31 May 2011

Pratt Street Ale House Homebrew Competition #3

Just like the title says.

No style restrictions, simply looking for something that can be cost-effectively brewed in PSAH's open fermentation system.  Deadline for entries is August 19th, and entries can be dropped off at either the brewpub or Maryland Homebrew in Columbia.

30 May 2011

Charles Village Festival June 4-5

Just a friendly little update and reminder that the Charles Village Festival, coming up this upcoming weekend, just happens to have a beer sales committee head who is a beer aficionado.  Therefore, although the committee makes some allowances for mass appeal and probable hot weather, the beer selection is typically far above the usual street/cultural festival.

Want tickets to SAVOR Saturday night?

No, you can't have my ticket.  Not even as my "video assistant."  The other Mid-Atlantic Brewing News writers would be ahead of you in line, anyway.

But the Washington Post's Tim Carman is offering two tickets for SAVOR to a lucky individual.  It's in the form of a contest:  What beer or brewery, not currently available in Washington, would you most like to see here and why?  (Remember that most of the beers available in Maryland are available in D.C. and vice versa, disregarding the propensity of certain D.C. venues to bring in stuff under special license.)

The winner will be selected (they don't say whether at random or for writing the best argument for a certain new beer) on Wednesday, June 1st.  The tickets are for the Saturday night, June 4, session — plus two passes for the CraftBeer.com educational salon that evening.  Right now as I type this, your odds are approximately one in fifteen owing to multiple responses/comments, which if the beer aficionado hop vine is any indication, may actually be better odds than actually trying to purchase tickets through the official phone/online channels for the brief moment when they were on sale!

Tell you folks what:  I'll throw in a completely honest answer just to see what happens, and if I win I promise to turn those tickets around to qualified readers of this blog.  The "line" for those tickets start with the comments to this blogpost.  Or you could just enter yourself. 

Meanwhile, want to read more about SAVOR and all the special-to-the-point-of-ridiculous beers they're producing just for the occasion, plus the plethora of special events pre-SAVOR at D.C. beer bars?  Read more here.

26 May 2011

Liam Flynn's Ale House update

Taps (and two beer engines) were installed today at the still-abuilding Liam Flynn's Ale House, on North Avenue just west of Charles.

The owner hopes to have his pub (finally) open to the public, basically a year behind schedule (note the year), with a "soft" opening in mid-June.

(More at the bar's blog-style website.)

24 May 2011

Heavy Seas Letter of Marque 2010 Release Party June 21

Heavy Seas has set a date for its Letter of Marque release party for Maryland:  Tuesday, June 21 at Max's Taphouse. The winners, Doug John & David Edmudson, will be coming up from Forest, Virginia to celebrate.   The beer, the winner of the 2010 competition, is a Belgian Dubbel which has been brewed with orange blossom honey. 
Doug John is the owner of a homebrew and craft beer shop called Pints O Plenty in Forest (just west of Lynchburg) and has won many homebrew competitions in the past.  More info is on  the shop's website
The Virginia release is in June 13th in Forest, Va. 
Heavy Seas starts accepting entries Monday, June 6th for this year's Letter of Marque competition.

The New Raven Tap Handles

Stephen Demczuk of The Raven Lager toasts the first of his new tap handles, designed and crafted by Mark Supik & Co. and featuring a sculpture of Poe crafted by Danielle Craven-Slaski.  As can be seen in the lower photo, the handle incorporates the shape of a book of Poe's "The Raven".

This is a VERY limited run of tap handles, but Demczuk indicated that any hard-core collectors could contact him via the Raven Beer merchandise site (where there's already plenty of other stuff for the Poe or Raven fanatic--and no, we don't mean purple jersey-wearing folks) and inquire about a direct purchase (expect the price to be around $75, including shipping, I would speculate).

Meanwhile, in other news, Demczuk let loose rumors of a pending project that will no doubt excite many in the Baltimore and Maryland beer community.  The rumored project is still supposedly in the embryonic stage, but negotiations and explorations are happening.  We'll let you know if things pan out.

23 May 2011

Obama the Tourist, or Beer Summit III

President Barack Obama did what is apparently mandated of every adult tourist that visits Ireland, at least those from the United States: he quaffed a pint of Guinness.

