29 May 2010

Why to go to Brew at the Zoo

Just in case you might be the ONE person who reads this blog AND is trying to decide whether to go on Sunday or not:

1) your ticket gives you the chance to see the whole Maryland Zoo before going back for beers.

2) Hidden away amongst the drafts today, and not depleted at closing: Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and Stone Old Guardian barleywine.  Kinda makes Olivers 3 Lions look tame, no?

28 May 2010

Beer Events in DC next week, and MORE SAVOR tickets to be won!

The Washington Post's All We Can Eat blog reports on several notable beer events in Washington D.C next week leading up to the big SAVOR shindig on the night of Saturday the 5th, and offers its readers several possible ways to enter drawings for tickets, which sold out in minutes a while ago.

Disclaimer: I won two tickets to SAVOR last year via one of those ways.  I respectfully withdraw from competition this year, having secured instead one of the few media passes rationed out by the Brewers Association.  (I didn't make the media cut last year.)

On a related note, Capitol City also had to pull some rank and strings to make it into the fest this year--read all about it at the blog link, including a report from former Cap City-Baltimore brewer Mike McCarthy.

Wanna buy a beer bar?

Midnight Sun reports Taps in Federal Hill is for sale on Craigslist--17 taps, $375K or best offer for the business, or $795K for the whole thing.

A REAL World Cup Beer

No, not the "World Cup of Beer" that was recently held in North Carolina.

Brewer Stephen Jones of Pratt Street Ale House, a native of England, of course pays more attention to the World Cup than to Major League Baseball or NFL (except that the latter two arguably produce more traffic for his establishment).  So I should have expected the following in my e-mail:

BULLDOG BITTER: Brewed to celebrate the World Cup ... a classic English Best Bitter, sessionable and thirst quenching, 4.3% abv, brewed with Halcyon Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Malt, Roasted Barley and Malted Wheat. Amber in colour, medium bodied with a balanced hop profile (Kent Goldings and English Fuggle). This will be available on draft and a limited number of casks, and will be $3/pint during the games @ The Pratt Street Ale House .... Three Lions on a shirt and a Bulldog spirit .... Come on England (though we'll probably lose to the US in the first game!!!)
Now I'm just waiting for some sarky American brewer to come up with a true American beer (probably an overhopped pale ale or extreme beer) to sell at that game called "Bulldog Biter".........

27 May 2010

Ummmm...... That's Resurrection?

Ladies and gentlemen (well, whoever is reading this), I have tasted the Brewer's Art Resurrection from a can.
Well, at least that's what the cans said.

No Idea Tavern in South Baltimore was the first to alert me (and others) to the arrival of their order of cans of the "new" elixir, brewed and canned under the supervision of BA brewer Steve Frazier at Sly Fox in Phoenixville, Pa.  They started with a special on the beer last night, but I was unable to get there yesterday, so when they opened today at 5, I was there.
So, how is it?  The title of this post says it.
It seems like a plainer, stripped-down version of Resurrection, as if someone had fermented it with a lager yeast instead of a Belgian yeast.  The flavors of the malt and hops are there, but not that third dimension, that Belgian-styled funk.
To confirm our suspicions, fellow bar patron Mark King and I shared a 750ml bottle of the bottled Resurrection, brewed at the same brewery.  It confirmed what we already knew: the bottle conditioning of the bottled beer produced a richer, fuller, and more developed and complex  (Mark said "sweeter") beer than what was in the cans. 

The folks who will be falling over themselves to drink this are likely the ones who know enough to pass similar judgment.  I've seen similar effects with other beers that I have sampled in multiple forms--Guinness, Smithwick's, Boddington's (all nitro), Oskar Blues and Victory products.  The cans somehow lack that certain something.  But this was by far the biggest change I had seen, as if some major multinational brewing conglomerate had taken over.  (I continue to allege that New Belgium's beers have been "dumbed down" from their original presentation in 22-ounce bombers to 12-ouncers; I have to give the benefit of the doubt to a ten-year gap in samples.)

Go on, folks.  Try it for yourself.  But if you're a Brewer's Art regular, don't get your hopes up.

(Thanks again, Mark, for sharing with me--and by extension, us.)

Tonight's fun

Pick between a firkin of Stillwater Stateside at Metropolitan, cask night at Max's, and Red Brick Station's "They Made Me Do It" Blueberry Ale release party 7-close, $2 blueberry ales and shooters, half-price featured wings, and live music.  Oh, and perfect weather for a refreshing, lighter-weight, fruit beer, too.

The Beer Scene at Camden Yards

As reported by fellow beer writer Martin Morse Wooster:

I finally made it to Camden Yards last night. The place has changed. OUTSIDE PITCH magazine died...They don't have a "scalp-free ticket zone" anymore...and, in the most shocking development of all...

THEY GOT RID OF THE RIBS!!!! (They were good ribs.)

They do have beer, though. Here's what's in the craft beer stands:

Fordham Copperhead
Flying Dog Snake Dog
Heavy Seas Classic Lager

I assume the Heavy Seas Classic Lager is what used to be called Clipper City Gold. I of course gave Hugh Sisson my custom. This is a pretty good beer to have with the nourishing peanut.

They jacked up the prices by a buck to $7.50. I hope the brewers got some.

Diageo has also entered the park in a big way. They now have Bacardi stands selling you dacquiris and margaritas for $8. And they also have "Jeremiah Weed tea-flavored vodka" with lemonade. Although this beverage violates one of the Fundamental Laws of Drinking, namely, "Don't Drink ANYTHING with 'Weed" in the title" (The sentence, "Dag, thass good weed" should NOT be used with alcoholic beverages!) this drink sounds so disgusting that I must have at least one.

