28 February 2010

Another "Beer Summit" Coming?

Via Reuters and the Washington Post:

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unwittingly provided support for the popular belief that politicians cannot organize a booze-up in a brewery when they mixed up a simple wager on the outcome of Sunday's Olympic ice hockey final.
With their two countries playing each other in the gold medal match, the two leaders agreed to raise the stakes and wage a personal bet on the outcome.
The only problem was that they messed up the terms of the bet, with both offices issuing media statements that the winner had to buy the beer rather than the loser.
After being told about the error, both offices agreed that the loser would pay so if the Americans won, Harper had to buy Obama a case of Yuengling beer.
If the Canadians won, Obama owed Harper a carton of Molson Canadian.The U.S. beat Canada in the preliminary rounds of the competition but the two rivals followed different routes to the final to set up a mouthwatering end to the Vancouver Winter Games.

Fron the Toronto Globe & Mail:
Barack Obama will have to shell out $45.40 for a case of 24 Molson Canadian, after losing a bet to Stephen Harper.
The U.S. President can blame Sidney Crosby, who scored the winning goal in overtime to win the Olympic gold medal in men's hockey on Sunday.
In American dollars, that would be about $43.20.
After the game, the Prime Minister visited the Canadian locker room, telling the players that he’s looking forward to receiving that case of Molson.
Mr. Harper also told the team, “Guys, we’re really proud of you all. You’ve done a great job on behalf of the country, not just this gold - which we all wanted so bad - but 14 gold, an Olympic record for any country in the Winter Olympics.”
The statement was provided by the PMO.
Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama had laid it on the line for the epic match. This being hockey, beer was involved.
If the U.S. men’s hockey team had won, Mr. Harper would have had to purchase a case of Yuengling for his U.S. counterpart. Yuengling, based in Pennsylvania, is the oldest brewery in the United States.
The leaders' wager, meanwhile, follows a bet between White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas. They bet on the outcome of the women’s gold-medal hockey game.
The Canadians prevailed, and Mr. Gibbs must wear a Team Canada jersey at his next press gaggle.
“Red and white bring out the colour of Robert’s eyes,” Mr. Soudas joked Sunday after the men’s game.
“I’ll be sending Robert a Team Canada jersey to remember and cherish for the rest of his life the closest friendship between any two countries in the world,” said Mr. Soudas.
“I look forward to seeing him wear the jersey of the True North Strong and Free!”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and his son, Ben, attended the game with Wayne and Janet Gretzky. Mr. Harper also sat with the Gretzkys for the gold-medal final that saw the Canadian women’s team beat the U.S.
Mr. Harper has been everywhere at these Games over the weekend. On Saturday, he attended two gold-medal finals: men’s curling and long-track speed skating team pursuit. The Canadians won those, too.
A student of hockey and a big fan, however, Mr. Harper had said in an interview Saturday night that the Canadian men’s team “should win.”
“Man for man, our team is the superior team,” he told CTV’s Olympic sportscaster Brian Williams.
“But let’s not kid ourselves the most consistent team in this tournament to date has been Team U.S.A. So our guys have to come ready to play, 60 minutes, every man, if we do that, we will win and we should win.”
He was right.
Reports indicate the wager is based on the oldest breweries in operation within the two countries.  But Molson is now part of the Coors empire.  So which hurts more: losing the bet, or buying beer from a company run by a family known to be staunch Republican supporters?

Canadian commentators, however, are currently in overdrive suggesting real Canadian representative beers.....

27 February 2010

Review: Blue Moon Grand Cru 2009

If someone gives me a free bottle of beer, odds are I'm going to review it here, and I'm required to tell you that I got it for free.  It's what I do.  Unusually, however, the source of this particular bottle requested anonymity.  It appears it was a gift to him, from someone who didn't know he really doesn't care for that brewery/company.  And, remarkably, I hadn't seen this on retailers' shelves yet!

Blue Moon, run/brewed by Coors (now SAB/Miller/Coors), makes what can generally be considered a faux Belgian-style wit, which is either a summertime respite for a craft beer drinker who can't get anything else or at least acts as a "gateway" beer to better and bigger things (ditto Sam Adams).  Apparently this winter they released this "Grand Cru" version of their regular Blue Moon, and the crown-capped 750ml bottle is date-stamped "APR1210" and says "Ale brewed with Spices (Coriander and Orange Peel)" and indicates 8.2%.  It was supposedly marketed to coincide with the "blue moon" of Dec. 31st, a second full moon in one month (that's become the popular interpretation of the term "blue moon," one of several).

In spite of an effort to chill the bottle and drop the sediment, this is loaded with lees--possibly the cloudiest beer I've encountered.  A hazy orange-tan reminiscent of fermenting cider or orange juice, with light head retention typical of a wit.  Nose is very citrusy, once again like fermenting OJ or loads of orange peel, maybe pineapple juice.  Flavor is that of a concentrated wit, with the coriander and yeast drying the tongue on the finish.  Initially doesn't seem that alcoholic--my initial guess was 6%.  A bit tart and almost peppery.  In a sense, this could substitute for a champagne mimosa, but it's as yeast-laden as a classic hefeweizen, and the wheat character is there too.

Verdict?  This beer could benefit from a touch more residual sweetness (honey?), maybe a slightly more complex spice addition, and a bit less residual yeast.  It comes off as a bit green, but I doubt aging would benefit this any.  But it may work for Sunday brunch, strangely enough.

If I didn't know who made this, I might have called it either a more generic and tame imperial wit (say, something produced by Stella Artois?) or an American attempt at same by a brewpub chain from the South that had reason to be "inoffensive" with their approach, or a more pedestrian wit by a bulk Belgian producer like Hoegaarden that didn't ship to the States.  It deserves more complexity.  Worth the price?  I don't know the price.....  let's see........

Hmmmm.    Hmmmmmm.....  Hmmmmmmmmm..........

Damn, I'm glad I live in an area where I can get real Belgians on draft for less than this.

26 February 2010

Sam Smith Beer Dinner at Metropolitan March 2

Since there are some other local bloggers that seem to think all they need for a blog post is a photo, here's my response.  A bit more information in this photo, mind you.

More info:  According to Metro's Bruce, this dinner has been postponed three times so far because of the weather.  Maybe the fourth time will be the charm?

Metro also celebrated their 100th firkin last night with Oliver's new Biere de Garde.  The beer, made at Pratt Street Ale House with yeast from The Brewer's Art, is a nice twist: not like anything that would normally come out of either Pratt Street Ale House or Brewer's Art, just nicely balanced between the two styles.

New Beers at Don't Know and elsewhere in Federal Hill

After soliciting much in the way of varied opinions from the readers of Sam Sessa's Midnight Sun blog at the Baltimore Sun website, I've received well-placed reports that Don't Know is adding beers from Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, and another local brewery to be named (Brewer's Art is speculated, but not confirmed).

You know, they could just rotate a mystery beer.  "What beer is that?"  "Don't know. Wanna try it?"

In the same general direction, Taps Baltimore is advertising a "house beer" on tap.  Does anyone happen to know what that's about, or what beer they're re-branding?  I haven't heard back from them yet.

Kloby's Smokehouse, Scaggsville

I was able to combine a visit with a business client with a beer-scouting expedition, and hit Kloby's Smokehouse in Scaggsville, in the Montpelier shopping center just off US 29 at Johns Hopkins Road and practically next to JHU's Applied Physics Lab (which has a couple beer geeks working there, as I know personally).

