31 January 2009

Feb. Mid-Atlantic Brewing News is Out

Spotted, freshly delivered, yesterday, at Mahaffey's (along with Sierra Nevada's Torpedo I2PA and the CASK Harviestoun Ola Dubh 40).

Cover stories on Obama Beer and good places to drink in Washington DC (with Metro-based pub crawl guides).

29 January 2009

Wharf Rat Camden Closes TONIGHT

Sorry for the earlier misinformation......

The Justins at the Wharf Rat-Camden Yards tell me TONIGHT (Thursday the 29th) is their last night until March 10th. Stop by for one last pint or growler fill.

UPDATE: Flyers posted around the bar indicated that the bar itself would be renamed the "Pratt Street Ale House." Meanwhile, the original Wharf Rat pub sign is still in the attic, and part of what may fall is the original bar back, dating back to the old P.J. Cricketts of the 1980s. The two Justins apparently like bare brick..........

28 January 2009

So let me see if I have this right........

Brewing a commercial beer to celebrate the inauguration of Obama and naming it after him and putting his image on the artwork: NOT permitted..........

The single-batch brew was whipped up to coincide with next week’s presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. However, the feds at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau said it is not permissible to use anyone’s name or likeness for commercial purposes without their permission.

But THIS (now in the grocery store around the corner from me) is apparently perfectly OK..........

WASHINGTON – Inspired by Barack Obama’s campaign message of change, Seattle-based Jones Soda is making its own change by infusing cola with a hint of orange to create its newest flavor, “The Orange Cola.” The company is producing a limited edition run of the new flavor featuring the President-elect, entitled “Orange ‘You Glad for Change’ Cola.”

To celebrate the January 20th inauguration, Jones Soda is heading out to our nation’s capital with the 44th president’s new soda in hand. People in Washington D.C. will have the first chance to sample the new flavor while the Jones Soda video crew asks, “Orange you glad for change?” Viral videos will be posted on Jones Soda’s Web site to display inauguration footage and capture America’s hopes and dreams of what’s to come over the next four years.

So.......... beer is bad, rot-your-teeth, diabetes-inducing soda is good?

Jes' checkin'.

26 January 2009

Wharf Rat Camden--So What's REALLY Up?

The Baltimore Sun's Sam Sessa reports on online rumors that the Wharf Rat-Camden Yards is closing and completely revamping their image--into, of all things, a Yankees bar.

You know, I already posted to Ye Loyal Readers the "official" party line from one of the owners and the manager he hired. I must point out that this "party line" is no guarantee--I've been "skunked" out in decades past by business owners who insisted they were just "remodeling" or the like, only to demolish the place. Regionally, we have the dramatic restructuring and closing of Old Dominion and, over the years, the crazy survival of Wild Goose in spite of a move, the sale of its parent, and the restructuring of the new parent. I mean, who would have thought that Baltimore Brewing Co. would eventually end up being "buried" by yet another downtown hotel, now currently under construction? (Heck, I remember hearing of a patron being mugged for his growlers by some punk from the "projects" across the street--and if you remember back that far, you can probably taste a DeGroen's Pils or Rauchbock from memory, just like I can as I type this!)

And, you know, there still is going to be this as-yet-unresolved-as-far-as-I-know issue about two bars with separate owners operating under the same name in the same town and serving the same beers, even if the one were to end up a "tied house" for the other. (A "tied house," for those unfamiliar with the British vernacular, is a bar contractually obligated to carry only the products of a particular brewery's output--though the Wharf Rat-Fells Point has long had guest beers of various sorts....)

But would "grabowski08" like to put his money where his mouth is--or his typing fingers are--and wager on the outcome? Can s/he seriously think that a duo from up North would cough up the kind of money necessary for that brewpub with delusions that there would be enough Yankees fans to which to market the place? If so--gaffer, cut 'im off!

25 January 2009

Baltimore Restaurant Week

Baltimore Restaurant Week is on--Jan. 23 through Feb. 1. 90 restaurants are participating; three-course dinner (usually appetizer, main course, and dessert, though a few exceptions abound; typically you have a choice from two to four of each category selected by the venue, not the full menu) for $30.09.