Parking Rates to Double in Fells Point, Federal Hill, Mt. Vernon

From today's Baltimore Sun:

The cost of parking in some of Baltimore's most popular neighborhoods soon will double as part of an effort to close the city's $121 million budget gap.
Metered parking rates will jump to $2 an hour in Mount Vernon, Harbor East, Federal Hill, Fells Point and downtown as soon as the changes can be implemented, according to an item approved by the city's spending board Wednesday.
The higher rates bring Baltimore in line with nearby cities such a Philadelphia, New York and Washington and will expedite turnover of parking spaces, making it easier to find a spot, according to the city officials.  The higher rates are expected to bring the city $3.1 million in revenue. City Council members are contemplating raising the rates in other neighborhoods in an effort generate additional funds.
Looks like it's time to get one of those MTA transit-pass Charm Cards they've been working on for seven years and $90 million......  oh, wait--some more..............

26 May 2010

Interesting targeted advertising............

I was perusing a blog post at the noted Libertarian website Reason.com.

There was an ad on the side for Lagunitas IPA.


And now, Brew at the Aquarium!

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is getting in on the beer-as-a-charity-fundraiser theme with their "Beyond the Boardwalk: On Tap!" event on the evening of June 26th, which closes out their month-long Beyond the Boardwalk celebration. Beers are advertised from Heavy Seas, DuClaw, and Flying Dog; advance ticket prices are from $15-55 depending on drinking or designated driving and optional aquarium admission.

Brewer's Art beers offered to Jerseyites to woo them to Md.

It sounds like a farce.  But no.

As part of the federal government's massive Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) program, the military has been forced to entice thousands of employees--mostly civilian--to move from northern New Jersey, around the closing Fort Monmouth, to the region around Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade south of Baltimore.

Cue all the possible "Joisey" jokes now.  Get them out of your system.

Apparently the military is having trouble enticing enough employees to relocate.  Many employees, for a variety of reasons--some apparently involving perceived higher costs of living and real estate prices around central Maryland--are rejecting the proposed moves.  (I personally have been contacted by two civilian employees in the Ft. Monmouth area, asking for tips on the best way to relocate temporarily to have a "bachelor apartment" or mobile home in Maryland and return "home" on weekends until their pensions or retirement come along.)

Well, the Baltimore Business Journal's "Back to Work" blog reports on an effort by recruiters to entice prospective Jersey residents to relocate to Maryland with a "happy hour" including coffee from Zeke’s Coffee,  Berger’s Cookies, and--yes--beer from The Brewer's Art.

No word yet on whether those were kegs, bottles, or cans.

Baltimore Beer Week website updated

Ummm, I really didn't have to tell you that Baltimore Beer Week was scheduled for Oct. 7-17, 2010, did I?

Yeah, I didn't think so. You've already marked your calendars. Maybe made the hotel reservations or put in for vacation time at work.

The committee has recently completely revamped its website, incorporating a new logo and listing the upper-level sponsors that have signed on so far, and more participants and sponsors are in the works as I type. Unlike last year's "way-cool" but limited-capacity Opening Tap venue, the Inner Harbor's USS Constellation, the plans this year involve a three-hour Opening Tap event on the evening of Oct. 7th at the waterfront Baltimore Museum of Industry along Key Highway near Federal Hill and Locust Point (and, ironically, almost next door to the long-defunct Globe Brewing Co. brewpub, which lasted about a year in 1997-98 and has been taunting drivers-by with its signage ever since).

The plans are to improve the quality of events held, not the quantity. According to promotions coordinator (and beer aficionado) Dominic Cantalupo, "While we were more successful than we anticipated [in 2009], we feel the need to drive the Beer Week to a higher level, and we have a determination to incorporate more ancillary or fringe businesses, if you will, into the overall event. We envision broadening the spectrum of brands and events and enlightening more of the macro-minded consumers." Based on preliminary plans and ideas, I would expect fewer liquor store tastings and more of an emphasis on cultural events, such as museum displays and lectures, art gallery events, possible music concerts at better beer venues, and more events held or organized by nonprofits.

If you haven't signed up for Baltimore Beer Week's e-mail list already, you can do so at the website; list registrants are entered into a drawing for two tickets to the Opening Tap event.

25 May 2010

Yuengling filming commercials in Baltimore area

Yep, you heard it right.

Yuengling, the landmark Pottsville, Pa. brewery, is launching an advertising campaign in Maryland, which will include television commercials being filmed in suburban Baltimore this week.  Commercial filming, with noted director Peter Nydrle, is being planned for eastern Baltimore County tomorrow and Thursday, weather permitting.  One commercial's plot: "Two generations share good times over a few Yuengling Lagers at an abandoned [site], which they convert to their own modern-day version [of the site]."  Another: "An innocent game of [genteel outdoor sport] turns into an extreme sport." (Censorship mine--see below.) 

Dave Shoffner, a public relations strategist for Pavone Inc., a marketing firm based out of Harrisburg (which also does work for the popular Pennsylvania snack food companies Utz and Turkey Hill), said of the planned campaign: "As you know, Yuengling has been growing and expanding rapidly, and that includes an emphasis on Baltimore and other markets south of Maryland. These spots will eventually air in the Baltimore market. When we were searching for locations to shoot these spots, we wanted to find a place close to [Yuengling's] "home" (Pottsville, PA), and Baltimore worked perfectly. There are a lot of great locations in that area, so it made good sense for us to film these spots there--not to mention, as an agency we've done a lot of TV work down there so we're pretty familiar with the area."

Although I have permission to tell you just where and what the movie shoots are in the Middle River/Chase/White Marsh region, I understand the shoots are on private property, so I'll hold off on specifics for the time being.  No need for folks driving in to the shoots, after all.

UPDATE:  Cat's out of the bag, thanks to another media source.  They were using the Bengies Drive-In Theater as the "abandoned site."

Midnight Sun's Resurrection Can Photo Contest UPDATED ADAIN

Sam Sessa over at the Baltimore Sun's Midnight Sun has announced a photo contest for photos incorporating cans of the Brewer's Art's Resurrection, about to be available any second now.

I disagree with Rule 3.

Ummm............  scrub that.  Danged lawyers, and litigation replacing baseball as the national pastime.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, someone ELSE, who doesn't have legal advisors to be party poopers restrain him, steps forth with a substitute blog:


UPDATE 2:  It's back as a Photoshop contest.

24 May 2010

Want a Chance at a Ticket for SAVOR?