Kloby's used to be located up in Woodlawn, but moved to Howard County about two years ago.  They installed the bar a few months ago, and have since been listening to advice from the geeks that inhabit JHUAPL and elsewhere in the area.  As a result, the draft and bottle line-up is much better than average.

In addition, the glassware used is Ball pint and half-pint jars--a rather transparent answer to the issue of just how much the glass holds, unless someone finds that Ball is cranking out special undersized/thick glass jars for bar use.  (I last drank from a jar in the Crown King Saloon in Crown King, Arizona, a "ghost town" twenty-five miles from the nearest pavement, several years ago.)

Barbecue is a tough cuisine to pair up effectively with food.  Smoked beers are a typical recommendation, but that's often overkill, and besides subtly smoked beers (not like, say, the "bacon beer" experience of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier) are hard to come by.  Depending on the specific meat or 'cue in question, a better answer tends to be either a relatively clean and light beer to wash the palate, or a sweeter, roastier beer to stand up to the meat and spices, although nearby Frisco Grille has done much to promote the concept of hoppy IPA's to go with spicy foods.  The beer selection ranges from the predictable and pedestrian--Miller Lite, Stella, Blue Moon, Guinness--to exotics like Great Divide Titan IPA, Sierra Nevada Glissade, and Flying Dog Raging B*tch, and the bottle selection parallels, with several Mexican/Central American beers, Rolling Rock, Yuengling, etc. sharing the cooler with Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Lancaster, Evolution, Stone, and others.

And the 'cue?  I'm more used to either the sweet heaviness of Memphis-style or the saucy tartness of Carolina-style; Kloby's takes a comparatively subdued, middle-of-the-road, neutral concept (at least in the samples of chili, sirloin beef, BBQ beans, and collard greens I tried), allowing the consumer to adjust the heat accordingly and letting more of the meat character to show.  It's definitely a different BBQ experience from other BBQ places like Baltimore's HarborQue, Andy Nelson's in Cockeysville, or Red Hot & Blue at various locations, but it's one that's much more likely to complement a chosen craft beer than the others.

My recommendation, in the beer department?  At the moment, Evolution Lucky 7 Porter goes really well with the sandwich I had.  But above all, go for the luxurious and utterly freakin' decadent bread pudding.  You won't need a barleywine or dessert beer to go with that treat--nothing I've ever had would come even close, and would only detract from the pudding!

Another article on the place here;  their own website is here.

SPBW Update, with another Real Ale Festival

Largely verbatim from their e-mail update to members:

Bruce Dorsey of Metropolitan Coffeehouse & Wine Bar confirmed (over a few pints of Steve Jones tasty Bière de Garde French Farmhouse Ale last night) that Metropolitan would be pleased to be the host of our March meeting  on March 11 [forced to reschedule from Red Brick Station]. Bruce will have two firkins tapped for the evening, one of them Oliver's Three Spires Ale, a hoppy golden ale at 5% ABV. They are located in Baltimore at 902 Charles Street in the north end of Federal Hill.

Within the next several days tickets will go on sale for the March Real Ale Festival to be held at Pratt Street Ale House on Saturday, March 20th from noon to five p.m. This is a limited capacity event with only 110 tickets available. Tickets will be $35 each and available soon (but not yet!) through SPBW.org. The event will feature casks from Arcadia, The Brewer's Art, Weyerbacher, Flying Dog, Stillwater and three pins from Oliver Ales. Similar to the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival, this will be an unlimited sampling event. 
Plans are afoot to reschedule a gathering at Lures in Crownsville in the future, perhaps not as a formal meeting (but how formal do these meetings get, anyway?  "Call to order!"  "Three pints of cask here, please!"  "Two more here, too!").  Join the SPBW at the website for updates and membership benefits.

24 February 2010

A Few Quick Notes

1)  Great minds think alike:  Greg Kitsock, editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and Washington Post occasional beer columnist, steals my oyster stout theme has the idea to cover the same great beers as I did, albeit with no mention of Fordham Blue Point Oyster Stout.......... (and note, I still supposedly have a bottle of Harpoon's version awaiting me...)

2) The famed, legendary Brickskeller in Washington, DC--the place with the supposed largest bottled beer selection in the world--doesn't come off too well among participants in Washington Post food writer Tom Sietsema's online chat today.  Oops.......  and hmmmmm.......

And another "hmmmmmm...."  If that list is anywhere near up-to-date, it means Max's has the full BrewDog line-up and Bricks doesn't.......   but, of course, there's always the matter of the real beer list.....  the one they show you if, say, they like you or are seeing how much you can spend.......

3) Even a full 24 hours after last night's big beers, even a seven-year-old leatherwood honey mead and a bottle of 2006 Anchor Our Special Ale taste watery and insipid.....  I wonder if the ten-year-old peach mead has a chance...........

4)  (an hour later)  Yes, that ten-year-old peach mead brings the palate back to life.

Who has advice on home keg systems?

I received the following query from a reader:

I have decided to invest in a keg system at home. I've been looking around online, but am finding it tedious to sort through a massive amount of sales offers and ads when what I really need right now is advice.

Specifically, I'm looking to put a half-barrel keg in the basement and run lines up to the kitchen counter. I'm not at all concerned about looks, and can spend around $650 at the high end. should I convert a standard fridge or opt for a kit suited to the purpose?

Any advice on where to start would be much appreciated. Thanks.
 Would anyone like to help a fellow blog reader?  Comment away!

Max's has BrewDog Tokio on draft


Known as Tokyo* in Britain.  $9 a wine glass.  That's about the retail cost (on a per-ounce basis) you would pay in the UK, to be honest.  And that's including the shipping cost almost free.

It's an 18.2% stout, basically competing with Dogfish Head World Wide Stout.  But while DFH WWS is ink-black and intense, actually feeling like it's 18% and then some, Tokyo*/Tokio is splendidly tasty yet not overpowering, malty and sweet with an intense fruity character (probably stemming from the infusion of jasmine and cranberries) and more subdued roast/stout flavors than most imperial stouts.  I let a couple folks try mine "blind," and they guessed it to be 10% or so; it's dangerously drinkable for its strength.  It packs an incredible complexity, far more than any other barleywine or "extreme beer" I've tried, and garners loads of descriptions and comparisons from online reviewers--not all of them positive, as some folks just don't seem to care for it.

What it really comes down to is the perfect quote about such a beer, from beer importer Patrick Casey, co-founder of Legends Limited in Baltimore: "The Scots in particular have a way of doing things very subtly.  We Americans must always do things big and boldly.  I would not want the truly Scottish ales to become more like what the Americans produce."   (Incidentally, Legends passed on the chance to be the importer for BrewDog in the States: "At the time they were looking for an importer, they were just promoting their three or four more mainstream beers [Punk, Riptide, Hardcore, and the now-discontinued The Physics], and it was expensive per bottle," said sales rep Erin Tyler.  "And then they start doing all those big beers.  Who knew?")

Tokio is a more subtle, yet more complex, beer than World Wide Stout, or DuClaw Colossus, or any of those other "extreme beers."  It's still extreme, but..............  let's put it this way:

Dogfish World Wide Stout is that Playboy centerfold, that Megan Fox or Pamela Anderson.  Or Jessica Rabbit.
Colossus is that sexy movie starlet--Julia Roberts, Jennifer Anniston, Charlize Theron, take your pick.
Tokio is that lovely lass across the street that's attractive, yes, but ends up winning you over more with her smile, her wit, her laugh, her grace, and her charm.  Oh, yes, and her good taste.

