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.

07 July 2008

Fire Hits Metropolitan

One of Baltimore’s more notable beer bars, the Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar in Federal Hill, suffered a serious fire in the wee hours of July 6th. At approximately 3:30 a.m., an electrical fire hit the overhead lights between the bar and the kitchen.

“The fire marshal said it was either a defective light fixture or defective wiring to it,” said Bruce Dorsey, manager of the bar and restaurant. Structural damage was minimal thanks to rapid response by the Baltimore City Fire Department, but the heat was severe enough to melt a ceiling-mounted television and several shelves’ worth of plastic spice bottles, as well as pop the corks on many bottles of wine. Fortunately for beer aficionados, there was no discernible damage to the beer taps or beer inventory (although it’s likely that, upon reopening, there might be a special on Rauchbiers?).

At press time, insurance adjusters were still assessing the damage, but a preliminary guess was that the bar would be closed for two months for clean-up and repairs. Meanwhile, a planned monthly gathering of the Society for Preservation of Beers From the Wood scheduled for Metropolitan the following Thursday had to be hurriedly rescheduled. Fans of the establishment can follow its website at www.metrobalto.com or its MySpace site for rebuilding updates.