No, you can't have my media pass.

But BreweryFans.com is apparently making an offer of a free ticket to the epic D.C. "beer party" that sold out within minutes last year and this year, and it's tied in to Heavy Seas Beer.  See the terms and conditions at http://www.breweryfans.com/savor-contest .

The downside of SAVOR:  You get 3.5 hours to visit reps and sample from 64 American breweries.  That's about 3.3 minutes per brewery.  Even if you blow off all the food munchies AND breweries with which you are familiar, that's still a nightmare of trying to pack it all in--though apparently nowhere near as bad as the Great American Beer festival, I'm told.

Brewer's Art canned Resurrection to arrive this week?

I ran into the recently elusive (and occasionally evasive) Volker Stewart of Brewer's Art this weekend as he was doing some "R&D" and football-watching at Max's Taphouse this weekend; he had insinuated that the first cans of Brewer's Art's new Resurrection, contract-brewed and canned by Sly Fox of Phoenixville, Pa., would be arriving in the city sometime this week, hitting the shelves at around $10 a six-pack.

Brewer Tom Creegan said to Baltimore Sun blogger Sam Sessa that he and the other brewers at the Mount Vernon brewpub plan to "shotgun the first one, and play beer pong with the next few."

Personally, I'd never treat such a great beer so shabbily.  But as the caretakers of the brewery and recipe, it's their privilege, I guess.

UPDATE: A mole in Phoenixville reports that "a truckload" of Rezzie was canned "last week."

Brew at the Zoo and BAM Springfest next Saturday UPDATED

Touch choice ahead for Saturday:

Brew at the Zoo here at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, or the Brewers Association of Md. Springfest forty miles to the west in Frederick?

Actually, you don't have to choose.  The Brew at the Zoo is for both Saturday and Sunday!

At the Zoo fest:

  • Bawlmer Beer: Amber’s Ale & Formstone Ale
  • Gordon Biersch: Marzen & Sommerbrau
  • Evolution Brewing: Primal Pale  Ale, Lucky 7 Porter, Summer Beer & #3 IPA
  • Lancaster Brewing: Hop Hog IPA, Strawberry Wheat &  Milk Stout
  • Magic Hat: #9, Circus Boy , Lucky Kat, Wacko
  • Saranac: Imperial IPA, Pomegranate Wheat, Pale Ale, Lake Placid Ubu Ale
  • Ommegang: Rare VOS Amber Ale, Abbey Ale, Hennepin, Three Philosophers
  • Olivers: 3 Lions Ale, Irish Red, Amber, Iron Man IPA
  • Sierra Nevada: Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, Pale Ale, Big Foot, Summerfest Lager
  • Dogfish Head: Aprihop, Burton Baton, Indian Brown Ale, 90 Minute IPA
  • Pyramid: Haywire Hefeweizen, Curve Ball Blonde Ale
  • Stone Brewing: Levitation Ale,  India Pale Ale &  Smoked Porter
Springfest: No advance list but promising "over 80 beers", has hotel packages, advance prices $17-32 and gate prices $25-40.  The rule of thumb is that "every" brewery in Maryland attends, but there's always at least one that slips aside on a technicality (oops, forgot to send in the renewal) or falls into a sort of gray area (Is Stillwater Artisanal Ales technically a "Maryland brewery," for example?).

What I've never understood is why the Zoo fest doesn't work a little better to get some more animal-themed beers there.  Three obvious candidates: Ruddy Duck Brewery, Rhino Chasers Ale (not fully operational yet), and Otter Creek Brewing......

Johns Hoplins Beer Lecture June 2

From the Johns Hopkins University Gazette:

A hoppy occasion
By Heather Egan Stalfort  
Gunther, Arrow, American, Brehms, Pabst, Natty Boh—Baltimore has quite a history when it comes to making beer, with more than 100 breweries in the city’s past.
From 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 2, Homewood Museum’s back lawn will be transformed into a kind of beer garden for An Evening of Traditional Beverages, with Baltimore Sun columnist and beer historian Rob Kasper chronicling the significant role brewers and breweries have played in Charm City from the 1700s through Prohibition to the present day.
Guests will be able to sample ales, lagers and stouts from some of the finest craft breweries in Baltimore and elsewhere in Maryland—including Clipper City, Brewer’s Art, Brewer’s Alley and Flying Dog—that carry on the historic brewing tradition. This lively annual event (which moves to Levering’s Glass Pavilion if rain interferes) includes light hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes.
Proceeds will benefit preservation projects of Homewood Museum. Admission is $40, $30 for members (must be 21 or over). Reservations are required and can be made by calling 410-516-5589.

23 May 2010

A Beer You Really Should Try

A special one-off beer from Flying Dog, their one-off Old Ale, is on tap at Max's Taphouse.

Don't miss this one.  Best beer they've done in ages, even including their Gonzo if you ask me.

Max's should also have most of the beers put on for American Craft Beer Week on for the remainder of this week, until beers run out.

Chili and Homebrew Today

How I missed this City Paper listing, I don't know.....

Charmin' ChiliBrew

Sunday, May 23 at 1:30 p.m. 

2640 Space, 2640 St. Paul St.

This Chili Competition and Home Brew Showcase invites you to enter your chili or home brew for the title of "Charmin' Chili Champ" or "Ruler of the Brews" or be a judge.   Local bean cookers and brew masters fight for the titles "Charmin' Chili Champion" and "Ruler of Brews" in this audience-judged chili cook-off and beer competition. Proceeds benefit the Velocipede Bike Project and the Baltimore Free School.

Ticket Info: $10-$20 donation

21 May 2010

Channel Crossing debut at Pratt Street Ale House

Last night was the debut tapping for the joint Stillwater/ Oliver "biere de garde," Channel Crossing.  It was available oaked and dry-hopped on multiple engines and on firkin, as well as straight up on draft: East Kent and Bramling Cross dry-hopped, and French oak-aged.