And to make the evening complete, another patron at the bar graciously shared with me a sample from his "birthday bottle" of beer.  The bottle?  Sam Adams Utopias.  Thanks again, anonymous patron.  Life is good............

More Legislative Stuff, Eastern Shore Division (Bonus!: A Success Story!)

Think about this:  In order for beer stores in Wicomico County, Maryland (down there around Salisbury?  You pass through it on your way to Ocean City?), to consider offering beer tastings, it takes an act of the state legislature...... but wine tastings are already just fine, thank you........

Bottle shops could host free beer tastings in Wicomico County under legislation moving through the General Assembly, one of several bills that would tweak the county's alcohol regulations."The tastings would be for higher-end craft beers. [Evolution Brewing] would definitely be in there, Dogfish Head, the Belgians, the Rogue line," said Mike Vizard, owner of Cheers! Beer & Wine in Salisbury.
Vizard already hosts wine tastings at his store and wants to let patrons sample high-end beers as well, he said. This week, the Economic Matters Committee held a hearing on the beer tasting bill, which went "very well," said Jim Mathias, D-38B-Worcester, one of the delegates who introduced the bill on behalf of Wicomico County. A bill in the Senate would also allow beer tastings in the county.
Sen. Richard Colburn, R-37-Dorchester, has introduced legislation that he says makes the county more enticing to microbreweries. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear Colburn's bills Friday. Colburn's legislation would authorize the sale of refillable containers known as "growlers" and would expand the locations where microbreweries and brewpubs can build in the county. Currently, brewpubs and microbreweries can only be built on Enterprise Zones within Salisbury, but Colburn's bill would expand the locations to any county Enterprise Zone.
 More interesting information on Evolution Brewing is in the article:

Colburn has his sights on Evolution Brewing Co., he said. Less than a year after opening, Evolution Brewing has already outgrown its Delmar, Del., facility as the company can't make enough beer to keep up with demand, Tom Knorr, a co-owner, told The Daily Times in an interview last month."This allows them to move their facility from Delmar, Del.," Colburn said, "to Salisbury or Fruitland, or an Enterprise Zone in Wicomico County, to be more specific."
Tom Knorr and his brother, John Knorr, own several restaurants in the county, including Sobo's Wine Beerstro and Specific Gravity Pizzeria. They originally planned to build a restaurant and brewery at the former Union train station in Salisbury. However, they scrapped the plans and moved to Delaware after the city told them they must pay $168,000 for a sewer connection upgrade. Once at the Delmar facility, the brothers decided to focus exclusively on making beer and dropped the restaurant idea.
Tom Knorr could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
 It would be most interesting to hear his comments.  As I was to understand it, they set up shop in an old IGA "supermarket" a mere couple hundred feet over the state line in Delaware specifically because the local government--and, presumably, the laws in question being considered for updating in Annapolis--proved too onerous for them to deal with.  (As I was told, the major sticking point was environmental impact fees proposed by the city of Salisbury.)

The entire Salisbury Daily Times article is worth a read.

23 February 2010

Wine & Beer Dinner at Ale Mary's TONIGHT

Just got word of this from Baltimore Magazine's In Good Taste blog by Suzanne Loudermilk

Ale Mary’s in Fells Point decided to meet the needs of its customers by preparing a dinner tomorrow (Feb. 23) to appeal to two groups of imbibers.
“Due to the large demand from both our beer and wine drinkers, we will be hosting a dueling dinner” with wine and beer, chef Mary Rivers said in an e-mail. “The theme of the dinner will be based on the good ole USA.”
The six-course meal features four wines and two beers ($65 a person). The menu includes dueling game confit (rabbit and duck confit), sage-and-chevre-stuffed California dates, butter-poached lobster, grilled venison chop, herb-roasted quail and bison Wellington, and petite Stayman apple pie. Sounds yummy!
“The menu is not our usual fare, instead I try and get a bit creative by introducing people to ingredients that they normally would not try on their own,” Mary said. “I must say, I’m very excited and thrilled with the outcome of this exclusive menu.”
I wonder if it's too late to get tickets.  If it is, well, you could just go to Max's or Mahaffey's or Baltimore Taphouse........

22 February 2010

Sure, Let's Support the Little Guys..... hey, wait a minute.........

The Washington Post had an op-ed essay yesterday by Barry C. Lynn of the New America Foundation headlined "Let's Put Mom and Pop Back in Business," on the concept of supporting small businesses--i.e. the "mom and pop" businesses of old--over the international mega-corporations.

Well, yeah, don't we all do that, pretty much, drinking locally brewed craft beers or small-batch stuff from wherever and casting total disdain upon the big corporate/industrial stuff?

But then this line jumped out at me:

Then there's Sam Calagione, who built Dogfish Head Craft Brewery into a regional success in Delaware and Maryland. However, the shelf space across the country for his ales is limited not by the tastes of America's beer drinkers but by the people in charge of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, two foreign-owned trading companies that directly control some 80 percent of all beer sold in America.
Ummmm........   Seriously, Mr. Lynn?  You're trying to tell me that Dogfish has been blocked into going into certain markets by the Big Bad Evil Mega-Swill Makers?  I'm demanding examples or proof.  Right now, if anything, Dogfish's aggressive marketing and cult status (and, admittedly, good products) are robbing shelf space away from more local brewers in further-off states.  I've seen it in Arizona.  They're not stealing sales from Natural Light or Miller Genuine Draft, or even Oak Creek or Bridgeport.

I mean, seriously, look at their latest press release/project:
Four well-know brewers are joining forces with Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Italian food emporium Eataly to open a brewery-pub on a New York City rooftop with breathtaking views of the Flatiron and Empire State Buildings.
The four breweries collaborating on this project include two Italian craft brewers - Teo Musso, Brewmaster of Birrificio Le Baladin and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo, and two Italian-American craft brewers - Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Vinnie Cilurzo of the Russian River Brewing Company.
The first floor of the building at 200 5th Avenue will house Eataly, an epic Italian specialty foods market and multiple restaurants which pair gourmet foods with artisanal beers and wines. Additionally, there will be an 8,000 square foot rooftop brewery and restaurant operated by B&B Hospitalitys Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.
The rooftop bar and restaurant will house a copper-clad brewing system. The idea is to create an artisanal, old world Italian craft brewery that just happens to be located on a rooftop in Manhattan, says Dogfish Heads Sam Calagione. The four brewers are working together on recipes for Eatalys house beers. Those beers will feature Italian and American ingredients. The beers will be unpasteurized, unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and hand-pulled through traditional beer engines for the most authentic and pure presentation. The four individual brewers will also occasionally brew beers under their own names on site. The rooftop restaurant project will pair artisanal rustic, homemade beers with the artisanal, rustic cooking of Chef Mario Batali. Additional Italian and American regional craft beers will be served both at the rooftop bar and within the downstairs restaurants.
More power to them all, it's a free country and supposed to be a free market and all that, but......  does that sound more like a "mom and pop" business or a corporate merger?

All of us should want the proverbial "little guy" to thrive and succeed, even grow and expand production.  I'd love to see Brewers Art and Red Brick Station and Oliver's and all these folks have enough business--at the expense of mass-produced swill or the alcoholic fad of the month, of course--to need more workers and production.  And I do well remember the day when Dogfish Head was a cut-off keg brewing up the "beer of the day" in Rehoboth Beach, not a great big facility in Milton. Heck, there was a day when Wal-Mart, the megatron every leftist/progressive loves to trash now, was Sam Walton's store, no?  And what happened to KMart, the "downtown killer" before them?  Anyone remember Grant's?  Murphy's?  Woolworth's?