I swear, no other brewery has so successfully co-opted integrated its native country's image with its own.  Don't believe me?  If you go to Britain, what beer are you supposed to drink while you're there?  Germany?  Belgium?  The Czech Republic?  Japan?  Even if you go to Scotland, what whisky are you supposed to consume there?  What bourbon in Kentucky?  What wine in France or Italy?

See what I mean?

More details here.  (He supposedly didn't finish the pint.)

A Winery IN Baltimore City?

That's right, Baltimore City, not County.

The Baltimore Sun's Yeganeh June Torbati writes up a fledgling effort to establish a winery on Aliceanna Street in Southeast Baltimore.  If this were a brewery, it'd be labeled a nano-brewery--production is being limited to 100 gallons (what a home winemaker can make for personal consumption).

20 May 2011

SPBW Tappenings

The Chesapeake Bay Branch of the SPBW is gathering at Frisco Taphouse on Dobbin Road in Columbia, Md. on June 9th, beginning at around 6 PM.  The new location of the former Frisco Grille, it boasts 50 taps and two beer engines, plus large, automatically updated video menu boards.

The Branch is also making provisional plans for a Frederick visit in July and a bus tour of Delaware breweries, including Stewart's in Bear, Fordham in Dover, Dogfish Head in Rehoboth or Milton and Evolution in Delmar.

The Baltimore Sun Endorses the Alcohol Tax Increase

In an editorial published online Wednesday, the Baltimore Sun ran an editorial essay stating its approval of the pending increase in the alcohol sales tax from the standard sales tax of 6% to 9%:

Indeed, the best research available suggests that the tax increase will reduce alcohol consumption in Maryland, particularly among underage drinkers, who are particularly price sensitive. Public health researchers say that will have a host of benefits, from reduced drunken-driving fatalities to lower rates of domestic violence.
But looking at things from a consumer's perspective, the tax increase, paradoxically, may be the best thing to happen in years. It will mean that alcohol is slightly more expensive, but it also signifies the most significant crack yet in the all-powerful Annapolis liquor lobby. Taken in conjunction with the passage of a bill to allow direct shipment of wine to consumers, this year could mark a turning point that leads to greater consumer choice, more competition and, perhaps, even lower prices.
Heavy Seas owner (and Maryland microbrewery pioneer) Hugh Sisson posted a brilliant, pointed response to this editorial, drawing off the oft-cited (and now erroneous, as far as this law now stands) emphasis that this tax was designed to "offset" the social costs of alcohol abuse:
Looking at the consensus of the comments [posted to the online version] it appears that almost no one was fooled by the "do gooder" sentiment of the editorial.  Truth is, the alcohol beverage industry was an easy target for the PC oriented who control Annapolis - they finally wore the industry down.  Who is next?  If you think they are done you are crazy.  I won't believe they are done until they balance the budget with tax cuts not increases.
How about a special tax on the paper used to print newspapers - to help off set all the costs associated with recycling and trash clean up?

19 May 2011

Flying Dog Plants a Hop Garden

Someone ordered a beer garden?

Not being content with the local hops from now-pioneering Stillpoint Farms on the other side of town, Flying Dog in Frederick planted their own Cascade and Chinook hop vines at their brewery on Tuesday, and of course, had to make a musical video of the process:
If typical growing cycles are any indication, it'll be next year before they get any seriously usable quantities of hops, and even then they should only produce enough for special applications and dry-hopping, not mass production.

Brewers Assn. of Md. Springfest in Frederick May 28th

A "Mark your Calendars" post; this festival is often remarked as being more "family friendly" than the October one in Timonium, and the summer seasonals will be out and on as well:

The Brewers Association of Maryland sponsors the Maryland Brewers SpringFest on May 28th

