning a Troegs event on Thursday.  Said manager Ricky Johnson, "We'll have half priced pints all night and a glass giveaway as well.  Some of the beers we'll have include the Dead Reckoning, Nugget Nectar, Scratch 37, and others."
  • Also on Thursday, another Stillwater beer dinner, this time at Punk's Backyard Grille in Annapolis.   Menu here; $50 a head, reservations required.
  • More Thursday:  Casks at Max's (weekly Cask Night), and over at Metropolitan, Firkin Thursday with Lucky 7 Porter from Evolution Craft Brewing of Delmar, Delaware.  "Lucky 7 Porter is 'rich and full flavored with notes of chocolate, coffee & smoke playing off the sweeter toffee & dried fruit tones.'  About 5.8%.  There's also a little added vanilla bean in the brew."
  • Friday:  Black Cannon firkin at Alonso's.
  • National Bohemian is being reintroduced on draft locally for the first time in 15 years.  Not that craft beer enthusiasts really care, since it's neither made locally anymore nor distinguishable in any way from the vast bulk of North American industrial lager, but The Brewer's Art is reinforcing its "hipster" credentials by tapping a keg of the stuff on Friday at 5 PM.  If that doesn't work for you, Hamilton Tavern will have some next Wednesday the 9th, and down to the southwest Frisco Tap House will have it the 16th.
  • Over in Gaithersburg, Growlers has reopened today after a lengthy repair, following roof damage in a windstorm last fall.