So, whadaya think?  Is Dogfish head still a "small guy," or is Sam & Co. well beyond that?

20 February 2010

Review: Flying Fish Bayshore Oyster Stout

Back in November I noted the return of oyster stout to the Eastern Seaboard, courtesy of Flying Fish of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

I'm happy to report that Legend Limited has made arrangements to bring Flying Fish's new "Exit" series to Maryland.  A pallet load of the Exit 4 American Trippel is currently in their East Baltimore warehouse and making its way through the distribution channels, but only a scant few cases of the Bayshore Oyster Stout made it--and Legends was kind enough to provide me a sample bottle.

At 7.5%, this is obviously a "bigger" beer than Fordham's retired 5.4% version.  Pours with a rich, chocolate-milk-colored head.  The initial nose is of a much thicker and richer stout yet, easily on par with the 10% stouts of last night, not so much alcoholic as roast-packed.  The initial palate is rich and full, initially seeming like a Russian imperial stout or an over-the-top chocolate stout, with almost roasted-to-charcoal blackness.  The flavor mellows a bit as it washes down the throat, more drinkable and easy on the palate than the initial promise.  What would normally be a somewhat astringent bitterness from so much extra roast flavor is mellowed somewhat by the chalkiness I recognize as a calcium-fortified (gypsum, milk, or oyster) stout.  Having mentioned chocolate already, there's a certain milk-chocolate-like creaminess in the mouthfeel, but it's only vaguely chocolate-flavored at best.  As the tongue gets used to the roast bitterness, a bit of ale-yeast "fruit" perks up.  It's still a downright dry stout, however, almost smoky.  If there's outright oyster flavor in this beer, I can't find it for digging through all the roast and chalk.

Yes, this is a beer you should try.  Oyster stout is way up on my own list of "beer styles you have to try before you die or proclaim yourself a beer expert," and this is an absolute classic.  If I were making it, I'd try for a couple malts that left a few unfermentable sugars and residual bit of sweetness to balance all that roast, and/or back off the roast just a bit, but the palate and character of the beer is spot on.

More on Flying Fish's NJ-Turnpike-based Exit Series at its own website here.

Picture from Tales of Ales, where another review is posted.  I would have posted a photo of my own bottle, but the numerous pet otters we keep around here ran off with the half-full bottle when I wasn't looking (easy to do, what with NPR's The Thistle & Shamrock and the Winter Olympics playing simultaneously while I type).........

Goodbye, Green Cilantro, Hello.......... WHAT?!?

Yeah, this post from last June?


I noticed the new sign last week--an interesting 3-dimensional take on a whistling oyster--but no one was in to confirm.

Md. Booze-Shipping Law Reform Isn't Dead Yet, After All

From a Pennsylvania news source (The Harrisburg Patriot-News), not Maryland (not a surprise to me, somehow):

Adam Borden noted in a Friday e-mail to members and friends of the lobbying group called Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws that Sen. Joan Carter Conway, has scheduled a hearing on Senate Bill 566, the direct wine shipping bill, on Friday, March 5Sen. Conway is the chair of the committee that hears alcohol bills.
It caught Borden by surprise for two reasons. Sen. Conway was quoted as saying in a recent Baltimore Sun story that the wine shipping bill “is not going anywhere” despite, according to Borden, having a majority of her own committee and both chambers supporting the legislation. And she scheduled it the same day and time as the hearing on the issue in the House.
Reached late Saturday morning, Borden said that he didn't know how to "interpret her choosing to do both on the same day." He said the two hearings will give those who want to testify in support of the measure more of an opportunity to get in front of the lawmakers and state their case.
Bottom line, however, this is a bill that needs to pass the House first. Right now, Borden said, they don't have enough votes to get that done. "We've got to focus on the House right now," he said.

Beer Recalled Over Trademark Issue

Lew Bryson has the details here--it's Weyerbacher Zotten.

I know of several folks who have praised this Weyerbacher product.  Go grab what you can now, if any's still out there.

Retro Beer: Yuengling Bock

Now on sale at selected outlets (photographed here at Hampden's The Wine Source), the new bottled version of last year's draft-only Yuengling Bock:

Pottsville, PA, January 2010 – Last year, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., celebrated their 180th Anniversary by re-introducing a late-winter seasonal classic, Yuengling Bock Beer. Available only in draft, it was the first time a Bock Beer was produced by Yuengling in nearly 40 years. The product was so well received, it will make a triumphant return in both kegs and bottles in January, 2010.

“Local taverns and pubs in our distribution area will once again become a destination for customers to enjoy this product on tap,” commented Lou Romano, Marketing Manager. “Last year, there were many loyal customers looking for Bock in bottles to take home and enjoy with family and friends, but it was not available. There’s a great deal of consumer excitement that it’s coming back in draft and package.”

With a deep amber color, pleasing malt base, and a refreshing hop aroma, Yuengling Bock Beer will be offered in 6-pack (12 oz) bottles, ¼ barrels, and ½ barrels starting January 18, 2010, and will last for approximately 10-12 weeks.

The bottle label and package design is based on actual Yuengling Bock Beer artwork from 1941. It can be found on display in the Yuengling Museum and Gift Shop in Pottsville, PA.

Richmond brewpub closes UPDATED

According to E.S. Delia's Relentless Thirst blog, Richbrau in Richmond, Virginia's Fells-Point-like Shockoe Bottom neighborhood has closed suddenly, with little to no prospect of reopening, a victim of the economic downturn and bankruptcy.

UPDATE: More from Richmond's BizSense:

Byrne said the last two years have been particularly difficult for a variety of recessionary reasons.
“I’ve been through three recessions,” Byrne said. “This is a completely different animal. Everyone is freaked out.”
He said fewer people are working downtown because of job cuts and companies closing or leaving the area. Many who do have jobs are fearful and eat out less, he said.
“You can only go down that road of not making money for so long,” Byrne said.
He said lunch business was down more than 30 percent and the biggest reason is there aren’t as many people on the streets downtown as there used to be.
“The issue for downtown has been that dwindling sales has been an ongoing trend,” Byrne said. “It doesn’t have the infrastructure to move forward during times that are this tough.”

More Firkins About!

A chance visit to Grand Cru in Belvedere Square reveals that they are pouring cask ale through their beer engine pretty much full time--"as long as we can actually get the firkins," says owner Nelson Carey.  Last night they were pumping Otter Creek's 10% Russian Imperial Stout, to be followed when it ran out by a beer perfect for this wine bar, Quercus Vitis Humulus:
QVH is our brewers' tribute to the mighty oak, luscious grape, and humble hop. The homage begins with a bold 27 degree plato barley-wine, warm-fermented with Bohemian lager yeast, then blended with Sauvignon Blanc grape juice and fermented a second time with a pure culture of Champagne yeast. When this intricate brew was complete, our brewers aged it on lightly toasted French Oak. The six week journey through our brewery results in a deeply complex ale which clocks in at 12% ABV, with 38 IBU.
They're also hosting the Belvedere Square Chili Cook-Off tomorrow, 3 to 6 PM Sunday, with eight chili recipes made by Bel Square's excellent gourmet marketers/kitchens competing for bragging rights.  $5 gets you the chance to sample all eight and vote for your favorite.