Location: Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys.
Time: 1:00 - 7:00 PM
Tickets:  Call  877-846-5397
Bring the whole family., have a fun day of Maryland Beer, live music, good food and unique shopping.
Regular Admission
  • Adult Admission
    • $17 in advance, $25 at door
    • includes: event admission,  six - 4 oz. tasting tokens, official SpringFest tasting mug
  • Youth (13 - 20) $10 
  • Designated driver $10
  • Children 12 and under FREE Please call 301.815.9939 if you need to order a ticket for a child under 12 years old
VIP Admission includes:
  • Ten - 4 oz. Beer Tasting Tokens
  • Official Springfest Tasting mug
  • VIP Hour - Exclusive hour to sample Special Casks & Firkins from 12:00 - 1:00 PM.
  • $40.00 Adult at the door, $32.00 Advance Adults
  • Mugs and tokens will be given at the main gate with ticket and proper ID verifying your age.
  • The last day to purchase tickets at the advance ticket price is May 27th at 9:00pm

American Craft Beer Week continues

Among the options tonight: 
  • 8 Brewer's Art beers, 6 Stillwater beers, 5 Olivers beers, and 2 Pub Dog beers either on draft or in a firkin at Max;s Taphouse;
  • Five DuClaw taps and pint glass giveaway at Muggsy's Mug House in Federal Hill;
  • Long Trail tap take over at One Eyed Mike's in Fells Point;
  • A-10 Warthog IPA in firkin at Metropolitan in Federal Hill; 
  • Harpoon tap takeover at Don't Know Tavern in Federal Hill;
  • Yards Brewing & cheesesteak pairing (Four different Yards beers each paired with a different steak sandwich) at Alonso's upstairs Alonsoville bar..........

    New Raven Tap Handles

     The owner of another beer brand we don't comment on enough here--Stephen Demczuk of The Raven Lager--checks in with news of a new twist to their marketing which, unfortunately, starts just after Craft Beer Week (but maybe that's a good thing--not competing with as many other events, aye?).

    The brewery has commissioned 100 new tap handles from Baltimore's own tap-handle craftsman, Mark Supik & Co. of Highlandtown, to be distributed to selected accounts.  The first of these new handles will be unveiled next Monday, May 23, at the Edgar Allen Poe-themed Annabel Lee Tavern in Highlandtown (yet another place we don't discuss enough here) at 6 PM.

    We'll all have to wait like everyone else, but I'm told Edgar Allen Poe fans will be enthused by the new design.  That, or they may have to put LoJack trackers in these new handles, or make a few available for sale.......

    Places We Don't Mention Enough Here #1

    Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to fill up my refrigerator with growlers of Real Ale Fest leftovers right before American Craft Beer Week.  My wallet (and my wife) are happier for it, but I miss out on a few good events that way.

    Here's an update from a place we love and supports good beer, but isn't in the usual downtown, Fells Point/Canton, and Federal Hill scene.  Hamilton Tavern's Tom Creegan checks in with an e-mail on their participation in American Craft Beer Week:

    We now have eight full time [drafts] instead of four, and a walk-in cooler to boot.  We should be able to get more interesting beers and store some seasonals. 

    Current line up:

    Green Peppercorn Tripel
    Yards Philly IPA
    Stoudts Pils
    Southhampton Double White
    Breckenridge Agave Wheat
    Troegs Nugget Nectar
    Ommegang BPA

    17 May 2011

    Flying Dog Ales at the new Charles Street Friday Market

    Starting this week and continuing every Friday from 3 to 8 PM, the Charles Street Friday Market is being held on Lanvale Street at the intersection with Charles Street.

    The space will host an open air market boasting several of the areas top natural farmers and artisanal food producers. In addition, local chefs will be working with the farmers to create prepared foods to enjoy while folks peruse the market. Local artists will be selling their work in “Art Alley”, and there will be live music, DJ’s, and beers being poured by Flying Dog Ales, one of the sponsors of the market..
    As the advance publicity states, "The Friday Market will allow both residents and commuters from the metro area to pick up fresh local meats, vegetables, flowers, and other items to take home and enjoy over the weekend.
    A portion of all proceeds will go to benefit the League of Dreams, an organization that assists children with mental and physical disabilities by providing opportunities for them to play baseball and softball in a safe and supportive environment."

    The Couple That Drinks Together Stays Happier?

    At least that's the claim (I might call it a "projection" or "sound bite") being touted by media coverage of a study published November 29th by University of Buffalo and University of Missouri researchers (and getting a fresh publicity blast from reporting by Yahoo's Shine).