Most beer-friendly venues don't charge enough to be worth participating in such a program, but at least three are: Bertha's in Fells Point, The Brewers Art in Mt. Vernon, and Alonso's way up near Loyola College. BA lets you reserve online at their web site.............

22 January 2009

Ola Dubh at Mahaffey's

Lifted from Baltimore Beer Guy blog (see right side list):

"Mahaffey's in Canton promises a casked keg of 40-year-old single malt scotch Ola Dubh around mid-weekend. This is a hard-to-find beer, and potent at about 14% ABV. Sadly their email says the old school beers thing they had going has ended as they've "done them all"."

UPDATE: Still not on as of 4:30 Sunday--the customers aren't drinking fast enough to turn over the taps, and the only tap open right now is a nitro tap. Blackboards are still advertising the "Old School Beers Nights" on Thursdays, though.....

21 January 2009

Fill Your Wharf Rat Growlers NOW!

Too busy to write much that isn't being paid for, but I needed to slip this in ASAP:

The Wharf Rat-Camden Yards, after all that kerfuffle last week with Beer Advocate, IS closing after all--but ONLY for a month or so of renovations!

The beers should still be flowing at Bill Oliver's Fells Point pub, but the brewpub downtown will close up for a thorough rehab. According to the management, the renovations should take four to five weeks (ha--good luck with that, what with contractors in an old building), and will include installation of a new bar with 14 taps upstairs, renovation of the five vintage hand pumps at the bar, overhaul and upgrade of the restrooms, putting a couple fermenters back into operation, and making the brewing workspace a bit more humane for the poor hunchbacks that have to work there.

UPDATE: Friday the 30th will be "last call"...........

20 January 2009

Obama Celebration Beer!

Celebrating the inauguration of Obama? Drowning your sorrows as a member of the other wing of the Incumbent Party? Staying home because of slick roads? Or just in the mood to drink a new beer while people-watching?

The Belgian-tinged/owned Brewery Ommegang in New York State produced a new beer to celebrate the incoming (five hours to go and counting) president. They wanted to call it Obamagang, but the Powers That Be intervened. It's supposed to be a dark ale, between a porter and stout, with the faintest touch of cherry and chocolate, weighing in at 6.2%

Acording to brewery rep Larrt Bennett, it should be available beginning today/tonight at:
*Frisco Grille, Columbia
*Racers Cafe, Harford Road
*Mahaffey's, Canton
*Alonso's, Cold Spring Lane [huh?!? Since when have they been into craft beer?]
*and, of course, Max's Taphouse, Fells Point, where it's being tapped for the Tuesday night Beer Social @ 6 pm. (See you at the latter.)

UPDATE: Tasting notes: Dark for a porter, light for a stout; VERY dry and roasty--some would say slightly burnt coffee, others would say well-burned. A bit of subdued fruit teasing at the back of the palate, but mostly a well-roasted dark ale; give it long enough, and the char mellows, allowing the fruit and subtle chocolate to sneak out. More English than Belgian; if you're looking for Belgian funk, it isn't there.

13 January 2009

Anyone here on Beer Advocate?

I just received an e-mail asking for help from The Wharf Rat-Camden Yards. I'll give you an edited version:

"That stupid Beer Advocate website has listed us as closed and our beers "retired"?!?!?"

I've never gotten my registration with BA to work, and with what I can see with "public" access, the Camden Yards location isn't shown as part of Baltimore's beer guide.


07 January 2009

Blob's Park Official Opening

From an e-mail forwarded by one of my loyal readers (I assume):

For their New Years Eve party over 500 people attended with only several days notice!
The OFFICIAL GRAND OPENING is January 10, 2009 and Charm City Sound will be playing.
Doors open at 6:30. Admission is $8.
There will be a buffet available at a reasonable cost and the full menu will be available after 9 pm.
A large crowd is expected, to reserve tickets email: Max@blobspark.net or info@blobspark.net
or call 410 799-7130, leave a message and they will get back to you ASAP.

Exploding Brew Kettles?!?

News from Lew Bryson's excellent blog indicates that the typically excellent Selin's Grove Brewing suffered a catastrophic failure of its brewing kettle:

One usually reliable source of mine tells me that Selin's Grove has experienced "the structural collapse of their direct-fired kettle" on January 1st. It "shattered like glass" while water was being heated in it. Terrible thing to happen on the first day of the new year.