19 February 2010

18 February 2010

Coincidence? You Decide......

BBC News Scotland, 16th Feb.:

A controversial Scottish brewery has said it has reclaimed the title of the world's strongest beer from German rivals - with Sink the Bismarck at 41%.
BrewDog, of Fraserburgh, made headlines last year when it unveiled a 32% beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
However, Schorschbrau released the 40% strength Schorschbock.
BrewDog said its newly released 41%, Sink the Bismarck, would cost £40 for a 330ml bottle and would only be sold online.

BBC News Scotland, 18th Feb.
Reports of "flying Toblerones" and objects travelling at 1,100 mph across the Scottish sky have been released by the Ministry of Defence.
The files detail how unidentified objects have been witnessed flying over a range of locations across Scotland.
Among them were one from a senior air traffic controller at Prestwick Airport who reported seeing a fast-moving UFO on the airport radar.
While four fishermen spotted a flat, shiny object hovering off the coast.

Columbia's Frisco Grille to Move, Not Expand

Read what Baltimore Beer Guy has to say about it:

The move will not be immediate, obviously, and they will remain open at the current location but they hope to open at the new location sometime in late spring or early summer.

17 February 2010

Upcoming Firkins All Over UPDATED

Short and sweet:

Metropolitan, Federal Hill, Thursday: Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale, brewed in Frederick, Maryland by Flying Dog Brewery.  In addition to the firkin, they will also have draft versions of  Special Brewer's Series Coffee StoutRaging Bitch Belgian IPARoad Dog Porter and Garde Dog Biere de Garde available throughout both upstairs and downstairs bars.

Max's Taphouse, Fells Point, Thursday: Olivers Bishop Indulgence, Arcadia Nut Brown, Lagunitas Dogtown Pale Ale on the beer engines, plus a plethora of Belgian ales still on draft.  (See Lew Bryson's blog for a fresh review of one of the beers that was still on Tuesday night.)

Alonso's, Roland Park, Friday:  "We’ll definitely have a firkin of the Heavy Seas Siren Noire this Friday night.  I have it in house so there will be no hiccups this time."  (Is this the first firkin of this new beer to be tapped?)

Frisco Grille, Columbia, Thursday: Troeg's Nugget Nectar, beginning @ 4 pm.

Any others I missed?

16 February 2010

Beer "Strength War" Gets Idiotic

No, wait.  It was already idiotic.  This just pushes it even further.

The Morning Advertiser, a British alkie-trade paper, brings us the latest round of what I have openly called before this latest round a ludicrous, attention-seeking, almost childish game of "comparison of certain male bodily appendages for the sake of ego gratification"--only now they're way too far into the use of various things for which we used to get advertising spam e-mails on a routine basis:

Controversial Scottish brewer Brewdog has reclaimed the title of world’s strongest beer from its German rivals.
German brewers Schorschbräu briefly held the record after releasing its 40% Schorschbock just two weeks ago, taking the record off Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
Brewdog has now hit back with a 41% abv quadruple IPA called Sink the Bismarck!, priced at £40 [$65] for a 330ml [11.2 oz.] bottle and is only available from the brewer’s website.
The brewer has been fighting a running battle with drinks industry watchdog Portman Group and health lobbyists over the strength and packaging of its beers.
“As a company responsible consumption and better education about beer is ingrained in all we do,” said co-founder James Watt.
“Beer has a terrible reputation in Britain, it’s ignorant to assume that a beer can’t be enjoyed responsibly like a nice dram or a glass of fine wine. A beer like Sink the Bismarck! should be enjoyed in spirit sized measures.”

From their website/blog:
This is IPA amplified, the most evocative style of the craft beer resistance with the volume cranked off the scale. Kettle hopped, dry hopped then freeze hopped for a deep fruit, resinous and spicy aroma. A full out attack on your taste-buds ensues as the incredibly smooth liquid delivers a crescendo of malt, sweet honey, hop oils and a torpedo of hop bitterness which lasts and lasts.

If you need a laugh:

Sink the Bismarck! from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Seriously. These blokes are making Stone Brewing, or even Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head, look like a bunch of uptight slackers, both in the brewing and publicity department. (Though, truth be told, American brewers are expressly prohibited by Federal law from using the same freeze-distillation techniques exercised by BrewDog and Schorschbrau.)

So are we going to keep buying all this blather and bottles?  Frankly, I don't even want any more of this stuff.  I'll sample it if the opportunity arises for cheap or free, but right now we're just being ripped off--come on, admit it, we're being played--and the beer geeks that buy into this stuff are doing it for the same damned reason that they brewers are making it: bragging rights.  Next, the Swiss or Japanese will counter with something with 42%, BrewDog will counter with some 43% concoction, and we'll keep shelling out big bucks just so we can say "we tried the shit stuff and you didn't, nyaa nyaa nyaa".  I mean, I liked what I've sampled of Sam Adams' extreme beers, but there's no way in HELL I'm paying that kind of money.  Period.  (But at least the Scots didn't put $60 worth of product into a $50 bottle like Sam Adams did with Utopias......)  I believe I have a bottle of DuClaw Colossus calling me instead.......

In OTHER (and more relevant) news from BrewDog, the brewery has reformulated one of its previous "publicity-gimmick" beers for 2010. Last year's batch of Nanny State, a 0.5% ABV concoction with an alleged 225 international bittering units, was an apparent one-off response to negative reaction the previous record-setter, their 18% imperial stout Tokyo (now imported to the States under the name "Tokio" and on shelves in Maryland as we type). The name has been revived for 2010 for an 0.5% (functionally "non-alcoholic") malty "West Coast inspired" pale ale with only 45 IBUs. (Whether the West Coast in question is North America or Scotland has not been answered by the brewers, and is apparently left open to interpretation, though with "centennial, amarillo, columbus, cascade and simcoe and intensively dry-hopped with centennial and amarillo" in the description, it's a safe guess they mean West Coast North America......)

15 February 2010

How Fells Point Got Dug Out

A story published this afternoon at the Baltimore Sun's website, and probably in line for tomorrow's print edition, depicts the owners of two Fells Point bars taking matters into their own hands to get the streets around lower Fells Point dug out for this weekend:

Friday was a turning point for Ron Furman. That day, he decided to become a vigilante plower.

The owner of Max's Taphouse in Fells Point was walking in the neighborhood when he said he slipped and fell on ice at Lancaster Street and Broadway.

"I almost broke my neck," Furman said. "I just said that was it and went up and got the tractor."

The Upperco resident said he plowed out side streets and parking spaces through the weekend as well as Monday morning, starting at 5 a.m.

He said he decided to take matters into his own hands, rather than complaining that it's someone else's responsibility to get the job done.

"Sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do to get things done," said Furman, owner of Max's for 23 years. "We can't always rely on the government to take care of it."

Then again, "not everybody has a tractor," he said. "I was fortunate and I could bring it down and help out."

Furman said he plowed from Friday night until the sun started shining on Saturday, building a giant snow mountain in the Fells Point square by clearing out the spaces surrounding it. He also plowed the east side of the 700 block of Broadway and planned to hit the west side as well.

Last weekend, Max's held its Belgian Beer Fest, and although business was good, Furman said, but not outstanding.

"We were off, and I think a good part of it was the weather," said Furman. "It was real strong, but not the numbers that we expected."
More at the link/article.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum

12 February 2010

You Know You're in Baltimore When.........

No comment.