    Edited excerpts:

    Drinking plays an important and sometimes unexpected role from one day to the next in young couples' romantic relationships, according to a new study by University at Buffalo and University of Missouri researchers.
    The study extends past research by showing that alcohol use can have both positive and negative effects, and documents the circumstances in which these effects are more likely to occur.
    "We really can't make the blanket statements about drinking and romantic relationships that people have come to expect," according to Ash Levitt, PhD, lead author on the report and postdoctoral fellow at UB's Research Institute on Addictions. "For instance, it turns out that drinking together rather than apart is clearly good for relationships. Individuals who drink with their partner report feeling increased intimacy and decreased relationship problems the next day, compared to individuals who drink apart from their partner or do not drink at all."
    The beneficial outcomes for relationships were associated with relatively lower levels of drinking, one to three drinks, whereas harmful outcomes – decreased intimacy and increased relationship problems – were associated with heavier levels of drinking, as in four or more drinks.
    Interestingly, heavy alcohol consumption was not always harmful to relationships, according to Levitt. "The harmful effects of heavy drinking were buffered when partners drank together vs. apart," he explained. "Also, when both partners drank either heavy or light amounts, as long as they were similar amounts compared to their partner, it was better for the relationship than when one drank heavily and the other lightly."
    Finally, the associations between drinking and relationships were stronger and more numerous for women than for men, suggesting that alcohol use plays a larger role in romantic relationships for women than it does for men. Women appeared to drink with their partner in response to relationship problems, feeling disconnected from him, or when they perceived that he had behaved negatively toward them the day before. Also, only women were protected from the harmful effects of heavier drinking when they drank with their partner; men did not benefit in the same situation. Women also drank significantly more on days following negative events with their partners than men did after negative events.
    Clearly more study is needed.  Where's the sign-up for the lab?

    16 May 2011

    Press Releases We Never Finished Reading, #3

    As you may have heard, today [brand redacted]  launched its newest ad campaign with The Bier Drinker's Light. The new campaign represents a shift in the brand's communication strategy, from focusing on the brand's roots in [European capital] to the functional benefit of the beer itself, as the only light beer that delivers full "bier" tas-

    15 May 2011

    More American Craft Beer Week events at The Falls

    The Falls in Mount Washington is offering several events for American Craft Beer Week, according to an e-mail from co-owner Tim Hofmann:

    Monday is our Firkin of Love featuring a cask of Flying Dog Raging Bitch, with proceeds going to the Baltimore Love Project (they do murals in the city.) 

    Tuesday we're offering Oliver/Stillwater's Channel Crossing #4, a Belgian take on an ESB.

    Wednesday is Troegs Flying Mouflan;  and Thursday is our North Coast vs 21st Amendment Tap Takeover Battle to the Death.

    Brew at the Zoo adds BBQ

    No, not barbequed zoo animals.  (At least we hope not.)

    The Brew at the Zoo and Wine, Too, the annual charity fundraiser for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park, has added the option (for 200 folks per day maximum) of a VIP experience complete with early admission and barbeque meals prepared by sponsor Famous Dave's.

    The event is May 28th and 29th, and tickets for adult drinkers range from $30 regular admission for Maryland Zoo members to $75 for BBQ/early admission for non-members; discounted admissions for designated drivers and those under 21 are also available.  Go to the Maryland Zoo website for details and tickets. Tickets include admission to the Zoo as well all day from 10 AM to 4 PM.

    We should emphasize that, although this is an excellent event in an attractive setting, this is less a "craft beer" event than it is simply a nice beer-related day out.  You're not going to find cask beers, or brewers promoting their more exotic offerings.

    13 May 2011

    Final(?) Pratt Street Real Ale Fest Cask List UPDATED

    According to Steve Jones at the brewpub:

    Stone Ruination IPA dry-hopped Amarillo,
    Evolution Lot 6 Double IPA
                  Lucky Seven Porter infused with bacon
    Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale dry hopped with Cascade
                       Mamas Little Yella Pils w/ rosehips
                       Old Chub w/ coconut
    Weyerbacher Blanche
    Flying Fish Exit 4 w/ Centennial & Citra
                       Hopfish IPA dry hopped with Centennial
    Brewer's Art Resurrection
    Stillwater/Brewer's Art Debutante
    Stillwater Beaujolais cask Existent (only for VIP hour)
    Troegs Javahead Stout (dry hopped with Columbus)
    Great Divide Yeti
    BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran
    Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Red, White & Birch (red oak/white oak/birch)
    Stoudt's Heifer-in-Wheat w/ kumquat   nope, didn't survive