Crazy as it seems, the best of the bunch, to my taste, was straight draft.  The French oak was just too oaky for my tastes, and cask conditioning, though great for British style ales, can be a hit-or-miss proposition for Belgian-style ales--the flavor was good, but the overall mouthfeel and balance of the regular draft was perfect, almost mimicking a nitro pour beer in character and smoothness.  Excellent, and highly recommended.

If you missed this, Stillwater's Brian Strumke (at left in picture, with PSAH brewer Steve Jones) debuts his Cellar Door at Max's Taphouse on Saturday afternoon.  Then it's back to Belgium for him for another round of nomadic brewing.

20 May 2010

More late beer updates

The LAST firkin of Heavy Seas' Letter of Marque Hop Rye Porter goes on at the Phoenix Emporium at Ellicott City tonight.

Heavy Seas' next Letter of Marque, Smoke on the Water, a smoked porter, will be rolling out in mid-June.

"You NEED to try that beer?!?"

Time for a rant on a favorite gripe of mine.

There are folks who wonder why I'm not on BeerAdvocate or RateBeer or similar websites.  I occasionally glance at them to do research.  But there's an atmosphere prevalent at many such sites that irritates me, and it's best summed up by this type of inquiry that pops up commonly on such sites and forums:

"Can anyone tell me where I can find [Very Specific Beer, Usually Limited Production/Release] in [my area]?  I need to try this beer."


No, no no.

You WANT to try this beer.  Unless you are somehow being financially compensated for your tasting notes, or you're doing research and development for a brewery, or your family is being held hostage until you drink this beer in front of the kidnappers, or it's on the checklist of the next TV reality show race, you don't "need" to try any beer.  Maybe it would be nice, but life goes on.  Life is too short to worry about such middling details.

It's nice to have goals.  And Lord knows, I've done my share of saying to folks "You really should try this beer!"  And I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to sample certain beers if they cross paths with me.  But when I see the "worst" of the "must have this beer" folks, I am distinctly reminded of a certain stereotype, and not a flattering one.

In 1991, Dr. Uta Frith presented a paper to the British Psychological Society, part of a series focusing on Asperger's Syndrome, then a relatively new diagnosis of a form of autism that has since received wider publicity.  Her paper drew parallels between victims of Asperger's--characterized by unusual, narrow, and obsessive interests which can affect communication, imagination, and social interaction--and hobbies such as birdwatching and "trainspotting."  Now, "trainspotting" is not simply having an interest in trains; it's compulsively checking off the numbers of locomotives seen on a checklist, perhaps traveling to other rail locations just to seek out specific locomotives. This leads British rail enthusiasts to loudly proclaim "I am NOT a trainspotter!!" if such is insinuated in conversation; it's possible to be a rail historian, photographer, or travel enthusiast without keeping a checklist of locos seen, just as one can walk through or volunteer with the zoo or aquarium without tabulating which animals one has seen.

Of course, this paper received widespread coverage in the British newspapers under the headline "Train spotters 'may suffer from autism'" (scan of said articles provided upon request).  And, of course, I had the pleasure of reading it while I was in the U.K. ...... traveling about British Rail, visiting many steam excursion and "heritage railways" for special behind-the-scenes tours, talking with the museum curators and restoration experts.  I think that article came out the day I took a trip through Kent to the Kent & East Sussex Railway, then detoured to Folkestone where they were holding a railway festival that included rides on the steep 3% grade from Folkestone Harbour to the mainline railway station, a line that is now history and torn up.......

Other examples cited by Dr. Frith:  "a man who knew all there was to know about 50 types of carrot, one who collected details of light fittings in trains and one who learned the colours of the doors of all the magistrates' courts in his area. When he was asked why he didn't collect the door colours of juvenile courts, he said these bored him to death."

The parallels of this syndrome are many.  Ever seen the obsessive Civil War re-enactor that can tell you the complete biography of the soldier he's portraying?  Look at bird-spotting, comic-book collecting, Beanie-Babies collecting (does anybody even DO that anymore?), Japanese anime fans (otaku, which literally translates to "obsessed")............  and, yes, beer-list checking.  When beer aficionados publicly proclaim a "need" to try a very specific beer that 99.98% of the public has never heard of, when they travel an hour or more just to sample one specific beer (as opposed to, say, partaking in a beer festival with 40 "new" beers), or they pay as much as $100 for one small bottle of beer and its shipping, they're crossing the line from hobby/interest to obsession.  At least that's how it looks to the rest of the world.  And even though I've never seen anybody of this ilk pursuing such an obsession to get drunk, that's also (unfairly, I agree) how it's going to look to others out there.

See also anorak --a term formerly applied to trainspotters that has recently been applied in Britain to the stereotype of "real ale twits"...........

μηδέν άγαν (mēdén ágan = "nothing in excess") : supposed inscription on the Temple at Delphi, according to Pliny the Younger

19 May 2010

Firkin Updates, and Max's website update

Last night had three firkins in the bar at Max's Taphouse: Troeg's Java Stout (if memory serves correctly), and one each of only five firkins each of Heavy Seas Below Decks aged in Cabernet Sauvignon and bourbon barrels.  The two Below Decks are almost opposites: the bourbon has to be the best of many such bourbon-aged non-stouts I have ever had, and the cabernet version comes off with a classic wine-like tartness reminiscent of somewhere between Belgian lambic funk and oak character.  I've not been smitten with Below Decks in the past, because I felt it lacked a certain depth and fullness; these projects demonstrate it's the perfect vehicle for experiments like this, because it's a more "blank palate" for such development than, say, a big, raisiny or brandy-like barleywine.

Friday at Alonso's:  Stillwater Stateside Saison firkin.

Thursday at Pratt Street Ale House: the debut of their "Channel Crossing" joint Stillwater/PSAH project, tapping at 6 PM.

Thursday at Metropolitan--some firkin TBA (well, if you go there, it'll say on their "coming firkins" menu board).  Also cask night (and Flying Dog Night) at Max's, and firkin night at the soon-to-relocate Frisco Grille in Columbia.