Max's Belgian 2010

Yeah, I'm here.  Unlike last year.  The gall bladder we had to blame last year is gone.  I'm #2 of 80+ in line, primarily because I took transit and built in a large cushion that proved needless.  One bad connection or detoured bus, however, and I might have been late.

These little babies are gone, by the way.  Yes, already.  What the heck did you expect?

BeerInBaltimore, Second Anniversary

just as a sly, administrative note, the opening of this year's Max's Belgian Fest marks the unofficial second birthday of this blog.  Go read Belgian beer notes from 2008 here.

Sun reviews DuClaw BWI

See the review here.  Positive, overall.

(Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

11 February 2010

Coming to Max's Belgian? DON'T DRIVE!

Here's Fells Point this evening:

Let me tell you all you need to know:


What parking lots and garages exist down there are/were full of the cars of locals, and will probably be thus full tomorrow.

What streets are open are BADLY rutted slabs of five-inch-thick ice.  They are challenging even to Jeep 4X4 drivers.  The residential streets--Lancaster, Shakespeare, etc.--are still completely impassable unless you have a snowmobile.

Plan to take transit.  Or a taxi.  Or walk.  Heck, is the Water Taxi running?

The MTA's website is supposed to be http://mta.maryland.gov , but it appears to be down for the moment.  Many bus lines are NOT running as I type this.  The easiest thing to do is get yourself downtown (via Metro, Light Rail, MARC, bus, or whatever), then take a #10 bus from downtown to the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Broadway, two short blocks or so north of Max's.  The new (and free) Charm City Circulator shuttle buses will get you from downtown to Harbor East, but it's still several blocks' walk from there to Max's.  Note that the MTA is NOT YET running the Metro on the above-ground portion between Mondawmin Station and Owings Mills, and may not be doing so until Monday; substitute shuttle buses are being run between the Metro's above-ground stations (Old Court to Mondawmin--Owings Mills folks are out of luck), with substantial delays on the underground portion.  See HERE for MTA bus route updates.  The #10 bus line eastbound is running through downtown on Baltimore Street and President Street to Eastern Avenue, not Pratt Street.

See y'all inside for breakfast at 11, MTA willing.

Tonight's Federal Hill Firkin

From Metropolitan's e-mail:
Does anyone still want a beer after the mess of the last week?

If you do, we have a great one on cask tonight as we tap a delicious firkin of Arcadia London Porter from Arcadia Brewing Co. in Battle Creek, Michigan. London Porter is a 7.2% porter brewed in an 18th Century Style: "This is our version of an 18th Century “Smoked Porter”. Our London Porter has a subtle accent of beechwood smoked malt, which comes through nicely in the aroma and the flavor. Brewed using seven varieties of premium European malted barley, this full-bodied beer is characterized by hints of chocolate and coffee, and balanced by a  long-lingering hoppy bitterness. In a style that generally focuses on malt alone, our London Porter is unique in its rich, smoky, peaty characteristics. It has earthy, grassy notes as
well, courtesy of UK Goldings hops."
Almost makes up for missing out on SPBW and Lures tonight............  (still thinking of the sad, lonely snowman there....)

Should we move Valentine's Day?

A reader at the Baltimore Sun blog of food critic Elizabeth Large (who, incidentally, is retiring after thirty years later this month) makes the folowing suggestion:
I think that we/you need to start a campaign to move V-Day this year. Call it V-Day 2.0 or V-Day+5 and make it next Friday night. Otherwise lots of restaurants, shops, florists, etc. will take a big hit.  But I need someone with a bull horn, a soapbox- someone like you!  I'm sure many of your advertisers and readers- restaurants and erstwhile diners- would embrace this. So please consider my modest proposal. ...
Sounds good to me. Besides, some of us would then get to enjoy the Max's Belgian Fest  guilt-free on Sunday.

10 February 2010

This Is When We REALLY Worry......

They're coming.

Be ready.

Still Open?!?!?!?!

At least four seven ten Baltimore good-beer bars are reported as open in this storm:

Mahaffey's, Canton
Ale Mary's, Canton/Fells Point
Baltimore Taphouse, Highlandtown/Canton
Duda's and John Steven Ltd., Fells Point
Max's Taphouse, Fells Point
Brewers Art, downstairs bar reported as opening @ 5 pm.
Metropolitan, Muggsy's Mug House, and Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill

Anyone else?  Can anyone send me pictures of the crowds there?

Max's Belgian Fest STILL ON

From Max's Taphouse:
We are still having the fest, all the same times (11am-2am each day)
Snow or no Snow this Festival is going to happen.
There are 2 garages in fells point on Thames street that you can use.
Hope to see you all this weekend. Cheers

Proposed Md. Booze Tax Increases: Up to OVER 1,200% INCREASE in Beer Tax!!!

Straight and to the point:

Md. Senate Bill 717

Md. House Bill 832

Increasing the State tax rates for alcoholic beverages sold in Maryland from $1.50 to $10.03 per gallon for distilled spirits, from 40 cents to $2.96 per gallon for wine, and from 9 cents to $1.16 per gallon for beer; providing for the distribution of the additional revenue to special funds to be used only for the purpose of providing additional funding for specified health services; etc.
According to Duclaw brewer (and former attorney) William "Bo" Lenck's Facebook page:

Beer - From $0.09 to $1.16 - Increase, 1,280% ($2.25/case)
Wine - $0.40 to $2.96 - Increase, 740% ($0.50/750 ml)
Liquor - $1.50 to $10.03 - Increase 687% ($1.70/750 ml)

Go to it, all you political wonks.  Comment away, and let your legislators know your thoughts--that is, if you're still deluded enough to believe they'll actually listen to you.

Sadder, Lonelier Snowman..........

The official word in from Rick Bloemke, SPBW Chesapeake Bay Branch President :
With the aptly named Ultra-Kahuna winter storm rearing its ugly head, the prudent and responsible decision is to cancel the meeting scheduled for this Thursday at Lures Bar and Grille in Crownsville, MD.  I appreciate that is no small thing to regroup, especially with the hectic schedules we all carry today. If, however, the 22" of snow hits Baltimore as expected by Wednesday evening, no one will be able nor wish to risk driving in the immediate aftermath.  It is a shame, as we were all looking forward to adding a new venue to our list of favorites, but Mother Nature wins this round.  Depending upon your willingness and Lures' schedule in the next week or two, we may move the meeting to a "calmer" day.  

Poor, sad, lonely snowman.  Let's hope we get to cheer him up with cask-conditioned Loose Cannon really soon, huh?

Weather Map Update

(Click on the map for a larger view.)

(Wouldn't it be easier, at this point, for the TV and radio stations to just stop telling us everything that is closed, and just tell us about who, if anybody, is still OPEN or operating?!?!?!?     Ironic cancellation of the week: "Disney on Ice"........)

09 February 2010

Vintage Notes: 1999 Thomas Hardy's Ale

Well, we're in the process of being snowed in, and we're not going anywhere tomorrow. Heck, I may have to walk to Max's on Friday morning, at the rate things are going. So let's do it.

I trust Thomas Hardy's Ale needs no introduction for most readers of this blog. If I'm wrong, you can find more here, and here, and here. Harshly dissenting view here.