    Yards Saison (dry hopped with Kent Goldings)
    The Raven Lager
    Flying Dog Gonzo on oak
                     Doggie Style Pale Ale double dry hopped with CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus) and Centennial
    Breckenridge  Summer Bright with Simcoe Hops
                           471 IPA w/ Glacier hops
    White Marsh Daily Crisis IPA,
                        A10-Warthog Ale
    Brewer's Alley Oatmeal Stout [a blend of 2/3 Oatmeal Stout aged in a Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrel for 3 weeks & 1/3 "virgin" Oatmeal Stout]
    DuClaw 2010 Devil’s Milk aged in Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrel
    Dog Brewing Java Stout with French oak, vanilla, cacao nibs and espresso beans
    Oliver Hot Monkey Love batch #2  2010 drawn directly from oak barrel (aged 10 months)
               Pagan Porter with vanilla
               Draft Punk Beaujolais cask  w/ juniper & honey (for VIP hour)
    Oliver/Stillwater Channel Crossing #4 dry hopped w/ Tettnanger
    And at least one more unnamed ale en route.......

    American Craft Beer Week at Max's and Victoria Gastro Pub

    (Sorry for the delay.  This blog's host has been down for almost a day with some hardware hiccups.)

    Here's how Max's Taphouse and Victoria Gastro Pub are marking this beer-promotion stunt known as American Craft Beer Week:



    Apricot Mojo
    Apple Cinnamon Mojo
    Fusion Black IPA
    Fusion Planet Porter & Mojo Blended and Aged in Pinot Noir Barrels

    One Shot Wonder
    Deviant Dales
    Ten Fidy
    Mama's Little Yella Pils w/ Rose Hips (Cask)
    Old Chub w/ Vanilla (cask)


    Plank 1
    Plank 1 (cask)
    Loose Cannon
    Big DIPA
    Plus some vintage Special release bottles...


    Special TBA Beer


    Tiny Tim
    Debutante-Collaboration w/ Stillwater
    Green Peppercorn Triple
    Sun King
    Table for Two

    Our Side-Collboration w/ Mikkeller
    Jaded-Collboration w/ De Struise
    Outblack-Collboration w/ Struise
    25 To One-Made for Max's 25th Anniversary
    Plus bottles of Stateside, Existent, Autumnal,Love & regret, Cellar Door,Saison Darkly

    Cherry Blossom
    Channel Crossing Vol 3-Collboration w/ Stillwater
    Pagan Porter w/ Vanilla Bean
    Draft Punk
    Olivers Channel Crossing Vol 3 (Cask)
    Olivers 17th Anniversary Ale (Cask)

    Belgian Red
    Oatmeal Chocolate Stout(Cask)


    Pale Ale
    Glissade Bock
    Southern Hemisphere
    California Common
    Double IPA
    Juniper Black Ale

    Big Little Beer
    Grand Cru



    Beers TBA

    Scratch #42
    Scratch #43
    Flying Mouflan

    beers TBA

    others beers that will be on throughout the week....
    Uinta Anniversary
    Smuttynose Imperial Stout
    Smuttynose Vunderbar
    Dogfish Head Hellhound
    Flying Fish Exit 4
    Flying Fish Exit 9
    Breckenridge Regal Pils
    Sam Adams Chocolate Cherry Stout
    Sam Adams Oak Aged Porter
    Lagunitas WTF(Cask)
    Evolution Menagerie #5
    Goose Island Fleur
    Plus a bunch of others...
    Victoria Gastro Pub:
    Every Day will be a Different Theme:
    Monday May 16th – Farmhouse Ales “Farmhouse Frenzy” The Bruery, Flying Dog, Sam Adams,
    Ommegang, Jolly Pumpkin, North Coast,
    Smuttynose, Great Divide, Stillwater,
    Goose Island, Flying Fish  

    Tuesday May 17th  – Summer SeasonalWeyerbacher, Boulder, Great Divide, Breckenridge,
    Flying Fish, Flying Dog, Brooklyn, Anderson Valley,
    Sierra Nevada, Schlafly, Long Trail  