Incidentally, Max's has just dramatically revised and updated its website.  Now the beer list looks reasonably up to date.  And this just in via e-mail:

Victory Altbier
Victory Citra Pale
Victory St Boisterous
Victory Scarlet Fire
Victory Saaz Braumeister Pils
Vicotry Throwback Lager
Victory Storm King Stout (Cask)
Harpoon 100 Barrel Single Hop ESB
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA
Harpoon UFO Raspberry
Crispin Cider
THURSDAY MAY 20-      5pm
Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo
Flying Dog Coffee Stout
Flying Dog Heller Hound Old Ale
Flying Dog Horn Dog (Nitro)
Flying Raging Bitch (Cask)
FRIDAY MAY 21      5pm
The Bruery Hottenroth
The Bruery Hummulus Rice
The Bruery Seven Grain Saison
The Bruery Rugbrod
The Bruery Coton
The Bruery Orchard White
The Bruery Tade Winds Triple
The Bruery Trade Winds Triple (Cask)
Weyerbacher Verboten
Weyerbacher India
Great Divide Dunkel Weiss
Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti
Oskar Blues Gubna (Cask)
Boulder Cold Hop (Nitro)
SATURDAY MAY 22----3pm
Stillwater Stateside Saison
Stillwater Cellar Door (Cask)
Stillwater Cellar Door dry hopped(cask)
Olivers Hot Monkey Love
Olivers Cherry Blossom
Olivers/ Stillwater Channel Crossing dry Hopped(Cask)
Evolution Haymaker
Evolution Summer Session
Evolution Lot #6 (Cask)
SUNDAY MAY 23-     3pm
Smuttynose Maibock
Smuttynose Rouge D Shire
Smuttynose Imperial Stout
Smuttynose Barleywine
Allagash Victor
Allagash Victoria
Southern Tier Gemini
Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly
Southern Tier 2XIPA
Unita Barleywine 2008
Avery Samuels
Schlafly Dry hopped APA
Schlafly Kolsch
North Coast Brother Theloinous

Anyone else want to check in with their firkin reports, or other special beer tappings?

So what potato salad goes with beer? And do we add eggs?

Here's another lovely little "food fight"--do hard-boiled eggs belong in potato salad or not?

My wife insists it's not potato salad without hard-boiled eggs. Myself, it all depends what the potato salad is with. I'm going to demand different potato salad with hamburgers, sausages, BBQ, or chicken as appropriate. I love that German-style hot potato salad with bacon bits, for example, with brats or ham. Burgers sort of demand the "classic" white potato salad with mayo. And I found that BBQ places in eastern North Carolina dole out a hot potato salad that actually looks like dirty half-mashed potatoes and is fairly bland by itself, but perfectly complements the mustardy coleslaw and vinegary BBQ.  And sometimes the chalkiness and slight sulfur components of hard-boiled eggs clashes with a good beer, sadly.

Hmmm............. I just now conjured up a possible potato salad recipe to go with grilled leg of lamb, involving redskin potatoes, mustard, mint, and a touch of horseradish, based on a pit lamb sandwich and a lamb kabob I had at the Sheep & Wool Festival a little while back. Now, if I just didn't have a vegetarian wife who thinks all mustard should be bright yellow and dislikes horseradish............

(photo from About-Recipes.com; tip o' the hat for original link to Instapundit.com)

Meanwhile, in the REST of Baltimore's bar world......

Lest those of us with discriminating tastes in beer forget about just how crazy and bizarre the rest of the alcohol business world is/can be, here's a fascinating nugget on the Baltimore Liquor Board's efforts to shut down one particular bar, from the Crime Beat blog of Peter Hermann at the Baltimore Sun:

To prove he's on the up-and-up, Jackson stopped by the The Baltimore Sun lobby on Tuesday to show me his lease and other documents. His occupany permit lists the old Club 410 as the new Klub Kidz, listed as a dance studio for children ages 4 to 16.

And so the first event he throws is a beer party for college graduates.

We can't make this stuff up, folks.

Another story from February on a different "trouble-making" bar downtown here. More such surrealism from yet another bar reported at Sam Sessa's Midnight Sun blog here.

Beer Bargain of the Day

An associate tipped me off to this special at Groupon, a website that offers discount coupons for businesses that advertise with it.

Today-only special for Baltimore: $20 worth of beer for $10 at Elliot's Pour House down in Highlandtown, a nice little corner neighborhood bar with a much-better-than-average beer selection.

Disclaimer: I make nothing from this deal, there are conditions and fine print (nothing objectionable, if you ask me), and I don't know how much spam signing up for Groupon is going to throw at you (probably a lot, if my history with other such coupon/offer sites is any indication)........

You have 14.5 hours to grab this as I type.


18 May 2010

Red Brick Station's Daily Crisis IPA at Fire Station 1 in Silver Spring

Hook & Ladder Brewing Co. had been involved with a project to install a functioning brewpub and/or production brewery in the old Silver Spring Fire Station, on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, across the street from the old Baltimore & Ohio railroad station (and MARC stop), since early 2007.  Apparently, the long-delayed restaurant is ready to open any day now--but NOT as a brewpub.  The partners in the Hook & Ladder Brewing Co. "had to pull out of the project," according to a post by Tim Carman at the Washington City Paper's "Young and Hungry" blog:

Hook & Ladder founder and brewmaster Rich Fleischer says the economy played a role in the brewery pulling out of the restaurant and brewpub. “It just didn’t make sense for us to continue on the project,” he says.

The restaurant is slated to open sometime in the next week, possibly as early as Friday, and on hand, according to Carman, will be one beer from another "fire station" brewery--Red Brick Station's Daily Crisis IPA, brewed at the "fire station" on The Avenue at White Marsh.

[Owner Jeremy] Gruber says the beer program will include 12 taps and 20 bottles and will venture beyond Hook & Ladder selections.  He plans to include Flying Dog, Magic Hat, Stella, Blue Moon, Sam Adams seasonal, and other options on draft; the bottle selection will mix familiar commercial lagers with offerings from Kona and Goose Island, among others. There will be no brewing on premise to start, but Gruber hasn’t ruled that out in the future.
Left unclear is whether the deal for Daily Crisis is a one-off temporary arrangement for the restaurant, or part of a longer-term beer supply strategy between two fire-station-themed beer-friendly restaurants. Restaurant management confirmed this morning that Daily Crisis would be a "permanent" addition to the line-up, but the only Red Brick Station beer in the house for the time being: "At this time we do not intend on carrying other White Marsh beers."