Supposedly a new kettle has been found, but until then no growler fills.

Now, just how exactly does a brew kettle "shatter like glass"? Anyone else heard of such a thing happening?

UPDATE: They ended up calling in a welder to patch up the old kettle, but Steve Leason said they're still in the market for a new--or at least newer--brew kettle. Growler sales were still restricted as of last week--a crying shame, as the IPA and Framboise were in peak form.

SPBW at Max's Thursday night

The Chesapeake Bay Branch of the Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood is starting off their new year with a gathering at Max's Taphouse at 7 PM on the 8th, with four firkins:

Thornbridge Jaipur-English IPA

Thornbridge Ashford- English New World Brown Ale
Williams Bros Midnight Sun-Scottish Dark Porter
Williams Bros Black- Scottish Dark Ale

Membership is a measly $10/year; typically the discounts for members at 2-3 meetings return the investment. If you are not a member, you can also swing by to partake of the firkins, but the membership usually gets first crack and produces a lengthy wait. To join, print out and fill out a membership form and bring $10.

02 January 2009

Blob's Park Glass Giveaway!

To celebrate the re-opening of Blob's Park in Jessup, I am offering to the readers of this blog FREE* Blob's Park glassware, through the kind courtesy of Blob's Park owner Max Eggerl.

I am offering six stemmed vintage Blob's Park glasses made by Rastal in "West Germany," one per reader/respondent. These are the glasses the old Blob's Park used before closing New Year's Eve 2008, and which the current management is replacing with more standard glassware. These glasses hold 8 ounces with a thin head. Other glasses from this case are being passed on to appropriate breweriana collections as I see fit--one now sits on the shelves above the bar at The Brewer's Art, for example (I've lost count, but that may be the fourth or fifth glass they've gotten from me over the years).

I'm not sure exactly just how I'm going to decide who gets these glasses, so I'm just going to put this out there. Tell me, in a fairly concise fashion in the comments below, exactly why I should give you one of these pieces of Maryland breweriana. I've been trying to think of a fair system for two or three weeks now, and I can't come up with one. So talk to me and my readers. Make your case. I will select six winners from the answers I get and award them each one glass.

*DISCLAIMER: Glass provided free, sans contents, IN PERSON at any Baltimore-region event, bar, or venue of mutual satisfaction to both winner and blogger, or other location that blogger agrees to. Any shipping and handling will be at the expense of recipient or his/her agent. Yes, this means if you have a "Blob's Park Brewpub" in Japan, you can talk your way into my giving you a glass, but you pay for the shipping. Offer expires when blogger runs out of glasses and/or patience. All decisions are at the blogger's whim and discretion, and are final. Offer void where prohibited. Close cover before striking. This bag is not a toy. Some settling may occur. Cape does not enable wearer to fly. Your mileage may vary.

Last of 2008, First of 2009

Between the weather, the postponement of the Inner Harbor fireworks until New Year's Day evening, and personal stuff going on in my household, this New Year's Eve was a bust. (And this comes from a Scot who pays more attention to New Year's than Christmas, on a personal level if not a commercial level.)

Last draft beer of 2008: Brewers Art Resurrection, at Parkside Tavern on Harford Rd. en route home from work that day.

Last bottled beer of 2008: Abita Jockamo IPA, at Hamilton Tavern on Harford Road, a half-hour after the previous beer. $2 a bottle, I'm writing about cheap beer for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, and I had no idea Louisiana had a damned clue what an IPA was. Not bad. Not terrific, but definitely drinkable.

First beer of 2009: J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 1997 Vintage, at Max's Taphouse ca. 6:30 pm Jan. 1st. I couldn't have picked a better beer to start the year. Followed by sips of my wife's Otter Creek Winter Ale, a raspberry brown akin to the old Pete's Wicked Winter. (Left to right above: JW Lees, Otter Creek, wife.)

First bottled beer of 2009: a five-year-old 750 ml bottle of New Glarus Raspberry Tart, secured during a Midwest road trip prior to my wedding, opened after returning home from the fireworks, 7-7:30 pm Jan. 1st. Notes: it gets MUCH tarter and more bracing in its acidity with age.