    Wed. May 18th – Barrel Aged
    “Lock, Stock & a Ton of Barrels”
    Flying Dog, Oskar Blues, Crispin,
    Allagash, Goose Island, The Bruery,
    Weyerbacher, Great Divide,
    Southern Tier, Heavy Seas, Evolution        

    Thursday May 19th – Wild Ales “Brewed to be Wild”;
    Jolly Pumpkin, Monk’s CafĂ©, Goose Island Dominique,
    The Bruery, Allagash, New Belgium, Ommegang  

    Friday May 20th - IPA “Put on a Hoppy Face” Oskar Blues, Bear Republic, Evolution, Stone,
    Tommy Knocker, Smuttynose, Lagunitas, Great Divide,
    Avery, 21st Amendment, Dogfish, Weyerbacher,
    Flying Dog, Long Trail, Southern Tier        

    Sat. May 21st  – Belgian Styles
    “Dubbel the Pleasure, Tripel the Fun”
    Ommegang, Heavy Seas, Jolly Pumpkin,
    The Bruery, Goose Island, Great Divide, North Coast,
    Weyerbacher, Allagash, Brewer’s Art, Stillwater  

    Sunday May 22nd  – Porter/Stout “Join the Dark Side” Smuttynose, Weyerbacher, Anchor, Great Divide,
    Stone, Oskar Blues, Rogue, Evolution, Breckenridge,
    Eastern Shore, Flying Dog, Troegs      

    Monday May 23rd - Victoria Day and
    Beer Club Trip Giveaway to
    The Great American Beer Festival!!!!

    12 May 2011

    Frederick Updates

    The first Frederick Beer Week--half the length of Baltimore's in October, but still a noble start--is ongoing as we type and drink, but here are a few photos from the start on Tuesday night:

    Firkin of Heavy Seas' Loose Cannon dry-hopped with Calypso and Deltahops, at Bushwaller's.

    The backyard beer and buffet at Volt, featuring the debut of the joint Volt/Flying Dog collaboration, Backyard Ale, a 7.5% cherrywood-smoked amber, shown held by Flying Dog brewer Matt Brophy.  More on the beer here; it should be in the Maryland markets in mid-June after a second "debut" at SAVOR in D.C. June 3-4.

    Dave Justice, Calvin Perilloux, and Barley & Hops brewer Larry Pomerantz judge three different homebrew categories in the final run-off of the Barley & Hops homebrew contest, a joint project with the Frederick Original Ale Makers (FOAM), at the brewpub.

    Heavy Seas on American Craft Beer Week

    The keynote event of Heavy Seas' marking of American Craft Beer Week (May 16-22) will be their debut release of their new yellow-poplar-wood-matured Plank I at Max's Taphouse as Max's Tuesday Night Beer Social on May 17th, with the new beer on draft, bottle, and cask.

    Other Maryland Heavy Seas events for that week:

    May 16  Dubbel Cannon Cask @ Mahaffey's - Baltimore, MD  
    May 17  Pyrate Beer Cruise @ Schooner Woodwind - Annapolis, MD
    May 17  Flight of the Cannons @ JD's Smokehouse - Baltimore, MD 
    May 18  Beer Dinner w/ Hugh Sisson @ Clydes - Chevy Chase, MD
    May 18  Beer Dinner @ M Street Bar & Grille - Washington, DC
    May 19  Big Beers @ Tbonz Grille - Ellicott City, MD
    May 19  Heavy Seas Night @ Hudson St Stackhouse - Baltimore, MD 
    May 20  Dubbel Cannon Cask @ Judge's Bench - Ellicott City, MD
    May 20  Bottle Signing w/ Hugh Sisson @ Corridor Liquors - Laurel, MD 
    May 21  Brewery Tours @ Heavy Seas Brewery - Halethorpe, MD 
    May 22  St Mary's City Brewfest @ St Mary's Museum - St Mary's, MD

    11 May 2011

    SPBW at Mahaffey's Tomorrow

    The Chesapeake Bay Branch of the Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood gathers for their monthly "flash mob" meeting at Mahaffey's in Canton tomorrow, May 12th begging around 6 PM.  The firkin(s) have not been announced as of yet.