Now, for the bonus prize:  Does anyone remember yet a third fire-station-themed brewery/brewpub in Maryland?  Answer in the comments if you do!

Strong Beers in B The Freebie Paper

Steve Jones of Pratt Street Ale House alerts me that "b," the freebie tabloid doled out by the Baltimore Sun for those with attention deficit disorder, has a two-page centerfold spread on "Bully Brews," ultra-strong beers and the beer-strength war between Scotland's BrewDog and other breweries.

You can try to read it here, or go grab one out of the orange boxes scattered downtown.

17 May 2010

Metropolitan's Beer Week schedule

From their latest e-mail bulletin (Y'all know where Metropolitan is in Federal Hill, right?):

Lindsay's Trivia of the Damned will feature tasty brews from Shmaltz Brewing Co., makers of He'Brew beers and Coney Island beers.

Harpoon IPA Pint Night in the Main Bar.  Come early and get a coveted Harpoon IPA pint glass, as well as other valuable trinkets.

Firkin Thursday with Smuttynose IPA from Smuttynose Brewing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Flying Dog Pint Night in the Main Bar.  Get a coveted Flying Dog pint glass.  Beer style to be determined at a later time by the capricious winds of chance.

Other events may be added at the spur of the moment.

15 May 2010

The First Two Days of Max's Craft Beer Week

From their e-mail:



5pm- ' til ?, no entrance fee, in the main bar

Troegs Scratch #27
Troegs Scratch #29
Troegs Flying Mouflan
Ommegang Triple Perfection

Troegs Java Head

Plus a bunch of special bottles from each brewery


6pm 'til ?-no entrance fee, in the main bar

Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Below Dercks
Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Below Decks
Brewers Art Tiny Tim
Brewers Art Charm City Sour Cherry
Brewers Art Taurus 2
Brewers Art Ozzy

Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Below Decks
Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Below Decks

Plus a bunch of special bottles from each brewery

How to break a blogger

As do a lot of news reporters, bloggers, etc., I have "news feeds" set up through various online services.  They're designed to send me a link to anything that should be relevant to beer in, around, or from Baltimore.

My inbox is bursting with news stories about the Preakness and its drunken infield debauchery.  They're coming in like machine gun bullets.  One of the recent ones said something about someone getting a server to fill up a bucket for $10--a bucket swiped from the Mug Club stand.

I'll be so glad when this balderdash is over.

UPDATE: Apparently the "open bar with long lines and waits" strategy worked.  Preliminary reports indicate only 20 ejections, NO arrests, and no riots or other stupidity by sunset.

Beer Breakfast @ Mahaffey's Sunday

Yes, I'm late putting this up. My fault.

Pancakes & Beer Breakfast at Mahaffey's in Canton tomorrow, 10 AM - 2 PM.  No reservations needed.

And BTW, if they have any of it left, the cask Heavy Seas Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Below Decks is stupendous.

13 May 2010

Bawlmer Beers now on sale

Bawlmer Beers brewery owner John O'Melia confirmed that the first shipments of his initial batches of beer have rolled out to a few local outlets: "Off the top of my head:  Grand Cru, Mount Washington Tavern, Pickles Pub, North Charles Wine Shop, Mays Chapel Wine & Spirits, Mt Washington Liquors, and Eddie's of Roland Park."  Remember, folks, for the time being it's only showing up in bottles.

I passed samples around a panel of tasters the other day; it's likely to be a polarizing beer at first, because some folks seem to love it while others turned up their noses at it.  The Formstone Ale and Amber's Ale, Hon definitely do not fit most folks' preconceptions of an American Brown Ale or an amber, respectively, and that will delight those looking for something new or different, and turn off those who expect predictability based on style names.

(photo by author, courtesy Mid-Atlantic Brewing News)

12 May 2010

Upcoming Events (Updated X2)

Thursday (tomorrow): SPBW meets up at Mahaffey's in Canton.  Firkins TBA.  Note that Thursdays also bring Mahaffey's "$5 Seafood Extravaganza… Steamed Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels or Crab Cake Sliders."  Plus it's Firkin Thursday at Metropolitan: "Join us Thursday as we tap a delicious cask of Allagash Tripel from
Allagash Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine. Tripel is a 9.0% Belgian-style Tripel that is golden-hued with a deep and complex palate that is highly anticipated on cask."

Next week: American Craft Beer Week May 17-23.  Among scheduled events: Heavy Seas Below Decks aged in wooden barrels at Max's for the Tuesday night beer social, plus no doubt plenty more TBA from various beer bars.

UPDATE: Max's schedule:

Monday 17-Troeg's/Ommegang
Tuesday 18-Heavy Seas/Brewers Art
Wednesday 19-Harpoon/Victory
Thursday 20-Flying Dog
Friday 21-The Bruery/Lagunitas/Oskar Blues/Boulder/Great Divide/Weyerbacher
Saturday 22-Stillwater Ales/Oliver's/Evolution
Sunday 23-Smuttynose/Allagash