This bottle is one of a large stash--22 bottles--of mixed 1998 and 1999 bottles I uncovered in one of three liquor stores just over the Wisconsin border from Iron Mountain, Michigan (you saw all three stores before you saw the "Welcome to Wisconsin" sign, and at least two of the stores also stocked live bait) two days before my wedding in September 2004. The bottles on the shelves had price stickers of $3.79 a bottle--and "sale" stickers priced $2.29! With that, I had the unmitigated audacity to approach the stockists and ask, "If I take all of them, can I get a little bit better?" After conferring with the managers, he came back and said "if we find a case, he'll give you $2 a bottle". I grabbed one of the two cardboard Thomas Hardy's boxes and filled it with every bottle from the shelves as the stockists cleaned out the back. All in all, we found 22 bottles. He said, "Well, he said a case, but....." I saw, and grabbed, two lonely bottles of Sinebrychoff Porter that looked abandoned and glanced at the stockist; he shrugged and said, "Okay, yeah."

I rushed the case to the checkout, paid the $48 plus tax, and locked it up in my car before anyone could change their mind. Then I returned to purchase more stuff, primarily New Glarus Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart.

Reiterate: I had Thomas Hardy's at my wedding for $2 a bottle. The last two vintages by the Eldridge Pope Brewery, no less. (I also had, for the less adventuresome, a five-liter "mini-keg" of Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, which I found to be a perfect substitute for those expecting something akin to champagne at a wedding.)

Sipping notes: This needs a fireplace. As I open it, the aroma of woody toffee hits my nose before I can pour it. In spite of mishandling the bottle, it pours bright as a bell, a lovely deep red color of fine sherry. Carbonation is very thin, just right for the style but a disappointment to anyone expecting to measure head retention. The nose is oak, malt, sweet hot caramel/toffee/butterscotch, with a bit of saddle leather and maybe pipe tobacco. The flavor is nowhere near as sweet and cloying as the nose seems to promise; instead it's dry in flavor but full of sweet and buttery--very buttery--mouthfeel. For those who truly know their malt, this has that classic nuttiness of Maris Otter malt, and little wonder--the recipe for this beer supposedly is 100% Maris Otter, boiled and boiled like heck. The flavor is chewy, nutty Maris Otter malt with sweet oak, orange peel, raisins, peat smoke, and buttery toffee; the finish is wispy, almost vapory like incense, of citrus, Earl Grey tea/bergamont, dry sherry. Alcohol is prominent, like a watered-down spirit. Say, a liqueur made from heavily oaked Constant Comment tea (the orange-peel-and-cloves product from Bigelow). The tannic flavors hearken to both cloves and oak-aged beers, with a bit of tea-leaf bitterness as well.

This is the kind of tasting experience best shared with others. Other tasters sipping the same drink will proffer suggestions of flavors that you won't come up with--smoked prunes? maple and whiskey? Dalwhinnie? --and the multitude of suggestions gets argued down to a consensus.

Should you get what's left? Not everyone will love this--this beer can be as polarizing in reaction as, say, politicians or musicians. (I tell people my first sip of Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA was sprayed over an adjacent wall, in part because I apparently anticipated something more like a cross between their 90-Minute IPA and Thomas Hardy's.)

Oh, and how does one chill beer like this in this weather?  One guess.

Sad, Sad Snowman..........

The picture sent out with Lures Bar & Grill's announcement that today's Tuesday Beer Club, with a firkin of Troeg's Nugget Nectar, would be canceled.  "Firkin snow!" they blamed.  Closed all day tomorrow as well.

No word yet on whether the SPBW meeting/visit scheduled there Thursday evening would go on as planned......

So you think YOU hate the snow???

Yes, the meme's being beaten to death, so much so that it's becoming its own self-parody, but I can't resist (Note: captions NSFW, can't tell you about the audio, but unless you're reading this in Germany you should be safe...)

08 February 2010

Ale good for your bones, too?

Over the past several years, the magazine New Scientist has gotten increasingly more like Popular Science --anything to get a headline in the mainstream press, anything to present a sound bite of science.  I guess the next step would be aiming for USA Today brevity.

Well, here's their latest nugget:

A beer a day could keep brittle bones at bay. That's because beer is rich in silicon, an element that has been linked to bone health. But what type of beer should you drink?
Previous studies have shown that silicon can aid bone growth, and that moderate beer drinking is linked to increased bone density. Now Charles Bamforth and Troy Casey at the University of California, Davis, have discovered how much silicon each type of beer contains.
They analysed 100 beers from around the world and found that the brews contained between 6.4 and 56 milligrams of silicon per litre, with an average of 29 milligrams per litre. Looking at the silicon levels in beer's ingredients, they found that most of it comes from the husks of malted barley.
The pair found that lighter-coloured beers made from pale malted barley and hops, such as pale ales, are richest in silicon, while low-alcohol beers contain the least, along with stouts, porters and wheat beers.
 More at the link.  Calcium's still better, though, so drink your milk.

(Tip o' the hat: Instapundit.)

You've seen the weather forecasts......

". . . which could bring an additional 12 to 18 inches of snow to the region....."

Now go to the website for regular updates.

Oh, and bring a shovel if you think you're going to park anywhere near Max's or Fells Point this Friday through Sunday.

Max's Belgian Fest 2010--the latest scratch list

One more time, from cellarmaster Casey Hard:  The last "scratch list" for Friday morning @ 11 AM:

*Achilles Celtic Angel
Achilles Serafijn Pale Ale  6.2%
Achouffe Houblon Chouffe  9.0% IPA
Achouffe La Chouffe  8% Golden
Achouffe Mc Chouffe 8.5% Brown
Achouffe N' Ice Chouffe  10% Barleywine
Alvinne Bathazaar  9% spiced
*Alvinne Caper Fumitas
Alvinne Extra
*Alvinne Gaspar   8% Bitter Ale
*Alvinne Melchior    11.0% ale with mustard seeds
*Alvinne Oak Aged Bathazaar  9.0% Oak-aged spiced ale
*Alvinne Oak Aged Podge  10.5% Oak-aged imperial stout
Alvinne Podge  10.5% Imperial Stout
*Barbar Winterbok   8% Dark Ale
*Blaugies La Moneuse Special Winter   8% Winter Saison
*Blaugies Saison D Epeautre    6% Saison
*Bockor Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge    5.5% Flemish Red
*Brugse Zot Dubbel  7.5% Dubbel
Cantillon Gueuze    5.0% Gueze/Lambic
Cantillon Iris    5.0% Fresh Hop Lambic
*Cantillon Rose De Gambrinus    5.0% Raspberry Lambic
*Cazeau Tournay    7.2% Blonde
*Cazeau Tournay Black    7.6% Stout
*Cazeau Tournay De Noel   8.2% Dark Saison
==>Chimay Cinq Cents  8% Trappist Tripel
*Contreras Valier Blonde  6.5% Blonde
*Contreras Valier Extra   6.5% IPA
*Contreras Valier Divers   8.5% Tripel
*De Dochter Van De Korenaar Emblasse  9% Strong Dark Ale
*De Dochter Van De Korenaar Noblesse   5.5% Pale Ale
*De Dochter Van De Korenaar Courage    8% Dark Wheat
De Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte   7.0% Imperial Wit
*De Glazen Toren Angelique  8% Historic recipe
De Glazen Toren Ondineke  8.5% Tripel
De Glazen Toren Saison D Epre Mere Special Endejaar
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epre Mere  7.5% Saison
*De Proef Van Twee   7.5% Wild Dubbel with cherries
*De Ranke Noir De Dottignies  9% Special Dark
*De Regenboog T' Smisje Triple 
De Regenboog Catherine The Great   10% Imperial Stout
De Regenboog Guido   8% Ale with Honey and Raisins
De Regenboog T'Smisje Kerst  11% Winter Ale
*De Regenboog Sleedorn Extra
De Regenboog T' Smisje Dubbel   9% Dubbel
*De Regenboog T' Smisje Plus    10% IPA
*De Regenboog T' Smisje Speciale    10.5% Pumpkin Ale
Delirium Tremens   8.5% Strong Golden Ale
Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux  9% Saison
Duvel Green   6.8% Golden Ale
*Ellezelloise Hercule Stout    9% Stout
Ellezelloise Quintine Blonde    8% Blonde
*Geants Gouyasse   6% Blonde
*Geants Urchon   7.5% Brown Ale
Gulden Draak Vintage   7.5% Dark Tripel
*Het Alternatief Eerwaarde Pater 
*Het Alternatief Piet Agoras    9% Special Ale
==>Kerkom Bink Blonde   5.5% Blonde
==>Kerkom Bink Bloesem 7.1% Ale with Pears & Honey
==>Kerkom Bink Bruin  5.5% Bruin
==>Kerkom Bink Triple  9% oh, guess the style.....
La Rulles Triple  8.4% Triple
*La Trappe Isid'or (name corrected)   7.5% Trappist
*Lefebvre Floreffe Dubbel  6.3% Dubbel
Lefebvre Floreffe Triple  7.5% Tripel
Mardesous 6
*Mardesous 8
*Mardesous 10
==>*Silly Enghien Noel   9% Winter Tripel
==>Silly Saison De Silly  5% Saison
*Sint Canarus Pere Canard   9% Winter Strong Ale
*Sint Canarus Triple   7.5% Tripel
*Slaapmutske Dry Hopped Lager
*Slaapmutske Kerstmutske
St Bernardus Christmas  10.0% Dark Ale
*St Feuillien Blanche   6.3% Wit
*St Feuillien Saison   6.5% Saison
==>Strubbe Ichtigems Grand Cru   5.0% Flemish Red
*Struise Tsjeeses   10.0% Special Winter Ale
Timmermans Bourgogne Des Flandres    5.0% Flanders Red
*Van Honsebrouck Bacchus   4.5% Flemish Red
*Van Honsebrouck Gueuze Fond Tradtion    5% Gueze
#Brewers Art Green Peppercorn Triple w/ real Peppercorns(Cask) 9.2%
De Regenboog BBBourgondier Gravity(cask)  12.0% Barleywine
*De Regenboog Calva Reserve Gravity (Cask)  12.0% Strong Ale aged in Calvados
De Regenboog T' Smisje Kerst Gravity (cask)  11.0% Winter Ale
*De Regenboog T' Smisje Great Reserva in a JW Lees Wooden (Cask)
==>De Regenboog Catherine the Great (Wooden Cask)  10.0% Imperial Stout
#The Bruery Two Turtle Doves (Cask)    12% Belgian Style Dark
==>#Allagash Black  (Cask)
==> Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison  (Cask) 6.8% Saison  (World debut)
More of the list here; I have a bottle list but I'm not yet copying/pasting that.............

Irony, Pratt Street Variation....

.....  from a Oliver Breweries Twitter posting:

Ah, the irony of it all .... mountains of snow outside but the brewery glycol system has broken down again and we can't chill our fermentation vessels!

So, all you folks driving by with pickup trucks full of snow:  I know a place where you might be welcome to dump them............

Committee Leader Poised to Kill Direct Wine Shipments Bill (UPDATED)

The Baltimore Sun article this morning says it all:

Most Maryland lawmakers, a swath of Democrats and Republican from across the state, want adults to be able to have bottles of wine shipped to their homes, something that's legal in 37 other states. When it was filed last week, a bill repealing the quarter-century-old direct-shipping ban included the signatures of 106 of the 188 state legislators.

"In a logical world, that kind of support would indicate that a bill is about to pass," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat and proponent of what's affectionately known as the "Free the Grapes" campaign.

But the proposal, as in years past, "is not going anywhere," according to the leader of the Senate committee that determines its fate.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat and chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said she has too many concerns to bring the bill up for a vote, though six of the nine committee members are co-sponsors.

"Conceptually, it's a good thing," Conway said of the proposal. "There are a few things I'm hung up on, and I don't think those can all be resolved this year."

Her chief concern, she said, is that underage drinkers will tap the Internet for wine. There's no way, she said, to force delivery agencies, whether the U.S. Postal Service or a private carrier, to verify the age of the person accepting a package.
[What, she's never seen a package sent registered and "Adult Signature Required"?!?  And besides which, the U.S. Postal Service DOES NOT allow shipment of alcoholic beverages in the first place, or even its advertising or sales material--it would have to be via private carriers like UPS and Fed Ex Ground!  See this website for one example!  Not good enough for you?!  LOOK HERE, dammit, Conway!]
The other problem, she said, is that it is difficult for state officials to collect taxes from out-of-state entities - or penalize faraway violators.

Raskin said he has not heard "any convincing argument against the wine bill. It's working in other states. It can work here, too."

He argues that Marylanders are already having bottles of wine shipped to their homes illegally or to other areas, such as Virginia or Washington, where it is legal. Either way, Maryland doesn't get a cut of the taxes on those bottles.

Adam Borden, director of Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws, a lobbying group, said direct shipping would generate about $1.5 million per year in state and excise taxes.

Repealing the law would open Maryland wine cellars to cabernets and syrahs from boutique wineries such as Sonoma's Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate.

Most of their wines are shipped directly to residents, said Jim Morris, the vineyard's director of marketing. They do not sell to any of the state's wine distributors, but Morris said some Maryland customers have found a loophole: Those who work in the District of Columbia have the product shipped to their business addresses.

"We always ask, 'Do you have an address in D.C. or any other state?' " Morris said. "Maryland is a really difficult state to do business with."
[Welcome to the People's Demokratik Republik of Maryland.]
Liquor lobbyists strongly oppose direct shipping of wine, saying it bypasses the state's carefully crafted network of government entities that regulate the sale of alcohol. Developed just after the end of Prohibition in 1933, state law requires alcohol to pass from producer to wholesaler to retailer before it reaches the consumer.

"What do you think the liquor boards are for?" Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist for the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland, says of the bill.
[Oh, WE know.  And THEY know.  The only question is, will they be honest and tell us what we already know?]
The wine-shipping legislation would require manufacturers who import to be licensed, but Bereano says such a system would "not be a meaningful substitute" for liquor inspectors charged with the authority to shut down a business selling to underage customers.

Conway said she supports the existing regulatory system. Direct shipping, she said, "violates the integrity of it."

But some proponents of the direct-shipping bill question whether she is too personally tied to the system to be fair. Her husband, Vernon "Tim" Conway, is a city liquor inspector since 1995 who made $67,000 in his position last year, according to city records.
[A-yep.  There's the rub.]
All 188 lawmakers and Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, are up for election this fall, further imperiling the wine-shipping bill. According to a 2008 analysis by The Baltimore Sun, more than 80 percent of state legislators have received campaign contributions from the liquor lobby.
[And there's the other rub.  What they mean is "the liquor-distribution lobby," in all likelihood.]

Conway said her concerns are shared by Senate leadership. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat, has not traditionally supported the direct-shipping bill, either.

Still, Raskin said, he holds out hope that 2010 "will be our vintage for passing this bill."

[Why.............  in &$%#!@............  do these incompetents...............  keep getting elected............ never mind being put in charge of what you can and can't do?]

UPDATE:  More here from the Sun's "Second Opinion."