    Just in case you either can't make the Pratt Street Real Ale Fest on Saturday, or need to warm up for it.

    Good Beer to Return to Downtown's Power Plant Live?

    The Baltimore Sun's Erik Maza (on his Midnight Sun blog) and the Baltimore Business Journal's Ryan Sharrow report on plans by the Cordish Company to overhaul the Power Plant Live complex on the east side of downtown north of the iconic waterfront Power Plant building.

    Included in the refresher plans are Leininkugel's Beer Garden, a 3,500-square-foot plaza which will be serving 40 "craft brews" and is expected to open in July, and a second location for Station North's Joe Squared Pizza, which will occupy the former Two Boots Pizza location when its lease expires.  (The Station North location, as many know, has a superior selection of craft beers than most "pizza joints;" a person who answered the phone at the Station North location in the owner's absence said that they do plan a similar good-beer strategy at the new location.)

    In addition, Luckie's Tavern, already a presence at the plaza, is expanding with a second stand to be called Luckie's Liquors, which expects to offer about 75 bottled beers.

    The combined new venues will bring the Power Plant Live back onto the craft-beer radar scope, years after the now-iconic Ram's Head Live largely abandoned its "brewpub restaurant outlet/music hall" strategy and focused most of its energy into being a concert venue that also served beer.

    (Artist's rendering: Cordish Co.)

    09 May 2011

    Press Releases We Never Finished Reading, #2


    How local can your beer get?

    This local:

    A 10-year collaboration between a local farmer and a brewmaster has resulted in the first commercially produced beer using locally grown and malted barley in Maryland in modern times.
    Brewmaster Tom Flores has been working with Greg Clabaugh, a Frederick County dairy farmer, for the last decade or so to develop a barley malt suitable for brewing.
    "We finally have a beer that shows off what the local agricultural community is able to produce," Flores said, as he and Clabaugh introduced Amber Fields Best Bitter to the public Tuesday at Brewer's Alley restaurant in downtown Frederick, where the beverage will be available.
    And for the session beer fanatics (yes, I'm paging you, Lew):
    The beer is 4.4 percent alcohol by volume. The type of yeast used was selected for its unique and subtle contribution to the overall flavor of the beer, Flores said.
    Read the whole thing.

    Draft Punk debut at Punk's Backyard Grill, Annapolis May 16th UPDATED

    I'll give David McCabe credit: he knows how to cut to the chase.  When he sent this press release, he said, "We think press releases are boring and I'm certain you probably get 100 sent to you every day."  Well not quite, but it's been close a couple days.  But let's go to the news from the Annapolis restaurant:
    Punk s Backyard Grill  is kicking off American Craft Beer Week with the release of its own collaboration beer, “Draft Punk,” brewed with Oliver Ales. To celebrate the release of “Draft Punk,” Punk’s Backyard Grill is offering $3 pints, souvenir glassware, and 20% off of all food from 6:00pm – 10:00pm on Monday, May 16th.  Punk’s and Brewmaster Steve Jones from Oliver Ales will be tapping traditional kegs as well as a firkin for this event.
    The recipe for “Draft Punk” was created by Brewmaster Steve Jones of Oliver Ales in collaboration with David McCabe, one of the owners of Punk’s Backyard Grill.  The final product is a 7.0% ABV American IPA that was bittered with Chinook hops and finished with whole leaf Cascade hops.  It was then dry hopped in the conditioning tank with additional whole leaf Cascades. The beer will be available at Punk’s Backyard Grill in Annapolis, the Pratt St. Ale House in Baltimore, and a few select bars and restaurants in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD region.

     “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a talented brewer, and we had a great time brewing this beer,” says McCabe.  “Draft Punk is a wonderfully balanced, fresh and fragrant IPA that will be our house beer at Punk’s all summer.”
    So why did an Annapolis pub come to Baltimore, and an already-overworked brewer, for a custom brew, instead of asking about in Annapolis, home to two "brewpubs" of its own?  McCabe said  "I actually called [Castlebay] before reaching out to Steve at Olivers.  I spoke first with a bartender there who told me that they haven't brewed in about 3 years and that their house beer is outsourced. I called back and talked to the owner who steadfastly refused to take my money in exchange for an opportunity to brew there. He mentioned to me, grudgingly, that he was hoping to move the brew equipment out of the restaurant.  Not sure what he is planning to do with it.  I also talked to the folks at Ram's Head and they haven't brewed in Annapolis in about 3 years either."