THE DRAFT BEERS LIST 90% DONE.As always beers may change due to things beyond our control
Allagash Victor
Allagash White
Allagash Victoria
Avery Samuels
Boulder Cold Hop (Nitro)
Brewers Art Charm City Sour Cherry
Brewers Art Ozzy
Brewers Art Tiny Tim
Brewers Art Taurus
The Bruery Cotton
The Bruery Hottenroth
The Bruery Hummulus Rice
The Bruery Seven Grain Saison
The Bruery Trade Winds Triple
The Bruery Orchard White
The Bruery Rugbrod
Crispin Cider
Evolution Haymaker
Evolution Summer Session
Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo
Flying Dog Coffee Stout
Flying Dog Heller Hound Old Ale
Flying Dog Horn Dog (Nitro)
Great Divide Dunkel Weiss
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA
Harpoon Raspberry UFO
Harpoon 100 Barrel Single Hop ESB
Heavy Seas Barrel Aged Below Decks
Hebrew Rejewvenator 2008
North Coast Brother Thelonious
Oliver's Cherry Blossom
Oliver's Hot Money Love
Ommegang Triple Perfection
Schlafly Dry Hopped APA
Schlafly Kolsch
Smuttynose Barleywine
Smuttynose Hanami
Smuttynose Imperial Stout
Smuttynose Maibock
Smuttynose Rouge
Southern Tier 2xipa
Southern Tier Oak Unearthly
Southern Tier Pale
Stillwater Cellar Door
Stillwater Stateside Saison
The Bruery Trade Winds Triple
Troegs Special
Troegs Special
Uinta Barleywine 2008
Victory Altbier
Victory Citra
Victory Saaz Braumeister Pils
Victory St Boisterous
Victory Throwback lager
Weyerbacher India

Plus a bunch of special kegs---------------


The Bruery Trade Winds Triple
Victory Storm King Stout
Troegs Java Head
Stillwater Cellar Door
Stillwater/Oliver's Collaboration
Oskar Blues Gubna
Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks
Flying Dog Raging B*tch
Evolution Lot #6

Plus a few others....

11 May 2010

Tasting Notes: Porterhouse Oyster Stout (Ireland)

330ml bottle: Pours with rich head, medium head retention.  Colour is deep dark brown, more porter than stout, bright.  Nose is that rich, earthy, seabreeze-scented aroma classic to oyster stouts, but what others may discern as herbal, probably grassy.  A lighter-bodied mouthfeel, fairly dry, but with a lot of herbal complexity at work in the flavour, as well as a mineraly character, reminiscent of the minerals in sea salt.  The roast adds a note of smoke in the finish.

All in all, a good stout, but if you go into this expecting an American-style heavyweight imperial stout, you'll be disappointed.  The brewery's website lists it as 4.8%.  (Interestingly, the brewery's website also proclaims it as "Ireland's Largest Genuine Irish Brewery"--a pot shot at multinational Diageo?  I enjoyed this paragraph from the website:

You may be very excited to know that The Porterhouse uses a traditional true top fermentation Bi strain Yorkshire stone squar yeast or, alternatively, your eyes may start to glaze over at this point. It's highly flocculent and comes from the Old Romsey brewery in Kent by way of the East Riding Brewery. Are you still there? Nearly finished. The lager strain is a Saccharomyces uvarum and it, too, is pretty darn flocculent. It gives great natural clarity, reducing the need for filtration. Weiss yeast is used for wheat beer and this explains the banana scent. It has nothing to do with Brendan Dobbin's greenhouse.
It's a good beer, but I think we can do it better here without the freight surcharge.

New Belgian "Brasserie" Coming to Hampden

The Hampden neighborhood has long had an active nightlife scene, but has also lacked any really good beer bar for most of that time.  Baltimore resident Paul Kopchinski intends to change that with his opening of Baltimore's first Belgian-themed "brasserie," De Kleine Duivel ("The Little Devil"), at 3520 Chestnut Avenue, the former Nutty Pub just south of "The Avenue" (36th St.).  Renovations are under way as this is written, with a late June opening projected.  Plans call for 10-12 drafts and 30 or so bottled beers to be offered (all Belgian imports and not "Belgian-style") along with "boutique wines & spirits, and a select menu of classic Flemish-French dishes, all served in an Art Nouveau-inspired setting."

Website (so far only a placeholder) here; interior renovation photo from the bar's Facebook page.

Sante: An Epicurean Adventure at AVAM June 13th

Much more at the link here:

Please join us on Sunday, June 13 for Sante - An Epicurean Adventure at the American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway! This event is a fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland.

This is unlike any other wine tasting event. Not only will there be tremendous wines from around the world there will also be craft beers from brewers throughout the US and Europe. Additionally there will be great food from some of the best restaurants in Baltimore.

This will be an educational experience as well in that chefs and vintners will talk to attendees about properly pairing wines and beers with food.

Honorary Chairs of Sante are Nelson Carey, Sommeleir / Owner of Grand Cru, Brendan Dorr, Head Bartender at B & O American Brasserie, Jerry Pellegrino, Chef / Owner of Corks, and Hugh Sisson, Managing Partner of Clipper City Brewing Company.

Restaurants involved include Corks, Crush, B & O American Brasserie, Linwoods, The Wine Market, Neopol Savory & Smokery, Milan, Bluehill Tavern, Clementine, R A Sushi Bar, and Parfections Gourmet Chocolates.

The main event begins at 3 p.m., and tickets cost $75. Designated drivers tickets cost $40. There is a "Premium Tasting" at 2:00 featuring foods not available at the main event, as well as a discussion with Laura Forster, aka "The Wine Coach." The Premium Tasting costs $100 per person.

The funds raised go to support research into diseases of the kidney and urinary tract systems, and to help patients dealing with these conditions. Right now over 1300 Marylanders are waiting for a kidney transplant. Please, PLEASE become an organ donor. You have the power to save multiple lives, and your organs aren't doing any good when they're underground.

Jenn & I hope to see you @ Sante on 6/13!!
 I second the organ-donation cause.  My parents were both organ donors, and my license is so marked.  My own schedule is a bit up in the air, but I hope to make it there..........

06 May 2010

More Places Should Do This

In checking out The Station Taproom in Downingtown, Pa. (as it turns out, they're only across the street from the SEPTA/Amtrak Downingtown passenger rail station, not actually *in* it as I'd hoped--though Downingtown has little more than a bus-stop shelter as its "station," as its PRR depot was demolished in the 1990s), I found their Facebook page.

They have a chalkboard menu of what's on tap.

Rather than type in changes to the chalkboard, they just take a picture of said chalkboard and post that.

That's a HECK of a lot more useful than just posting a picture of a glass of beer, if you ask me.