    They also made this available for our perusal; if you haven't been in the basement of the Pratt Street Ale House, here's a look at what the "dungeon" and the "Hunchback Brewers' Universe" looks like:

    06 May 2011

    Next Week: Frederick Beer Week, Pratt Street Real Ale Fest

    The upcoming Frederick Beer Week got some major coverage in the Frederick News-Post today--and I saw it there while at work; it's most of the front page of the News-Post's Lifestyle section.  Go to the article to review the schedule of events, and also to learn how it was inspired directly by Baltimore Beer Week.

    Meanwhile, if you're a real ale aficionado, you've probably already read the cask list below in a more mangled form, as it was being disseminated all over the place while I was doing stuff out there in Frederick.  But just in case, here's the list, courtesy of PSAH's Steve Jones:

    Stone Ruination IPA dry-hopped with Columbus & Centennial, 7.7%, 100+ IBUs
    Evolution Lot 6 Double IPA & a pin (5-gallon firkin) of a one-off Bacon Porter (!)
    Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale dry hopped with Cascade
                       Mamas Little Yella Pils w/ rosehips
                       Old Chub w/ coconut  [ummm.... huh?]
    Weyerbacher Blanche
    Flying Fish Exit 4 w/ Centennial & Citra (hopefully one more also)
    Brewer's Art Resurrection
    Stillwater/Brewer's Art Debutante
    Stillwater Beaujolais cask Existent (only for VIP hour)
    Troegs Javahead Stout
    Great Divide Yeti
    BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran
    Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Red, White & Birch (red oak/white oak/birch)
    Stoudt's Heifer-in-Wheat w/ kumquat [?!]
    Yards Saison
    The Raven Lager
    Flying Dog Gonzo on oak
                     Single Hop Imperial IPA
    Breckenridge  2 casks T.B.A.
    White Marsh 1 or 2 T.B.A.
    Brewer's Alley Oatmeal Stout [a blend of 2/3 Oatmeal Stout aged in a Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrel for 3 weeks & 1/3 "virgin" Oatmeal Stout]
    DuClaw 2010 Devil’s Milk aged in Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrel
    Dog Brewing Java Stout with French oak
    Oliver Hot Monkey Love batch #2  2010 drawn directly from oak barrel (aged 10 months)
               Pagan Porter with vanilla
               Draft Punk Beaujolais cask  w/ Juniper & honey (for VIP hour)
    Oliver/Stillwater Channel Crossing #4 dry hopped w/ Tettnanger
    There'll be Designated Driver tix available at the door : $10 free soda with a 25% discount on food.  www.prattstreetalefest.com
    As for the Bacon Porter:  Someone page/invite the Baltimore Sun's Sam Sessa.

    05 May 2011

    Smokey the Beer(s)

    Notes of two smoked beers in the Baltimore environs tonight and forwards.

    First, at Metropolitan tonight:
    This week we have a mouthful for you.  The cask for this week's Firkin Thursday is an oak-clad gravity keg of Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier from Bamberg, Germany.  Fastenbier ("Beer for Lent") is a 5.5% seasonal rauchbier ("smoked beer") that is reddish brown, unfiltered and naturally hazy.  Lightly smoked and malty.
    Schlenkerla's "rauchbiers" have long been the standard against which almost any other smoked beers are judged; their Marzen has often been called "bacon beer" by those new to the concept or not used to a heavy dose of smoked Bamberg malt that is the signature of this brewery's well-known beers.

    If that doesn't work for you, there's another option: Unibroue, the large Belgian-styled Quebecois brewery, has re-introduced its Raftman, an amber-red ale brewed with whisky-smoked malt.  It was available briefly in the U.S. market back in the mid-to late 1990s, but was later withdrawn.  It's now back, at least for the time being, so new that even Unibroue's website alleges that it's still only available in Canada; you may find it on draft or in bottles at the "usual suspects" for the best beers out there.

    Hmmmm.  Maybe this should be paired up with Alewife's epic Smoke Burger..............