Flying Dog Rhymes-With-Witch Session at Alonso's Tonight UPDATED

At the Flying Dog "B*tch Session" at Alonso's in Roland Park tonight:

Firkin:  Gonzo Imperial Porter 7.8%
Raging B*tch Belgian-Style IPA 8.3%
Woody Creek White Belgian Wit 4.8%
Wild Dog Coffee Stout 8%
Hellen Hound Old Ale, "a new one-off brew. You'll have to try it to see what it's like.?? abv."

You know, at first, the resolution on the picture was bad enough that I thought it read "77% abv".  That would have been "Typo of the Year"--or a new entry in the beer strength war...............

Oh, by the way?  The Old Ale was stupendous.  Reminiscent of North Coast Brewing's Old Stock Ale annual seasonal, with a hint more body and sweetness/caramel.  That had better not be a one-off. . . .

Why I'm Not a CAMRA Member

Why don't I belong to the Campaign for Real Ale?

Well, first off, I'm a member of the Chesapeake Bay Branch of the Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood instead.  (They meet next Thursday at Mahaffey's in Canton, by the way.)

Second, I investigated a bit into the societies a while back, and to sum up what an English real ale buff said to me about CAMRA: "CAMRA has evolved into a political action group, trying to implement change, occasionally by brute force if need be.  SPBW just go and drink the beer and smiles."

But if I ever still entertained any thoughts of joining CAMRA, this blogpost by Pete Brown (referred to me by Tom Cizauskas) would put me off of it once and for all.

Read the utterly appalling story.  Go on, I'll wait.  I can't sum it up in one paragraph or quote.

If I ever actually experienced this degree of behaviour from fellow real ale enthusiasts, I'm not sure whether I would openly tell these w*nkers over the microphone to "sod off" (or much more colourful variations on the theme), find some cans of Bud Dry or Natural Light and spray them with them, throw bottles at them, or renounce all beer forever and go back to drinking craft teas and mineral water exclusively.

CAMRA in the U.K. is developing, or has developed, a serious image problem, the exact same problem that beset "trainspotters" years ago (as lampooned in everything from Monty Python's Flying Circus' famous "Camel Spotter" sketch to the movie "Trainspotting", and which led many rail enthusiasts like me to loudly elaborate on the difference between enthusiasm versus the Asperger's Syndrome that afflicts the worst spotters).  That image problem still besets most political-action groups today: the cause of the enthusiasm may be noble, but the extreme actions or words of a few do almost-irreparable harm to the cause as a whole, casting bad karma over the initial cause.

Don't believe me?  How about the fact that CAMRA has inspired its own occasional cartoon series in Britain's Viz Magazine (a British version of Mad Magazine, if you will): The Real Ale Twats (each link a separate example)?  How about the images of American "Tea Party" protesters as neo-KKK racists, or leftist protesters as socialists or anarchists?

Until, or unless, CAMRA addresses such boorish and regrettable behavior amongst its membership, I want no part of it.  I would not blame a pub or brewery owner one iota if he responded to such behaviour by  cutting off real ale to them.  "Oh, yer have a CAMRA membership card?  50p more for putting up wit' yer!"

The worst part?  I'm a railway enthusiast--enough so to be "part owner" of THREE of those Deltic diesel locomotives mentioned in the actually-not-hypothetical tape title Pete mentioned............  and a couple of other Deltic enthusiasts in my e-circle DO talk about meeting up at the Sheffield Tap.............. [*cringe*]

(Deltic Diesel Real Ale logo from the Cottage Brewing Co. of Lovington, Somerset--not really Deltic turf, but I'm not complaining about an all-real-ale brewery run by obvious rail enthusiasts!  And as a probably unnecessary disclaimer, the DPS co-sponsors an annual Real Ale Festival with over 150 (!!!) real ales at its Barrow Hill Roundhouse locomotive centre...... if you're over there, it's coming up 21st/22nd May, noon-11pm both days........)

(And to my British readers: Good luck with that election............)

05 May 2010

Beer Review: MateVeza Black Lager

Yes, I love a good unorthodox-ingredient beer.  So let's celebrate that so-called Mexican holiday (just the Southwestern excuse for St. Pat's Day bacchanalia, right?) with a South-American-styled beer.

MateVeza is a California-based beer company, apparently contracting through the well-regarded Mendocino Brewing Co.in Ukiah, California.  The concept is a different form of "buzz beer," as those who are fans of "The Drew Carey Show" (where the characters dreamed up a beer with coffee in it so the caffeine would counteract the effects of alcohol--supposedly) will remember.  In this case, the active ingredient is Yerba Mate, a South American species of holly that is a source of caffeine and is traditionally brewed as an herbal tea, drunk--as with coffee and tea--as a stimulant.

MateVeza has brewed three beers so far: an Organic Golden Ale, an Organic IPA, and this apparently brand new Black Lager. The "cheat sheet" enclosed with my sample says 5.2%, 25 IBU's, and 60mg of caffeine per 22-ounce bottle, about the same as a half cup of coffee per 12-ounce serving.

And how is the beer?  Black lager, a traditional German style, isn't my first choice--I kind of wish they'd sent the IPA--but the lager's lighter in hops, so I'll see what yerba mate tastes like.  (The agents were kind enough--no, smart enough--to include a sample of the dried leaves used in the brew.)  The black lager--think a Guinness stout with CO2 and clean lager yeast instead of nitro cream and ale yeast--may be 5.2% but tastes lighter; a good black roast barley flavor is topped off with a strong herbal flavor, akin to green tea, hay grass, a light touch of thyme and rosemary, and more fresh-mown hay.  (The yerba mate sample smells exactly like a fresh hay loft.)  The contrast between the malt and roast body and the lingering grassy/herbal finish is intriguing, to say the least.  Sure, I'd have it again.  Caffeine rush?  I'm the wrong person to ask on that--I can go to sleep after a cup of strong coffee.

(Photos to follow soon.  And no, I don't think this is in the Maryland market--yet.)

Non-Beer Activity For Today

Today, as suggested by over a week of advertising at various bars, I shall go down to the Inner Harbor, set afloat several jars of Hellman's, then shoot them with a BB rifle until they slide under the water.

They've been telling me to "Sink-o the Mayo"............